Orah 4i Review – Live Streaming 360-degree Camera
We first encountered the Orah 4i last year at NAB 2016. Our initial interest was piqued by the promise of 4K real-time stitching, in a relatively small form factor.
Currently our standard live 360 rig is a 6x GoPro mounted camera, connected to a desktop computer running VideoStitch’s Vahana VR for real-time stitching. As VideoStitch manufacture the Orah 4i, we had confidence in their ability to produce the software side of things. However we remained slightly skeptical that a software company could make the jump to hardware.
The unit was initially scheduled for delivery in September 2016, and after numerous delays we finally received it in April 2017. As you can imagine the delays only increased our skepticism on how well the unit would perform. Now that we have the unit in our hands, we can confirm that overall it’s a great 360 camera.
One of the biggest selling points of the Orah 4i is the simple setup. If you’re new to 360 video, then this unit is perfect for you. The camera calibration is done automatically upon boot, removing the need to manually calibrate the camera with 3rd party tools like PTGui or Hugin.
Whilst it’s great how simplified the camera options are, it almost feels like the more technical options included in Vahana VR have been removed for the sake of simplicity. I’m hoping that in future firmware updates they will add more calibration options. For example, the ability to re-orientate the centre of the frame.
The camera features 4 fish eye lenses mounted within an aluminium body, with heat dissipation pads, which allow the body to act as a heatsink. In previous 360 shoots with our 6x GoPro rig, we experienced camera overheating issues regularly whilst shooting outdoors. So hopefully, the Orah 4i has managed to solve this issue. Overall the camera feels quite solid and sturdy.
The stitching box is a Zotac home theatre pc (Model: MAGNUS EN979 PLUS) which features an Intel i5-6400GT CPU and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 GPU. For such a small form factor computer, it’s quite powerful. We haven’t had any issues stitching 4K 30FPS video. When under full load, it does produce a fair amount of heat, and hence it’s unlikely to be suitable for use outdoors in direct sunlight or in high temperature environments.
The only negative we’ve encountered with the hardware are the included ethernet cables. They’re very low quality, so low that we had to replace one of the cables in order for the camera to be detected.
Soon to be released features:
One of the key selling points of the Orah 4i is ambisonic audio. Ambisonic audio is a full-sphere surround sound technique. The idea behind it is that when you change your view in the 3D space, the audio will adjust, greatly enhancing immersion. This feature is said to be coming with the next firmware update.
The other greatly awaited feature is HDMI out of the stitched video. The key benefit of this feature is that it will allow the 360 video feed to be accepted into a switcher, enabling the use of multiple 360 cameras and production elements such as pre-rolls and graphical overlays.
VideoStitch has exceeded our expectations with the Orah 4i. At a RRP of $3,595, it provides the perfect entry point for users just getting into the professional 360 video production space. Once HDMI out is introduced, it will allow the camera to fit into the already established live production workflows.
Overall we think the Orah 4i is the best bang for buck 360 camera, as of April 2017.
- Easy to setup.
- Great stitch quality.
- Solid build quality of the camera.
- The best bang for buck you can get for 360º live streaming currently.
- Coming from Vahana VR we were prepared for a plethora of options. However the Orah is very barebones in terms of configuration. This is great for users who want something simple, but for more advanced users it’s limiting.
- The included ethernet cables are very low quality. We had to replace one of them in order for the camera to be detected.
- No option to re-orientate the ‘front/centre’ of the frame.
- Unable to mount the camera upside down, as we’re unable to flip the frame.
- Ambisonic sound.
- HDMI out of the stitched video.