The Ricoh Theta 360 degree spherical digital camera is a compact device with a very special purpose; Capture of fully spherical photos. Theta touts its convenience considering that most cameras have to string images together to get a flat panoramic photo. With the Theta, users can photograph an entire scene or the floor, ceiling and all four walls of a room at the touch of a button. The question, however, isn’t really whether theta gets its goal – which it does – but rather whether or not spherical photos are worth the camera’s $ 400 price tag.
Build and design
With an easy-to-use user interface, Theta delivers a spherical photo at the push of a button. Ricoh uses the word “spherical” to describe the photos. In everyday life, they are 360-degree representations of the environment that users can use to pan and zoom a scene as if they were right there. Users can view the photos using the Ricoh Theta apps on iOS, Android, PC and Mac.
The Ricoh Theta camera has built-in Wi-Fi and 4 GB of storage. Weighing only about 0.20 pounds and measuring 1.65 x 5.08 x 0.9 inches, the Theta is a relatively small camera. It is light and the white housing is lightly rubberized so that it is comfortable to hold. As a fun accessory, it doesn’t add too much weight to what users are already wearing. The Theta is easy to slip into a purse or pocket for taking photos on the go.
The front of the camera is where the lens and shutter release are located, and the back is where the other side of the lens is. On the right side of the device, users will find the Power and Wi-Fi buttons with a status above the power button and below the wireless button. On the underside of the camera are the tripod mounting hole and the microUSB connection, which is hidden behind a plastic flap.
According to Ricoh, the 4 GB onboard memory enables around 1,200 images to be recorded, depending on the recording situation. The Theta has an auto ISO range of 100-1600 with a lens sensitivity range of 1 / 8000-1 / 1.75 seconds Ricoh has been silent about this device’s specifications for its sensors and image processors, but the testers rate the camera to anywhere from 5-6.5 megapixels based on uploaded photos.
Two microphones can be seen on the top of the device that, according to Ricoh, are currently inactive, but will become active in a later software release. This implies that there might be video recordings in the future of theta.
One thing that could be an issue was the camera’s slim design. Since the camera is large and thin, the lens seems quite prone to damage. Ricoh includes a carrying case in the box, but when the camera is in use, users should be careful not to drop the Ricoh as the lens is surrounded by glass that bulges in the front and back. The exposure of the lens can also be an issue, as taking photos remotely with the app requires the user to place the camera upright in any location. A simple push could unbalance the camera and it will fall straight onto one of the two lenses. An included stand can be a helpful way to reduce potential damage. Ricoh offers a belt attachment as an optional accessory, but it does not contain an actual belt.
Menus and modes
In accordance with the basic aesthetics of design and function, the camera itself does not have any menus or modes directly on the device. Some settings – including brightness – can be adjusted through the compatible app; However, at this point in time, this is only available with the iOS app.
The app allows users to manage their WiFi and social media settings, with the ability to connect directly to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Albums and a camera roll are also available through the app that users can quickly connect to their photos. The best thing about the compatible app is that all photos taken with the Ricoh Theta are displayed immediately as soon as the image has been processed. Aside from acting as an ad hoc viewfinder, the Theta app offers some basic functionality in the panorama / sphere photography niche.
Display and viewfinder
As mentioned earlier, the camera lacks an LCD display to view photos instantly, which means users will need a second device to view all of the photos taken instantly. Instead, photos are automatically synced to connected devices and can be viewed on a smartphone, tablet, PC or Mac. With the iOS and Android app, users can also control the Theta remotely from their mobile device.
There’s no easy way to frame photos, but since it takes spherical photos, framing isn’t necessary. The app will not display photos until after they have been taken, so there is no way to view a picture before it is taken. Since users don’t want to deliberately frame photos, the lack of a viewfinder isn’t really a problem. It’s more of a point, shoot, and see what kind of camera you get. After viewing the photo, users can use the app to make appropriate changes to the camera or physically move the Theta’s location.
Photos are displayed as “spherical” images via the compatible app, so that instead of a panoramic view, the image bulges as a wide photo into a circle with a slight fisheye perspective. Photos can seem a little confusing at first, but it really makes a cool effect when viewed through the Theta app.
The pictures are interesting to look at, and the app has a 3D effect so you can see the depth and dimension of each scene. Users simply click and drag the mouse (or finger on a smartphone or tablet) around the image in the Theta app to see every corner of the image. It gives the user the feeling of being right in the room instead of a flat 2D representation. It’s safe to say that Theta offers a unique alternative to the standard panoramic offerings of most smartphones and digital cameras.
First, we paired the camera with an iOS device through the app by selecting the Wi-Fi network issued by Theta and pairing the two devices. If the smartphone or tablet is already connected to another Wi-Fi network, users will need to manually select the theta network. The password is part of the serial number located on the bottom of the camera and is required to connect to the camera’s hotspot the first time it is used.
The status lights indicate the status of the camera, with a steady LED light indicating that it is ready to take a picture. When users get a slowly blinking blue light, it means the camera is in sleep mode, which occurs after five minutes of inactivity. A faster blinking blue light indicates the camera is processing the last photo taken and users will have to wait a minute. A blinking red light means the firmware is being updated, while a constant red light instructs the user to recalibrate the camera’s compass by moving in a figure-of-eight pattern. When the internal memory is full, the status indicator on the camera goes out or does not light up at all.
Theta works by holding the camera up – or by placing it upright in the center of a scene – and pressing the shutter either manually or remotely via the Theta app. It only takes a second or two, and users don’t have to worry much about framing the photos as the entire space is captured.
The image quality is decent, especially in good light outdoors, and you can see a few pixels in the photos when you zoom in. It’s not exactly $ 400 worth of image quality, however, considering the type of camera that money can buy. Especially since photos appear dark and grainy inside, even with decent lighting. This camera wouldn’t work well in low light or dark rooms unless users get creative with an external flash. There are a number of high quality digital camera options in the price range that offer more than a novelty feature.
Scanning around the captured images is fun, especially since it creates an image that a regular digital camera certainly won’t capture. The only part of the photo that looks weird is exactly where the camera should be. The Ricoh does not photograph itself in the picture, so the user’s hand looks a bit enlarged and oddly shaped. However, this can be avoided by using the remote app, but users can still see a white streak where the camera was and its shadow.
Mail from RICOH THETA. – Ball picture – RICOH THETA
The idea of taking spherical photos with the push of a button will most likely appeal to any photographer, but the real question is whether or not it’s worth the $ 400 price tag for the camera. The price is a little high for a new device and not a serious photo accessory. While the images are certainly fun and unique, they don’t offer much in terms of image quality or ease of use; Anyone wanting to view the image must have the app or computer software to view them as 3D images. So forget to print your favorite pictures for a photo album or to frame them on the wall, these pictures are only shared via smartphones, tablets and computers.
Overall, theta creates unique images that would be difficult to capture any other way. It’s an easy, accessible, and quick way to capture an entire room or scene in a single shot. Landscape enthusiasts and real estate agents may find it more appealing than the average user. But for the casual user, it won’t be worth taking photos of a party or meeting. Sure, it will be cool to show friends and family a photo or two, but it will be severely lacking when it comes to taking a group photo or simply sharing pictures with each other after a meeting.
- Offers unique images
- Restricted use
- Average image quality
Anyone looking to buy the Ricoh Theta 3D Spherical Digital Camera should consider the cost, image quality, and limited options before jumping in.