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Samsung Gear 360 Camera Review (2017!): Best 360 Camera?

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Samsung Gear 360 Camera Review (2017!): Best 360 Camera?

– Samsung recently released the 2017 Gear 360 360 camera. So, how does it perform, and how does it stack up against the increasing competition from other players like Nikon, Insta360 and a heap of other ones out there, and is it really the best 360 camera for video? We’re gonna take a look in this video.

(techno music) Hey, it’s Justin Brown here from Primal Video. We release a ton of content to help you get better results with your videos faster. If you’re new here, then make sure you click that big subscribe button, and all the links to everything we mention in this video you can find linked in the description below.

So, let’s jump into it. So, last year, Samsung released its first Gear 360 360 camera, which is it here. So, overall, it’s a pretty decent camera, it was a good camera, it’s a 4k camera, but it had some serious issues as well.

The first was that it fogged up, the second was that it overheated and the third was the stitching lines, so the point where the two camera lenses get blended together, this didn’t do a great job of blending that line so that it wasn’t too viewable for the viewers.

Now, if you’re interested in that, we did do a review on the Samsung Gear 360, the original one, and I’ll link that up in the cards now, which is also a 360 video, so you can see how it performed in 360, but Samsung recently released the upgraded version, the 2017 version, and it looks like they’ve addressed a lot of the issues that I had and probably a lot of other people had, too, with the original.

So, Samsung sent us out a free unit to test, we’ve put it through its paces, and in this video we’re gonna take a look at our findings. Plus, we’re also gonna share how it stacks up against some of the biggest competition in 360 cameras that’s out there right now.

No matter what videos you’re shooting in 360, make sure you stick around to the end ’cause I’m gonna share three bonus tips for getting much better results with your 360 videos. Okay, so let’s start out by looking at the specs.

The Gear 360 2017 has an F 2.2 aperture lens. It’s got a still image resolution of 15 megapixels, which is made up of two 8.4 megapixel sensors. It’ll do 4k video at 24 frames per second with a resolution of 4096 by 2048, and it’s got a single lens video resolution at 1920 by 1080 at 60 frames per second.

It has a micro SD slot that supports up to 256 gig of storage, and it’s got a USB-C port for charging and for data transfer. Now, comparing the specs side by side with the older model, there’s a few key differences.

The original Gear 360 had an F 2.0 aperture lens versus the new at 2.2 aperture lens. The still image resolution on the original was 30 megapixel, so it was made up of two 15 megapixel sensors versus the 15 megapixel total made up of two 8.

4 megapixel sensors. The other differences in regard to the 4k video recording on both of them is that the original recorded at 3840 by 2160 and the new one records at 4096 by 2048, so the new one is slightly higher resolution.

And, the original had the micro USB port instead of the USB-C port. The only other main difference between the two is the overall design and style. So, the original was, essentially, an eyeball with a tripod thread on the bottom, but it did come with the small set of tripod legs as well, which are actually really handy.

The new one is slimmer and taller and easier to hold and easier to use, so it’s a much more thought out design when compared to the original. So, my first thoughts when I started playing around with the new Gear 360 camera is that I really like the new design.

As I just said, coming from the old one, this new design is really well thought out. The position of the buttons, like the record button, the power on and off, and the menu button as well, they’re all easily accessible and you’ve got no way of easily fingerprinting of smearing up the camera lenses, which is important on any camera, but I think it’s more important on a 360 camera because you’ve got the stitching that has to come into play, so you really want to make sure your camera lenses are clean.

Probably the biggest difference or the biggest new feature that’s been added is the internal stitching. So, previously, the stitching of the two lenses, the front and the back lens, would have to be done using a Samsung mobile after the recording had happened, which meant that you couldn’t use the original for live video, and if you wanted to quickly edit down your footage, you either had to stitch it using a Samsung phone or stitch it using the software that came with it, which was not supported on Mac.

It was only supported on PC. So, if you’re on a Mac and you don’t have a Samsung phone, then you couldn’t really use the original Samsung Gear 360. So, the new one is supported by not just Samsung phones, you can use pretty well any phone, including an iPhone, to be able to control and create videos with this camera.

And, because it’s got built in internal stitching, it means that you can now broadcast live directly from this device when it’s connected to your phone to places like YouTube live and Facebook live, and also now makes it really easy to share and save your files directly from the camera to your phone for instant sharing on social media platforms.

