The introduction of a new Nikon camera is noteworthy; the debut of a Nikon camera that heralds a whole new category of Nikon cameras is something very special.
The KeyMission 360 is the first in a family of Nikon action cameras that capture still images and 4K Ultra HD video. Casually known in these parts as "the action cam" or "the 360," KeyMission 360 is waterproof to 100 feet and built to handle the bounces of rugged terrain, the trials of dusty environments and the extremes of low and high temperatures.
And one other thing: it'll record 360-degree stills and videos, thanks to its pair of fore and aft viewing lenses, its dual sensors and built-in computing power that stitches the images together for all-encompassing, 360-degree views.
Also available, a line of dedicated accessories to mount the 360 to pretty much whatever you'd like—helmet, kayak, car, bike, drone, your dog—for ultimate point-of-view viewpoints.
Not long ago, Nikon ambassador Corey Rich got to apply his action and lifestyle photo skills to the 360 action cam. When Corey and his crew returned from their exploratory runs with the camera, we got a chance to talk with him, and what he had to say is the reason for the use of the word "exploratory."
"The potential of this camera—the adventure of it—is at such a high level that it took us a while to get it," Corey says. "This camera sees in 360; there's no 'front of the lens' or 'behind the camera.' It sees everything—front, back, left, right, up, down. And getting into that is a process. If I wasn't shooting, I realized I had to get out of the way or be in the shot." (How do you get out of the way of an all-seeing, 360-degree eye? "I spent a lot of time behind boulders or flat in the dirt.")
The real paradigm shift is not that the camera sees everything. It's that the person using the camera no longer decides what the viewer should see. Now the viewer has the decision as to where in that sphere he wants to look — and that's remarkable.
There's no fourth wall when you're shooting with the 360, and that realization was the first "Aha!" moment. But there was another, even more important recognition. "The real paradigm shift is not that the camera sees everything," Corey says. "It's that the person using the camera no longer decides what the viewer should see. Now the viewer has the decision as to where in that sphere he wants to look—and that's remarkable."
And because the viewer takes control of the finished image, the idea of paying attention to edges of the frame or arranging elements in the composition changes. "We've always spent so much time and energy creating a beautiful rectangle, whether for a still photo or a video," Corey says, "and that doesn't apply here. Throw out the rule book. Wait—there's no rule book to throw out."
Whether you call it interactive or virtual reality or 360 viewing, taking video or stills with the KeyMission 360 is likely to be an ongoing exploration and adventure. "There's now a different decision-making process for the photographer or videographer," Corey says, "and it starts with, Where do I stand in this landscape, this scene?
"But I think the real change here, the pivotal element, is that this is an affordable consumer camera with literally two buttons on it—one for video, one for stills—and all of a sudden the virtual reality world is accessible to everyone."