COLOGNE—Nikon teased the press and public at CES 2016 with its first entry into the small video camera market, the dual-lens, 360-degree KeyMission 360. But it didn't reveal any technical details (aside from it being a 4K 360-degree camera), nor did it let us know when the camera would ship, or how much it would cost.
Nikon is using the 2016 Photokina show to officially announce the KeyMission 360 to the world. The compact video camera features dual f/2 ultra-wide angle lenses, each backed by a 20MP image sensor. It can record in 1080p or 4K at 24fps, but you'll need to lower the resolution if you want a faster frame rate—30fps is possible at 960p, 120fps at 640p, and 240fps at 480p.
I watched some sample footage, shot by Nikon ambassador Ami Vitale in Africa, and viewed on an Android tablet screen. Video is sharp and crisp, though I saw some evidence of purple color fringing in high contrast areas of the frame. As for seams, if an object gets close to the merge point of the lenses, it's quite noticeable, but at a distance you'll need to look for the small overlapping line in a clear blue sky to notice. It's definitely some of the crispest 360-degree video I've seen, but I'll reserve judgement on overall performance until I've had a chance to shoot with the final version of the camera as part of a proper review.
One bid advantage that the KeyMission has over some of its competition, including the Samsung Gear 360, is that it stitches video in-camera. You'll be able to take the microSD card out, load the footage into Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro for editing, and get it online without a lengthy, CPU-intensive stitching process.
In addition to video, the KM360 shoots 30MP still images. Images and video are stabilized using an electronic vibration reduction system, and audio is recorded in stereo format using an internal mic. Additional shooting modes include Time Lapse, Looping, and Superlapse.
The KM 360 is rugged. It can be submerged to 98 feet, survive 6.6-foot drops, and operate in frigid 14°F weather. It has Wi-Fi, so you can preview your video frame on an Android or iOS device (though you can't see the feed while recording), via the SnapBridge 360/170 app. Nikon also includes video-editing software for Mac and Windows with the camera.
The KeyMission 360 uses a standard tripod thread for mounting. A couple of adhesive mounts are included with the camera, as is a protective silicone jacket, lens protectors, and a cardboard smartphone VR solution. Additional mounts will be sold separately.
In addition to the 360, Nikon is releasing two KeyMission cameras that shoot video in its traditional, flat format. The KeyMission 170 is an action cam with a 170-degree f/2.8 lens, an 8.3MP image sensor with a 16:9 format for native 4K UHD capture. It records at up to 4K footage at 30fps (NTSC) or 25fps (PAL), and can roll at 1080p at 30/25fps or 60/50fps depending on which video format you choose.
The KM170 also has a standard tripod mount, so accessories can be shared with the KM360. It offers electronic vibration reduction for 1080p footage, and it has a rear LCD so you can frame shots and review footage without reaching for your smartphone. Of course, it also has Wi-Fi and you can use your phone to view a feed from the lens, even when the camera is recording.
Aside from its depth rating—which is 33 feet—it's just as rugged as the KM360. If you need to dive deep, you can add an optional housing that is rated to go as deep as 131 feet. Video-editing software for Mac and Windows is included.
Finally there's the KeyMission 80. It's a small clip-on camera, ideal for folks who are interested in logging life from their own point of view. Its 80-degree lens (25mm full-frame equivalent) is as wide as you'll find on most smartphones and boasts an f/2 aperture. It's backed by a 12MP image sensor. There's a second lens on the back, a wider 90-degree (22mm equivalent) f/2.2 prime with a 5MP sensor—that's there for the selfie crowd. Video tops out at 1080p and the KM80 does have a small 1.75-inch touch-screen LCD on board.
The KM80 is waterproof, but to just 3.2 feet, shock proof to 6 feet, and useable in 14°F temperatures. It has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so it works with Nikon's standard Android and iOS SnapBridge app. It doesn't have a tripod socket, but you can buy an adapter to mount it as an add-on accessory.
All of the KeyMission cameras will ship in October. The KeyMission 360 is priced at $499.95, with the KeyMission 170 set to sell for $399.95, while the KeyMission 80 is the least expensive of the trio at $279.95.