Ricoh Theta V

Still Image Quality

In stills mode, the Theta V captures JPEG images with an effective resolution of 5376 x 2688 pixels, or approximately 14 megapixels.  Although these photos can be opened and edited in traditional photo viewing/editing software, a special spherical projection is necessary to view them interactively (e.g. theta360.com or the Theta V desktop application).  Such software allows for zooming and panning across the sphere, which can lead to some very unique effects.

The effective resolution of 14 megapixels is lower than the combined effective resolution of both lenses (each has a 12-megapixel sensor); this allows the Theta V to effectively stitch together both halves of each capture while minimizing aberrations and (ideally) eliminating the user's hand from the photo.  All images are output in JPEG format; there are no RAW files.

Below are two sample photos from the Theta V in both spherical and original format:

Sample photo 1 - Theta V (click to pan and zoom | download original)

Sample photo 2 - Theta V (click to pan and zoom | download original)

Next, let us consider a test scene to take a closer look at the Theta V's image quality.  Due to the Theta's small form factor (and 1/2.3" sensor size), noise and dynamic range can be challenging if light levels are low, or if the image contains uneven lighting.

Test scene - Theta V (click to pan and zoom | download original)

The images below are 100% crops of a specific part of each image.  Click to enlarge and cycle through the different ISO settings:

ISO
100
ISO
400
ISO
800
ISO
1600
ISO
3200

Although the Theta V supports a wide range of ISO settings, the image quality struggles as soon as the ISO is moved away from the base value of 100.  We consider ISO settings up to 800 to be acceptable, while above that, the ability to crop is severely limited.  At base ISO, details are generally clear, but the sensor's dynamic range is not sufficient to properly reproduce bright highlights.

As of firmware version 2.30.1, it is possible to use the smartphone connection to save a set of default settings which will be used whenever the Theta is in standalone mode.  Prior to this, the camera would always be in auto mode.  Thanks to this change, it is easy to force the camera to use lower ISO settings, which can improve image quality (at the risk of motion blur in low light conditions).

Lastly, let's compare the still image performance of the Theta V to its entry-level predecessor, the Theta SC:

Comparative photo - Theta SC (click to pan and zoom | download original)

Comparative photo - Theta V (click to pan and zoom | download original)

While the Theta V opted for a warmer white balance in this particular shot, in general its image quality appears to be identical to that of the Theta SC.  While we certainly aren't unhappy with the results from the Theta V, given the (roughly 2x) price difference between the two models, the V leaves something to be desired.

Verdict

Like the last two Theta models, the Theta V delivers solid image quality.  The camera makes capturing your entire surroundings as easy as the push of a button.  Our main gripe with respect to still image quality is that not much has changed since the Theta S.  The Theta V does allow users to customize settings when used without a smartphone, but other than that, it won't be outperforming its predecessors.


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