I have heard great things about the Samsung Gear 360, many people have it as one of their top choices for 360 consumer cameras. To see what the hype was all about I bought it and took it out for a test run. Here are the results.
What comes with it?
The box has plenty of goodies, including : Carrying case, micro fiber cloth to clean the lens, mini usb to usb charger cord, wrist band for drop accident prevention, Product Key for Gear 360 Action Director, mini tripod and the Gear 360 Camera.
What doesn’t come with it?
There is no MicroSD Card included, so you will need to go buy one to use the Gear 360. Also while I was recording photos and video from the Gear 360 part of the tripod was in every picture so I would suggest buying an extension to your tripod so that the bottom of the lens doesn’t record your tripod or hand. If you decide not to use the Samsung App to share your pictures and video and want to upload to your computer manually, you will need to purchase a MicroSD Card to USB device to plug into the USB port and access the data from the MicroSD Card on your computer.
- MicroSD Card $5 – 75
- Tripod extender or handheld tripod $10 – 50
- MicroSD Card to USB $5 – 20
(Prices depending on size, retail or online prices)
NOTE – Only works for specific phones
Phone Compatibility : Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+, Note 5, S7, S7 edge. Not being able to preview the picture, stitch and modify the after image on your phone is not too big of a deal. I do however enjoy like being able to trigger the device using a remote and the App also does that and I couldn’t figure out how to do that without the App. If you do not have a Samsung phone, you can set a countdown timer on the device so that you can set it up, press the record button and run and hide to get out of the shot. Settings for this I believe is 3, 5, 10 seconds.
Unlocked Samsung App
There is an unlocked version of the Samsung App, but be aware that it might not work 100% correctly for the specific device that you have. You can download the .APK for you Android device here. I tried with multiple different phones and got different results, mostly failing to utilize 100% of the apps features.
Nexus 6P running Android 7.0.0
Results – The App would install correctly, but once on the main screen if you tried to load the images and videos from the 360 Gear it would load forever and eventually crash, same thing if you tried to see the live stream view of the camera.
Nexus 5 running Android 6.0.1
Results : This device gets farther into the app than the Nexus 6P. I can access the images and the video on the Gear 360, but can only view the images. Trying to view the videos crashes the unlocked app. Saving or sharing images or video crashes the app up around the 29 – 60% completion point.
Pixel XL running Android 7.1.1
Results : The App doesn’t even open, crashes each time you try.
Default setting for video
It comes with the standard setting of recording video as 2k instead of 4k. So if you were like me and immediately went outside and spent an hour or two wandering around at a park to get images and videos, you will have to redo everything if you want to see the image and video quality at its best. (Take pictures of the devices settings and show them the options, either a gif or multiple pictures?)
Stitching the videos with Gear 360 Action Director Product
NOTE – Only for Windows OS
This is a product that you get for free when you purchase the Gear 360. Inside the package there will be a product key to use to register the product.
If you have a mac with a windows virtual machine it still wont work correctly. I have parallels and the action director software will install correctly, but everything you import into the software (pictures and videos) will turn up completely black and only have audio. It seems to be a known issue. I could not figure out a work around to make this work correctly. Here are a few posts in reddit about the problem with no workaround : Director Software Sucks, Black Videos, Stitching Issues.
You can use other software stitching products but it can be pretty painful for a newbie to manually fix all the issues and have a perfect stitch. After a few tutorials, this is the best one that I could find for the Autopano video software: Even then, I couldn’t get as good as quality as the auto stitch software and the mobile App stitching capabilities. You can also create your own templates for each type of 360 Camera using this tutorial as well.