Before Ricoh’s first Theta, which was launched in 2015, you wanted a multi-camera rig to seize a spherical picture. The Japanese digicam firm was among the many first to determine how to take a ton of advanced imaging tech and put it right into a easy handheld gadget. Since then, largely thanks to the curiosity in VR-friendly content material, 360-degree cameras have sprung up like weeds. Some corporations like GoPro and Rylo are utilizing dual-lens designs to seize scenes and intelligently crop and pan video. Even smartphone startup Essential introduced a dual-lens spherical digicam to market as a magnetic attachment to its flagship telephone.
So, it would appear to be the Ricoh Theta is an also-ran in a class it virtually invented. That’s why the most recent iteration, the Ricoh Theta V, is an important product. For one, it reveals Ricoh’s nonetheless bought an edge on the competitors. Whether you are wanting to seize spherical video or simply 14-megapixel stills, Ricoh’s latest handheld digicam is simple to use and nets higher outcomes than ever.
Why Mess With Perfection?
At first blush, the Theta V seems to be similar to each different Theta that got here earlier than it. It’s type of popsicle-shaped with a hemispherical lens on both aspect and a giant, pleasant shutter button proper the place your thumb sits. Simple lights shine by the digicam’s case let you realize which taking pictures mode you have chosen and whether or not or not Wi-Fi is turned on. I believe the outside design is what makes the Theta intuitive and approachable. Its easy, easy structure eschews the macho cues you’d see on action-aimed fashions like Garmin’s Virb 360 and it is inviting to use moderately than intimidating.
But, inside, Ricoh’s juiced its flagship spherical digicam up with a quick new Qualcomm processor and inside storage that give it the flexibility to shoot 4K/30p (3840 x 1920 decision) spherical video. That’s an enormous improve over the prior Theta S, which was restricted to 1080p HD captures. A brand new array of onboard microphones provides to the VR enchantment right here, giving your video clip an prompt, immersive spatial audio monitor.
Aside from these new skills, my favourite issues in regards to the Theta V are how a lot better it performs in dim settings and the way strong the stitching algorithm is in each stills and movies. Images can typically end up slightly grainy, however the digicam maintains picture constancy with out destroying element by smearing the pixels collectively. Even in darkish settings, like after I took this digicam to the Bay Area’s famed indoor vacation Dickens Fair, photos have been usable, even when typically highlights have been barely blown out.
An Imperfect Ball of Pixels
It’s nonetheless not all excellent news, nevertheless. You’re restricted to 19 GB of inside storage, and, in contrast to previous Theta cameras, you’ll be able to’t add a micro SD card. While this quantity of house is lots for stills, in case you’re taking pictures a bunch of 4K video it will replenish quick. I discovered the digicam’s digital stabilization was respectable sufficient, however in case you zoom right into a spherical video clip, my shaky mitts nonetheless made the footage look only a tiny bit jiggly, like after I took the Theta to CES 2018 and grabbed a video of the group ready for Samsung’s press occasion. Additionally, in case you have been hoping to use the Theta whereas browsing or snorkeling, you may have to shell out an egregious $200 for Ricoh’s first-party waterproof housing. Yikes.
But, I maintain coming again to how simple this digicam is to use. Ricoh aced its ergonomics the primary time round, and the Theta pleasant, simply transportable form nonetheless outclasses the competitors by far. The controls are approachable in case you shoot handheld, which is easy and enjoyable, even in case you’ll get higher photographs and smoother video from a tripod. For any technically superior digicam, it is robust to make one thing that hits all of the notes of high quality, portability, and usefulness. But Ricoh’s imaging boffins have nailed it.