In the Field: The Ricoh THETA V Spherical Camera

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The Ricoh THETA V can do many things: produce hi-res 360-degree images, shoot spherical 4K video, and capture immersive VR-compatible sound. These aren't hidden abilities—they're listed prominently at the top of the THETA V's product page. But what isn't mentioned—at least, not directly—is what I feel is the THETA V's strongest selling point: It's fun. We took the THETA V out to Central Park for a test run and had an absolute blast playing with it. Here's how it went.

Thanks to its sleek design and slim build, the THETA V looks as good as it performs.

Design and Setup

If there's one consensus about the THETA V, it's that the design is incredibly well done. Slim, sleek, and pocket-ready, the THETA V ranks among the most portable, least cumbersome cameras we've ever tested. It also looks great in hand, which doesn't have anything to do with performance, but it's still a nice-to-have.

Talking specs, the THETA V measures around 2 x 5", weighs 4 ounces, and is less than an inch thick. There are two 12MP camera sensors—one on each side—that allow you to shoot 360-degree photos and video, and somewhere inside is a 4-channel mic for capturing immersive sound. In terms of connectivity, the THETA V uses its own built-in Wi-Fi, supports live streaming in 4K, and includes a headphone jack, tripod screw mount, and micro-USB port for charging. There's no SD slot, which is kind of a bummer, but it does come with 19GB of internal memory, so that should cover most of your storage needs.

The process to set up the THETA V was nearly as clean as the design: download the app to your smartphone, sync the device, and you're ready to roll. Having dealt with much more finnicky apps and involved setup processes, I was surprised and relieved at how painless using the THETA V was. Once everything was installed, we headed to Central Park.

The THETA V is great for capturing fun action footage, like playing Frisbee in the park.

Park Performance

Even though most 360-degree cameras can produce photographic stills, I tend to judge them more by their video quality. That's a personal preference based solely on my own intended use case. For those of you concerned with the quality of stills, I can say the THETA V does an admirable job of producing hi-res 360-degree photographs—definitely in the upper tier of spherical cameras we've tested. But video quality is where the THETA V really makes it mark. Check out the clip above to see just how sharp and clear the footage is. Also, notice how clean the stitch lines are—nearly invisible. After reviewing the video we shot, I was very impressed.

My favorite video effect: the wonderfully weird and hypnotic Little Planet

In addition to shooting in traditional spherical format, the THETA V also lets you alter your footage using different video effects, including Mirror Ball, Dual Screen, and my personal favorite, Little Planet. Each effect adds something new and fun and sometimes, a little weird, to your footage.

Editing footage with the THETA V app

Editing and Post

As with nearly all 360-degree cameras, the trickiest part of the process comes after you record your footage. Ricoh did pretty well here, too, although the fact you have to use multiple apps to fully access all of THETA V's features might prove irksome for new users. Likewise, there was a bit of a learning curve for transferring footage from the device to my laptop. However, once you figure out the workflow and which app to use, accessing the plethora of features and filters is pretty straightforward, if not somewhat time consuming.

The Verdict

Real talk: Before using the THETA V, I was a little burned out on 360-degree video. Not for any particular reason, just because I've been reviewing so many of these cameras recently. But my experience with the THETA V totally rejuvenated my affinity for this technology. Chalk it up to impressive specs, ease of use, great design, or some combination of the three, but I had a great time with the THETA V and would be happy to use it again. A lot of 360-degree companies are still trying to find their audience, but Ricoh doesn't have that issue. With the THETA-V, Ricoh has created a product that's perfect for capturing all your good times—whether it's throwing a Frisbee in the park, chilling at the beach, or anywhere in between. If you're looking for an easy-to-use, easy-to-carry spherical camera, I highly recommend the THETA V.

Any other fans of the THETA V out there? Let us know in the Comments section, below.

1 Comments

I do not see the point of a 360 camera. You still can only look in one direction at a time, and with a video even though you can spin it around you cannot see all of the action. Then if you can see the entire 360 at once, it is so distorted that it is not worth viewing, I have seen a few 360 videos on YouTube. I tried watching the frisbee video but I found it difficult to watch, spinning the image around to see the frisbee being caught or thrown would take timing I could not achieve. I will admit I have never used a 360 camera of any type so I may be completely missing the possible uses for such a camera. I have used Stereographic cameras and I very much do see the point of them as I have always thought stereographic photos and videos lend more to the viewer than two dimensional photography.   So I guess when 360 cameras provide true holographic images, that would be the time to jump in.

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