I have been using the Samsung Gear 360 camera for the last week, and I’m not blown away. However, I don’t consider it a failure either. When looking at pictures and videos taken with the Gear 360 in the Gear VR, they look pixelated and have a VHS-quality to them. However, when looking at pictures or videos on a laptop screen or a 27-inch monitor, the quality is actually pretty good.
Both Facebook and YouTube allow you to spin the 360 degree pictures and videos in any direction you like. I haven’t really looked at 360 pictures much while using my finger to twirl them around, but I can see how this can become mainstream. Then again, I was the one who predicted that 3D cameras would become mainstream back in 2011.
For $350, I guess the Gear 360 is a good buy. However, if you want a 360 degree camera that has more than two lenses and a resolution high enough to look great even in a VR headset, you may have to spend some extra cash. I’m talking at least $45,000. This is for the Nokia Ozo, a 360 degree camera I have not used, but have talked to others who have. The unanimous opinion is that it is an amazing device, but not one they would ever spend $45,000 on. The good news is that it has gone down in price; it used to cost $60,000.
The camera has received some great reviews, even on CNET.
“The Ozo is an incredibly innovative camera system. Given Nokia’s track record of rolling out new functionality and improvements (as well as a significant price drop) it’s definitely going to make waves in the VR production field, but whether it becomes industry standard or not remains to be seen.”
The Ozo has eight 2K cameras, eight microphones, and can output stereoscopic 360 degree images and videos for a sense of depth. Some don’t consider 3D 360 images or videos important since regular 360 videos already put you in the middle of an image (at least when viewing them on a VR headset), but there is a difference that makes the experience more immersive. 3D 360 images and videos aren’t absolutely necessary for an immersive experience, but they help.
One major company, Disney, has chosen to use the Ozo for some of its virtual reality projects. It’s likely that others will follow. In terms of regular consumers, don’t expect to see your best friend using the Ozo anytime soon, unless he works with someone at Disney. For now, the Samsung Gear 360 is the best 360 degree camera for consumers, and, unfortunately, that’s not saying much.