I have been into 360 imagery, 360 interactive videos and little planets for close to a decade. I’m not sure what it is about it, but it has always fascinated me. After my trip to SXSW a few weeks ago, my appetite for 360 photography was refreshed and I decided to find the next best camera I could that was capable of 360 photos and video recording.
Of course everybody knows about the upcoming Samsung Gear 360 that’s been shown off and praised to heaven by Casey Neistat. This device is supposed to bring 4K 360 video to the masses for a consumer-friendly price and no overhead. At SXSW I had to chance to talk to a few Samsung guys who explained a lot of the 360 stuff but it was clear that their gear was locked in into their ecosystem. At least when they were demo’ing it. Sources tell me the device will ship in a few weeks (may 2016). Samsung, if you’re reading this, hit me up: I want to test the shiznit out of that device!
Another player in the field is Nikon; turns out they’re working on a similar consumer oriented 4K 360 camera called the KeyMission. If I got this right, this will also be in the same price-range as the Samsung Gear 360. However both of these camera’s are currently not available.
So the best thing I could get my hands on was the Ricoh Theta S. This turns out to be a fairly good device! Samsung and Nikon have their work cut out to beat this thing!
It shoots 360 photos and video. The not-so-great thing about the video is that it is 1080p. For 360 video to look amazing, you need 4K (something both Samsung and Nikon are aiming to deliver). Also: The device itself looks pretty cool (whenever I use it, people refer to it as the neuralizer flashy-thing-device from the Men In Black movies).
I quickly gave the camera a shakedown: I took a few photos and made a quick video. The stitching software is pretty much okay (although it does run on Adobe Air… That doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of trust): You drop in the files and get to choose how you want to stitch it. Do you want 360 videos for Youtube? Do you want little planets or mirror balls to fancy up your traditional video? Or do you just want to zoom in on something?
There are desktop apps and mobile apps (for iOS and Android) that enable you to create and edit these videos on the go. That’s really cool.
Besides the video recordings not being 4K (you’ll see why that is a real issue in the video below), there are 3 downsides to this camera:
- The memory is fixed. You can’t upgrade/replace the memory. So if it’s full, you need to download the footage and clear the memory of the device.
- The battery is fixed: no way to quickly replace the battery and keep on shooting.
- No timer feature on the camera without using an app.
Find a few photos and a video below! Let me know what you think! (The video just has a little planet thumbnail; the video itself is a an actual 360 video. I just liked the way the thumbnail looked).
I’ll create a more in-depth review of the camera, the software and the workflows for 360 videos in the future but for now: If you’re dead-set on buying a 360-capable camera: The Ricoh Theta is a real killer deal! At starting price of 350€ (4GB) or 400€ (8GB), this is a seriously good device to get started with 360 video before the Samsung Gear 360 or the Nikon KeyMission drop in the coming weeks/months.