Like them or not, 360-degree photos and videos — those that allow you to look up, down, left, and right — could be the future of social media, and Samsung is well-positioned to take advantage of this development following the release of the Gear 360 camera.
The Korean phone maker says it wants to make immersive experiences accessible to all, and sees the product as an important step forward in this respect.
Unveiled at MWC 2016 in Barcelona earlier this year, the hardware captures 360-degree photos and videos using two 15-megapixel fisheye cameras mounted on a white plastic sphere the size of a golf ball.
And like a golf ball, the Gear 360 feels pretty substantial, thanks to all the technology packed inside and the 1,350mAh removable battery designed to last an entire recording session. Multiple shoots, in all likelihood, will require a spare battery or two.
The device ships with a tiny black tripod that doubles as a handle for when you shoot handheld. There’s also a pouch for storage and a cloth wipe for cleaning off the Gear 360 between uses.
The lenses have a maximum aperture of f/2.0 and are capable of shooting high-resolution 360-degree footage (up to 3,840 x 1,920) and 30-megapixel stills. The picture quality is good enough for the intended purpose, best under bright daylight. However, as with most smartphone cameras, the Gear 360 doesn’t perform well in low light.
Syncing the Gear 360 with a recently released Samsung flagship — like a Galaxy Note 5, an S6, or an S7 — via the Gear 360 Manager app for Android turns the phone into a viewfinder and a screen for viewing content from the camera.
You can also transfer photos and videos to the phone wirelessly to free up space on the camera’s microSD card. Doing so allows you to experience the content you have created in virtual reality using Samsung’s Gear VR headset, or any other virtual-reality headgear.
The Gear 360 is already available in Korea and Singapore for about $350. Samsung hasn’t revealed pricing or availability for the U.S. and other markets; a global rollout is expected in the coming months.
Nikon outs the 125x ‘superzoom’ Coolpix P1000
Will sell for US$ 999
Recently, smartphone photography has started to catch up with the professional photography market. Take, for example, the Huawei P20. As reviews can tell you, Huawei’s latest flagship features a magnificent zoom while maintaining impressive photo quality.
Not to be outdone, the standalone camera market continues to up the ante. Particularly, Nikon is launching a new camera that blows its competition out of the zooming market.
Launching September, the Coolpix P1000 touts a titanic 125x optical zoom lens. That adds up to a 24-3000m focal length equivalent in distance.
On the shorter end of the scale, the lens is wide enough to take stunning landscape shots. Supposedly, the camera also carries a 1cm macro focus, allowing for extreme closeups for minute subjects.
Meanwhile, its beefier side sports a Moon Mode, indicating its capabilities to shoot closeups of the moon. In fact, Nikon already released a sample shot of the moon taken with the Coolpix P1000. On a more practical note, the lens offers unique opportunities for long-distance photography.
Additionally, the camera’s optical zoom can still digitally zoom by up to 250x more with Nikon’s Dynamic Zoom System.
To compensate for this, the Coolpix P1000 decidedly slows down its maximum aperture to just an f/8. Thankfully, the camera also has an advanced form of stabilization which reduces camera shake with accelerometers and other sensors.
Under the hood, the Coolpix P1000 rocks a 1/2.3-inch BSI-CMOS sensor with 16 megapixels. It can conveniently shoot in RAW mode and in 4K UHD.
With its ginormous lens, the Coolpix P1000 weighs in at a tough 1.4kg. It sizes up greater than its predecessor, the Coolpix P900.
Nikon will out the new Coolpix P1000 this September for US$ 999.
Sony A5100 review: Your next compact vlogging camera
Small and with a selfie screen!
My needs for a camera are different. While others opt for all the frills and functionalities that come with a full-on camera and shooting rig, there are other things I tend to prioritize when looking for a camera — like it being in a size that my frail arms can actually carry. (Seriously, how do vloggers carry those heavy cameras with just one arm? 😱)
Sure, I want good photos and videos, but I also really need a camera small enough to fit inside my purse.
My grab-and-go vlogging attitude, in tandem with my tinier body frame and the small shoulder bags I bring when I run around, are all considerations when looking for a shooter I plan to use.
These things considered, the Sony A5100 looked like a good contender for being my next vlogging camera. But, was it?
Look and feel
The Sony A5100 is a pretty compact mirrorless camera — one of the smallest in the market. This thing was pretty easy to bring on my trips and events, even without a dedicated camera bag.
