Apr 18, 2016

Ricoh Theta S Review


The Ricoh Theta S represents the third generation of Ricoh's 360-degree spherical cameras.  Like the models that came before it, the Theta S is ultra-compact, yet it can take photos of your entire surroundings at the push of a single button. Those images can then be viewed interactively on a smartphone/tablet/PC, saved as traditional JPEG files, and even cropped or enlarged. This third generation also captures 360 degree videos in full HD, adds live view via a smartphone, and packs twice the image resolution. Finally, switching between still and video has become as easy as pushing a button.  With the Theta S, videos can finally be viewed and downloaded using the Theta smartphone/tablet app.

Theta S powered on

The Theta S was introduced at $349 in the US, which is a bit more than the previous m15 ($279), but still less than the original model from 2013 ($399) and justifiable given the improvements in specifications and capability.

Sample photo: 360-degree view of the Pentax booth at Photokina 2016

Spherical images add a new dimension to photography. While the Theta does not replace your traditional camera with which you can already create stunning artwork, it supplements it by letting you document events and activities at the push of a button.  There's no need to think about framing and focusing. When viewing the images later on a PC, smartphone, or tablet you can pan aound in the image and zoom in on more distant objects— it's like reliving your memories a second time! It is even more fun when viewing a movie shot with the Theta, since you can actually pan in the movie and see what was behind you while you were recording.

As a selfie camera the Theta is second to none. You simply can't avoid being rendered in each picture! Unless of course you place the camera on a tripod and go hide behind a cactus.

The cactus we wanted to capture

Pan in the image and there is the photographer!

The above are screen shots from the PC "Ricoh Theta" application that allows for viewing, panning and zooming in the image. Note how the Theta itself gets removed from the image!

Does the new Theta S hold up to closer scrutiny? Read on to find out!

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