So, those are the specs and my initial thoughts and what I like about it, but how does it actually perform? Well, straight out, in all my testing, I haven’t had any issues with overheating or fogging up, and the stitching lines look pretty good.

Now, they’re not perfect, you can definitely see them in some scenarios or in some scenes, but it usually comes down to light. So, when you’ve got one of your camera lenses pointed at a bright light or at the sun and your other one isn’t, then you’re gonna get an exposure difference between the two, which is where your stitch line will stand out because one of your shots will be bright and the other one will be dark.

So, there’s not a lot you can do to overcome that, but it’s definitely much better on the new 2017 camera than the old one. In regards to the video quality, I think there definitely has been an improvement on the previous model.

Now, the previous model has always been my go-to if I want the best image quality for a sub $200 360 camera. So, the original beat out the Insta360 Nano, 360 Air and a heap of other cameras sub $200 for picture quality and for image quality.

Now, the new one is a step up from that again. Now, for video, it is slightly higher resolution, but in regards to the image sensor, it’s actually much lower. So, it went from 30 megapixels down to 15 megapixel, but in our test for both photos and for images, I much prefer the look and the quality on the newer camera.

So, Samsung, you’ve done some amazing work there. Now, as with most cameras, not specific to 360, most cameras will perform well when there’s a lot of light. So, creating videos during the day is normally going to be a lot better than creating videos at night in regards to the quality.

And, with these cameras, it’s no different. The Samsung Gear 360 2017 is awesome during the day. It is now, in my opinion, the best quality sub $200 360 camera for daytime. In low light, though, it definitely suffered, but then I haven’t seen a 360 camera that hasn’t really suffered in low light conditions either.

This is okay, but there’s definitely a really pixelated, really grainy image, but so was the previous one, and so is most of the other offerings on the market these days. So, that’s just something you’ll want to keep in mind if you are gonna be shooting in 360, the more light you have the better.

But, it’s also something that you’d apply across any videos you’re creating. In regards to the app and usability of this camera, I think this is another area where it’s definitely come a long way. The app is now so much more polished.

It’s so easy to use and to set up and to get access to your settings, to view this thing live, and to actually broadcast live with it as well. So, they’ve definitely had huge improvements on the app, but one thing to note is that, if you are using an iPhone, at least at the time of this recording, you can’t broadcast live, you do need to be using an Android device, and it may even be that you need to be using a Samsung device to be able to broadcast live.

I’m not 100% on that, but you at least can’t broadcast live, at the time of filming this video, using an iPhone. So, hopefully that’s something that they will sort out and will release in a further update.

In all our testing, the battery life lasted around two to two and a half hours, and it seemed to take around an hour to an hour and a half to charge back up, so that’s not too bad. So, while I think the new design is a big step up from the previous design and a lot of other designs out there for 360 cameras, I think this one though is probably on the bulkier side if you’re gonna be putting it on something like a helmet.

So, if you’re gonna go snowboarding or skiing and you want to record in 360, you can definitely do it with this, but being the size that it is, it’s definitely gonna stick out quite a way on top of your helmet, which probably isn’t a great thing, but I don’t think there’s any other camera that I would recommend to use over this in those scenarios right now.

It would be cool to see something smaller or a bit more slim-lined that’s gonna work well with a helmet. So, that’s really something minor, but, really, I haven’t found a great deal that I don’t like about this camera.

And, regards to pricing, you can pick up the new Samsung Gear 360 camera for around the $180 US price point. So, coming in at sub $200, it’s definitely the best bang for buck camera when you look at the competition as well.

And, the main reason I say that is because most of the cameras that are under that sub $200 price point, even if they shoot 4k, which most of them don’t, most of them are 3k cameras like the Insta360 Nano and Insta360 Air, the ones that are 4k, they’re actually a lower picture quality, so there’s less detail in the image.

It almost looks like they have 2k or 3k cameras that they’re scaling up to 4k just for the sake of having 4k on the brand or on the package, whereas the picture quality on the original Samsung and, of course, the newer one as well, which is better, again, is much better than any other 360 camera I’ve used sub $200.

But, when you’re comparing the new Samsung Gear 360 to something like the Insta360 Air or Insta360 Nano, they are actually a slightly different product offering. While they are 3k, they also connect directly to your phone, in which case you’re using your phone’s battery and your phone’s storage, at least in the case of the Insta360 Air, to record.

