360° videos are a big trend, YouTube recently added a button to adapt their videos for VR glasses. Nikon announced their KeyMission 360 beginning this year with an expected sales start in October and Samsung recently released their Gear 360 camera. Similar to the Elephone ELEcam 360 they feature 2 lenses on each side to get a full 360° video. Here’s the first video I did:

Be sure to watch it within the YouTube App on your Smartphone or with Google Chrome Browser on your computer:

 

Elephone ELEcam 360 Specs

MGCOOL is Elephone’s newly-established sub-brand covering intelligent wearables & mobile electronics. From now on Elephone cameras will be branded MGCOOL. The ELEcam 360 is now called MGCOOL Cam360.

Sensor:
Elephone ELEcam 360 holds 4 MP Omnivision OV4689 sensors – known from the EKEN H9 camera.

Chip:
The camera features a Sunplus 6350M chips, again same one as used in the EKEN H9.

Lens:
5 layer optical glass lens with f2.0 aperture; 220° FOV each side
Focal length: 1.1mm

Elephone ELEcam 360

Elephone ELEcam 360 features 2 lenses

 

Video Resolution & Frame Rate:
You’ve only got one selection, which is 1920 x 960 with 30fps. This is a 2:1 resolution and might seem a bit strange, but take a look at my workflow tutorial below.

Video Format:
videos are recorded in .mov format and .h264 codec.

Photo:
Max. photo resolution is 3008 x 1504 pixels, about 4MP, same as the sensor. The image is not scaled up as many other action cams like to do it.

Display:
Elephone ELEcam 360 features a data display to check settings, no live view display. But that wouldn’t make sense anyway, as live view on your smartphone & within the app simulates the 360° video.

Battery:
Elephone ELEcam 360 holds a built-in 1500 mAh battery. On the downside, you can’t change the battery, which I guess is due to the form factor. Hence 1500 mAh seems a lot compared to most other action cameras.

Elephone ELEcam 360 - battery

Elephone ELEcam 360 – battery

 

Storage:
microSD card support for cards up to 32GB; Class 10 recommended. I guess some 64GB might also work.
As Elephone als distributes microSD cards (looking a lot like SanDisk cards), they might be included. There’s a 32GB card included in the Gearbest offer.

Connectivity & Ports:
Wifi
Elephone ELEcam 360 is equipped with wifi and connects to your smartphone (Android & iOS)
Ports
The camera holds a microUSB port, not sure if A/V out and Mic-in via USB are possible.
On the bottom of the camera is a 1/4″ tripod thread for mounting.

Dimensions & Weight:
Weight: 104g
Dimensions: 60 x 49.4 x 32.7mm

Accessories:
Included the is a Bicycle/Handlebar mount, Helmet/Strap/Adhesive mount, GoPro Tripod Adapter, USB Cable, and most likely a 32GB microSD card, but check your offer! The underwater case is sold separately (14.99 USD)

Elephone ELEcam 360 - Accessories

Elephone ELEcam 360 – Accessories

 

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Body, Button & Ports:

Elephone ELEcam 360 - Top & Bottom

Elephone ELEcam 360 – Top & Bottom

 

On top of the camera you will find the  Power/Mode button,  wifi button and Shutter Button.
There are 3 small LED lights, the blue light above the power button is on when charging; a red LED below the wifi button is lit when wifi is enabled. Above the Shutter button is a red recording LED and below is a reset button. This one is needed, because if the camera freezes, you can’t take out the battery, as it is built in.

The data LCD screen displays a camera icon, when in video mode and the available recording time on the inserted microSD card. When you short-press the power/mode button you switch to photo mode, which is indicated by a folder with the letter P. The number below is a countdown how many photos you can store on the card.

On the bottom of the camera there is a standard 1/4″ tripod thread. All accessories have a GoPro mount and a tripod adapter on top. That’s a nice solution.

MicroSD card slot & micro USB port are behind a flat on the side of the camera.

Elephone ELEcam 360 - Ports

Elephone ELEcam 360 – Ports

 

On top of the camera you will find this blue mark . This side holds the speaker and is the “backside” when you upload it on YouTube. On this side the video is stitched – more on that later. The unmarked side holds the microphone and will be seen when you start the video on YouTube.

 

Wifi & App

How to connect:

Press the wifi key on the camera to activate wifi. Open up the “EleCam 360” app (available for iOS & Android) on you smartphone. Look for the wifi: “EleCam 360_xxxxxx”.

The wifi password will be display on the camera’s LCD screen, standard password is: 1234567890

 

Functions & Settings

The camera has only 2 main modes – photo & video – which can be switched with the power/mode button as described above.

To enter the settings you have to long press the wifi-button, which then shows the following options:

Power Save:
Off / 1 min / 3 min / 5 min – when selecting a time the camera enter power saving mode after respective time and the display will turn off.

Date & Time:
You can set date & time, to display it in the video (time stamp) is done in another setting.

Language:
English is the standard selection, optional there are: Chinese, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish & Russian.

Date Stamp:
You have the option to display date or date & time in your video.

Factory Reset:
To reset your camera.

System:
here you can check your firmware version as well as capacity & available space on your microSD card.

Format:
to format the microSD card.

 

360° Video Workflow

If you playback the video on – within the app! – on your smartphone, it will recognize that it is a 360° video. You have several options to display and to share. But if you like to edit and share it from your computer, you have to follow this workflow:

How do you get to a 360° Facebook or YouTube video?

First you have to convert the video from the dual spherical (fisheye) video to a equirectangular video.

The camera records a 1920 x 960 video (that’s a 2:1 video) where both videos from the front- and the backside lens are shown next to each other. If you open the video it will look like this:

Elephone ELEcam 360 - spherical video

Elephone ELEcam 360 – spherical video

 

If you upload a video like this to YouTube or Facebook, it will stay like this! If you want a 360° where you can turn around by moving your smartphone, you have to convert the video. There is a PC and Mac software available from Symax 360 Player which you can download for free! Simply import the video file from your camera:

Symax360 Player - Software for Mac & PC

Symax360 Player – Software for Mac & PC

On top of the screen you have several options to display and play the video. The next step is important: To convert the video click on the edit icon on the bottom left. (Don’t go to the menu and click save as – it will not convert the video).

 

Symax360 Player - Video Export

Symax360 Player – Video Export

You can now trim your video and then press confirm and a screen will open. Change video Quality to high (medium is the standard selection) and choose wehre to save it. After the conversion the video will look like this:

Elephone ELEcam 360 - video after conversion

Elephone ELEcam 360 – video after conversion

 

Remember the blue mark i mentioned earlier  ? The blue mark indicates where the video is stitched, NOT the center of the video. So in the example above the blue mark was pointing away from the car. the unmarked side was facing the car!

The video is now ready for upload to YouTube or Facebook, the Symax software already added the meta data needed for YouTube to recognize it as 360° video. If you want to edit the video in an editing software, you have to be aware of one needed action:

Additional editing in video software

When you import your video in a standard editing software it will look like the picture above. Be sure to set the timeline to the same dimension as the video. After editing and rendering, the video will not include 360° meta data information anymore. You have to add them before uploading the video to YouTube or Facebook. The software is for free and available for Mac and Windows. Just import the video and save it – it just takes some seconds. Now YouTube will recognize it as 360° video and display it correctly.

 

Conclusion

I really like the 360° video trend and the options you get when posting it to Facebook and YouTube. It’s such a cool effect when you watch it on your smartphone and you can turn around within the video. I first tried the AMKOV AMK100, which has one lens and is therefore just capable of true 180°. In the meantime at the AMKOV AMK200 with two lenses was released. Since so many famous brands jump the bandwagon (Nikon KeyMission 360, Samsung Gear,…) we’ll definitely see action cams going into that direction. The Elephone ELEcam is my first true 360° camera, which has some big advantages and disadvantages:

ELEcam 360 is a small, compact solution. No need of a rig of several cameras to create a 360° video. Therefore it is easy to mount and can be used in tough conditions with it’s waterproof case.

Resolution – 1920 x 960 is not even HD, and you would need a lot more than that. Compare it to a rig of 6 GoPros or YI 4Ks recording 4K each and combine it to a 360° video.

Battery – It is built in, so you can’t change it. In contrast it has 1500 mAh capacity which is more than most other action cameras. I don’t know if the built in solution is due to it’s form factor to accommodate two lenses. You could mount a power bank below which – when a slim one – won’t be visible.

I noticed that the video sometimes freezes for some frames which is annoying. I used the camera with the included Elephone 32GB microSD card. Maybe it is a SD card related issue, maybe it is the camera itself. I have to do more testing.

 Software / App – Professional Stitching Software costs several hundreds of Dollars, so it’s a plus that you can get a good working software & app for free, which processes the video ready for upload. Due to the different form factors and array of the lenses, you can’t use other free software made for specific cameras. Ricoh’s Theta is just working with their camera; You can’t even open files from another camera in Kodak’s SP360 Software.

Price – Compared to a rig of 6 cameras, or other competitors like Samsung and probably Nikon (not announced yet), Elephone ELEcam 360 is a bargain. So if you want to play around, watch the videos on your phone and upload them to Facebook, the Elephone ELEcam 360 is fine. You can get used to the trend and practice, as shooting / mount is very different! You can’t hide behind a camera :) . If you are looking for a professional 360° video solution, you won’t be happy with this camera. But you also won’t find one for a price like this.

 

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