Edit: Review is now live here.

What’s coming up?

I’ve spent the last month using the NCTech Iris360 camera and I’m working on a full review of it. I can share a few initial thoughts now but wait for the full review later this month or next. For those of you who haven’t heard of this camera head over to NCTech’s website for more information. I’ve been using it paired with both an Android smartphone and tablet. This is important because the cameras entire interface is controlled through a Wifi connection to an Android device.

Initial Thoughts

The camera itself isn’t too big and is relatively lightweight. I paired it with a small Manfrotto tripod, and when attached I can pick both the camera and tripod up with one finger.

Most of my tests have been outdoors and in the coming month I will be doing more indoor shooting, which is primarily what I will be using the camera for. As the camera has a few different modes it’s hard to say straight up what I think of it. The main differences in use depend on whether you choose to use the non-HDR, HDR or HDR+ modes.

In my opinion so far the non-HDR mode is unusable and not really an option at all. That is sad as it means the camera can’t really be used for capturing live action shots. The Iris360’s 4 cameras have pretty terrible built in HDR and so they require at least 6 shots to get the required latitude for most areas.

I’ve had to learn to put a lot of trust in the HDR+ mode. The camera doesn’t allow you to preview your exposure in this mode and requires the user to process the images on a PC for a final check. My review will focus primarily on this mode as I don’t think the other two are really usable professionally.

I found the Iris360 android app to be a seriously mixed bag. It can be unreliable and lacks polish. The manual exposure mode is still a mystery to me. I’m going to do some further testing on that. The camera doesn’t seem to give any exposure readouts so its up to the photographer to guess the exposure mode and then incrementally adjust the exposure. For most applications this would seem highly impractical.

The images have some serious chromatic aberration near areas of high contrast. They lack sharpness and display serious noise in darker environments. I think the camera may be applying a very heavy handed noise reduction which may account for the lack of sharpness.  Colour seems relatively accurate and the processing seems to bump the saturation quiet high. I’m looking at developing a Photoshop strategy for the images which improves them a bit.

Stand by for further thoughts and a full review with more test images from the Iris360 in the next few weeks.