Nokia OZO: Is The Price Justified?
With ourselves and the vast majority of the professional 360 video industry relying on custom modified GoPro and DSLR rigs to capture their films, we were intrigued upon the announcement of Nokia’s venture into the 360 video camera market with their ‘OZO’. How could a company who are not the leaders in the mobile phone industry suddenly produce a camera product that would dominate the 360 video camera industry?
Featuring eight 2K sensors, 195° lenses and a stereoscopic compatible design amongst it’s main features, the initial specs sounded rather promising. The price tag of $60,000 however, left many questioning whether this could possibly be justified. This has now become very apparent with many professional 360 companies such as ourselves not being able to justify the purchase of this camera when compared to existing rigs.
One of the selling points of the OZO is the ability to monitor the feed live on set, which includes support for HMD’s such as the Oculus Rift, giving directors and clients the ability to see a relatively accurate representation of what will be captured. Whilst this is a great feature to have, other rigs such as GoPro’s, Blackmagic Micro Cinema cameras and Sony A7S rigs can be hooked up to an external monitor for framing and exposure setting. We also often opt to use a Samsung Gear 360 camera in conjunction with our main rig, capturing footage during the takes and then giving the director the ability to instantly playback footage in the Gear VR headset, further negating the OZO’s monitoring advantages.
The versatility of rigging the camera is also very limited due to the size and form factor of the Nokia OZO. Unlike GoPro or Z-Cam rigs that can be rigged almost anywhere in anyway due to their small size, the OZO can not be rigged easily particularly for moving shots such as a drone or gimbal.
Whilst the rig does offer the ability to capture stereoscopic footage, this is limited to the front 240° of the rig, with the back of the rig having a stereo blind spot, meaning it is not a full stereoscopic rig.
Whilst the specs promise Eight 2Kx2K sensors with global shutters and 10 stops of dynamic range, the footage we have seen and worked with has left much to be desired, and verging on unusable for professional shoots. Many other 360 studios have claimed better results using a simple 4 camera GoPro rig, albeit not stereoscopic and this is something we have found ourselves too. The OZO produces an overly contrasty image with crushed blacks and blown highlights with poor roll off, a high level of noise even at the base ISO of 400 and an unpleasant level of moire and artifacting in high detail scenes. The rig lacks versatility in terms of its frame rate, with a maximum of 30fps meaning that slow motion is not an option with this camera and motion lacks smoothness in a VR headset compared to higher frame rates such as 60fps.
In terms of ingesting and stitching the footage, to our surprise we learned that only a high end Mac Pro computer was compatible, leaving us with no way of working with or exporting individual cameras to edit in stitching software such as Kolor Autopano on Macbook Pro or iMac systems, clearly a massive issue especially on set where a Mac Pro system may not be an option. We’ve also found that rendering times from OZO Creator are far longer than traditional rigs, often more than 6hrs for less than a minute of footage.
The lack of videos available online shot with the Nokia OZO is a clear indicator that 360 creators have realised that this camera is a long way off being a viable tool for professional shoots, and the cost seems way off the mark relative to other rigs of comparable quality. Many professionals within the community have expressed their opinions and negative reviews of the OZO on closed forums and message boards.
The intensive marketing campaigns Nokia has carried out have misled agencies who may have missed the early 360 video boom and are looking for an all in one solution to capture 360 and these agencies simply assume that with a price tag as high as that of the OZO that this must be the best 360 VR camera rig when sadly this simply isn’t the case.