If you are shopping for what can be very confusing camera types, let us describe some of the differences to help you better understand what you might be getting for your money.
3D or three dimensional is also equivalent to “stereoscopic” and it can be important to a VR camera depending on the purpose of it in use. For only 3D type of cam will give the viewer that sense of immersion to really make them feel that they are there because you are looking at things with 2 eyes with 2 individual pictures with slightly different perspectives that would be similar to the real world. It gives you a sense of depth.
Panoramic simply describes the area around you as a wide field. It could be a 120 degree field of view or a 360 degree field of view (being all around you) but does not include the area above or below you.
This would be a wide field of view that includes top and bottom but not necessarily all around you in 360 degrees. But it could.
This would be a description of a 360 degree field of view all around and top and bottom as a “SPHERE” view.
So the ultimate maximum VR effect would come from a “3D-OmniSpheric Camera” for that real feel. But just the 3D aspect of it means that it is 2 images and is twice the data to digest for editing on a computer and with pixels in every direction to boot. Something to consider if you are buying the better cams at this early stage on VR cams is do you have enough computer to play-back or edit it ?
You should also note that in normal use, a camera has a mount and that area is not normally captured.
A Word About Resolution
We are all getting use to the idea of ‘MegaPixels’ as it relates to our normal 2D cameras and that more is better for quality.
But don’t be confused when that VR camera has as many pixels as your smartphone cam and looks terrible when viewed in a VR device. There is a reason for that as I will explain.
When you view a 2k photo or video on your computer and you are quite happy with that, keep in mind you are looking at all of the pixels at once. In VR, all of those pixels are sent to the device but you are only looking at a zoomed image of about 1/6 of them. The other pixels remain in place if you should change the position of your head in the tracking system.
So a ‘MONO’ 4K OmniSpheric Camera will be viewed as about a 1.2k or 1.6k image depending of the device it is being viewed on.
For a 3D cam, the resolution needs to be twice as high to be viewed the same since we are sending a separate image to each eye.
And of course, the above holds true when shopping for the highest resolution. Do you have enough computer to digest the enormous size of the data captured from it. In a few years, this should not be much of a issue but a good question to ask before you buy.
Hopefully this will give you enough background to ask the right questions and pick a solution that is right for what you want to do with it.