The Ricoh Theta S 360 camera review will explore facts and details pertinent to the Theta S, including pros and cons, performance, functions, and features, to help you decide whether it is right for you.
Ricoh is at the forefront of 360 visuals, a videography segment that is catching on. The pioneering company launched its first-ever 360 camera in 2013 and has introduced some more models since then.
Our Review of the Ricoh Theta S 360 Camera
The Ricoh Theta S is an upgrade over its predecessor, the Theta m15. The new iteration boasts better visuals and performance.
- Shoots 360 videos and still images
- Cloud service to store images
- Good smartphone app
- Wi-Fi transfer sluggish
- Mac app has issues
- Visuals slightly soft
The Theta S sports the same shape that its predecessors did. The candy bar-shaped camera has rounded edges, and each face holds a lens. The front face has LED lights that turn blue when the camera is powered on. There are also LED lights for Wi-Fi and power. A red light shows that the shooting is in progress.
A micro USB port is present underneath the camera beside the tripod socket.
One drawback is that the battery is fixed.
Built-in memory is a very modest 8 GB.
The camera is available only in matte black.
The lenses protrude out of the camera faces quite prominently. Therefore, to avoid scratches, you will want to store them in the pouch provided.
Another caveat to note is that the body is sealed. As explained, you cannot remove the battery. You also cannot upgrade memory as a result.
Using the camera is as simple as it gets. You just have to point and shoot to record video or snap images in 360. A big advantage of 360 visuals is that you do not have to focus on the subject. However, since the camera records everything around it, the videographer/photographer cannot get out of the shot.
You can shoot 360 videos and still images without the app using camera control buttons only.
Of course, you will enjoy a much better experience controlling the camera through the smartphone app available on iOS and Android. You can also see the camera live feed on the app and pan around.
With the app, you can easily transfer both video and image files to your smartphone. The Theta360 cloud is available for you to share your 360 visuals with the world. After uploading your 360 still visuals on the Theta360 cloud, you can link them with social media pages and even web pages for the world to see.
Uploading 360 videos by smartphone is not possible. Instead, you will have to use the desktop app to transfer your 360 videos online.
Mac users should note that the app can play upon OS X. This software can only work with Adobe Air runtime. But the app may not run even with the latest version of Adobe Air. If you do online research, you might find that the older Adobe Air version 19 can get this software going. Strange hack, but at least the app will start working.
The software runs without a fuss once you install it correctly. You will need this software to convert your 360 video file to a format that you can edit and upload to the Theta360 cloud.
There is one issue, though. Uploads are restricted to videos no longer than 11 seconds. For longer videos, you can rely on YouTube. But to upload this way, you will have to execute a few extra steps so that your file is finally ready for upload. But once done, you can share your files just like any other YouTube footage.
The Theta+ app allows for image editing on your phone. With this app, you can flatten spherical images and save them on your phone memory. You may also apply filters with the Theta+. Four different viewing modes are available: Rectilinear panorama, Equirectangular panorama, Little Planet projection, and the spherical view called Mirror Ball. A crop feature is also present in the app.
Video and Image Quality
The Theta S 360 has 2 image sensors that are 12MP CMOS chips. However, the final image size in JPG format is 14MP due to overlap and processing.
Photos are clear and vibrant, especially in well-illuminated areas. However, there is an issue of purple fringe showing in places with high contrast. But this is a common issue in 360 cameras. You may also note lost image details at times.
To minimize the formation of a purple fringe, make sure that lighting is largely uniform. So avoid taking pictures around windows that let sunlight into dim spaces.
Overall, images look nice on computer monitors, tablets, and smartphones. Image quality remains at par with slight zooming. But with more zooming, the image starts becoming hazy.
Video quality has another issue. Although the Theta S 360 shoots 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second, horizontal resolution drops to 960 when the file is prepared for editing. The end product has a 1920 x 960 resolution. This is not a massive drop in resolution, though.
The camera is capable of recording 360 videos at 30 fps for 25 minutes. The built-in memory can hold a total of about 1600 spherical photos.
The video looks alright in rectangular format. But it becomes slightly hazy in the spherical view, which is more relevant to 360 visuals.
You can’t zoom in to look at distant objects clearly. For distant objects to appear clearly when zooming in, you will have to record them at close range.
You can also make use of the time-lapse setting for videos.
One major downside is that it is not water-resistant. Although you can purchase a waterproof case separately, but the maximum depth of submersion is just one meter. That’s too little to be of any practical use. So the bottom line is that you cannot use it as an action camera underwater.
Our Final Thoughts
The Theta 360 S may work fine for those interested in user-friendliness and want a camera that they can carry and start using anywhere.
The visuals are satisfactory. But if you are interested in premium production quality for your videos, then you will have to look for cameras with higher resolution and image quality.