When is the last time you described a camera as fun? Well, the RICOH THETA is just that. A camera that’s capable of taking 360° pictures and video.
Isn’t 360VR something completely professional and expensive? Well, no more!
The small camera, comparable in height to an iPhone 5, has two 180 fish-eye lenses and smart software to combine them to a virtual panorama you can watch on your phone, computer or online.
The moment you press the button a fun chirp is clearly audible. The THETA takes two pictures, and joins them together in a wide image that looks quite a bit stretched when viewed in a regular photo viewer. The true magic happens when you capture that image through the THETA app on your smartphone, or convert the image on your computer. That moment you can scroll and zoom across that little virtual world.
Just like other small cameras like the GoPro, the quality of the images are nice, but don’t expect to make prints of them. Same with low-light sensitivity, with ISO 800 already giving so much noise you can just stop bothering.
Behind the Scenes at our Jesus shoot. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
However, if you capture all images from the camera you can even tone the images with software like Lightroom or Photoshop, giving the images a bit of a needed punch and clarity, bringing the images to actual usable web-objects. Another notable thing is the seams. Since the lenses are placed around half a cm apart, there will be a notable gap on some pictures. Same if you handheld it, there will be a phantom hand floating around parts of your picture. If you use a small tripod and trigger the images through the app, most of those issues disappear.
Violetta Photoshoot Grand Place – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
For groups, this is the ultimate selfie-camera. Everyone is in the same picture, showing everything that there was in just a fun way of seeing. Memories are preserved forever, until the web service or app stop working one day. This is actually my main concern. While the images seem to be ‘constructed’ in the same way that all 360 images work, it’s still not mainstream, with no guarantee that your images will be shared in a way that everyone will be able to view them in a few years.
The problem with the software as well is that it’s just a viewer. Every time you want to see an image you have to look for the correct filename as R0010360.JPG, drag it in the player, wait for it to decompress, and then you can see if it’s the correct one. Not very practical.
View from Alice’s Labyrinth – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
As much as I love this camera, this cool gimmick doesn’t come extremely cheap. For $299 you get a solid built camera, with 4GB internal memory, good battery life that will last a day of fun, and a unique way of preserving memories as no-one has ever done before in such a way.
If you are planning on traveling somewhere cool, and would love to share this experience with everyone in the most immersive way possible, don’t wait, and get the THETA now. You’ll really like it.