The RICOH camera is probably best used for 360 stills. Unlike the still camera, RICOH's video camera does not offer manual control (iris, white balance, etc).
In this sample, it does a good job filtering out harsh sunlight and its colors are vibrant. The problem is the low resolution (1920 x 960). Textures are blurred and pixelated.
Samsung Gear 360 ($349.99):
The Gear 360 shoots at a higher resolution (3840 x 1920, 2.35:1), so the foreground textures stand out and moving objects are sharper. The downside here is the noticeable stitch line and the camera's vulnerability to glare (need to see if there's a good setting to prevent the colors getting washed out by the sunlight)
Nikon Keymission 360 ($499.99):
After a recent firmware upgrade, the Keymission has fixed a lot of its remote connectivity problems (notably for iPhone users), but the app is still a bit of a hassle to use and it can be difficult to gauge the quality of the image until after you've shot it. On the bright side, the camera shoots a very high quality image with vibrant color and good contrast. It shares some flaws with the Samsung however: visible stitch lines and an often limited range in how clearly it renders distant objects.
GoPro (6 Hero4 Silver cameras with Freedom 360 rig, approx $2,600 plus additional $300-$600 for stitching software):
The GoPro rig offers the brightest, most balanced, and sharpest image, but its quality comes with a lot of extra work. Shot with 6 synchronized GoPro cameras, all six video images are stitched together using Kolor Autopano (which also allows for manual smoothing of stitch lines, balancing of light and color across the stitched panorama, and synchronization of video clips (which is why it's usually a good idea to provide a sound, usually a clap, for syncing when the cameras roll).
To better observe all of these cameras in action, I combined the video footage into a single 360 clip:
Further tinker with manual settings on cameras (where applicable) and come up with ideal settings for a better image if possible.
Compare camera footage taken in more diverse settings and see if some cameras are better suited for specific environments than others
*Explore 360 Live Streaming capabilities*
Per Brittany Peterson: It would be helpful to cut past the notes and inconclusive material. It would be nice to have a version of this that provides all the conclusions and information that is ready and beneficial to be publicly shared.
(Going forward, it would be worth reorganizing this as a blog post with concrete information and all further tests and findings accounted for)