Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Nico360 Sample Shows Potential


Nico360 is a very compact, waterproof 360-degree camera.  Yesterday, they posted an actual full resolution sample photo.  The photo stirred some controversy among backers.  Here's why I'm not concerned.



Here's the sample photo they posted yesterday:



Some of the reactions to the photo:

      "The new upload photo quality let me shocked!  I felt a little disappointed. What can be refunded?"

      "@Mr. Huang   Photo quality is terrible…………. how come………….. because low light? everything are blur…… and the color is strange…… and so heavy noise….. really not acceptable ……"

      "The 360 photo quality no so good!  I felt a little disappointed."

The reactions prompted Nico360 to apologize about the image quality of the sample.

       "The firmware is not finished especially the ISP(Image Signal Processor) part. We integrated parts of the whole methods but did not have enough time to make them work together. So the image you saw is nearly the raw data without a common image processing step.

We are very sorry to deliver this rough image at this time. But in the future updates we are confident to make progress. I will show the changes version by version to get a satisfactory result."

In my opinion, I think Nico360's explanation is credible.  Even yesterday when I saw the photo, I found it encouraging, not troubling.  Obviously, I'm not blind to the colors and contrast.  However, I know this is just a prototype photo.  Issues such as contrast, white balance, and colors are easily adjusted.  Ditto with the stitching.

Just for fun, I edited the photo to bring it a little closer to what it will probably look like, using only global changes (no local adjustments):

Here's my edited version:

It's not perfect yet, and plus I was working only with a JPG rather than the RAW, but hopefully it gives people an idea of what the final version is very likely to be capable of.

There ARE some things that are much harder to change - like resolution for example.  In that regard, the sample was pretty good, showing what appears to be real 24mp resolution.  The lens seems sufficiently sharp, and I didn't see serious issues with the lens.  Chromatic aberration seems well controlled, and I didn't see any glare artifacts despite the very bright light.  The photo was almost a torture test, and under these tough conditions, the sample from a prototype showed decent performance, in my opinion.  In other words, the really important aspects of the photo -- those that are difficult to change -- were pretty good, actually better than I expected.  So, personally, I'm looking forward to the Nico360.