Kandao QooCam 8K review

With 8K video, 10-bit colour and built-in stabilisation, the Kandao QooCam 8K makes a compelling choice

Kandao QooCam 8K review
Review

Price when reviewed

£529

$589 / €600
Check current price

Our Verdict

Kandao has quietly put out arguably the best 360 camera on the market. Offering superb 8K video, a larger sensor than any of its competitors, excellent image quality in an easy-to-use package, the Kandao QooCam 8K is the 360 camera we all thought the GoPro Max or Insta360 ONE X would be: a game-changer for the medium. Yes, it gets hot, it's big and the battery life could be longer, but there is no other 360 camera on the market that produces image quality like this.

For

  • Superb image quality
  • Excellent video features
  • 3.5mm mic port
  • 6-axis stabilisation

Against

  • Short battery life
  • Loud fan as body heats up

360 cameras began as somewhat of a niche gimmick, but as the technology has taken hold and image quality has improved, they’ve become a serious tool for photographers and videographers.

Kandao has been one of the companies at the forefront of this development, and the QooCam 8K is its latest iteration. We put the company’s new 360 camera to the test in our Kandao QooCam 8K review.

What is the Kandao QooCam 8K?

The QooCam 8K is a new 360 camera from the Chinese manufacturer Kandao. The camera can record 8K video as well as capture 12-bit raw footage. The QooCam can also shoot 10-bit video.

What’s more, it can record immersive 360 video in 4K at 120fps. The QooCam 8K also offers built-in stabilisation, a touchscreen, vlog mode and live streaming capability.

Kandao QooCam 8K Price & Availability

The Kandao QooCam 8K price tag is £529/€600/$589. The 360 camera was launched in November 2019 and is available for purchase now.

You can buy the Kandao QooCam 8K at retailers such as Adorama, B&H Photo Video, Wex Photo Video and Park Cameras.

Features

The Kandao QooCam 8K spec sheet is pretty impressive. Inside the camera is a 1/1.7-inch sensor, which can provide 8K video recording and 12-bit Raw capture.

As well as 8K, the new QooCam can record 360 videos in 4K at 120fps for slow motion playback. It also supports H.264 /H.265. video coding formats.

When it comes to editing your 360 footage, stitching is done in-camera. Then via the QooCam App you can use the 8K Express Edit tool to fine tune your videos.

Spherical stills can be captured at 30-megapixel resolution, and the QooCam 8K also offers a built-in automated image stacking tool for raw files called Kandao Raw+. This increases the dynamic range and reduces noise.

Kandao has also included its Super Steady stabilisation technology, which uses 6-axis gyro and IMU for electronic stabilisation.

Other features include a 2.4-inch OLED touchscreen for accessing key camera functions, live-streaming capability, a QooCam S vlog mode, 64GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot.

Vloggers will also appreciate the QooCam 8K’s 3.5mm mic port, making it one of the few 360 cameras to offer one.

You’ll also find many of the 360 effects, called SmartClips, which are now common in 360 cameras, such as tiny planet, Inception mode, Hyperlapse, Rabbit Hole and more.

Kandao QooCam 8K review

Build Quality

While 360 cameras tend to be small, the Kandao QooCam 8K weighs in at 228g as one of the bigger options on the market. The body is made of plastic, but it feels robust and solid in your hand.

At the top of the unit are dual fisheye lenses. At the bottom of one side is the OLED touchscreen, which is bright and responsive.

Other design features include a microSD card slot and a built-in 3,000mAh battery, which you can charge via USB-C.

At the bottom is a standard quarter-inch thread for mounting the QooCam 8K to a mini tripod, as well as the QooCam’s dedicated selfie stick.

There’s also a 3.5mm mic port for connecting an external microphone, a Q shortcut button and Kandao sells an option Dive Case for using the camera underwater.

Performance

With its 8K video capability, the Kandao QooCam 8K surges past any of its natural competitors in terms of image quality. GoPro and Insta360 broke new ground with the Max and ONE X, respectively, offering 5.7K resolution. But with 8K video, Kandao has pushed the medium to a new benchmark.

It’s worth noting, too, in case you were wondering, that because the 8K files are so big, the editing you do on your phone is actually done to 4K proxy files. The app then applies your edits to the original file. But I digress…

Most 360 cameras use 1/2.3-inch sensors but Kandao has gone for much larger 1/1.7-inch sensors in the QooCam 8K. As you can imagine, images and video are clean and full of detail.

When I reviewed the GoPro Max I felt its image quality was the best I’d seen on a 360 camera. It’s still superb, but Kandao edges past it. The bigger sensors and extra resolution just make everything look sharper, cleaner and the colours pop.

Overexposure is often an issue with 360 cameras, but the QooCam 8K’s dynamic range provides a lot of latitude. I noticed minimal fringing in areas of contrast, and highlights, such as clouds, retain a fair amount of detail.

The QooCam 8K’s 10-bit video capability also provides plenty of flexibility for adjusting your colours and exposure in post-production using the 8K Express Edit software in the app.

It’s also worth noting Kandao’s SuperSteady stabilisation. I don’t think it’s quite as good as GoPro’s HyperSmooth, but it is still very good. Movements are fluid, and it produces stable, shake-free footage.

So what are the downsides? The camera is working hard to produce 8K video, and as such it gets quite noisy. The QooCam 8K heats up fairly quickly, which triggers an internal fan and this does make a surprisingly loud noise.

As such, the battery life isn’t as long as other 360 cameras. I’ve been getting about an hour to an hour and a half. The GoPro Max, for instance, lasts much longer per charge.

But that image quality…

QooCam app

Finally, it’s worth noting the app. If you’ve used a 360 camera before, the set-up is quite straightforward. Load the Kandao QooCam app on your phone. On the camera’s touchscreen, tap the WiFi button on the home screen.

Then go to your WiFi networks on your phone and find the QooCam 8K. Your camera will have a default password. Enter that and you’ll establish a WiFi connection with the QooCam.

Kandao’s QooCam app is one of the better companion apps out there. There’s no lag with the live preview, and you can swap between lenses for a different view. Settings are easily accessible at the top of the screen, and there are also a fair amount of manual controls.

Kandao QooCam 8K Sample Photos & Video

Below are a selection of sample photos and video shot with the Kandao QooCam 8K.

Verdict

Kandao has quietly put out arguably the best 360 camera on the market. Offering superb 8K video, a larger sensor than any of its competitors, excellent image quality in an easy-to-use package, the Kandao QooCam 8K is the 360 camera we all thought the GoPro Max or Insta360 ONE X would be: a game-changer for the medium.

Don’t get me wrong, the Max and ONE X are fantastic cameras – and their smaller size and battery life make them more versatile for more active pursuits – but when most interchangeable lens camera makers have yet to debut 8K capability, this is a huge step forward for Kandao.

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