I finally got the 2017 Gear 360!!! Here are the first sample photos (AFAIK, they're the first ones that have been posted from the 2017 Gear 360).
The 2017 Samsung Gear 360 is one of the most highly anticipated 360 cameras for 2017. The original Samsung Gear 360 was a very good camera (reviewed here) but it had too many requirements, which limited the number of possible users. Rumors of its successor had been circulating since September 2016 and it was finally revealed at Samsung Unpacked 2017.
The changes in the 2017 Gear 360 addressed nearly all of the concerns about the original Gear 360, including compatibility with non-Samsung phones. Photo resolution decreased to half of the original (15mp) but the price also dropped from $350 to $250, hinting that Samsung wanted to appeal to a broader market.
The newest feature is 360 live streaming but I was also impressed with the stitching in early samples, and I said that it is essentially like a 4k version of the Ricoh Theta, currently the most popular 360 camera. Samsung hasn't said exactly when it will be released (other than "Spring 2017") but I was able to get one of the press copies (here's another one from eBay, available at the time of this writing).
Note: Since mine is only a press copy, it doesn't have the regular packaging and doesn't have the accessories that are included with the retail version (wrist strap, USB cable). In addition, I'm only using the prerelease app, which is limited to Android.
The 2017 Gear 360 is small and although some have chuckled at its design, there's no question that it is ergonomically superior to the original Gear 360. Notwithstanding the difference in appearance, the controls and the look and feel will feel immediately familiar to users of the original Gear 360 - it feels solid and sleek, and the on-camera controls (buttons, OLED screen, menus) are still the best in the industry.
As with the original, you tap the menu button to launch the on-camera menu, then navigate with the menu button to switch options, shutter button for OK/enter, and the power button to go back.
The 2017 Gear 360 connects easily with the app. Launch the app, turn on the camera, and tap on "Connect" and within a few seconds, the app connects to the Gear 360. (If you're already connected to your original Gear 360, it will probably try to connect to your old Gear 360 so instead, you tap on the upper right corner and choose the option to connect to a new Gear 360.)
The app's menus are similar to those of the original. Here's the screen with the white balance options shown.
There is a live preview with a pretty good framerate and little lag. One of the differences from the old app is that there are several viewing modes available:
Here are the available shooting modes. Interestingly enough, I didn't see an option for live streaming, which I think is because it's only a prerelease app.
Landscape HDR is a true multi-shot HDR, although I could not determine how many shots it takes.
Here are the available settings. Unfortunately, no manual controls.
Shooting is just as easy as it was on the original Gear 360. Stitching is via the phone. When you save photos onto your phone, they are stitched at the same time. One difference is that videos can now be stitched in full resolution on my phone. With the original Gear 360, you needed an S7 to stitch in 4k, and with a lower-end phone like my S6, phone stitching is limited to 2k. I haven't tried stitching on the old Action Director yet.
There have already been several videos posted from the 2017 Gear 360, but I haven't seen any sample photos yet. But before I post sample photos, here's my contribution for sample video :)
As with previous samples I posted, the stitching quality is excellent in my opinion (yes I know that not everyone agrees about that =) ). Without looking at the zenith or nadir, it is hard to find the stitch lines.
Now here are a couple of sample photos (I think they are the first ones I've seen posted on the 'net):
Here are my observations: my first impression was that the photos looked impressive. I like the exposure, the colors, the tonality are all excellent in my opinion - well-balanced, natural-looking yet also vibrant and neither dull nor over-processed. They look good without editing, in my opinion. Considering the contrasty lighting conditions, I think the 2017 Gear 360 did pretty well in capturing all relevant details, and seems to have excellent dynamic range, just like the original Gear 360.
There was no noticeable chromatic aberration. Flare appears to be very well controlled. The stitching looks very smooth, although there are thin patches here and there where there is a little bit of blurring to hide the stitch line.
If it sounds like it's perfect, I'm afraid it's not. If you look closely enough, you'll see that the lens is a little softer near the stitch line. See these screenshots. In the shot here, you can see that the detail on the foliage in the distance is mushy compared to the crisper-looking foliage on the right side.
In the shot here, you can see the speed limit sign has a little softness.
In this respect, however, it is no worse than the Ricoh Theta S (which also has softening near the stitch line) and appears much better than the more significant softening in the Keymission 360.
I will take more sample shots and videos and will eventually do a comprehensive photo and video comparison between:
- Insta360 Air,
- Insta360 Nano,
- MGCool Elecam 360,
- Giroptic iO
- LG 360 Cam,
- Nikon Keymission 360,
- Ricoh Theta S,
- original Samsung Gear 360,
- and of course, this new Gear 360.
This will be the most comprehensive 360 camera comparison ever. Stay tuned and to make sure you don't miss my mega-comparison or my full review of the 2017 Gear 360, please like us on Facebook and/or on Twitter!