Samsung kicked off the World Mobile Congress in style by becoming one of the first major technology companies to reveal a 360° camera, in this case the Gear 360. Samsung is throwing its might weight behind the 360° format so people can start creating content for its VR headset.
This is a great boost for both the fledgling Virtual Reality and 360 camera industries, the latter of which has been dominated by smaller companies funded on kickstarter. Has Samsung managed to do what others have failed at? Create a 360° that is cheap enough for the average consumer and advanced enough to take high quality 360 degree video? Let’s take a look
Everything you need to know about the Samsung Gear 360
The Gear 360 features two cameras on a spherical body. Distinctly ‘eye ball’ looking, the camera is small and can fit in the palm of a hand. A tiny tripod allows the camera to stand freely. Included on the body of the camera is a small LCD screen, menu and back buttons (which also act as Bluetooth and power buttons), the shutter and a MicroSD card slot.
The Gear 360 features two f2.0 camera’s that can take 15 megapixel photo’s. Each camera has a fish eye lens which means they each take a full 180° picture which is then stitched together to create a full 360° image. As for video, Samsung claims the Gear 360 can almost shoot 4K footage at 30fps which would beat out the competition by a long shot.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site, a 360° camera requires 4K resolution to be HD and no other consumer camera has pulled that off yet. There is currently no test footage to see if Samsung’s claims are valid, but when they emerge I’ll be sure to add them to this post.
Samsung's 360 degree camera. Capable of 4K video, ultra HD photo's, time-lapse feature and instant social sharing.
If the Gear 360 is going to be shooting in 4K and taking 30 megapixel photos, it’s going to take up a lot of space. Thankfully the Gear 360 comes with a microSD slot with a 128 GB limit. Even that will get eaten up pretty quickly with the giant 4k video files.
The Gear 360 was announced alongside Samsung’s new flagship phones, the galaxy S7 and S7 edge, it won’t come as a shock to discover that Samsung is keeping compatibility limited to its own devices then.
The following devices are compatible with the Gear 360: Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy S6 edge+, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6 edge and Galaxy S6
If you own one of these, you will be able to wirelessly connect to the camera using your phone, control it, save videos to your handset and upload them straight to social media. Obviously the camera will also be compatible with Samsung’s virtual reality headset, the Samsung VR.
Price and Release Date
Both of these are currently unknown. All Samsung has said is that the Gear 360 will be realised somtime in Q2 of 2016 in a selection of countries. As for price, I’m guessing it won’t be cheap, but I think Samsung will want to encourage content makers to dive into the format and start creating content for its VR headset, so maybe they’ll price competitively.
If Samsung can pull this off then it could really jump start the whole 360 degree camera industry. Whils cameras’ like the Bublcam have so far given us a glimpse into what 360 degree videos can do, a consumer grade 4K 360 camera with the backing of a huge company could really bring 360 cameras into the mainstream. If the video quality turns out to be as good as Samsung claims and they price it competitively, then they could claim to have the best camera on the market, hell I’ll probably buy one myself!
UPDATE: I managed to buy a Gear 360 from South Korea, where it was released before any other nation. Read my Samsung Gear 360 Review here.