I got to play with the white unit, which made for a good camera look. The matte white finish certainly made it stand out from all the bland black cameras in the market.
It’s really the lens that makes up the bulk of this camera’s size — it’s almost as thick as the camera body. But, it’s the price you pay for having interchangeable lenses.
Up top is the shutter button and a dial that lets you zoom in and out. There’s also a movie record button and another button that makes the flash pop out.
You can find most of the controls on the back of the camera. There are dedicated buttons for “Menu,” “Playback,” and “?” — which gives you basic photography tips at the press of a button.
A series of button pressing and dial turning will navigate you through the camera menu and bring up anything you need the camera to do. It might take a while to get familiar with everything; and for those who like tactile camera controls, it might prove to be annoying.
The three-inch screen has touch capabilities but the best thing about it, though, is this:
Yep, not only is it easier to shoot because of the hinge, you can even go as far as entering selfie mode which is a big help for vlogging or composing timer photos on a tripod. Hooray for flippity screens!
Ready, set, shoot!
The A5100 is a good shooter. Focusing is fast and photos are crisp and bright. That bokeh mode effect is achievable with the stock 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens it came with. Here are a few unedited samples:
I’m definitely a sucker for any camera’s tap to focus capabilities, and this one isn’t an exception. However, I did find that the touchscreen capabilities are limited to this, which is a bummer for menu navigation or even photo and video playback.
Nevertheless, the A5100 was fun to shoot with. It’s light and looks good so I looked great with it. 😉
The big question: Is it a good enough shooter for your Instagram feed?
I sought to answer this question with a mini shoot. I took MJ, our resident IGBFF (that’s Instagram best friend forever, for those who are uninformed), and we did an IG challenge. Armed with this camera, we spent 30 minutes in a random well-lit balcony and the resulting photos are as follow:
Thanks to MJ and some pretty sick foreground action, I now have photos to post on my IG. I only did a little editing with Photoshop and Lightroom mobile (because that’s the only editing I’m capable of 😅) and I’m pretty happy with them.
Most cameras I review, I use to vlog. In my experience, the A5100 is definitely a good fit for novice vloggers such as myself. First of all, it’s pretty small so it was easier to bring it around — which meant more footage as I always had my camera on me. Trust me, it’s easy to get lazy to bring shooting gear when they’re big and bulky.
I especially love that this entry-level camera has a dedicated movie mode, which is something you’d think is pretty basic in 2018, but there are still new releases out there that don’t offer this specific mode. This is a pain if you want to be able to compose and adjust your settings before shooting the actual video. Thankfully, the A5100 offers this and different movie modes that range from fully manual to programmed auto.
Here are a few clips I put together featuring the time I had with the camera. No, I did not edit further after I strung them together and added music and transitions. (Also, no, this isn’t a full vlog because there’s no way I’m editing one in time for this review’s publishing date. 😂)
The camera shoots in 1080/60p or 24p which is just a bunch of numbers to me but know this: Video quality was good and focus was pretty quick. Again, I especially love that you can tap to focus, even while you’re shooting video. Even the stock lens the camera comes with has a good wider angle that’ll allow you to comfortably vlog without a Joby pod.
Unfortunately, there’s no audio jack or a hot shoe mount on this camera, so you won’t be able to add on a mic or even lights. It also doesn’t shoot in 4K, which isn’t as bad as it sounds since a lot of people don’t shoot in 4K (including me) anyway.
Is the Sony A5100 your next vlogging camera?
For my needs, the A5100 fared pretty well. It ticked off things that I prioritized: It was handy enough to bring around everywhere, it has a flippity screen, and content quality did not disappoint.
If you’re the type who loves to point and shoot, whether it be photos or videos, but want a capable entry-level camera that will give you more options when you do need it, the Sony A5100 may be for you.
Sure, it may not be able to do all the fancy shmancy stuff pro cameras can do, but it’s an easy camera to learn on. I found it to be one of the most enjoyable vlogging cameras I’ve tried.
The Sony A5100 retails for US$ 550 in the US and PhP 34,999 in the Philippines.
Instax SQ6 hands-on: What can this instant camera do?
Fujifilm’s newest Instax release is here and it’s looking good. 😎
The SQ6 is the successor to the semi-digital Instax SQ10, but how exactly is it different? Watch this video to find out.
If you’re having trouble loading the video, CLICK HERE.
Read the full review here: Shooting with a Fujifilm Instax SQ6: Walkthrough, review, and sample shots
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