I've been reviewing the Kandao QooCam 3 for a few weeks and it's an excellent 360-degree camera, but before I've even finished we've learned the camera is to get a more powerful bigger brother with the addendum 'Ultra' to its name.
That makes a lot of sense given that Kandao have a wealth of high-spec 360-degree camera experience, which we've seen not only in consumer cameras but in their numerous contenders for best conferencing cameras like the Kandao Meeting Pro. It also makes sense in the context of the competition; if the QooCam 3 has broadly the same specs as the Insta 360 X3 – perhaps the best-known consumer 360-degree camera – then this is a swipe at that company's prosumer option.
The QooCam 3 Ultra will be revealed at CES 2024, the massive consumer electronics show which runs January 9-14 in Las Vegas. Styled like a taller version of the square QooCam 3, it has dual 1/1.7 sensors and fish-eye lenses, four built-in microphones, and a six-axis gyroscope. In-camera live-streaming and even live stitching will be supported, suggesting Kandao are aiming to dominate a future in which streamers don't even need to point their cameras, and viewers might be using goggles.
The maximum video capture will be 8K at 30fps, while 5.7K can be recorded at 60fps. The Ultra will also support 10-bit HLG video recording, while the camera can capture stills at 96-megapixels. A DNG8 Raw+ algorithm will allow, say Kandao, "capturing enhanced panoramic photos that preserve rich image details and deliver exceptional quality."
Admittedly we'll need to reserve final judgement on the QooCam 3 Ultra until the pricing is announced. One of the big advantages of the QooCam 3 is that it is relatively affordable, which I imagine will serve to further ignite interest in the 360-camera field (personally I first got hooked before the QooCam 3 came out with the aforementioned Insta360 X3, and am still enjoying experimenting with this new way of thinking about imaging).
For many thinking of taking the leap, a bit more resolution will make a difference (remember that the 8K is across both lenses, so once you start editing you tend to crop out detail). Will Kandao make the price as appealing as the package?