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Review Samsung Gear 360 (2017): life inside the sphere

Mobile phones have breathed new life into virtual reality technology thanks to the emergence of a large number of accessories that turns in virtual reality helmet normal smartphone. The advent of cameras capable of making spherical shot with a 360 degree, became another logical link of the same chain. Today these cameras are still exotic, which passed just a couple of years from the category of news about the technological achievements in the category of goods which, although not sold in any shop but available for purchase (especially if you know about their existence). Prices, as any technological innovations are still on the level is available only for enthusiasts and technology pioneers, but this level declined markedly within a year. So, if the first version of the spherical camera 360 Samsung Gear cost 10 000 UAH (today you can buy it for 8000), the second starts with a price tag of $ 7200, one and a half times less. Pace, a couple of years, the price will be lower in two times, and you’ll connect the “new Chinese” (in fact — already connected), then even lower.

What is it?

Обзор Samsung Gear 360 (2017): жизнь внутри сферы

Samsung Gear 360 (2017) is the second generation camera, designed for shooting 360-degree photos and videos. This year, Samsung is starting to use the item with a permanent name, where the only change is the year. For example, smartphones And series this year called Galaxy A 2017. Such a practice usually used Apple, which most models of tablets and laptops are just the name of iPad or MacBook. C on the one hand this creates some confusion for buyers (mainly when buying or selling used vehicles), with another — has and advantage: a customer in the store clearly understands that he will sell friendly device the latest generation. Camera Gear 360 this year (the name SM-R210) was noticeably smaller — the size of the spheres, inside of which is two lens-type “fish eye” with a coverage angle of 180 degrees has fallen by half. It is able to operate in conjunction with a smartphone (the list is quite limited, it is known that the camera works with the iPhone 6s, 7, and SE, and the smartphones of Samsung Galaxy series S6, S7, S8 and A7/A5 2017).

What’s in the box?

Package Samsung Gear 360 2017 include a USB-C cable, a pouch to carry (including two huge lenses it will not be superfluous) and useful accessory in the form of a rubber ring that allows you to mount the camera vertically on a very flat surface, for example, in the grass or on the ground. The ring is attached to the camera cords, the second part of which allows you to wear Gear 360 on the wrist.

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So the camera looks in the stowed position inside the pouch. If the torque to tighten fully, the camera can be worn on the wrist directly in the pouch.

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On a flat surface the camera is able to stand alone, but I always put her on the ring (need to apply some force to the ring was positioned close to the camera grip).

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Own memory 360 no Gear, uses a standard microSD card capacity of up to 256 gigabytes (not included). Under the Jack tray with a card connector is the charging cable — USB-C in this year appears in the accessories.

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At the bottom of the camera is the tripod socket. Inside the metal, which is good.

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In principle, it is possible to remove the holding pen (first version Gear 360 last year was mounted on a plastic handle covering), but I used to shoot the handle of a Zoom recorder.

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How to manage Gear 360

To control the camera without a smartphone is quite a complicated scheme of three buttons, four LEDs and a monochrome display on the front panel. If your smartphone will allow you to install a branded app Gear 360, to study it doesn’t even make sense — everything can be done from it. Otherwise, you will have to sweat and potentiates, though, to get used to such management is possible. Menu key activates the menu (it is also used for pairing via Bluetooth). Back button duplicates the function of turning on/off the camera. To select a menu item, press record on the display. Pressing Menu scrolls through menu options in a circle, pressing Back returns to the previous menu section. Two LEDs at the top indicate which camera is currently active (you can remove both at once and one by choice).

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The camera has two microphones (the picture shows a small dot, the second one is on the opposite side of the sphere), and a speaker for playing audio video (a bigger hole).

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In operating mode the display shows shooting mode, battery level and the number of available images on the basis of free space on the memory card. While moving through a menu displays two lines of text. But again, when connecting the 360 via the Gear app, in this scenario there is no need.

When working through the app you can configure everything easily, and most importantly — quickly and clearly. Up to geotagging, reducing wind noise (that’s why a second microphone), select ISO, broadcast video to Facebook and/or YouTube resolution photo and video (supports videos up to 4K, which I could not do predecessor). In the settings you can choose the camera modes, and even such a thing as a tilt correction (a 360-degree camera, it is not necessary to keep exactly — she still takes all).

