The Kodak Pixpro SP360 is not your typical action cam -- something you can tell just by looking at it.
It's a small box of a camera that's shock-, dust-, freeze- and splashproof with almost the entire top taken up with an f2.8 8.25mm lens (35mm equivalent). That is a very, very wide lens capable of capturing a circular 360-degree view in photos or video.
Why would you want to shoot 360-degree videos? That's a fair question and if you've never used one, it would be easy to see it as a gimmick. However, it does bring a more immersive feel to point-of-view (POV) video, delivering the action from all sides. If you're looking to add something different to your POV movies, it gives you another view to work with.
Still, if you're not sold on how it can enhance your videos just yet, JK Imaging, the company that licenses the Kodak brand for its Pixpro cameras, has made it so the SP360 can also pump out regular 16:9-ratio full HD video with a more traditional field of view minus much of the extreme distortion from its lens.
Mount the camera with the lens pointing up or down and you get 360-degree photos or video that, with help from desktop and mobile apps, can be played and played with in multiple ways. Aim the lens directly at your subject and you can record ultrawide-angle movie clips like those you'd get from just about any other action cam.
Design and features
Compared to other 360-degree cameras like the VSN Mobil V.360 and Giroptic, the SP360 is ultracompact and even by action cam standards it's fairly small measuring 1.6 inches wide by 2 inches high by 1.5 inches deep (41 by 50 by 38mm). Again, most of the top (or front) is consumed by the lens, but you'll find stereo mics next to the lens, too.
On the side opposite the lens is a compartment for the removable battery that Kodak rates at 160 minutes of continuous 1080p video; my anecdotal testing came within striking distance of this mark, but with the Wi-Fi off.
Speaking of Wi-Fi, every time you power up the camera, it starts in Wi-Fi mode. In order to start recording you need to press the power/mode button again or use the wireless to connect to your computer or mobile device. There is no way to quickly go from off to recording. Not the end of the world, obviously, but a quick-start option would be nice.
A small monochrome screen lets you see and navigate your settings. Like many point-of-view cameras, you'll need to connect to a smartphone, tablet or computer to get a preview from the camera to setup your shots.
Though you're likely considering the SP360 for its video capabilities, the camera also takes photos -- one at a time or in bursts of 10. It can also do time-lapse video and loop recording. Loop recording, commonly used for recording while driving, will continuously record video breaking it into 5 or 10 minute segments until your memory card is filled or until the record button is hit again. Once the card is filled, it will start overwriting the segments starting with the first.
The SP360 also has a motion-detection setting that, when activated, will start recording when the camera picks up movement in a scene and stops when there is no movement for 10 seconds. Once it sees movement again, it will start recording a new clip.