A few weeks ago, I posted about an apparent inconsistency in sharpness of the Samsung Gear 360 (see here and here). The good news is that Pasztor Tamas of INSTAR films has figured out what’s going on. But it’s not all good news.
Pasztor tested three cameras and discovered the cause: overheating causes expansion which changes the focal distance between the sensor and the lens:
“The problem is the overheating. When the camera gets started to warming, the distance of the sensor and back lens or the front lens and lens cover (it’s a diopter cover) changes, and the focus point will be closer. So because of the thermal expansion, the infinity focus will be a macro focus (you can try it, put something at the front of the lens). When the camera cools down, the focus will be infinity again. This problem presents especially with the front lens/sensor, the back lens gets less out of focus.”
This is not a manufacturing defect per se, but an issue with how it was designed, therefore exchanging the Gear 360 for another unit will not solve the problem. Pasztor tested three Samsung Gear 360 cameras – 2 from EU and 1 from Korea. All units had the same issue.
Moreover, because it’s a physical problem, it does not appear that it can be resolved by firmware, unless there was a way to make the sensor run cooler by intentionally slowing it down (I’m just speculating about that possibility).
UPDATE: Here is another test, which confirms Tamas Pasztor’s findings.