10 Samsung Gear 360 Tips & Tricks

360 cameras offer a unique way to capture the world around us

The age of 360 cameras is finally upon us. The globe-like devices are able to capture images and video all around them, allowing you to quickly take immersive shots unlike anything that’s ever been available before.

Samsung’s Gear 360 is at the forefront of the 360-camera revolution. The device is a little larger than a golf ball and is able to capture video at an almost 4k resolution (3840x1920) and take 30-megapixel photos, outperforming many other consumer cameras. Priced at just $350, the device is also an affordable way for average consumers to get started shooting their own immersive videos.

Once you record videos or snapshots with the camera, you can upload them to Facebook, YouTube 360 or other social networking sites where viewers can get an immersive view of your surroundings. Even better, the videos are also compatible with virtual reality headset such as Samsung’s Gear VR. With those headsets, a person could watch a video you’ve taken and have an experience that makes them feel like they might be right where you were when you captured it.

If you've just purchased a 360 camera for yourself, below are a few tips on how to get the most out of your 360 camera experience. The tips are geared specifically toward the Gear 360 camera; however, if you have another 360 camera, many of the same tips will apply as well. 

Get a Better Tripod

The Gear 360 comes with a small tripod attachment that can be great for taking small tabletop shots, but can prove to be problematic if you plan on shooting videos or taking pictures in situations where you don’t have the right surface to place it on. Since the camera is capturing a 360-degree image, you always want to use a tripod with it so you aren't holding the camera when it snaps a shot (and consequently taking up half of the image with your face.)

On a basic level, you want to purchase a better monopod for the device. In some cases you can find monopods that work as both a tripod for your Gear 360 and as a selfie stick for your phone. In situations like travel, the dual purpose tripod can definitely come in handy. What you’re looking for is something that you can adjust in height, that also condenses down into a size small enough you wouldn’t mind toting it around with you. I have ​this tripod and really enjoy it. The top screws into the camera, and it can be used as both a monopod (with me holding the end) and a tripod, with legs that fan out from the side of the stick.

Get Adventuerous

360 cameras are still so new that people are still discovering how to best use them. Don't be afraid to try something new with your 360 camera. Once you've got a monopod and mastered that, why not try out something new like a GorillaPod with the camera? Those specially-designed tripods can wrap around a tree, fence post and more to offer a unique perspective for your photos and videos. For instance, you can attach the camera to a tree branch to get a literal birds-eye view of your family picnic.

Use the Delay

The delay is one of the genius features of the Gear 360, and a feature that I use literally every time I use the camera. For the same reason you want to either hoist the camera above your head or use a tripod (or both!) you’ll want to use the delay on the Gear 360 whenever you take a photo or shoot a video. The reason is simple: so you don’t have a picture or video of you trying to take a picture or shoot a video.

Since the camera is capturing a 360-degree image, if you don’t use the delay then the beginning of the video will essentially be you holding your phone, trying to start the camera. No one want to see that. Ok, maybe you do, but I assure you the novelty will wear off. With the delay, you can set the camera up, make sure everything is perfect, start the recording, and then put your phone away before anything starts recording. It makes the whole image look a bit more realistic (even if you know that pic is coming), and gives your finished product a much more polished look.

Hold the Camera Above You

Holding the camera above you is one of those tips that seems so obvious after you hear it, but it’s not something you’d think about  without being told to do it. The thing is, with the Gear 360  the camera is always recording all around it. If you’re holding the camera in front of your face, like you might most ​other camera, that means that half the video will be an up close and personal look at the side of your face. Not exactly an optimal experience, especially when you’re using a VR headset to view the video later on.

A better move is to hoist the camera over your head when you record video (unless you’re using a tripod and are controlling the camera from a distance away), so that it’s recording just slightly above the top of your head. Later when you view your recorded video, your viewer will feel like they’re essentially you in the shot, although slightly taller. In the end it’s a much better viewing experience, and something I definitely recommend.

Easy Does It

With any video, it’s important to try and keep your hands steady while you’re recording. With 360 video that’s even more important, especially if you plan on viewing the video later using a VR headset. In general, I recommend trying to not move around too much while you’re recording a video with the Gear 360.

With 360 videos, small movements can often seeing much larger. That means that while you think you’re walking through a museum rather steadily holding the camera, the person that’s watching the ​video later on may feel more like they’re riding a rollercoaster through the museum rather than taking a leisurely stroll. Try and be as relaxed as possible when moving with the camera and use a tripod whenever you can. The steadier you are, the more watchable your video will be happier on.

Create a Timelapse Video

Timelapse videos are arguably one of the Gear 360’s most interesting features (aside from, you know, recording 360-degree videos). The videos are essentially a number of still photos captured by the device that are then stitched together to form a cohesive video. 

To create your own 360-degree Timelapse video, tap on the Mode button within the Gear 360 app on your phone, and then the Timelapse option. From there, you can set the amount of time between photos. Times range between juts half a second and a full minute, so you can experiment with different options. Something like a time-lapse of a skyline might be fine with a photo every minute, but if you’re trying to capture a time-lapse of a party, for instance, then you may instead want to snap a shot every few seconds.

Take More Photos

It can be tempting to shoot lots of videos with the Gear 360, and you can, but before you do you should consider whether the situation calls for a video, or if a picture will do. Before you shoot, ask "Should this really be a video?" Photos are smaller to upload and can be great when you want to show a particular scene, like a garden, to friends on Facebook or Flickr.  When you shoot a video instead, it can be difficult for viewers to explore. Plus, inevitably, you'll end up capturing something in the shot you wish you hadn't that will distract people watching the video. 

Download the App

Technically you don’t need the Gear 360 app to use the Gear 360, but you should download it. The app gives you the ability to do things like snap a shot remotely, but it also has another added bonus: stitching together photos and videos on the fly. When I shoot an amazing 360 picture, I want to immediately share it with others. Through the app you can make that happen fairly quickly.   

Get a Bigger Memory Card

Speaking of downloading that app -- in order to share videos that you've recorded using the Gear 360 you'll have to first transfer them to your phone so the app can do its thing. For that, you're going to need space and lots of it. Do yourself a favor and max out the memory your phone can handle, you'll definitely appreciate it down the line. Something like a 128GB or 256GB microSD card will up the storage you have on your device and make using the camera out in the world much more pleasant.

Use Just One Camera

The Gear 360 uses a front and rear-facing fisheye lens to capture 360-degree photos. While you need to use both cameras for capturing fully immerse photo, you can also opt to use just the front or back camera to take a shot. In that case, the resulting image would look similar to what you might capture ​using a fisheye lens on a traditional DSLR.

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