Panaromas and fisheyes? Yes please.
Here’s the story: you go on a road trip with your friends, crash at a hostel, go to the beach, get drunk, go cliff diving, et cetera. It’s all fun and games until you start getting memory gaps of what happened on those nights by the beach, dancing (more like drunkenly swaying). Or when you accidentally drop your phone from the boat while island hopping and there’s no sack of rice to drain out the water with.
This is why, my friends, a separate, stand-alone camera is an essential part of any barkada trip. Your phone might have two lenses and optical image stabilization, but what good is it when it’s six feet underwater? And no, I’m not talking about taking a DSLR with you, because really, no one wants to lug that around for the whole trip.
This is where the Samsung Galaxy Gear 360 comes in. Pretty much a ball on the end of a stick, the handy camera is about the size of a big jawbreaker candy (remember those?) with a handle that’s just right for most hands. Right up on the ball are two super wide-angle cameras that allow it to capture 360-degree photos and video. It’s pretty straightforward from there: there are a few buttons to help you navigate the menu on the little screen, and a record button that’s pretty self-explanatory.
The Gear 360 has a number of modes, which include, obviously, photo and video. There’s also the option to take time lapse videos, which means you can prop it up on a tripod on your hostel’s balcony and watch the sunrise playback at noon, because let’s be real, you’re not gonna be awake at 5 a.m. Once you’re wide awake and functioning like a normal human being, there’s an HDR Landscape mode for your #wanderlust-envy pics. If you’re not keen on having your face in every shot, you can choose to have just one of the lenses turned on, for a wide-angle panorama of the beach, or really easy selfies — no need to keep your arms outstretched for this one. I mean, it can probably beat that Oscars selfie just with the number of people it can fit.
One of the camera’s more exciting features is that it lets you connect it to Facebook and YouTube to broadcast live, which is pretty useful for those moments where you just know are going to induce that FOMO from your LDR friends.
Operating the camera itself is pretty easy. All one has to do is download an app (what doesn’t have an app these days, anyway?) and you’re good to go. It works on both Android and iOS, so there’s still a little love for the Apple fanboys out there. I used the camera with an iPhone, and while I imagine the experience is a lot smoother on a Samsung phone, it was still pretty easy to use — I mean I didn’t have to look at a manual (do those still exist?).
You connect the Gear 360 to your phone over the camera’s built-in WiFi. This way, you can use your phone as a viewfinder and use it to view the camera’s gallery afterward. You can also save the photos and videos to your phone’s local storage, which means you can share ‘em right away on social media. Easy.
If you don’t want to have to fuss around with your phone while roving around, that’s no problem — you can still use the camera without opening the Gear 360 app. The screen right below the record button displays the number of photos or minutes of video you can take, battery life, and more. If you want to load up your content to your computer, be sure to get a card reader that has a slot for a Micro SD card.
Once you get to viewing the photos and videos, make sure you’re sitting down because they’re… very okay. The video resolution says it’s 4K, but that only means that that resolution is stretched out to 360 degrees, so when you view it, it’s not going to be the sharpest, but it’s definitely passable. I mean, you’re not going to be viewing this on your ultra HD TV anyway.
I took the camera with me on a beach trip (a very chill one, though), and it was a pretty satisfying experience. The best thing about it is that you can just turn it on, start recording, and leave it. It blends into the background in the best way possible. You’re not going to run out of battery in the middle of the day, which is a good thing, and you don’t have to worry about not getting everyone in the picture, which is an even better thing. It just lets you focus on having fun with your friends, which is the point of making memories anyway, right? Right.
The Samsung Gear 360 camera retails for P10,990. For more information, visit samsung.com/ph and follow them on Instagram at @samsungph.