Have Gear 360 there are five shooting modes. Let me just say that the photos I shot exclusively in the “HDR Landscape”, though, because the light in the room was never enough, and in the evening it is also not enough. Although on a Sunny day it is possible to remove in normal mode. Interval shooting well suited for shooting sunsets and sunrises, and the circular video recording will appreciate lovers of extreme sports, practicing video.

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In what format stored images and video

All images are stored in JPG format, videos in MP4. But without converting them to watch pointless. The good news: convert photos directly from the app Gear 360. Here are pictures of before and after treatment. Clarity becomes a little more, but it’s still uncomfortable. And to share with friends, such pictures do little sense. What to do? There are different options.

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Without a person, of course, the looks more interesting. Well, when you can move 30 meters, or to hide behind a tree/fence/corner of the building and activate the camera remotely via Wi-Fi.

In the gallery app captured images look about the same. But in the phone they already passed after the conversion, and on the memory card installed in the Gear 360 images are unprocessed. The file names are stored in the form of 360_00хх.јрд on the device, and ЅАМ_100_00хх.јрд — on the phone after conversion.

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How to watch 360-degree images

Captured images can be viewed on a smartphone using multiple visualization options. Of course, everything can be scaled by pinching/spreading your fingers on the screen. Thus, for example, in a “dual view” while scaling one image in the same way changes the second. In practice, the most convenient way of rendering is “stretched”, he is known to us on YouTube and Facebook. If unblock button “In motion” in the bottom left of the screen, you can rotate the image, not with the fingers, and turns the smartphone’s screen.

The rendering option “Circular view” allows you to do this kind of stuff is the size 2768х1444 pixel, where the photographer becomes the center of a small “planet”. You can choose the angle and the angle of the objects better and keep in a folder Gear 360 with the rest of the images. Separate editors for processing raw images I was looking for (I suspect that they already have or will in the near future), but it will have to do the processing in the application Gear 360. By the way, say that for the installation of 360-degree video tools yet at all.

How to watch 360-degree videos

Support 360-degree video is already in Facebook and YouTube. YouTube process looks like this: you can rotate the image with your mouse (or finger, if you watch the video on smartphone or tablet). In the Facebook process looks about the same, but there service compresses the video, while YouTube allows you to store it in full.

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Well, how to show 360-degree photos to your friends online?

A year or two ago it would have been a problem, but today it is possible to show these pictures not only to Facebook, which automatically recognizes these photos and turns them into 360-degree (not always 360 degrees, if you remove the phone) panorama. For epic material about the capabilities of the Galaxy camera S8 I found a service kuula.co, which allows you to store and paste in HTML page code to view such images. Follow the link if you want to see more pictures or understanding the context. More pictures are on my page in the service kuula. To expand the view to full screen, click on the rectangle in the upper right corner of the frame.

When shooting indoors, of course, low light HDR mode where the camera takes a half dozen shots, not helping: the grain and the blur appears, but to understand what the photographs are quite possible. Now this resembles the capabilities of the cameras flagship phones 3-4 years ago. Or features of the cameras of modern mobile phones with a price of 200-300 dollars. I want to believe that in 2-3 years the situation with quality 360-degree images will improve — there clearly is still room to grow. Sure, you can do everything today, but then the price of Gear 360 would be 2 times higher, which is wrong.

Hostess note: service kuula can do thumbs in a circular frame, but will be viewable all the same “stretched” look.

What else can you use Gear 360?

During the trip I found another scope Gear 360, which in this camera can be useful. It takes not only a 360, but 180 degrees. That is, wherever not photographer enough room and space (nowhere to move on to the frame has got everything you need) — where traditionally used lenses fisheye. Here, for example, the interior of the Museum:

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And here — the Cathedral of the Pochaev Lavra, which is not placed under other conditions in the frame. Of course, the photographer should remember about the inevitable distortion at the edges of the frame (in practice, a straight line of the fence gets in the picture in the form of an arc), but you can use such images to give an artistic effect.

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Another shot of such a plan. It is a rural school of the Museum under the open sky in Uzhgorod:

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How much battery lasts?

A Gear 360 is a removable battery (last year’s version made it recoverable) with a capacity of 1160 mAh. During the trip I shot a lot, making every day dozens of 360-degree images in a dozen locations. During the day the battery capacity never dropped below 30%, and in most cases remained the evening in the region of 70%. I believe that to put the battery of camera Gear 360 for the day during a photo shoot is no easy task. While shooting video of its resources would be enough for a couple of hours work, which is consistent with the manufacturer 130 minutes.

