Samsung has released a few new products today, and among them is the Gear 360, a standalone camera that can shoot photos and video in 360-degrees. This device, with its spherical form factor, has two lenses that capture 180-degrees on each side, with software stitching them together for a full image.
The two lenses give the device plenty of personality, and each is supported by 15-megapixel image sensors with f/2.0 aperture lenses capable of shooting 4K video and 30MP still images when stitched together. The stitching is automatically done with the compatible Gear 360 Manager Android app when transferred over to a compatible phone via Wi-Fi in real-time. You can even use the phone to control shooting and playback so long as you’re in range of the camera.
You can also shoot single 15-megapixel images from one lens at 195-degrees when you feel like it. The content can be stored on a microSD card (separately sold) slotted into the device, with a maximum of 128GB cards being compatible. You will need a card because the Gear 360 does not have its own internal storage.
A record button is at the top with a small LCD screen indicating how much shooting time is left and how long a video has been recording. It also shows the menu, which is navigable using the menu and back buttons on the side. The Gear 360 does come with its own short tripod, though the unit has a standard screw mount that can work with any tripod, monopod or stick mount if you want to get creative with your shots.
Shooting still photos incurs a two-second delay before it snaps, ensuring everything and everyone is ready and set. Modes include Photo, Video, Time Lapse or Video Looping. Practical options also include changing resolution, exposure, ISO, white balance and setting a timer. Go with a panaromic, 360-degree or dual shot to shoot two photos at once.
If a phone isn’t handy, going through the menu system lets you make the same changes and adjustments, so you’re never powerless to shoot the way you want. A live view of the action is always there to frame subjects the way you want. Footage can also be viewed on the Gear VR virtual reality headset.
You can then share footage directly through social media, be it Facebook, YouTube or any of your contacts. The possibilities in capturing still shots or video clips from faraway places or in local haunts where every angle is covered opens up interesting ideas.
You may not have to worry about physical contact too much, either. Tough tempered glass can withstand basic contact, and the body is IP53-rated for water and dust-resistance. Splashes or rain won’t slow the Gear 360 down, though without full waterproofing, this isn’t a camera designed to work in or around a lot of water.
Device compatibility is limited to the Samsung Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge and Galaxy Note7.
The Samsung Gear 360 is available for pre-order starting August 19, with inventory expected in stores starting August 27.