Thursday, April 13, 2017

Real-world photo comparison: 2017 Samsung Gear 360 vs. Ricoh Theta S


Here are comparison photos between the Ricoh Theta S and the 2017 Samsung Gear 360.


The Ricoh Theta S is currently the most popular 360 camera on the market by a very wide margin (even if you only look at recent sales and not historic sales).  The Ricoh Theta S was released in 2015 but remains one of my favorite 360 cameras for 360 photos.  It has the best manual controls, the best stitching among 360 cameras, and it's easy to hold and use.  However, it has low resolution videos (1920 x 960).

The 2017 Samsung Gear 360 appears to be aiming squarely for the Theta.  It has a shape that's easy to hold and use and excellent stitching.  It doesn't have the Theta's manual controls but that won't matter to many casual users.  With high resolution video (4096 x 2048), 2017 Gear 360 could effectively become the "4K Theta" that everyone has been waiting for, at $100 less than the Theta's MSRP.

On paper, the 2017 Gear 360 has a similar photo resolution to the Theta, but can the 2017 Gear 360 match the Theta's photo quality?  I will still be putting together the ultimate 360 camera comparison test (with 12 cameras so far) but in the meantime, here are real world comparison shots between these two cameras.


Please note the Theta's aperture is f/2 and the resolution is 5376 x 2688.  The 2017 Gear 360's aperture is f/2.2 and the resolution is 5472 x 2736.

The exposures were:
1. Kids' library:
Theta: 1/100 ISO 200.
Gear 360: 1/100 ISO 125
The difference in ISO may account for the significantly lower highlight range of the Theta in this shot.

2. Kids' computers:
Theta: 1/50 ISO 100.
Gear 360: 1/50, ISO 125.
This is the shot with the most similar exposure between the two cameras.

3. Jellyfish ceiling:
Theta: 1/640, ISO 100.
Gear 360: 1/320, ISO 100

4. Window with shattered glass:
Theta: 1/640, ISO 100
Gear 360: 1/320, ISO 100.

Note that although the photos look like they have the same exposure, the Theta consistently is about 1EV lower in exposure than the Gear 360.  I've noticed this in other comparison shots between the Theta and other 360 cameras.  My hypothesis is that the Theta underexposes to avoid blowing highlights then increases the exposure during the processing to normalize the exposure.  But I don't know this for sure.

In the meantime, what do you think so far?

16 comments:

  1. Interesting comparison. To my aged eye, it appears that the new Gear 360 looks better when it comes to being able to handle the difference in light between the indoor and outdoors (especially in the first set of shots).
    I appreciate the comparison.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rich. I agree, the new Gear 360 is much better able to keep the colors consistently compared to the old one. But I don't know if they will also update the software for the old one to minimize the color difference. I haven't tested that.

      Best regards,
      Mic

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    2. That's is actually a good test to do. I did take a couple of shots stitching them in both versions of the software. I'll have to dig them back out and see if I can tell the difference between the colors. I did note that the stitching is softer with the new software.

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  2. Hi Mic
    Very useful. I have a 2016 gear360 and am considering buying a new one. Based on that what would be incredibly useful is knowing;
    1. Does the HDR function (OK on tripod) really improve things in exactly the type of conditions you selected (rooms with big windows/bright sunlight)
    2. Can I actually see the 30 to 15mp drop (full screen) on either laptop or smart phone?
    3. Are there functional limitations using s6 (which I and I think you have) compared to s7/s8 with the 2017 gear 360. In the app specs it refers to limitations dependent on phone model.
    Answers to those would be great and keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Peter.

      1. Yes the HDR is a true multi-shot HDR (seems to be 2 shots) that does increase the dynamic range. I will post a sample.

      2. If you zoom in, then yes you can see the difference in resolution between 30 and 15mp. In the samples I posted you should be able to zoom in.

      3. One limitation is that streaming requires Android 7. The S6 I have has a blocked IMEI so I don't have access to Android 7. Not sure re any other differences.

      Best regards,
      Mic

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  3. Oh sorry one last one question you might be able to comment on.... on both photos and video how is the color balance between lenses particularly in bright sunlight outside (in my experience one of the disappointments in the 2016 gear360.) Tks agin
    Peter

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Peter. the new Gear 360 is much better able to keep the colors consistently compared to the old one. But I don't know if they will also update the software for the old one to minimize the color difference. I haven't tested that.

      Best regards,
      Mic

      Delete
    2. Hi Mic
      Tks for both replies...v.useful. HDR and better color balance may swing it.... altho I still like the old one. Personally not bothered about live streaming... until you get much higher quality.

      Delete
  4. Can't wait to get my new Gear 360. This confirms that I've made the right decision.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Martin. Please see also the comparison with the classic Gear 360. I will also be posting more info on Orbit today.

      Best regards,
      Mic

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey Mic, did you turn on HDR mode on the Ricoh?
    Also, would you mind doing a Xiaomi Mijia Sphere vs. this Samsung?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi guykamen. I did not use HDR mode on either the Theta or the Gear 360 (which now has a true multi-shot HDR mode). I would love to do a Mijia comparison. Please help make it happen by liking my posts on Facebook, YouTube, and/or Twitter, as well as by buying products from ads. Thank you very much!

      Best regards,
      Mic

      Delete
  7. Hi, can you please help me to decide?

    1) which is better in taking photos to have the best color on the images?
    2) which most likely able to 'survive' better if drop to floor? i have a Theta S and dropped it a few times but lens are not affected thank god. What about Samsung lens?
    3) if i were to get Samsung in half of theta S price, should i get Theta S or Samsung? value of money wise
    4) the stitch of Samsung is not so good compared to Theta if putting photos in Earth mode?
    5) Theta able to edit the photos color in the app, Samsung able to do the same?
    6) which is more easy to bring out ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I own the Theta S and the original 360 but not the new one, so I can't answer all of your questions but might be able to help.

      (1) As you know, color on the Theta S is quite good, but the comparison photos above show me that the 2017 360 is arguably at least as good, all things considered. The original 360 is OK but not as good, color-wise, as the Theta S.

      (2) The Theta S is likely to continue to survive drops more - the original 360 is *terrible* for that (it seems impossible to drop it so it doesn't hit a lens, which is why I've already replaced one of mine), and the new one seems *less* likely to hit on the lens but still more likely than the Theta S, which basically has to land flat on a side to hit a lens.

      (3) At half the price, the Samsung - either the new or old one - is a better value than the Theta S. The 2017 360 is cheaper than the Theta S, but not by as much as the original.

      (4) From what I've seen, the new 360 stitches well and will improve, but the closeness of the lenses on the Theta S mean it'll always do better, especially at close range - that's just due to the physical nature of each camera.

      (5) You can edit Samsung photos in other apps; I don't know about within the new Samsung app, though.

      (6) The Theta S is a *lot* easier to bring out than the original 360; I'm unsure it it's appreciably easier than the new one, though. Neither are as easy as the LG 360, which remains my go-to 360 for quick shots (not because it's the best, but because it's pretty good *and* I know I can get the shot easily and also know the camera won't be full). The Theta S is close to the LG (but I go with the LG in case I'll want video, which the Theta is not good with), and the (original) 360 is in last place *except* when I have plenty of time to set it up.

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