At the present moment, most of the attention generated by virtual reality revolves around entirely fictional settings. One need only browse through the best VR games of the current year to understand this. We see robot-like figures in outer space, TRON-like chambers for music-based lightsaber wielding, cartoonish game levels with animated animals, and various vaguely fictional settings. A lot of it looks fairly realistic in that the graphics are good and the physics are believable enough – but most of it isn’t based on places or ideas that are in fact real.
However, while this is true in the top tiers of VR, there are some smaller games that touch on covering more realistic spaces, aspects of nature, and even wildlife. For instance, there is a PS4 game called “Virry VR” that provides players with up-close looks at actual African wildlife footage. Nature Treks VR is more artificial, but still focuses on building realistic wild environments. Meanwhile, the transition of the popular online slot game Gonzo’s Quest to VR suggests that some of the other New Zealand-based pokie arcades that traditionally appear alongside it could also make the leap – and several of those games (Jungle Spirit: Call Of The Wild, Wild Pride, etc.) deal directly with nature and wildlife.
Games like these may seem inconsequential, but they do open the door to future VR experiences that will be designed to capture the real world and present nature in a realistic, virtual manner. For this reason, we thought we’d identify some of the cameras that might be best suited to the actual creation of realistic, natural VR experiences.
Acer Holo 360 – This is perhaps the simplest and most accessible camera you can use to capture nature in a way that can be presented in VR. You can get this camera on Amazon for less than $100, and enjoy 6.9K image capture in a camera about the size and weight of a modern mobile phone. The camera also has its own built-in WiFi and data options, which means it’s a nice tool for easily exporting the images you capture.
GoPro Fusion – When GoPro introduced its Fusion camera, the point was to bring immersive virtual reality recording to the masses. Early tests of the equipment paired its spherical image capture with the Samsung Gear VR to produce seamless, attractive virtual reality experiences, which indicates that this is indeed a camera worth considering as an option. It’s not cheap, but a 2,620mAh battery will allow it to go to work capturing a full environment for quite some time, and the 5.2K spherical video capture, again, results in a very clear 360-degree image.
Instax360 One X – The Instax360 One X is considered to be one of the more high-end options specifically for image capture and editing. It uses multiple images, 5.7K capability, and advanced slow motion and stabilizing techniques to provide some of the smoothest 360-degree images you can find. The drawbacks are the price (at about $400 typically, it compares to the GoPro Fusion) and a fairly limiting 60-minute battery life.
Garmin VIRB 360 – For those who are truly focused on nature photography, this sturdy and durable camera may ultimately be the best option. It’s expensive – sometimes listed for up to $800 – but it’s one of the more comprehensively capable options out there. Its 5.7K resolution is about par for the course on the higher end of things, but its waterproof design, its four microphones for sound capture, and its accompanying photo editing software help to set it apart.
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