Ricoh Theta Stitcher and Lightroom Tutorial

21st June 2019

So you’ve bought your Ricoh Theta Z1 camera (review here) and now you’re wondering how to properly edit your photos to get the absolute best quality. In this post I’ll show you how I use the Ricoh Theta Stitcher plugin with Adobe Lightroom to massively improve the quality of my Ricoh Theta Z1 photos. With this process you’ll be able to get professional quality photos from your Theta Z1. You can also see this process in this video:

What you’ll need:

  1. Images shot with Ricoh Theta Z1
  2. Copy of Adobe Lightroom
  3. Ricoh Theta Stitcher Plugin Downloaded and Installed (link here)


Best Shooting Modes

The Ricoh Theta Z1 has been designed as a professional 360 photography camera that’s quick and easy to use. While it can’t match the quality of 360 photos created with a DSLR it’s not too far off and far more user friendly. With that in mind, you are going to want to use the camera to its full potential. There are many shooting modes available in the camera but the one that delivers the best quality is DNG RAW mode. Shooting DNG RAW images allows the camera to capture the most information and therefore detail. The file sizes will be much larger than a normal image and they won’t look different at first, but when edited the difference becomes clear.

Open Lightroom

Open Lighroom and import the raw 360 images you want to edit. You’ll see that they are in their circular fish eye format which is what 360 photos look like before they are stitched together to form the full panorama.

Activate Lightroom Stitcher

Go to Edit > Preferences and look for “additional external editor”. Click of choose and locate the Ricoh Theta Stitcher file, wherever you downloaded it to. Once selected the Stitcher will become available but we don’t need it just yet.

Start Editing

Go to the “Develop” tab and begin playing with the sliders on the side. The correct combination will depend on the type of shot you have (whether it’s under/over exposed), but generally I find lowering the highlights and raising the shadows brings out the most details. You can then add more saturation and color. You can already see more details emerging in the image above with just a few edits.

Use Curves

Scroll down from the sliders and you’ll find more options, such as color curves. This allows you to quickly change the vibrance and brightness of the image. You’ll only need a suble change to see some dramatic differences. Once you get the hang of what each option does you could easily edit a photo in under a minute.

Go to Theta Stitcher

Once you are happy with your image right click and go to “Edit in”. From there you should see the Ricoh Theta Stitcher as an option. Click on it and wait for the plugin to load.

Stitch Your Image

You can technically just press OK and stitch your image instantly, but you might like to take a look at some of the options first. You can adjust the centre position of your image which is what people will see first. You can also manually adjust the stitching line which may improve the accuracy, but most of the time the automatic setting gets it right. Once you are happy just press OK.

Export Your Final Image

You can now export the image just as you would with any other. On the export settings page select the best option for you. If you are finished editing then choose JPEG but if you want to do some more adjustments, in Photoshops for example, then either select TIFF or DNG to preserve data.

Check the Difference!

As you can see there is a pretty big difference between the unedited and edited version. The details in the clouds and sky have been revealed and the color is more vibrant. You can acheive this effect in just a few minutes with Lightroom and the Theta Stichers Plugin and I think it’s an essential tool for shooting with the Ricoh Theta Z1.

See Also: Ultimate 360 Camera Comparison


Owner of Writer, photographer and videographer. You can see my YouTube channel for guides of how to shoot 360 video. I've written for The Times, Digital Photography School and Sunday Express. 

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