I used this bizarre compact camera to shoot 3D videos for my Oculus Quest 2

I used this bizarre compact camera to shoot 3D videos for my Oculus Quest 2

Opinion: A unique camera that’s one for early adopters. Why does your phone just use one lens at a time but your head has two to record the world? Humans experience stereoscopic vision, with each eye seeing a slightly distinct perspective of the world. It enables us to discern depth. So… 3D TVs? They may have failed, but 3D movies still exist. Is there still a passion for 3D media? If there is, then the medium will undoubtedly be virtual reality headgear like the Oculus Quest 2 (or Meta Quest 2, as it is regrettably now termed).

The new black or white QooCam Ego 3D camera from KanDao, the company that produced the QooCam 8K 360-degree camera a few years ago, records 3D content. It’s somewhat unique. It is about the size of a vintage smartphone and fits easily in a shirt pocket. It has two f/1.8 lenses with a combined field of vision of 66 degrees, one on either side.

It produces 3D videos in H.264 MP4 format and 3D photos in JPEG format. The level of information it provides is what makes it really stunning. Photos have a resolution of 8000×3000 pixels, or around 24MP, while films have a resolution of 3840×1080, or half-4K quality, and are shot in portrait aspect ratio at a frame rate of 60 fps. There is no internal storage; everything is recorded onto a microSD card with a maximum capacity of 256GB. The touchscreen is a highly responsive 2.54 inches.

Even while it’s not exactly trying to overtake our list of the best small cameras, it’s still one of the most fascinating and unusual solutions available, especially if you want to record some immersive video to transmit to faraway family members. Do you want to purchase it? How much of an early adopter you are will determine that…

Slow coach

I brought the QooCam Ego 3D to Berlin after using it for about a week. It’s not nearly as simple to use as it seems, I found out.

I had assumed that the age of lightning-fast, heat-resistant technology had arrived, but the QooCam Ego 3D proves me wrong. It moves slowly. Really slow. It takes around 20 seconds after being turned on before it is ready for use. You must be prepared far in advance if you want to capture a spectacular moment since switching between 3D video and 3D picture takes roughly four seconds.

The most powerful content is always created by a 3D camera when it captures objects that are quite close to it. The QooCam Ego 3D sees the most depth in that area, just like two-eyed people do. Furthermore, it is exceedingly challenging to record or take pictures of a whole room because to the lenses’ usually relatively limited angles.

The QooCam Ego 3D is more suited for close-ups of subjects than than setting the environment. Despite the fact that its two lenses are fixed focus, I had to select one of six depth settings (given in centimeters) before producing a 3D picture or video. It proved to be a laborious job, requiring continual adjustments to prevent the 3D material from appearing fuzzy precisely where it mattered.

Both formats have their own set of specifications: 2m depth for video and 5m depth for photographs. In actuality, the ideal technique to shoot is to arrange a shot, change the focus, then review your video while attached to a dedicated viewer to check for clarity and 3D effects. Even though it’s a hassle, some of my films were quite immersive.

VR, but not as you know it

There are currently few options to access 3D content captured with the QooCam Ego 3D. A red viewer that magnetically attaches over the touchscreen is included with the device. This provided me with an immediate means of enjoying my 3D stuff in 37 pixels per degree (PPD).

That’s more than an Oculus Quest 2, which has around 20 PPD and is the second-most evident device for watching 3D material. I downloaded the Bigscreen program, captured a variety of video, and then placed it all into an Oculus Quest 2 to watch it in 3D.

VR, but not as you’re used to it. With 3D, you’re left with a static image… but with another dimension, in contrast to head-tracking, which is undoubtedly the VR headsets’ biggest selling point in terms of immersion. You can only see depth in a fixed-frame format, though. It isn’t a 360-degree camera, after all.

I liked parts of the Berlin I saw with the Oculus Quest 2. Although there are some problems, there is just enough resolution to be impressive. The main one is depth, which makes closer things appear far more three-dimensional than those farther away.

Critically speaking, the QooCam Ego 3D only has electrical picture stabilization, which means that, no, it doesn’t produce effects similar to those seen on GoPro (HyperSmooth) or Insta360 (FlowState) cameras. Even if you use a selfie stick, the end result is that everything appears to be little unstable.

This has effects that give the QooCam Ego 3D a rather outdated appearance. Without a doubt, in order for the 3D footage captured by this camera to be viewable, it must be positioned on a gimbal.

Since it has a standard tripod thread on the bottom, mounting it on a gimbal for video and a tripod for vlogging is simple. There are self-timer options for the latter, but be careful to adjust the focus distance and keep still while shooting.

So is it any good?

Due to its simplicity of use and all-around likeability, the QooCam Ego 3D impressed me right away. Yes, switching material on and off requires a little bit of DIY, but side-loading content to a VR headset and/or posting it to YouTube only requires a computer and a microSD card reader.

Of course, its 1,340mAh battery has a limited lifespan. The QooCam Ego 3D is no different from the greatest action cameras and 360-degree cameras, which are similar in size but seldom last more than one hour. Because the battery life indicator clearly decreases as you shoot, I discovered that I needed to consider the precise content I wanted to capture in terms of both depth measurements and perceived 3D worth.

I reckon I got about 40 minutes out of the QooCam Ego 3D. In whatever weather it’s used, the camera gets noticeably warm in the hand, bordering on hot. When I tried to use it in 28C/82F heat it informed me that it was overheating and would switch itself off. It took about 30 minutes to cool down enough to be used again. 

The QooCam Ego 3D was fun to use overall, but as hardware it might be better. The program, although being simple to use, is also excruciatingly sluggish. The QooCam Ego 3D has a place, but after using it for a week in Berlin, I’ve come to the conclusion that it desperately needs six things: more processing power, a longer battery life, a 3D autofocus mode, efficient image stabilization technology, a better way to connect to its app, and wider-angle lenses.

All that said, the QooCam Ego 3D is for now one of the easiest ways to capture 3D content for viewing either on its own viewer or on a VR headset like the Oculus Quest. You just need to plan carefully and prepare to wade deep into the depths. 

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