Without a doubt, one of the most exciting things to come out of Samsung unpacked is the Samsung Gear 360 and virtual reality (VR) filming. This virtual reality camera is easy to use and when paired with the Gear VR, brings virtual reality filmmaking and film-watching to the masses. With two 15MP cameras back to back for HD 360 filming at 3840*1920 (or one 30MP still at 7776*3888),
Samsung VR – the good
Samsung VR filming may initially seem like a cool but essentially unnecessary novelty. After all, how many people even own a VR headset, and amongst those that do, how often do they watch VR content? How is consumer level, every day filming something that can be improved with a VR camera? Well, firstly part of the reason for the low levels of virtual reality content consumption is due to how few people are producing VR content in the first place. Secondly, a VR camera makes the sort of panorama shots you painstakingly do on your phone whilst on holiday a mile easier (and a mile better!). It opens up a new dimension for taking photos at events and functions, allowing you to both take footage of something that’s happening and everyone’s reaction to it. It’s the sort of technology that people understandably wonder what the point of it is, but once you’ve used it, you aren’t going to want to switch back.
Samsung VR – the bad
There are still a few minor niggles that Samsung will need to sort out for the Gear 360-2 (or Gear 720?). It’s a little bit bulky, not something you want to be carrying in your pocket. And whilst its splash-proof and dust-proof (certified IP53 for you extreme photography guys out there), it’s not waterproof, which makes it unusable for water-based extreme sports.
Is Samsung VR worth it?
Even with these niggles, it demonstrates the serious commitment that Samsung is making to consumer grade virtual reality filmmaking in a way that’s not really been matched by other tech companies. The only competitors thus far are LG with the LG 360, which doesn’t really match up in terms of spec. Samsung is determined to be the first company out there with a true VR ecosystem, something it should achieve if the Gear 360 goes out at the right price point.
Looking further to the future, beyond the next couple of releases and updates of the Galaxy, Gear VR and Gear 360, it’s not unfeasible to see the Gear 360 line of cameras replacing GoPro as the de facto extreme sports camera. Early adopters and niche users aside, it is difficult to see virtual reality filmmaking as becoming part of our every day lives due to the necessity to have a separate device. Since smartphone cameras have become so all-encompassing, this is something we’ve become unaccustomed to. What I will predict however is that some of the Gear 360 functionality makes its way into the flagship line of Galaxy phones within a decade. That will be the turning point for VR films.