Watching 360° video on Samsung's Gear VR or Google Cardboard is a ton of fun, but it's not yet particularly easy or affordable create those experiences yourself. Most of the high-end 360° camera rigs involve several GoPro cameras and some heavy-duty video editing software, which is both understandable and mildly frustrating. The best solution would be a reasonably priced camera with an app for easy 360° recording and publishing, and while we've seen several companies try over the past year there have been tradeoffs in quality or performance with each.
Samsung is hoping to create an all-in-one 360° capture experience with its new camera, the Gear 360.
The Gear 360 camera is a small sphere about the size of a racquetball with a pair of 15MP fisheye (aka really wide angle) cameras working together to capture a 360° image. That means you get a single 30MP image when taking photos, but since this experience has been optimized for the Gear VR the video capture is limited to 3840x1920 @ 30fps. With its 1350 mAh battery, this camera is meant to run on its own for over two hours of video recording, and can be operated wirelessly from your Galaxy S7 if you prefer. Rather than rely on fixed internal storage, Samsung has opted for a microSD card slot that can support up to 128GB.
One of the big hangups right now is being limited to the Galaxy S7.
You can set the Gear 360 to take a single photo on a timer, a time-lapse with varying parameters, or just a video clip, and once the capture is finished it can be pulled over directly to your Galaxy S7 for viewing and editing with a dedicated app. The format being used is compatible with YouTube, Facebook and Google Street View, meaning your 360° content isn't going to be limited to just local viewing. The Gear 360 uses a standard tripod mounting screw, so if you don't like the included miniature tripod you can set it up your own rig; and that may open up some interesting possibilities when it comes to shooting with this thing.
Samsung plans to have a full list of supported phones available when the Gear 360 goes on sale in Q2 2016, as well as a price for the camera, which will really make a difference in the adoption of it. The Gear 360 camera app is going to be available through the Google Play Store so it's possible this could eventually support connecting to more than just Samsung phones, but Samsung couldn't be more clear that this is initially designed to work with just the Galaxy S7 at launch and other Samsung devices in the future.
On the surface it's an impressive looking camera, and it seems to do a lot in a very small package. With a few questions on how it actually works in the real world yet to be answered, this still looks like a solid first step toward making 360° video capture something anyone can do — and that's a very good thing. We're just waiting to see a price.
Samsung Reimagines the Way Everyday Moments are Captured and Shared with
Easily capture, view and share memories via high resolution, 360-degree video and images
Barcelona, Spain – February 21, 2016 – Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. today announced the Samsung Gear 360, a 360-degree camera that lets consumers easily capture, view and share their experiences through spherical video and still images. Relive memorable moments from ski vacations to walking down the aisle to children's birthday parties from every perspective. Shoot with Gear 360, edit with select Samsung Galaxy phones, view on the phone or Gear VR and share on social media with friends and family.
During the last year, 360-degree video has experienced explosive growth, with services like Samsung Milk VR, Facebook 360 and YouTube 360 and festivals like the 2016 Sundance Film Festival showcasing the best of the new medium. What was once only in the realm of professional filmmakers, Gear 360 can now make it easy for consumers to capture this type of video and imagery. Gear 360 is designed to deliver immersive photos and video at a high resolution (3840 x 1920) that is viewable in 2D via the mobile app or in 360 via the Gear VR.
"Samsung continues to push the boundaries of the mobile experience to extend beyond the smartphone," said DJ Koh, President of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics. "On the heels of last year's Gear VR release, Gear 360 continues to push the limits on immersive content – providing a visual experience that makes capturing and sharing life's moments even easier."
Compact Design with High Performance for Every Activity
With a light and compact, spherical design (weighing only 153 grams), Gear 360 maximizes portability, so consumers can film anywhere—in their home, in the middle of the city, or in the middle of the wilderness. Gear 360 features a user-friendly tripod and also supports the industry standard thread sizes to easily work with a wide selection of accessories and mounts currently available on the market.
Gear 360 is splash-proof and dust resistant and is smaller than a baseball, so it can go almost anywhere, to capture the full sphere of memories. The new camera leverages the best of the Samsung Galaxy experience so users can easily edit and share their videos and pictures via select Galaxy smartphones, and are able to immerse themselves in their own content through Samsung Gear VR, powered by Oculus.
Samsung Gear 360 is equipped with dual fisheye lenses, each with high resolution image sensors, capable of capturing 3840 x 1920, 360-degree video, or 30 megapixel still images. Users can also choose to shoot 180-degree wide angle video and images with only using one side of the camera lens. Built to capture life's everyday moments, Gear 360 offers Bright Lens F2.0, which creates high resolution images and full panoramic videos even in low-light conditions.
The Galaxy Experience
Gear 360 is compatible with select Samsung smartphones including the newly released Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge. When synced, users will be able to preview their footage in real time, using the phone as a remote. Gear 360 will automatically give users the option to view and save footage on their smartphone, or share it directly to their favorite social channels, while performing a quick and easy stitch of the content to fuse together the two fields of view. All of these features will be availablethrough a dedicated mobile application for download from Google Play. In addition, PC software is available for more in-depth editing capabilities. Gear 360 will be available in Q2 2016 in select countries. Storage via micro SD card can accommodate cards up to 128 gigabytes in capacity.
About Samsung Electronics America, Inc.
Headquartered in Ridgefield Park, NJ, Samsung Electronics America, Inc. (SEA), is a recognized innovation leader in consumer electronics design and technology. A wholly owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., SEA delivers a broad range of digital consumer electronics, IT and home appliance products. Samsung is the market leader for HDTVs in the U.S and America's fastest growing home appliance brands. To discover more of the award-winning products you love with Samsung, please visit www.samsung.com and for the latest Samsung news, please visit news.samsung.com/us and follow on Twitter @SamsungNewsUS.
About Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. inspires the world and shapes the future with transformative ideas and technologies that redefine the worlds of TVs, smartphones, wearable devices, tablets, cameras, digital appliances, printers, medical equipment, network systems, and semiconductor and LED solutions. We are also leading in the Internet of Things space with the open platform SmartThings, our broad range of smart devices, and through proactive cross- industry collaboration. We employ 319,000 people across 84 countries with annual sales of US $196 billion. To discover more, and for the latest news, feature articles and press material, please visit the Samsung Newsroom at news.samsung.com.