So, there’s some benefits in that, but there’s also some big downsides in that you’re gonna chew through your battery, but you’re also gonna have your video footage directly accessible on your phone, so you won’t need to transfer it off the camera, you’ve got it there ready to share to social media, and you still get the ability to broadcast live as well.

So, different offerings for different things. For me and the workflow and having the ability to step away with your phone and have the camera separate from your phone is a huge thing, but I’m still a big fan of the Insta360 Nano and the 360 Air as well, but, for me, my go-to and the camera that I’m gonna carry around with me now is the Samsung Gear 360 because it is the complete package.

So, who would I recommend this camera for? Obviously, someone who is a 360 enthusiast, someone that’s looking to create really good quality 360 photos and videos, someone that’s looking to have something that’s separate from their phone so that you can have a separate battery and you’re not gonna chew up your battery life on your phone as well as the camera all at once.

And, I’d probably also recommend it to someone that’s using Android or, probably more specifically, a Samsung device. You will get the best experience with this camera using a Samsung device or at least an Android device, whereas, if you are using an iPhone, then you will be missing some of the key features like the ability to go live direct to Facebook or YouTube or other platforms as well.

But, if you’re not interested in going live, so that’s not a dealbreaker for you, then it’s definitely worth considering. And, again, I’m hoping that something that needs short term, I’m hoping that they release the full feature set of this device for iPhone users as well, that would be pretty cool to see.

So, who would I not then recommend it to? Well, let’s keep going with the same train of thought. If you’re looking to use this for live and you’ve got an iPhone, then right now it’s not gonna work for you.

If you don’t want to carry around an additional device and have to worry about charging up this camera as well as your phone, and you’re just happy to rely on your phone and chew through your phone battery, then maybe something like the Insta360 Air or Nano might be a better option for you.

But, if you’re looking for the best quality 360 camera, as I said, sub $200, that’s easy to use, and you can broadcast live, and the stitching and everything is amazing, then the obvious choice is the Samsung Gear 360 2017 model, not the 2016 one, in my opinion.

Right, so now for those bonus tips. Now, it’s really easy to mess up 360 video because there’s some key differences that a lot of people don’t consider when they first start creating 360 videos. So, the first one is to try and keep your camera as stable as possible.

Now, a lot of people will pick these cameras up and just start walking around, and the shake is amplified for anyone that is watching these 360 videos back using a VR headset. So, you want to be aware of that and try to create the nicest experience for your viewers, so just be mindful that any shake is amplified through a headset, so try to keep it stable.

If you can, get your camera out of your hand and put it onto even a selfie stick or a tripod, anything to keep the camera as stable as you can. So, if you’re gonna be walking around, then a selfie stick could be a good option.

I never really thought I’d say that, but for 360 videos it could be a good option. The second tip is to let your viewers do the panning around. So, if you’ve got something that you want to show them and you’re walking around, then tell them where to look.

Don’t turn the camera around and point to the different places. If you’re moving the camera around to show different things as you would with a normal camera, that makes it really hard for the viewer watching with a headset on or even holding their phone, they’ll go to look and then you’ll move the camera positioning, and then it’ll over-correct what they’ve just done, so it becomes a bit of a fight or a bit of a struggle between you moving the camera and them looking around in 360.

So, it’s really important with your 360 videos just to point your camera in one direction for as long as you can so that your viewers have time to look around and see everything themselves without you moving it round and up and down and left and right all the time.

Let them do the moving, and you guide them where to look. So, if there’s something interesting, tell them, turn around, if you look behind you now, you’ll see something amazing. So, guide them with your voice or with music or with something in the scene to guide them, but don’t guide them by pointing the camera around and showing them things because they could be looking the other direction or trying to look at something totally different.

The experience with 360 is that it’s up to the viewer, not you, so let them have that flexibility and make it pleasant for them by holding your camera steady, and keep it facing in the one direction. So, you need to make sure when you’re filming and editing that you are giving them at least 20 to 30 seconds to look around and to take in each shot or each scene so that they’re getting the best experience from it.

If you’re cutting too quickly and they don’t have enough time to look around and to take it all in, they’ll get annoyed, and they’ll close your video and go and find another one. So, that’s another really important tip, and I think those three combined, you should be able to create some really amazing 360 videos for your viewers.

Now, once you’ve shot your 360 videos, then it’s time to edit them, and, when you’re editing your 360 videos, there’s some key differences between editing in 360 and editing normal video. And, if you want to find out more, check out the video linked on screen now and I’ll see you soon.

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