Kandao Qoocam 8K: HANDS-ON with the first affordable 8K 360 camera for consumers

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Kandao Qoocam 8K is the first 8K 360 camera for consumers.  At just $589, it is the most affordable 8K 360 camera on the market.  Moreover, Kandao’s CEO stated to me that it has the same detail and video quality as the highly regarded Kandao Obsidian R (which currently costs $4199) albeit in monoscopic 360 video only.  I had the chance to try it out and here are my hands-on impressions.

Kandao QooCam 8K

Qoocam 8K has two lenses paired with 1/1.7-inch sensors, which are 54% larger than 1/2.3-inch sensors, and have an image circle that is more than 70% larger than the image circle of a 1/2.3-inch sensor.  It is also the first consumer 360 camera to feature 10-bit video, which enables it to capture over 1 billion possible colors, 64 times more than the 16.7 million colors that can be captured on 8-bit video.

Here’s the launch video:

Qoocam 8K Specifications and Features:

Qoocam 8K Qoocam
Lenses Two 200-degree fisheye lenses Three 220-degree fisheye lenses
Aperture f/2.0 f/2.2
Sensor two 1/1.7-inch 20mp BSI-CMOS sensors three 1/2.5-inch sensor
Shutter speed 60 secs. 60 secs to 1/4000
ISO TBA 100 to 3200
Video resolution 7680 x 3840 @ 30fps, 10-bit
3840 x 1920 @ 120fps, 10-bit
3840 x 1920 @ 30fps
3840 x 1920 @ 60 fps
2160 x 1080 @ 120fps
Video resolution (3D 180) no 3D mode 3840 x 1920 30fps
3840 x 1920 60fps
Video codec H.264 and H.265.
H.265 200mpbs bitrate
H.264 and H.265
Photo resolution (VR view mode) 7680 x 3840
12-bit DNG Raw
DNG8 burst mode
Raw+ mode
4320 x 2160
DNG8 burst mode
Live streaming 4K 360 live streaming 3D video
180 3D video
360 + 180 3D video
Storage 64GB onboard + removable Micro SD up to 256GB Removable micro SD up to 256GB
Battery 3600 mAH
40 mins continuous
2600 mAh
180 mins continuous recording
Audio 3.5mm mic input
Other features removable lens depth mapping
refocusing
background editor
HDR
Price $589 available Dec. 2019 $399

Highest resolution video: Qoocam’s 8K resolution is the highest among consumer 360 cameras.  It is also the first consumer 360 camera to offer 10-bit video, a feature that had been available only for high end professional 360 cameras.  In fact, Qoocam 8K’s video quality is comparable to that of the $4199 Kandao Obsidian R, according to Kandao’s CEO.

Kandao Qoocam 8K features a folded optical path
Kandao Qoocam 8K features a folded optical path

Folded optical path: Qoocam uses a folded optical path like the Ricoh Theta, which enables the lenses to be brought closer to each other, resulting in less parallax stitching errors.

Slow motion video: Qoocam 8K can capture 4X slow motion at 3840 x 1920 @ 120fps, 10-bit.  That is the highest resolution, highest frame rate, and highest bit depth slow motion for consumer 360 cameras.  Moreover, Kandao’s AI slow motion can interpolate frames to simulate 4K 960fps frame rate.

High quality photos: photo resolution is 7680 x 3840, which is tied for the highest photo resolution among consumer 360 cameras.  It also has support for 12-bit DNG Raw, DNG8 Raw Burst mode, and Realtime Raw+, which can stack an 8-shot DNG raw burst and convert it to 16bit DNG output within the camera, which can then be stitched in the mobile or desktop app.

Touchscreen: It has a 2.4-inch touchscreen that can be used not only for changing settings but also previewing and reviewing photos and videos.  Unlike the GoPro MAX (reviewed here), you will be able to swipe the screen to look around 360 photos and videos.

Q shortcut button: this customizable button can access commonly used functions.

6-axis stabilization: the original Qoocam had one of the best stabilization for 360 cameras.  The Qoocam 8K likewise has excellent stabilization.

Hyperlapse: capture a stabilized time lapse.

8K Express Edit: you can convert 8K 360 videos into 4K overcapture non-360 videos on your phone.

4K 360 video live streaming: The Qoocam 8K can live stream in 4K 360 video, and may have realtime stitching.  A future Qoocam 8K Pro version will be able to live stream in 8K 360 video.

Protective lens cover and ND filters: you can use protective lens covers.  Kandao is also working on covers that function as ND filters.

Dive case: the Qoocam 8K has an optional Dive Case accessory that will enable smooth stitching underwater.

Qoocam 8K Dive Case
Qoocam 8K Dive Case

3.5mm microphone input: Qoocam 8K is one of only a handful of 360 cameras that have a microphone input.

Kandao Qoocam 8K has a 3.5mm mic input jack, and a frame with a cold shoe for a microphone
Kandao Qoocam 8K has a 3.5mm mic input jack, and a frame with a cold shoe for a microphone

Google Street View ready.

Built-in 64GB memory and removable Micro SD cards up to 256GB.

Charge while recording.  The Qoocam 8K can record while charging via USB.

Hands-on First Impressions

Kandao Qoocam 8K vs GoPro MAX size
Kandao Qoocam 8K vs GoPro MAX size

The Qoocam 8K was larger and heavier than I expected.  It is about the same thickness as the GoPro MAX but almost twice the height.  It also seems heavier than a Ricoh Theta Z1.  However, it is still as pocketable as a larger but thicker smartphone.

The controls are intuitive, particularly with the touchscreen.  It can get quite hot due to its high resolution, and because it radiates heat through vents in between the camera, although there is a plastic frame accessory that makes it more comfortable to hold.

Kandao did not have sample photos or videos available for inspection, claiming that the stitching had not yet been finalized as of the launch.  Nonetheless, based on what I saw in terms of overcapture samples and the hardware, the Qoocam 8K appears to have the highest video and photo quality for consumer 360 cameras, certainly at anything close to this price range.  I will be posting a hands-on review as soon as I receive my camera, which Kandao said they would send by the end of November 2019.

Check back here for my hands-on video.

Price and availability

Qoocam 8K will be available for preorder for $589, direct from Kandao, or from Amazon or B&H Photo.  Although it costs more than most other 360 cameras, it will deliver professional quality video at a consumer price, and is therefore a very good value at that price.

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