Nikon’s first venture into the action camera genre has arrived. The distinctive styling of the KeyMission 360 is hard to miss with two lenses, large and visible on either side of the compact body.
The KeyMission 360 is the first from the new Nikon family. A range of go anywhere action cameras designed shoot in some of the world most hostile places and capture environments and situations that would have previously been impossible.
Alternatively it’s equally suited to capturing you and some mates on a ride at the weekend, or even the family.
Nikon KeyMission 360 designed for adventure
At the launch event at the London Science museum we heard about the impact that the KeyMission 360 or more precisely 360 video will be having on the world in the near future. To be honest the videos shown really do show a world of excitement and pure escapism, with footage demonstrating the full potential of the well edited 360 video.
Speaker Henry Stuart talked through a brief history of the innovation that has lead him and his company to the forefront of the genre in the UK. I highly recommend checking out some of his work and if he’s doing a longer talk and you’re interested in VR then I would highly recommend going.
This was followed by an interesting talk from explorer Pen Hadow about the perils of his single man journey from Canada to the North Pole. One that he wishes he could now capture with the latest 360 imaging equipment designed by Nikon.
360 VR innovation in photography
Nikon’s point for these two speakers was to demonstrate that VR and 360 video isn’t just for the games, it’s for the explorers, the photographers for all of us.
Nikon’s aim is to appeal to those wanting to tell stories, re-enforce their missions for a better life and better world, by being able to bring what they witness into our home with a realism and technology that we’re only just really starting to understand.
KeyMission 170 and 80
The KeyMission 360 is just the first and most impressive of the three new cameras. It will shortly be joined by the KeyMission 170 and 80. The 170 being a more traditional GoPro style camera whilst the 80 looks to be Nikon’s take on the life logger, just more robust and better equipped.
I’ll bring you more on the 170 and 80 when review samples arrive later, for now lets take a look and immerse our selves in the Nikon KeyMission 360.
KeyMission 360 initial impressions
The design instantly stands out in much the same way as the Kodak SP360 when dual mounted with a lens mounted on either side of the small body.
In the hand the unit feels far more solid and well made than when compared to the majority of other action cameras. You can instantly tell that this is a product made by one of the worlds leading imaging manufacturers rather than a start-up or new entity into the market.
Getting the initial specs out of the way the KeyMission shoots 360 4k video, what this means in real terms is that the file that it records down is fully compatible with the latest range of VR headsets or YouTube 360, so you’re not limited to a view and playback solely of what was in front of the camera but also at every angle around it.
KeyMission 360 designed to withstand the elements
The 360 is designed as an action camera and this means by the genre’s rules that it must be waterproof, 30m, dust proof, shockproof, 2m, and freeze proof, -10ºC, so for that it ticks all boxes.
Size wise it’s slightly bigger than the GoPro at 65.7 x 60.6 x 61.1mm and weighs in at 198g with card and battery.
Designed to record a complete 360 degree image the KeyMission differs from the likes of the 360Fly by actually stitching over the hole where the camera is mounted, all very clever and I’ll bring you an example of the video as soon as it’s charged.
Those two 1.6mm Nikkor f/2.0 lenses front the two ½.3-inch RGB CMOS image sensors. The image data from these is combined to produce the spherical 360º 4K/ (3840 x 2160) video or 23.9mp photos.
Two detachable domed lenses protect the 180 degree lenses. A great feature that means that if they do get scratched or damaged they can be quickly and hopefully cheaply replaced, again I’m likely to find out pretty soon. These can be removed quickly by rotating clockwise.
On the top is a large video record button; I’m very much in favor of this style as it makes it quick and easy to operate. To one side of this is the battery indicator highlighted with a battery icon and the other side a record alert LED again with a small icon of a video camera and the word ON.
Showing icons may seem a little simplistic but is something that I really like, make it as obvious as possible what the cameras is doing because there will be those times when you really want to check what your camera is recording and you know you won’t have a hand free.
On one side is the photo shutter button, and again the button is huge so no problem missing it even when wearing gloves. On the other side is a locked door behind which is the battery slot, MicroSD Card slot , Micro-USB and HDMI Micro.
Finally on the base is a standard ¼ threaded tripod mount, so no GoPro mount converter in the box.
Nikon KeyMission 360 connectivity
Taking a quick look inside the technology is equally impressive with video stored in the H.264/MPEG-4 .mp4 file format and images as JPEG.
Video resolutions as always is slightly different depending on NTSC or PAL from 2160 / 24p to 320 / 200p, I’ll bring you the full list once I’ve checked.
Sensitivity can be adjusted through 100-1600 ISO and +-2EV of exposure compensation can be dialed in. Shutter speeds vary from 1/8000 to 1s and there are some other settings for longer exposures that I need to check out fully. How it copes when headed into the sun will be interesting.
Connectivity is one of the cameras big features and to that end if has every trending type, including Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, Bluetooth version 4.1 and NFC.
This connectivity leads to the SnapBridge 360/170 app for mobile devices and KeyMission 360/170 Utility for PC. These applications enable you to control and view your video as well as edit and share.
Initial impressions of the KeyMission 360 are exciting, it looks to be one of the most complete 360 cameras yet, built robust and designed with ease of use and adventure in mind.
The camera is now on charge and when ready to go I’ll bring you the first video and images.