by Hugh Hou
Download Labpano Pilot One Sample Footage: [DOWNLOAD HERE]
Download Labpano Pilot One 360 photo – Regular and HDR, HDR problem, and Ricoh Theta Z1 comparison: [DOWNLOAD HERE]
Today, we are going to review a brand new 360 camera — the Labpano Pilot One:
This is the smallest and lightest four lenses 360 camera that can shoot up to 8K monoscopic 360 videos. It is the only 360 camera that can Livestream 8K without the need for an expensive PC computer and stitch on the cloud using the new 5G network or ethernet. And you can fly your Livestream camera with real-time 9-axis stabilization on a 5G network. It is a Google Street View ready camera and built for virtual tour creators that hate computer and post-production. You can capture and upload to Google Street View or their Cloud-based Virtual Tour creator directly and see the result immediately. If you are impatient, hate stitching, don’t like computers, and taking thousands of photos for your Virtual Tour within coupled hours, this is the camera for you.
So, let me start from the get-go and tell you this is NOT for consumers. If you can’t make money off your 360 camera or services, then this camera is not for you. If you are only using a 360 camera for reframing and action sports, you can skip this video or rewatch my Qoocam 8K review — which is a consumer-level 8K 360 camera that does not cost $1000. Yes, the biggest disadvantage of Pilot One it the price. It cost $1200 for 64G memory and $1250 for 128G memory. If you are making money with 360 technology, neither virtual tour, video creation or live streaming — let’s look at the spec together:
Lenses: Four fisheye lenses Aperture: f/2.28 Sensor: Sony 12mp 1/2.3-inch sensor Photo resolution: 8,192 x 4,096 Video resolution (in-camera stitching but not realtime): 7680 x 3840 24fps / 5760 x 2880 30fps / 3840 x 1920 30fps Video resolution (realtime in-camera stitching) 7680 x 3840 @ 7fps 6K (5760*2880) 15fps / 4K (3840*1920) 30fps / 2K (1920*960) 30fps Live streaming: 8K@24fps / 4K@30fps Video format, encoding, bitrate per lens: mp4, H.264 / H.265, 34Mbps (x4) Audio: 3.5mm mono mic jack Stabilization: 9-axis gyro LCD screen: 2.2-inch TFT LCD touchscreen, full color, 800 x 480 Storage: internal 64GB / internal 128GB Connectivity: USB Type C Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Ethernet (Gigabit) — ADDON, 4G/5G- ADDON. Battery: internal 3400 mah (2 hrs recording) Dimensions: 44mm x 44mm x 125mm Weight: 288 grams Price: $1199 (64G) / $1249 (128G)
This is a lot smaller than Z Cam S1 — the most popular 4 lenses 360 camera. It only weights 288g. But it is still heavier than Qoocam 8K, Insta360 ONE R and GoPro MAX. So this is def not an action camera.
The biggest problem in Pilot One is the frame rate. The 8K is 24fps instead of 30fps — which is unwatchable in VR headset. You need minimum 30fps and actually, prefer to have 60fps for VR headset. So practically speaking, you only have 6K 30fps — which this camera can also do.
The touch screen of this thing is amazing. It is 2.2″ touchscreen and full android open OS. It feels like an expensive phone. I never have the need to use my phone to control the camera — compared to ONE R or GoPro MAX, this is refreshing.
The camera has onboard powerful CPU and GPU — so it can stitch 8K video internally. There is no need for computer stitching compared to Qoocam 8K. BUT, it only gives you H.264 mp4 — not even H.265 with a pretty low bitrate and compressed video. So it is a trade off. Also, I like that you don’t need your phone for stitching like GoPro MAX or ONE R. So if you are a professional, it looks pretty good onset not messing around with your phone in front of the clients.
Let’s compare it with Insta360 ONE R and Qoocam 8K:
So it is obvious in 100% scale Pilot One and Qoocam 8K are larger and clearer than ONE R — which is only in 5.7K. But if you turn to the shadows or highlights, ONE R and Qoocam 8K has a much better dynamic range. There is no Flat or Log mode in the Pilot One, and the dynamic range is bad. I hope they can fix that. It is unfair to compare 5.7K video to an 8K video — so I take out ONE R and just look at Qoocam 8K and Pilot ONE. So Qoocam 8K has a bigger sensor and 10bit color depth. Pilot ONE only has 1/2.3 small SONY sensors, but it has 4 of them and 4 lenses — double the number of Qoocam 8K. It is only 8-bit tho. So is number better than size? If you zoom in, it is not. Sensor — SIZE does matter. As you see Qoocam 8K looks sharper and has a lot more details even tho it is slightly noisier. The Pilot ONE also looks a lot more compressed than Qoocam 8K. And it is actually. If you look at the bitrate of the file, Qoocam 8K has a much higher bitrate in a better compression technology, which is H.265. So in general, just pure image quality, Qoocam 8K is still better 8K than Pilot ONE.
Here is a Pilot One regular photo. And here is an HDR photo. The HDR photo looks a lot better, but still, we see lens flare right here. Pilot ONE takes 8K photo, that is 8192 X 4096 — the bigger 8K, not 8K UHD. So it is a lot bigger photo than Richo Theta Z1. But how is quality compared to the King of 360 Photo camera — the Z1. Well, here is the side by side comparison. The Z1 has better color and no lens flare. Let’s look at the chart together. Z1 also has a better dynamic range. Let’s punch in 200%. Z1 is noisier, but if you look at the wood panels or the car in the distance, Z1 clearly has more details than Pilot one. So, again, sensor, SIZE does matter.
Although, Pilot ONE has a way faster workflow than Z1 or Qoocam 8K. It can directly color grade within the camera itself as you see right here. You can change your grammar, exposure, highlights, and shadowers. You don’t need to transfer your photo to your phone, with a different app like Snapseed or Theta+ and can directly upload your photo inside the camera, which is a lot faster. HDR is auto merged, so no computer is necessary. If you do the math, it is a lot cheaper compared to buying a dedicated computer to do all the stitching and color grading.
So, it is a different approach. As an artist like myself, I might want the best quality to go with Z1 or Qoocam 8K. But as a business, efficiency and profit margin are what you should care about. If you can finish hundreds of 8K 360 photos in a day — you will kill all your competitors and still save lots of money.
The 8K Cloud Live Streaming without a PC is the reason why I get this camera. Live streaming 360 is one of the easiest ways to make money with 360 technology. I did one of the largest 360 livestream around the world with Samsung VR and Special Olympics last year — and I can tell you I wish I have a solution like this back then. It will save me and Olympics lots of money.
You ask, there is no 8K VR headset that can watch this. Well, there is one right here, the Skyworth V901 — check out this full review right here on CreatorUp. And there will be more 8K VR headset in 2020 — still under NDA so I can’t tell you anything. But they are coming. With 5G network, it is possible to stream 60Mpbs to get a decent 8K video with full immersion. We don’t have 5G in California just yet. But there is a direct integration between Skyworth 8K with the Pilot One. So I can start a local stream right here, and pipe the stream wirelessly without a computer, directly into Skyworth. And that is for sure the best Livestream 360 quality I ever saw in a headset. Well beside Kandao Obsidian, which easily can be $20,000 solution.
I hope this article answers some of your questions. More review of Insta360 ONE R is coming. If you are interested in getting the camera, click HERE.