There's no doubt people like looking at 360-degree video and photos. However, Samsung is betting you'd like to create some immersive content of your own, too.
At Mobile World Congress 2016, the South Korean electronics giant announced the Gear 360, a twin-lens ball of a camera that captures spherical 30-megapixel photos and not-quite-4K resolution video (3,840x1,920 pixels). It joins a fleet of other 360-degree cameras expected in 2016 from companies big and small, including LG which announced its 360 Cam earlier today.
Each of the Gear 360's f/2.0 fisheye lenses covers a 195-degree angle of view that, when stitched together using a Samsung Galaxy S7 (or other select Galaxy phones to be named later), gives you a full 360x180-degree view to explore with a VR headset or dragging around your fingertips on a touchscreen or your cursor on a computer. The brief demo video I viewed using Gear VR was good compared to the current crop of consumer 360 cameras, but it was a brief, stationary clip, shot in full daylight. In other words, ideal conditions for low noise, sharper details and easy stitching.
Availability for the Gear 360 is scheduled for the second quarter of this year, and there is no pricing yet. I would expect it to be at least a few hundred dollars, though with Samsung making the editing/playback device and the VR headset, it's ripe for bundling.
The camera has several other things going for it, not the least of which is Samsung itself, which knows a thing or two about making cameras:
- Dust- and water-resistant body
- Includes small tripod/handgrip
- Standard tripod mount on bottom
- Removable, rechargeable battery
- MicroSD slot supports up to 128GB cards
- Video, Photo, Time-lapse Video and Looping Video modes
- Single-lens mode for GoPro-style action cam recording
- PC software is available for more in-depth editing capabilities
- Sharpness, White Balance, HDR, EV, ISO limit and Wind cut user settings
- Small on-camera display for status and settings
- Measures 66.7x56.2x60 mm (2.6x2.2x2.4 inches) and weighs 153g (5.4 ounces)
Lastly, here are a few sample videos which Samsung says it shot with the Gear 360: