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Ricoh unveils 360-degree, smartphone-controlled Theta camera

59

Ricoh has unveiled their new Theta digital camera, which can take 360-degree panoramas with its two ultra-wide-angle lenses.

The stylish and thin Theta can be controlled via your iOS device after you've downloaded the appropriate app. There's no live preview of the photo you're about to take, so you have to cross your fingers and hope for the best. If you're using your smartphone to capture the image, the photo will be automatically downloaded to your mobile device. You can also use the Theta independently and transfer the photos to your phone or computer at a later time.

The spartan interface of the Theta app's shooting mode. The button in the middle takes a photo, while the slider adjusts exposure compensation.
The playback screen can display Theta captures stored on the camera or your smartphone. If it's the former, clicking on one will copy it to your mobile device.

Once a photo is on your iOS device, you can view or share it. The viewing experience allows you to scroll around the whole image, and zoom in or out (the latter is very cool).  A share button will upload the images to Ricoh's theta360.com website, as well as to Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. You can't actually see the 360-degree panaoramas on these sites, but rather a link to theta360.com. 

How's the quality of the panoramas? See for yourself:

Click the image to see the actual panorama on the theta360.com website.

As you can see, the quality isn't great, but it's still a pretty neat effect. The main downside is that your head always ends up in the photo when you hand-hold the camera. Unless you're proud of your hair, you might want to use a tripod.

The Theta will be available this month for $399. You can read the full Theta press release here, and learn more about the camera on the theta360.com website.

Comments

Total comments: 59
MikeFairbanks
By MikeFairbanks (4 months ago)

I have one. It needs a lot of work.

I can't turn off the sound, so it makes a series of beeps (designed to be cute) when it takes a photo. Not good (I was on a TV set yesterday and couldn't shoot during takes. I had to shoot between takes. I would have been kicked out promptly had I let that little R2D2 beep out during a take.

No timer for the shutter. Is there any other camera in existence that doesn't have a self timer? Sure, it can be triggered with an Iphone, but that doesn't have a timer either, so every picture will show your hand holding the camera or you holding your phone (or your hand purposely hidden while using the phone).

It's not worth 400 bucks. 99 bucks.

Oh, and image quality is similar to an Iphone 4 (not 4s or higher).

0 upvotes
zoozig
By zoozig (Sep 11, 2013)

I think it would be a lot of fun, but the $399 is way too high .

0 upvotes
mrdancer
By mrdancer (Sep 9, 2013)

In the meantime, I will keep doing my annual 360-degree landscape photopoints with twelve snapshots taken from a tripod and stitched with Image Composite Editor. It is currently the only way to get high-resolution 360-degree images, motion be damned.

0 upvotes
mrdancer
By mrdancer (Sep 9, 2013)

Awesome concept! Improve the image quality / resolution significantly (collaborate with MS/Nokia's 41mp sensors?), make it communicate with more than just iOS, and I'd be interested in buying one for twice the price. Perfect for documentary timelapse photos (or photopoints taken annually) once IQ (or resolution, rather) is better than that of a good point-n-shoot for any given direction.

Reminds me of a 360-degree cam that came out about a decade ago. It took a snapshot of a convex mirror situated above the camera lens, captured instant 360-degree photos, then processed the round mirror image with software to make it look like the Ricoh-finalized photos. As with the Ricoh, resolution was very bad, even worse than the Ricoh.

Found it:
http://www.0-360.com/

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
utomo99
By utomo99 (Sep 7, 2013)

Another idea is to make cameras which can show products from 360 degree.
example we want to sell cameras, fashion, toys and other. if we can show the cameras in 360 degree it will be better

I hope some manufacturer try to look at this opportunity

0 upvotes
inevitable crafts studio
By inevitable crafts studio (Sep 7, 2013)

quality is a joke, but not a good one, for that money

and iam a ricoh fanboy ^^

try microsofts free ios/android app called "photosynth" and then look at the sample of the ricoh again

0 upvotes
Russell Dawkins
By Russell Dawkins (Sep 7, 2013)

A very serious lapse of good judgement on Ricoh's part here, I think. I hope they didn't spend a lot of time and money on development that could have gone into something really salable, like a Ricoh version of the Sony RX1.

0 upvotes
Ken Aisin
By Ken Aisin (Sep 6, 2013)

If it comes with a tripod mount and a wireless remote shutter release, I would get one.

0 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Sep 6, 2013)

I wonder - why no video?

A 360 degree video camera would be cool.

2 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Sep 6, 2013)

Fun stuff. But ... IQ is not high.

And I am not sure how to use it without getting my hand and head in the image.

On a long pole maybe? Hmmm .. on a monopod?

1 upvote
Chu123
By Chu123 (Sep 6, 2013)

On their website, the companion iPhone app allows you trigger shots remotely it seems.

0 upvotes
utomo99
By utomo99 (Sep 6, 2013)

We must easy to use the image in other website/ embed it.
so no need to open the theta website/ leave other website

and i hope they support HTML5 soon, instead of only flash

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
SemperAugustus
By SemperAugustus (Sep 6, 2013)

Shitty IQ

1 upvote
AngryCorgi
By AngryCorgi (Sep 6, 2013)

Interesting, but even in bright daylight, the image quality is terrible. The samples on their website are noisy and grainy in all conditions.

1 upvote
SRT3lkt
By SRT3lkt (Sep 6, 2013)

Glados!

0 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (Sep 6, 2013)

This will be cool for events and stuff. Hard to stitch when your scene is dynamic. Simultaneous exposure will resolve that.

1 upvote
Blake Willis
By Blake Willis (Sep 6, 2013)

Neat idea, $300 too expensive...

0 upvotes
Nukunukoo
By Nukunukoo (Sep 6, 2013)

No LCD and unimpressive resolution for $399?

(collective meh)

4 upvotes
Cane
By Cane (Sep 6, 2013)

You do realize that if it takes a picture of everything, you don't need an LCD?

4 upvotes
Nukunukoo
By Nukunukoo (Sep 6, 2013)

You do realize that if you want to compose live (or at least immediately), an LCD no matter how small, would be perfect? And at $399 (cost of a high-end P&S or entry DSLR) you WILL want it to work well standalone, and that's why even a small LCD UI is critical.

3 upvotes
D1N0
By D1N0 (Sep 6, 2013)

So I guess you would like your forehead to cover half of the picture.

4 upvotes
Lawrencew
By Lawrencew (Sep 6, 2013)

I notice in their published specs they say nothing about the resolution of the image. How many pixels?

It does look good initially that you can zoom in, but then you realize it isn't high enough resolution to see any detail - least not in that example anyway.

Double the pixel count and it might get interesting.

In the meantime, just stick a 360 panorama attachment to your existing camera and achieve the same effect.

0 upvotes
BG_CX3_DPREVIEW
By BG_CX3_DPREVIEW (Sep 6, 2013)

So basically it does what Photosynth does, only you need to drag extra hardware and pay 300 for it?

What am i missing?

Ricoh management, really, wake up and spent your engineering time in camera design.

2 upvotes
Leandros S
By Leandros S (Sep 6, 2013)

You would need a camera anyway, but the idea would be that you get a fully stitched image more or less directly from the camera, rather than having to faff around in third party software and tie up your desktop CPU. The comparison to Sony's sweep panorama mode has already been made, so I won't repeat that.

2 upvotes
SeeRoy
By SeeRoy (Sep 6, 2013)

Yeah, with the top of your cranium (with or without hair) and your fingers occupying a large area of the image. How many commercial users of VR panoramas would accept this cr@p? Another FaecesBook toy.

1 upvote
Andy Crowe
By Andy Crowe (Sep 6, 2013)

> What am i missing?

It's single shot, so works much better in situations where there's movement. This model probably doesn't have good enough image quality for its niche, but the concept is sound enough.

0 upvotes
massimogori
By massimogori (Sep 6, 2013)

Realtors rejoice!

1 upvote
A Fool
By A Fool (Sep 6, 2013)

This makes a lot more sense than a $500 RX100-like lens with no controls that can't shoot RAW.

0 upvotes
Butoa
By Butoa (Sep 6, 2013)

RX100-like lens is best seller right now. This would be worst seller.

Comment edited 8 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
Cane
By Cane (Sep 6, 2013)

Burial, that lens isn't even for sale yet. Anything else you'd like to make up?

0 upvotes
dbateman
By dbateman (Sep 6, 2013)

@Cane, I think your replying to Butoa.

But his is correct the Sony QX lenses seems to be the highest pre-orded camera or what ever it is ever. Stores are having a hard time to get stock.

This think is interesting. Its a single shot, so no Image blur. But the lens is so crazy fisheyed that the IQ seems poor at the distance people (me included) what to look at the image. If they used a larger sensor with more pixels, this might be really good.

0 upvotes
ovatab
By ovatab (Sep 6, 2013)

better put the camera on a monopod and hold it up away from your shiny body parts :)

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Sep 6, 2013)

Quality's not there yet but when it does get better, this will be lots of fun.

0 upvotes
love_them_all
By love_them_all (Sep 6, 2013)

The sample images looked great at first, until I look down to a giant bald head and a badly stitched hand.

1 upvote
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (Sep 6, 2013)

Yes but it's a very nice bald head!

6 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (Sep 6, 2013)

Seems crazy you can't get a preview. I guess if it is going to capture EVERYTHING maybe it's not that important.

0 upvotes
sharkcookie
By sharkcookie (Sep 6, 2013)

I want it :)

0 upvotes
sharkcookie
By sharkcookie (Sep 6, 2013)

Never mind! I just checked the image quality/resolution of the sample. Not really convincing.

1 upvote
rafakoy
By rafakoy (Sep 6, 2013)

That's a really bad name for a camera.
Theta may be a Greek letter, but it means boobs in Spanish...

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Macintosh Sauce
By Macintosh Sauce (Sep 6, 2013)

TETA NOT THETA. (facepalm) :-|

5 upvotes
new boyz
By new boyz (Sep 6, 2013)

Boobs is good enough. Hahahah.

0 upvotes
ProfHankD
By ProfHankD (Sep 6, 2013)

I'm sure the name refers to the projection of the lenses, which is classically f-theta for an angular fisheye with a projection that captures the same resolution per unit angle everywhere in the image. As for marketing the name, give 'em credit for getting the "f" out of there. ;-)

1 upvote
Gesture
By Gesture (Sep 6, 2013)

Different mode but this idea prompts one to think about the Lytos concept-the camera/sensor is capturing multiple views and we can distill later from it-changing many parameters, including focal plane, depth of field, etc.

1 upvote
KL Matt
By KL Matt (Sep 6, 2013)

And I'm confident this camera will be just as successful as the Lytos camera, too.

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (Sep 6, 2013)

Beeg Bradah!

.

1 upvote
plasnu
By plasnu (Sep 6, 2013)

Great camera, but how much?

0 upvotes
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (Sep 6, 2013)

Oops, that's kind of an important point. Added the price - $400 - to the story.

0 upvotes
deep7
By deep7 (Sep 6, 2013)

That's brilliant! It works much better than I expected. I'd like one...

4 upvotes
ProfHankD
By ProfHankD (Sep 6, 2013)

I did a lot of this sort of thing in 1999 with a pair of digital cameras using fisheye converters, and a few years ago using a Canon PowerShot under CHDK capturing reflections off a silvered sphere. It's a cool thing to do, but this seems way too spartan. I'd expect a stitched live view on the cell phone and video recording support (this sort of thing could be very appealing for video conferencing, which various similar devices have targeted). Not only is that support missing, but there are no specs or even pricing given at the WWW site. Ricoh just testing the waters...?

One more thing: it should have built-in feet/stand so it can easily be stood in a room and wirelessly triggered from elsewhere. It looks really unstable standing up.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Holger Drallmeyer
By Holger Drallmeyer (Sep 6, 2013)

Awesome for real estate!

6 upvotes
Karroly
By Karroly (Sep 6, 2013)

Interesting device for spies, security guards or Big Brother, or just to record an oustanding view at the Everest summit. I find the software perfectly stiched the front and back pictures. As far as IQ is concerned, the quality is rather good. Keep in mind each lens is a 180-degree fish-eye lens and it is not easy to design good ones. IMHO, the good way to appreciate the picture sharpness is to zoom until you display an angle of view of 180 degrees on your monitor screen, which is the field of view of one single lens. Then experiment how much you can zoom into the picture before reaching the resolution limit.
I am interested by a version, if feasible, with HD video recording, stereo sound and low light capabilities to record concerts...

0 upvotes
yonsarh
By yonsarh (Sep 6, 2013)

portable version of google street view camera.

3 upvotes
utomo99
By utomo99 (Sep 5, 2013)

Nice try Ricoh. please improve the image quality and also add APP for Android so we can see the preview/result there.

If they use 3 lenses I believe it will be better. because 180 degree is not easy to implement. but 120 degree is easier

Comment edited 13 minutes after posting
1 upvote
alberto_b
By alberto_b (Sep 6, 2013)

with 3 120 degree lenses you get 360° horizontal and only 240° vertical or vice versa

1 upvote
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (Sep 5, 2013)

Meh.

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Sep 6, 2013)

It's only "Meh" if you can't think of a use for it. I can think of a number of potentially interesting projects for it.

Also a pretty cool looking design.

2 upvotes
hdr
By hdr (Sep 6, 2013)

Cool. Better than blurry 'Sweep Panorama' on the Sonys.

Anyone knows what happened to that egg-shaped panorama camera gadget shown around a year or so ago? Nothing heard on it so far.

4 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (Sep 6, 2013)

Marike6, I can think of a thousand uses for it. I'm just deeply unimpressed by price, image quality and useability. This is what circular fisheye lenses did and, although such lenses cost a small fortune nowadays, they sweep the floor with these thingies.

1 upvote
Jerry Ci
By Jerry Ci (Sep 6, 2013)

It works only in conjunction with Apple products? Does it work standalone for the majority of people who use other smartphones or no smartphone? Am I missing something here?

Comment edited 30 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Total comments: 59
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