Nikon KeyMission 360: What we (don’t) know

by | Jan 11, 2016 | News, Products

One of the biggest surprises at CES was the announcement of Nikon’s KeyMission 360, Nikon’s first attempt at competing with GoPro, Sony, and Panasonic in the action camera segment. While Nikon says the camera will be available this spring, so far it has been pretty quiet about the details. Here’s what we know, and don’t.

360-degree video

The biggest feature that differentiates the KeyMission 360 is right in its name: it uses dual lenses and sensors to record a full 360 degree field of view. Presumably, or at least as it looks in the sample video, users will then be able to “pan and scan” when editing the footage to choose which angle to put on display. The sample video does not allow viewers to change the angle during playback, so we’re not yet sure if footage shot with the KeyMission will be compatible with YouTube’s 360 video functionality in Chrome, but that seems like a reasonable expectation. Update: Nikon has released sample videos on YouTube that show full 360° compatibility (Chrome browser required).

4K Ultra HD

Like the new D5 and D500, the KeyMission 360 shoots in 4K resolution. We’re certainly glad to see Nikon taking 4K (and video overall) seriously, but when it comes to 360 degree videos, the true meaning of “4K” is a little amorphous. Does this mean a total of 4k across the entire 360 degrees, i.e. each sensor is only shooting 2K? Or does this mean that the viewable frame area will play back in 4K? Obviously, it would be great if it’s the latter, but this would mean the camera would actually be recording, processing, and storing more than 4K, which seems doubtful for such a small camera. Nikon has also stated it will use “electronic VR” to stabilize footage. If this works similarly to other digital stabilization systems, it will mean a slight loss of resolution.

Adventure ready

Like any good action camera, the KeyMission 360 promises to be durable and reliable in the field. It is designed to withstand shocks, dust, and low temperatures and is waterproof down to 100ft. It also has Bluetooth and WiFi built-in, we assume for using a smartphone as a viewfinder since the dual-lens nature of the camera means there’s no room for an LCD screen. Of course, with 360-degree views, you can pretty much just set it and forget without having to worry much about framing.

Right now, it looks like we have more questions than answers, such as what the eventual price will be. Still, it’s definitely exciting to see Nikon innovate in such a radical way. Hopefully we’ll get more information before the camera’s launch this spring. Stay tuned.

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