The new ION360 quickly turns your smartphone into an impressive VR camera. Review by Pixvana Executive Producer, Aaron Rhodes.
Camera Review: ION360
The ION360 comes with two parts: a case that fits on your Samsung Galaxy or Apple iPhone, and a camera that then snaps to the top of the case. I’m a lover of thin cases, so this was a bit daunting for me when I first assembled it, but the size was nice once I got things installed. Good to have something sturdy to hold onto.
Once the app is installed, the interface is fast and simple. For an average consumer, this felt like the right balance of control and simplicity. As an advanced user, I wish there were more controls for image manipulation than just exposure and white balance.
Simple sharing via Facebook and YouTube are integrated, along with a streaming feature. I felt like this was a smart decision, since those are target platforms for VR creators and I’m sure there are more to come.
After setting up the phone, I went out and shot a couple setups. I first wanted an outdoor scene to give me a broad range of exposure and color. Underneath the Fremont bridge worked well with the high frequency water, bright sky, and shadowed landscape. I also wanted an indoor setting so I headed up the street to MiiR, my local coffee shop. At first glance on the phone, I was very impressed with both setups. Latitude of color and exposure seemed to be solid, even with the default settings.
Now that I had shot my footage, I wanted to get it onto my computer for evaluation. This is where the ION360 shines for consumers, but not for prosumers. If you are sharing directly to Facebook or YouTube, you won’t need to import the video onto your computer. But as a prosumer creator who wants to edit and manipulate footage, this step was not as straightforward forward as I wanted it to be. Connecting via iTunes > File Sharing > ION360 and then dragging and dropping the “My Content” folder to my desktop was how I had to get the files to my laptop. Not the end of the world, but also not the most intuitive.
From there, I was able to get it on my laptop and scrutinize the pixels. Things looked great! As I had seen earlier on my phone, the lows and highs were truly well preserved in both the exterior and interior shots. I was also very impressed with the lack of compression artifacts. For a 2 lens rig, and stitching at 4k on the camera, the image compression and fidelity is some of the best I’ve seen. The in camera stitch is really good too, although not flawless. I could still see a dissolve transition on the bridge. More expected were the stitch issues on the really near-to-camera stuff, like on my arm.
Overall, a great on-the-go VR camera that fits in your pocket… snuggly.
At a glance:
- compression and image fidelity/clarity really good
- stitch was quite good
- easy to share or stream to YouTube and Facebook
- battery in the case was a nice feature
- a bigger case than I prefer
- separate camera was a bit of an odd design choice
- 4k is too low of resolution for my productions, but good for scouting and tests
- media transfer to computer was a bit painful
Two test setups shot with the new ION360 camera:
ION360 test shot details:
Awesome preservation of detail and sharpness.
Look at that high frequency detail!
Very little chromatic aberration.
A bit of a dithered stitch artifact here.
Impressive light range, hard for any camera to capture this wide an exposure.