What is the Samsung Gear 360?

See the world in surround view

The Samsung Gear 360 camera allows you to immerse others in your world with surround view pictures and videos.

The Samsung Gear 360 is a camera that uses two round, fisheye lenses and advanced software capabilities to capture and then stitch together photos and videos that mimic a real-world experience.

Samsung Gear 360 (2017)

The Samsung Gear 360 (2017) has an improved, easier to use form factor.

Camera: Two CMOS 8.4-megapixel fisheye cameras
Still Image Resolution: 15-megapixel (shared by two 8.4 megapixel cameras)
Dual Lens Video Resolution:  4096x2048 (24fps)
Single Lens Video Resolution: 1920X1080 (60fps)
External Storage: Up to 256GB (MicroSD)

Some users have struggled with the why behind using a 360 degree video camera. Sure, it’s a cool technology, but what are the uses for it? Ultimately, it comes down to experience. How do you share a cool experience with your friends and family, and make them feel like they’re there, without actually being there? The Samsung 360 aims to fill that need.

Users have discovered that in addition to creating really cool videos and pictures, they can also help people who can’t get out into the world as much. For example, for a person who is homebound or has limited mobility, the Samsung Gear 360 provides a great option for sharing experiences through both still photos and video. Virtual reality, cranks the experience up a notch to immerse users in an alternative world.

The newest version of the Samsung Gear 360 included some new features and updates designed to overcome challenges in the previous version. These are the most notable change:

Design: The new Samsung Gear 360 now includes a built on handle that connects to your tripod or that will sit evenly on a flat surface. This improvement makes it easier to capture pictures and video while holding the camera. The buttons to operate the camera, and the tiny LED screen used to cycle through camera functions has also be slightly redesigned to make them more accessible.

Faster Picture Stitching: Users may notice there’s a nearly 20mm loss in resolution between the Samsung Gear 2016 and the never 2017 version. You can still capture great videos and photos, but the reduction in resolution increases the speed and efficiency of stitching pictures together. This means that despite the lower resolution, you’ll get better 360 degree view images.

Improved HDR Photography: HDR - high dynamic range - photography is a range of light availability in photograph. The new Samsung 360 camera includes a landscape HDR feature that allows you to take multiple images at differing exposures so you get the best shot possible.

Near Field Communications (NFC) Replaced with Looping Video: Many users will mourn the loss of the NFC-enabled camera capabilities that allowed pictures to be easily transferred from one device to another, even when there was no available Wi-Fi connection. The feature replacing NFC, Looping Video, allows users to conceivably capture  video all day long (as long as the device has power). When the SD card is full, new images and video begin replacing older video. This means the camera runs continuously, but you risk losing older videos that have not yet been transferred to permanent storage.

Improved integrations: Previous versions of the camera were limited to Samsung-only devices, but the new version now also include an iPhone app as well as greater integration with other non-Samsung Android devices.

Lower Price: Prices fluctuate, but Samsung did reduce the price of this model compared to the previous model (below).

Samsung Gear 360 (2016)

The Samsung Gear 360 (2016) introduced Samsung users to the world of spherical video.

Camera: Two CMOS 15-megapixel fisheye cameras
Still Image Resolution: 30 MP (shared by two 15 megapixel cameras)
Dual Lens Video Resolution: 3840x2160 (24fps)
Single Lens Video Resolution: 2560x1440 (24frs)
External Storage: Up to 200GB (MicroSD)

The original Samsung Gear 360 camera was released in February 2016 at a price point of around $349 making it a relatively affordable entry-level 360 degree camera for Samsung users. The orb camera included a removable mini-tripod that could also function as a handle if the photographer wanted to carry the device instead of leaving it on a flat surface or mounting it on a larger tripod. Function buttons were also located along the orb of the camera, giving users the ability to turn the device on and off or cycle through the shooting modes and settings using the small LED window located on the top of the device. The removable battery also added functionality, since users could use one and keep a spare charged battery as a backup.

The first version of the 360 camera also featured NFC and had a higher resolution because it contained two 15-megapixel cameras that could be used individually or together for both videos and still shots. The disadvantage of these higher resolution cameras was that stitching pictures together to create a seamless image was harder to do, and frustrated users because it was slow and images sometimes ended up distorted.