Insta360 ONE vs Ricoh Theta V: Battle of the Brand New 360 Cameras

Two second generation 360 cameras from the top companies in this sector announced within days of each other, it’s hard to not make comparisons instantly. Neither of these cameras have been released yet, but you can pre-order them and both will be shipping within a few weeks.

Example photos, video and a full list of specs for both cameras have been released, so I think that’s good enough for an initial comparison between the two cameras; once I have both of the I’ll be able to do a more detailed comparison. For now let’s try and work out which is the better device, the Insta360 ONE or the Ricoh Theta V.

Insta360 ONE vs Ricoh Theta V: Specs comparsion

Feature Ricoh Theta V Insta360 One
Number of Lenses 2 x f/2.0 2 x f/2.2
Video Resolution 3840×1920 @29.97fps - 3840×1920 @29.97fps 3840×1920@30fps - 2560×1280@60fps - 2048×512@120fps
Photo Resolution 14 MP - 5376×2688 24 MP - 6912x3456 (insp, jpeg, RAW)
360 Live-Stream Yes - 4K Yes - 4K
Stabilization Gyro Sensor for tilt correction 6 Axis Image Stabilization
Waterproof 30ft Waterproof case available for extra IP67 Water Resistant with waterproof case (added extra)
Shockproof No No
Memory 19GB Internal MicroSD up to 128GB
Battery Still image: Approx. 300 photos - Video: Approx. 80 minutes 820 mAh
Sensors Gyroscope Gyroscope
Audio 4 internal Microphones Optional 4 channel Mic attachment for 360 audio 1 Microphone
Compatibility Android & iOS iPhone/iPad (Android coming soon)
Other Features Bluetooth connection option, fast processor Bullet Mode, 360 Time Lapse, Smart Track, Freecapture
Price $429 $299
Where to Buy Pre Order Ricoh Theta V Pre Order Insta360 One

Analysis

The internal specifications of the two cameras are broadly similar on paper, however the lenses used by the Ricoh Theta V have been upgraded with technology more commonly used in DSLR’s. This means that although both cameras shoot at the same 4K resolution the Theta V may have end up producing superior quality video, for a hefty price that is.

A big price difference

The Theta V is $130 more expensive than the Insta360 One and without a huge amount to show for it. In fact the photographic capability of the Theta V seems to be way below that of the Insta360, which can shoot 23 megapixel 360 images compared to the Theta V’s 14. Even if the Theta V has more advanced lenses, it’s hard to see how it can compensate for such a difference in resolution.

Both cameras can live stream in 4K and both have various manual controls available to the user. Ricoh have equipped an advanced processor in the Theta V which they claim can create superior quality images with closer to reality colors and dynamic range. The Insta360 One instead focuses its efforts on different ways of using 360 video, with its smart track, freecapture and bullet mode. These different modes allow the user to manipulate 360 video in ways not explored before, and have proven to be popular among 360 enthusiasts.

Ricoh Theta V

Ricoh's long awaited upgrade. 4K video with advanced processor and advanced lens technology.

Both cameras have accessories available to expand their features. The Insta360 One will have a range of accessories such as waterproof casing, invisible tripod, suction mount and drone mount for starters. For the Ricoh Theta V you can purchase a 4 channel microphone that will record 360 spatial audio as close to reality as possible and  there will soon be a waterproof housing that allows you to take your camera up to 30 metres underwater.

It’s very hard to tell just on first glance which is the superior device, but it seems like they may be targeting slightly different markets. The Insta360 One seems to be more about having fun and experimenting with 360 content, whereas the Ricoh Theta V is a more serious device. There is still some overlap there so both with look at each other as competition.

Design

The Ricoh Theta V is designed as a stand alone camera. You can attach it to a tripod, use it hand held of just use it standing on its own. The design hasn’t really changed from its predecessor, the Ricoh Theta S, most likely because this design proved to be the best among all 360 cameras a the time.

The Insta360 is primarily a phone attachment, but can also be used independently. The camera attached to your phones charging port and connects to an app on your phone, where you can control it. If you want to use it without your phone you need to insert a MicroSD card and you’ll probably need a small tripod too, because it’s not hand held friendly.

 

Video Comparison

As neither camera has been released, its not yet possible to be a side by side comparison of footage from both cameras shot in the same location. This would provide us with the most accurate test, and when I have both cameras I’ll certainly do that, but for now we’ll have to rely on the example videos already released.

I’ll be comparison footage from both the Insta360 ONE and Ricoh Theta V shot in similar lighting conditions.

