It’s impossible to have a conversation about (or do a review of) a camera that’s capable of shooting virtual reality content without talking about the VR industry as a whole. And we’ll certainly dive into that in a bit. But let’s just start by focusing on what HumanEyes was able to create in their rather impressive Vuze XR camera.
The Vuze XR is an impressively versatile product that’s capable of shooting seemingly endless types of VR-ready content. Similar to other cameras we’ve reviewed in the 360-degree market, the Vuze XR features two lenses that sit back-to-back and that are positioned above a handle. That’s where the similarities end, though. At the press of a button, those two lenses swing themselves outward, turning the camera into a VR180-ready camera. So, on top of the full 360-degree photos and videos consumers can capture with the camera, they can also shoot 3D 180-degree content.
It’s a design that could be viewed as quirky and gimmicky, but HumanEyes executes the concept in a way that makes so much sense and sets their product apart in an increasingly crowded field. And at $439, the Vuze XR maintains its status at a sub-$500 360-degree camera that’s become an important distinction. It’s by no means a cheap product—perhaps not something the average consumer is going to purchase on a whim. But with the rich feature set and versatile nature of the Vuze XR, HumanEyes offers a lot more for the consumer interested in dabbling in the VR space.
HumanEyes did exceptionally well in the design of the Vuze XR. Despite the complicated nature of what happens internally when capturing content, the product itself is very simple to use. Four buttons are featured on the handle, including the capture/shutter button, a power button (that also lets you change between video and still images), the WiFi button, and the button opens the lenses to convert the camera into a VR180 device. There’s also a door that opens, giving you access to the microSD card slot and USB Type-C port. It’s not an overly heavy product either, which makes shooting for extended periods no big deal.
As with other 360-degree cameras, the Vuze XR can connect to an app for shooting. There, users have access to their content gallery, a whole host of manual shooting functions—with more added regularly via firmware updates—and other camera settings. You connect to the camera via the internal WiFi network on the device, which allows you to preview images before shooting and to get live looks of the videos you’re capturing. And, of course, there’s support for live streaming through the app to various VR-ready video platforms, which adds another layer of functionality to the device.
From a performance perspective, the Vuze XR did relatively well. The camera utilizes dual 12MP sensors and two 210-degree lenses to capture content, with resolutions as high as 5.7K available via the Vuze desktop software. Pre-stitched video will be available and ready to go at 4K30, while you can render up to 4K60 and 5.7K30 through the software.
It’s safe to say that there isn’t a single 360-degree camera that’s mastered the art of stitching, and the Vuze XR is not exempt from that fact. Internal stitching in a 360-degree camera is a near-requirement if a brand hopes to target the entry-level, amateur consumer with their product. And while this camera performed well in a variety of settings—particularly when placed on top of a tripod—it certainly struggled in others. If you plan on holding the camera during use, expect to see an awkwardly cropped version of your hand and arm.
The 180-degree videos and stills are slightly better from a quality standpoint, though they’re right in line and perhaps slightly above the type of quality you’d expect from the VR market.
Where Are We With VR Content?
Which brings us to the part of the review where we need to talk about the VR market as a whole.
Bottom line, we’re still waiting for the VR market to catch on. There just hasn’t been that massive demand for VR content yet that would make adoption of VR cameras an absolute must. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve taken part in some impressive VR experiences, and I’ve seen the possibilities of storytelling through VR. But mass adoption just isn’t there yet.
That said, the way you get there is by getting this technology into the hands of all consumers. And for that to happen, the products that support this market need to be affordable and simple to use. And that’s what HumanEyes has been able to achieve with the Vuze XR.
Every time I speak with Jim Malcolm, the North American General Manager for HumanEyes, he has another kickass VR video to show off, and I end up more jazzed about the possibilities of VR.
So, are we to the point where VR content and VR products are must-haves? Probably not. But we’re getting there—slowly.
Bottom line with the Vuze XR, it’s easily the strongest example of an affordable and versatile VR-ready camera for the average consumer. You don’t need to be a super techy to understand how to use and get the most out of this product. It’s a strong educational tool for the VR space, helping the average consumer get a better understanding of what it’s like to capture and enjoy this incredibly immersive style of content.