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In the beginning, there was the Ricoh Theta. The small, convenient camera was the first to bring 360 photography to the masses. From Tiny Planets to 360 photospheres, it was a new way to photograph the world. I bought one immediately.
The 360 camera market has grown and changed considerably since then, with the GoPro Max and Insta360 One R dominating the discussion. But these high-end, high-performance cameras aren’t what everyone needs.
Enter Vecnos, a company spun out of Ricoh, that features many of the people who worked on the Theta. The IQUI, pronounced ee-qui, is their first camera. It’s a sleek, pencil-like design for those who don’t need something elaborate like the Max and One R. It’s for people who just want to take some cool pictures and videos when they’re out with their friends and share the results easily.
Here’s a look.
The IQUI looks more like a big pen than a camera. It doesn’t even look like a 360 camera. The current crop of consumer 360s have bulbous lenses on either side of something shaped roughly like an action cam. Atop the IQUI are three rectangular lenses, with a fourth facing up. In theory this should give the IQUI better stitching compared to a 2-lens 360 camera.
Either the model in the photos has small hands, or I have large ones, as I can hold the IQUI completely in my hand with only the lens portion sticking out. It’s slightly shorter than a regular Pixel 4. Along the body there are buttons for power, shutter, and a toggle between photo and video.
Interestingly, there’s no USB connection on the camera. Instead, it comes with a small base with USB-C on the bottom (an odd design decision). In November Vecnos will have a hard-shell carrying case with its own battery that can charge the camera while it’s safely stored.
Still image resolution is 5760 x 2880, about average for the current crop of 360 cameras. Video, however, is only 4K30. This is really the minimum to get acceptably sharp 360 videos. And 30fps means there’s no possibility of slow-motion. There’s also a limit of 30 seconds per video. A bit disappointing, but is a further example of how Vecnos intends for people to use this camera. It’s for snapshots and quick videos, not recording entire adventures for YouTube.
There’s 14.4 gigabytes of internal storage, which Vecnos claims can store up to 1,500 images or 30 minutes of video. While I’d be the first to decry the lack of removable storage, given the intended use and market for the IQUI, this seems plenty.
A 360 camera is only as good as its software. The IQUISPIN app is already available on Android and iOS. It takes 360 photos, any it finds on your phone actually, and lets you convert them into short videos. There are numerous options for focus, spin type/direction, and so on.
There are also a handful of filters that interact with your video. For instance, bubbles that aren’t just a 2D layer over the image, but seem to float as if they were in there when the photo was shot. You can then share these videos on any social media platform. They’re currently only 1×1, however.
Which brings us to the price. At a list of $300, the IQUI isn’t cheap. The four lenses and metal body certainly don’t feel cheap, so that’s good.
So, who is this for? The IQUI is a bit too big to fit comfortably in a pocket, so it’s definitely intended for a purse or backpack. The niche seems to be someone who wants to take more interesting photos than what their phone can provide, but doesn’t want to deal with the bulk of an action-cam 360, like the Max or One R. It’s also sleeker than any of the Thetas, and does a better job with photos/videos than cheaper and older 360 cameras. It will be interesting to see how well it works.
The IQUI starts shipping October 1st.