Why 360 cameras are the next big thing in capturing memories

360 photos are not just panoramas—they’re a whole new medium, and how you preserve and view your memories will never be the same

Imagine you could go back and re-experience your wedding day, down to the little details you’d forgotten over time. Or relive your baby’s homecoming, first steps, first words — or those fleeting moments of childhood — now and even years from now. Or help loved ones who live far away be immersed in the everyday things they miss, from birthdays to trips to days at the park.

Sound like stuff of the future? Well, thanks to the rise of 360 cameras, the future in preserving memories is here. And it’s accessible to everyday consumers — not just the super tech savvy.

Life in 360

So what is a 360 camera? It’s a device that combines two fisheye camera lenses into a sphere so it can capture everything around you with the click of a button. The most popular one on the market is the Ricoh Theta S ($346.95), which is currently a bestselling digital camera on Amazon and part of a VR industry that’s expected to crack $1 billion this year. There are about a dozen other 360 cameras on the market or on the way, ranging in size and price from a $180 to $800 for consumers. (Learn more from our 360 Camera Buying Guide).

So why exactly would you buy one when you’ve already got a smartphone camera with you wherever you go? Here’s a closer look at what sets 360 images apart from regular digital photos:

  • This is what you might call a “surroundie” rather than a selfie. It captures the person taking the picture (who’s often left out) and everything around them, including the aura of a place.
  • It captures the real, intangible feeling of a moment almost in real-time — there’s no posing to “say cheese” or interrupting the action to frame the perfect shot (since everything is in the shot).
  • You don’t just look at these images — you experience them. When you view these later (on your smartphone, laptop, or VR headset) it feels almost like being teleported into a moment. You can also click and drag on the photo to look up/down/left/right within the image (try it on the photos above). No VR headset required to appreciate these images in 360, although they do look pretty amazing in VR.

This is valuable if you travel often and find yourself struggling to capture and describe the feeling of a place — with yourself in the picture. It’s also particularly meaningful if have young children and find yourself missing the chance to photograph milestones, forgetting to take pictures with you in them, and struggling to help grandparents or loved ones who live far away be a part of the everyday moments.

Sharing is caring

The last piece of the puzzle is sharing your 360 photos and videos. How easy is it? Well, the short answer is, it’s only getting easier. Momento 360 is a web-based service that lets you simply upload your 360 photos and videos from your phone or computer, and then share privately with friends and family. Facebook is also on the 360 train, supporting 360 photos and videos, while YouTube also has support for 360 video.

That means if you do invest in a 360 camera, you can share the images with virtually anyone in your life without having to play tech support. This makes 360 cameras particularly ideal for anyone eager to capture, share, and re-experience remarkable moments — from new parents to globetrotters to close families and friends who happen to live faraway.

See more of what these cameras can do:

Momento360 is a free way to upload, view, share, and discuss your 360 memories with family and friends.