Who can he be useful?

Like most technological innovations, the Gear 360 is more of a toy than a truly useful device. Typically, these gadgets are buying technology pioneers — those who are interested in any technological innovations, to play and to feel how it works. In practice, such people from playing (this period can take from several weeks to several months), give the device to your children or resell (by the way, all technological innovations get on eBay). Despite all this Gear 360, like other similar cameras to take 360-degree panoramas that can become a real boon for socially active people who publish a lot of photos and videos in social networks (primarily talking about Facebook and YouTube). It is an indispensable device for travelers and agents selling and renting real estate, you can easily and quickly show what will not give any one photo (and photo series). In conjunction with cardbord or virtual reality helmet so the camera is able to turn any trip into a virtual tour that can be shared with family, friends and colleagues. Not to mention the vivid experiences for children and opportunities to discover their creative abilities that can be useful in the future — movies and computer games with immersion in the reality, someone else will have to create, so why not them?

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What are the alternatives Gear 360?

Now on the market you can still find the camera Gear 360 first generation, but to buy it today, apparently it makes no sense. There is a camera Ricoh Theta’s (we have her detailed review), which is a little more expensive and can work with any (almost) Android smartphone version 4.1 or higher or iPhone with iOS version 8.0 and above. Not so long ago appeared an interesting Insta360 camerathat connects to a smartphone and uses its memory to store pictures and videos. Is available in versions for connectors microUSB, USB-C and lightning. The iPhone version Insta360 Nano can be bought for 6000 hryvnia.

The bottom line

Samsung Gear 360 of the second generation was much smaller, cheaper and more productive (don’t forget about shooting videos in 4K resolution) of its predecessor. Whereas in smartphones over the last 2-3 years, little has changed in this category of gadgets every year, you can expect revolutions (and, as you can see, they happen). In parallel, the services allowing to publish this 360-degree content, and today it is not only YouTube Facebook (and tomorrow they will be even more). Device that even a year ago it was exotic, this year goes in the category of devices that are “fun to try”. Only minus is the limited compatibility Gear 360 with the new Samsung smartphones (Galaxy S8, S8+, S7, S7 Edge, Note5, S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge, A5/A7 (2017) working on Android version 5.0 and higher) iPhone (iPhone 7, 7+ 6S, 6S+, c SE iOS versions 10.0 and above). In fact, we are talking about flagship devices of the last three years and will work with smartphones from other manufacturers remains an open question. But if you own one of these models, active in social media, travel a lot or are Facebook page for a real estate company, this gadget can come to your taste.

Camera specifications Samsung Gear 360 (2017)
Camera 8.4 MP CMOS x 2 PCs
The type of lens fisheye with a viewing angle of 180 degrees
Aperture F2.2
The dust and moisture protection IP53
The sensitivity matrix ISO 100-1600
Excerpt 1/2000 – 1/30
Memory microSD up to 256 GB
Photo format JPEG, 5472×2736 when shooting two cameras and 2304×1296 one
Video format MP4, H. 265, 4096×2048 (24 fps) when shooting two cameras and 1920×1080 (60 fps) — one
Wired communication USB 2.0 (Type-C)
Wireless communications Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), wifi Direct, Bluetooth 4.1
Battery 1160 mAh up to 130 minute record mode (2560×1280, 30fps)
Dimensions 101х46х45 mm
Weight 130 g

6 reasons to buy the Samsung Galaxy Gear 360:

  • a desire to join the technology 360-degree shooting, try it yourself and impress friends;
  • work in real estate and new opportunities for the visualization of the interiors of the leased premises;
  • an indispensable thing for travelers, the leading online diaries;
  • an overwhelming desire to learn to shoot 360-degree videos to YouTube;
  • a regular requirement for publications, 360-degree photos in Facebook (community, corporate page, and so on)
  • a toy for entertainment the whole family (including addition to cardboard).

3 reasons not to buy Samsung Galaxy Gear 360:;

  • limited compatibility with the lineup of smartphones;
  • takes a truly quality pictures and video (not at the mobile phone of the middle class);
  • there is nothing to remove and no one to show you 360-degree panoramas (if you’ve read this text up to the end, it’s really weird).

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Review Samsung Gear 360 (2017): life inside the sphere

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