Outdoor daytime comparison 

Theta V

Insta360 ONE

OK, so these are two very different videos, so making a definitive comparison is nearly impossible. What I can comment on is the overall quality of the image, the colors and stitching. The Theta V footage is dynamic, colorful and looks pretty good in 4K. The sky looks particularly striking and you can easily make out details in the rock and water. The quality fades on more distant objects, and I can see a few lens errors (strange red dot in the water on the left), but compared to other 4K cameras this hold up well. The stitching line is all but invisible and the differences in light

The Insta360 One footage is obviously a moving video, so the details aren’t as sharp and the stitching more obvious. Never the less it handles the movement well, proving its stabilization software works. The colors are less bright and vivid that the Theta V video, look at the sky for difference in color. The lenses sometimes struggle with direct sunlight in the video, causing significant lens flare. On the bright side, the image remains sharp both close up and far away from the lens.

Here are a few more videos from each camera for you to look over:

Theta V

Insta360 One

 

Theta V

Insta360 One

 

All of these videos were released by the companies that created each camera, so this is essential their marketing material, and I’ve noted a few patterns emerging. Every video released by Ricoh for the Theta V is a still video featuring a distinct audio element, be it a violinist, a waterfall or a band playing. All of Insta360’s videos for the One feature a lot of movement with the audio replaced with background music. This should give you a few clues as to the strengths and weaknesses of both cameras.

Ricoh is taking audio very seriously with their new camera, putting 4 internal Mics into their unit and creating a 360 spatial audio microphone attachment. This type of audio is very important if you want to create more immersive 360 video.

Pre-Order

Insta360 ONE comes with 3 new modes for shooting 360 video that will really blow you away. 4K resolution.

Insta360 has featured stabilization technology in their range of 360 cameras for a year now, and it’s worked wonderfully. If you are going to record any moving footage with a 360 camera, you need it to be stable or it will be unwatchable. Insta360 realized this early and set to work to make sure that moving 360 video looked great when shot with their cameras. It seems like they are continuing to focus their efforts on the action orientated market.

If I had to pick one I’d say the Ricoh Theta V video looks slightly better than the Insta360 One, only because of the greater dynamic range and more vivid colors, but maybe this was just due to the environment. Until I have both of them to compare side by side, I can’t really call it. I should be able to do so in the next few weeks when I get my hands on both these cameras.

Photo Comparison

The previous Ricoh Theta camera, the Ricoh Theta S, was well known for taking excellent 360 photos, and the Insta360 One has an impresive 23 megapixel sensor. But which takes the best 360 photos?

So far I’ve only found one example photo in 360 format shot with the Theta V, so take the following comparison with a hefty pinch of salt until more images are released.

Ricoh Theta V 360 Photo 

 

Insta360 360 Photo

 

Both of these 360 photos were taken at the height of day, so it’s a start. The Theta V image is not as sharp as I would have liked, although the color and dynamic range is there. Ricoh have no upgraded the resolution of the images, sticking with 14 megapixels. The Insta360 One on the other hand, can shoot 24 megapixel images, and this example shows how much sharper a large image can be.

 

Summary

As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, neither of these cameras have been released yet (both coming in the next few weeks), so I’ve not been able to produce a side by side comparison like I usually do. I made this post because people looking to buy a new 360 camera are obviously going to be wondering which is better and which they should buy. Even this slightly unscientific comparison is better than nothing!

When all is said and done I think that the Theta V is producing slightly better looking video when no movement is involved. When movement is involved I have a sneaking suspicion it won’t fare as well. The Insta360 One shoots great video, but lacks a certain quality that the Theta V seems to be able to produce.

As for still images, I think the Insta360 is a clear winner. Even though the Theta V has better technology in its lenses, the lack of pixels available really lowers the overall quality. The Theta V absolutely wins in the Audio department, but fails when it comes to memory. Only 19GB internal with no SD card slot, that could fill up quite quickly on a bust day of filming. The Insta360 One also comes with some awesome software for manipulating 360 video, where as the Ricoh is rather standard in that department.

I can’t and won’t declare an overall winner until I’ve used both, but I think after reading this whole article you should know which camera you prefer. I certainly do.

Pros & Cons

Theta V

PROS:
  • Shoots excellent 360 video
  • Fast processor
  • Superior lens technology
  • Spatial audio
  • Compatible with Android and iOS
  • Tried and tested design

CONS:
  • No photo resolution upgrade
  • Non expandable 19GB memory
  • More expensive
  • Limited stabilization

Insta360

PROS:
  • Innovative use of 360 video
  • 4K resolution
  • Large 24 megapixel photos
  • 128GB memory
  • Stabilization that works
  • Cheaper

CONS:
  • Only 1 microphone
  • Not available for Android at launch
  • Uses less advanced lenses

 

Pre-order Insta360 ONE here: http://amzn.to/2vO7Gcr

Pre-order Ricoh Theta V here: http://amzn.to/2xBDUty


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360 camera expert, 360 photographer and lover of banoffee pie. Follow me on Instagram and YouTube for awesome 360 content.

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