The Samsung Gear 360 Camera Is So Much Fun
– Do you know what this is? If ya said: “The world’s most adorable gadget that makes “MrMobile giggle with glee every time he picks it up”, you’re right. But it’s also a 360-degree camera. The Samsung Gear 360, to be precise. And while it’s far from perfect, it’s the most exciting camera I’ve used in years. (distorted electronic music) (playful bell music) If you don’t think this is the cutest gadget ever, you’re wrong. But even if you’re not into anthropomorphizing your tech, you’ve gotta admire the thoughtful design here. The 360 is easy to grip. And, if you’re a righty, the side keys sit right under your thumb, while the shutter button is dead center of the stock above the display.
Three buttons and a tiny screen sound like a recipe for a hellish interface, but, learning the 360 was a snap, even for a guy who never reads the manual. So what do ya do with it once you’ve figured it out? You take pictures, of course! Or video. Or continuously-looping video. Or time-lapses. Or HDR landscapes. Samsung loves packing in features, and this little guy is no exception.
One thing I really like is that you can use all of these modes without even touching the 360-degree stuff. If you want, this can just be your little camera sidekick, complete with a tripod attachment and an app for remote control. Unlike most smartphones, the front and back cameras here are identical; each has an 8.4-megapixel sensor with an f/aperture mated to a super-wide-angle lens. So, whether you shoot with the back or the front, you’re gonna be getting the same exact quality. And, maybe you’ve detected by now that that quality is not always the best. In fact, many of the standard photos I’ve shot with the 360 are pretty lacking. And while Samsung will probably do some software tuning to help with that, mostly it’s due to limitations inherent in the design.
In single-lens mode, still shots max out at just three megapixels, which leads to far fuzzier photos than you’ll get from most modern smartphone cameras. These are fixed-focus shooters. No tap to focus or autofocus here. Videos in single-lens mode do a bit better, topping out at full HD, but they exhibit the same low saturation and prominent grain that the photos do. Samsung emphasized that the review devices are running early software. But no amount of tweaking will make this camera do better than the one you’re already carrying in your phone. Of course, that’s because it’s designed for a different job. Switch over to dual-lens mode, and both cameras come to life, the software stitching their images together into a panoramic fully-immersive canvas. Upload those photos or videos to, say, Facebook, and your friends will be able to manipulate the camera angle themselves to see the entire picture. But even so, I tend to like the more creative ways of transferring these images to 2D. The stereoscopic view can be pretty trippy, especially if you’re shooting video of moving subjects. And I was unreasonably proud of my first spherical panorama, better known as a tiny planet.
When you’re using it to shoot dual-lens video, the new Gear 360 goes all the way up to 4K resolution. I’m still a total amateur here. In more skilled hands, a 360 camera is a really effective tool for making an audience feel as though they’re really standing in a given space. That’s especially true when you want people to watch your footage in VR, or you’re someone who does a lot of live streaming, which the new 360 also supports. Couple loose ends to wrap up while you’re still taking in the footage. The new Gear 360 has a smaller battery than its predecessors but you can get it to get ya through a couple days if you use it in standalone mode. Hold off on the power-sucking remote app. It records to a micro SD card, and if you don’t wanna use the app, you can transfer the footage that way, or via WiFi Direct, or a USB-C cable.
And, sound capture is just awesome. Even if you’re holding the thing far from your face, it’ll still pick up whatever pithy remarks you want your audience to hear. ♫ Mr. Dabolina Mr. Bob Dabolina On the downside, it’s a little wobbly, unless you use its included toilet seat. It’s about as pocketable as a ping-pong ball. And it’s only rated to IP 53. So you can’t do underwater filming. And the lack of OIS makes it less useful in tough-and-tumble settings than a purpose-built action cam.
Lastly, in an especially galling move, Samsung has made the Gear 360 compatible with some Galaxy phones and the iPhone but not other Android phones. (buzzer buzzing) Dirty pool, guys. Pricing and availability for the US have not yet been announced, but this thing is available for pre-order in Germany at 249 euro. Assuming it comes here shortly thereafter, you should absolutely consider picking one up, but, only if you plan to use it for its 360 capabilities. I know, that sounds obvious, but with all the modes and options here, you could be fooled into thinking this is a great action cam for more conventional shooting, and it’s just not. This is for live streamers, VR videographers, and people who love the idea of 360-degree media. If that’s you, and you’ve got the budget for a fun new way of shooting, you should definitely add this one to your gear bag. Just keep in mind that the guy telling ya this has never shot with a 360 camera before, so there’s definitely some honeymoon effect happening here. Thanks to Russell Holly of VRHeads for providing some of the 360 footage in this video.
To see more of this camera and its competition, check out Russell’s coverage at Android Central. And please, subscribe to MrMobile on YouTube. Until next time, thanks for watching, and stay mobile, my friends. – [Man] The shot of you just sitting there giggling and staring at it. – That’s exactly what the shot is. (laughing) I wanna adopt this thing..
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Samsung’s last year Gear 360 camera is on sale on Amazon for exactly 60% off, allowing customers to buy one for just $92. If you’re in need of a 4K VR camera, Amazon’s deal is hard to beat at the moment, so you might not find a similar for a long time….
Photo Samsung Newsroom on Flickr
Samsung’s New Gear 360 Introduces True 4K Video and 360-Degree Content Capture
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