Gear 360 vs. Theta

If you’re exploring 360 photography, there are many options available, but the top two that come to surface for me are the Samsung Gear 360 (2017) & the Theta S. Both are phenomenal 360 cameras for anyone looking to get started in photosphere photography. Now that I have experience with both, I’d like to share the plusses and minuses to both.

Theta S

Plus…

  • Straight out of the box easy to use. Seriously, I was using mine within minutes of arrival. You just need to download the Ricoh Theta app on your smartphone and off you go.
  • Photos transfer back to your phone right away. After you take the photo, the camera will begin transferring the image back to your phone. You won’t have to remember to do it later.
  • Location information is turned on by default. When you upload photos to Google Streetview, GPS information will make that process so easy.
  • The Theta+ and the Theta Video app are phenom for editing.
  • The Theta allows manual tweaks of features like ISO and shutter speed.

Cons…

  • Connectivity to your smartphone can be sassy. I’ve had plenty of times where it wouldn’t connect to my Samsung S8+. My only recourse was to restart the phone.
  • The video quality is just okay. The video quality is 1920×1080, but by the time you send it to Facebook it’s not even worth sharing.
  • I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I returned my first Theta. It was defunct. Luckily, Amazon’s 15-day return policy afforded me a no-hassle return policy. I was still super frustrated when I realized it was broke after I climbed a bluff for an awesome shot. The second theta has been great.

Samsung Gear 360

Plus…

  • The price is right. At about $120, you can have a fun little 360 camera.
  • The video and photo quality are nice. I wouldn’t say “professional quality” under just any conditions, but if it’s the morning or afternoon on an overcast day or inside, you’ll like what you take. The video quality is better than the Theta.

Cons…

  • Moving photos back to your phone is a bit tricky. You’ll get the hang of it, but it’s not as automatic as it is with the Theta.
  • It requires a micro SD card. Really, that’s not a bad thing because it can hold more videos and photos, but it is an added cost that you might not realize. If I remember right, I bought mine for an extra $30 dollars.
  • The default setting is to NOT include location information. I took about 25 pictures and didn’t realize this until I went to upload to Google Streetview. Boy, was I mad!
  • Editing on the Samsung app isn’t as good as the Theta app. The options aren’t as creative, although I’ve been able to edit Samsung photos on the Theta App. That speaks volumes to the Theta app, right?

So…which one to buy?

Well, ideally I’d suggest that you save up your pennies for the Theta V, but at $430, it’s tough to justify if you aren’t planning to recoup your investment. So, if you just want a bunch of fun photos and videos, I’d go with the Samsung Gear 360, but be prepared to spend time getting the hang of it on events that aren’t crucial to catch. There’s a bit of a learning curve. If you’re not a techie, and you just want 360 photos, then go with the Theta. Both devices are super fun and offer all sorts of creative options.