Best budget camera for mapping (in-built GPS)


I’m new to mapping, but have recently been diving in quite a bit. I’d love to learn from you all about the best budget camera for mapping. I’ve seen some posts, but they’re either older or one-off information.

From my understanding, these are the most recommended options (no particular order):

  • Ricoh Theta ~$800+
  • Insta360 X4 (no in-built GPS) ~$500
  • GoPro Max ~$400
  • Panox V2 ~$350

So, which is the best option? Particularly if money (below ~$2,000) isn’t an issue? The main features I’m looking for are

  • Video / image quality
  • Easy of use (e.g., in-built GPS)
  • CLI tools (e.g., easy to programmatically convert 360 video into 16:9 images)


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A couple of follow-up points:

  1. I realize the GoPro 360 is a popular recommendation here, particularly given the ease-of-use, but I’m wondering if the Ricoh Theta or the Insta360 X4 now surpasses it?
  2. I have tried to use the .360 files before (they were timelapses), but image quality was generally poor, and I found the files difficult to work with (e.g., no way to bulk convert images to .mp4s via a CLI, and the bulk exporter was having issues maintaining the GPS metadata)

Hi @mapceo - we mostly look at recommendations for uploading to Mapillary here (rather than converting video into images). For example with GoPro’s .360 files you can just drag and drop them into the Mapillary Desktop uploader - no need to do anything else - that makes it very easy to work with. Same with the PANOX V2. What is your plan for the images once you convert them from the video if not uploading to Mapillary?

Yes, that makes sense (and thanks for your response!). I have two intentions with the videos I capture:

  1. Upload them to Mapillary
  2. Convert them to images for various image recognition projects

My top priority is having high quality images. My second priority is ensuring that the data files are easy to work with, for both use cases.