The followup to the extremely popular Ricoh Theta S has FINALLY arrived. The Ricoh Theta V was unveiled today after a very long wait, and fans of the Theta brand should be comforted to know that almost everything about the camera has been upgraded.
The Ricoh Theta V may look almost identical to its predecessor, but a lot has changed under the hood. The Ricoh Theta V will be able to record 360 video in 4K, whereas the last camera in its line up was limited to 1080p. It can also capture 14 megapixel stills, shoot at a blistering 1/2500 shutter speed and livestream in 4K. Ricoh has stated that the image quality should also be improved thanks to advanced sensors and adjustments to exposure, which should result in much better images in any lighting condition. Let’s take a look at the full specifications:
Ricoh Theta V Specs
|Feature||Ricoh Theta V|
|Number of Lenses||2 x f/2.0|
|Video Resolution||4K 3840×1920 @ 29.97fps/56Mbps - 2K 1920×960 @ 29.97fps/16Mbps|
|Photo Resolution||15 MP 5376×2688|
|360 Live-Stream||4K, 3840×1920 @ 29.97fps/120Mbps - 2K, 1920×960 @ 29.97fps/42Mbps|
|Stabilization||Gyro Sensor for tilt correction|
|Waterproof||Waterproof case available for extra|
|Memory||Internal only -19GB|
|Battery||- Still image: Approx. 300 photos - Video: Approx. 80 minutes|
|Audio||4 internal Microphones Optional 4 channel Mic attachment for 360 audio|
|Compatibility||iOS and Android|
|Other Features||Bluetooth connection option, fast processor|
|Where to Buy||Check Amazon|
These specs bring the Ricoh Theta V up to the standard we expect of new 360 cameras in 2017. 4K video is now standard among 360 cameras as it the ability to livestream, so it’s good to see these features added. While the specs don’t really offer anything we haven’t seen before (apart from some impressive audio credentials), I would still bet on Ricoh to deliver a camera that can shoot very high quality 360 video and stills.
Ricoh Theta V Example Videos
Video resolution isn’t everything, two cameras that can shoot the same or similar resolution video don’t necessarily produce video of equal quality. Ricoh are highlighting that they have borrowed technology from the Pentax range of DSLR cameras and that this higher quality lens technology should result in superior video and photos. Well, let’s see if that’s true.
The following examples are all shout with the Ricoh Theta V and uploaded to YouTube by Ricoh. YouTube does compress these videos so the quality won’t be 100% of what ti could be and remember to set the quality to 4K in YouTubes settings.
1. Outdoor Video
This is the first video shot with the Ricoh Theta V that I’ve seen, and I’m pretty impressed. Ricoh has stated that they have improved the dynamic range and white balance to achieve more natural looking video, and I think that shows here. The colors do look natural and not over-saturated, which is a common issue among 360 cameras. I’m slightly concerned about the obvious line between the two lenses and how different the lighting is on each side.
2. Indoor with spatial audio
This indoor video tests both the ability of the Theta V to handle a lot of strong light sources as well as the 360° Spatial Audio feature, available thanks to an added attachment. The video is s a lot more promising in terms of stitching accuracy and lighting, you can’t see a line or any errors at all. The audio is also very impressive, but you’ll need to use earphones to gt the full effect. Ricoh are obviously banking on realistic audio being a popular feature, and with this video you can see why.
The Ricoh is fully waterproof thanks to a case that can be purchased as an extra. Usually waterproof cases result in horrible looking 360 video as the case distorts the image, however this video actually looks pretty decent, with the case only visible on the lower quarter of the video.
Here are a few more videos that demonstrate the quality of the 360 video coming from the Theta V. Without going into too much detail, the video is looking very good. Many 360 cameras can shoot at 4K resolution, but many can’t deal with light very well or don’t capture color accurately. Whether this will be enough to justify its rather high price tag remains to be seen. For sure it’s a huge improvement on the last 360 camera Ricoh released, which cold only record a potato quality 1080p 360 video.
The photo resolution is actually exactly the same as its predecessor at 14 megapixels, which after 3 years it kind of a shame. Much cheaper 360 cameras like the Xiaomi Mijia Mi Sphere can shoot excellent 360 stills at 23 megapixels, and they look great thanks to the huge number of pixels involved. Then again, the improved lens technology could make up for the lack of pixels.
I couldn’t find many example photos from the Theta V, however I did spot this on the PCmag write-up on this camera. As I suspected, the image is technically excellent, but lacks sharpness due to a lower resolution than what I’m now used to seeing.
Anything close to the camera looks great; colors, lighting and dynamic range are all handled excellently. Just look a the rocks water beneath the camera, the camera captures details nearly as well as a modern smartphone camera. The issue begins when you look further into the distance, the trees and water become pixelated .
Of course I can’t judge the camera on just one photo, but I’ve not doubt that this could have been one of the best consumer 360 camera for photos if they had managed to bump up the resolution by 10 megapixels or so.
A big upgrade, but a pricey one
As far as I can tell Ricoh’s new flagship 360 camera will satisfy the need for a much improved model its loyal users have been waiting for. The extremely user friendly design remains untouched, 360 video is orders of magnitude better than its predecessor and photo quality has received a more subtle upgrade. Unfortunately all of this comes at a cost, and a pretty large one compared to most other 360 cameras on the market.
The Ricoh Theta V is available to pre-order now at a price of $429.95, which places it at the high end of the market. Only the Garmin VIRB 360 is more expensive at $600, which can shoot at 5.7K and is waterproof out of the box. If you want all the extra feaures, such as a waterproof case and 360 Spatial Audio, you need to pay an extra $226 and $326 respectively. I really can’t understand why a waterproof case costs over $200 and i doubt many causal users will feel spatial audio is worth an extra 75% of the cost of the camera itself.
Ricoh has developed a reputation for quality and user friendliness, so I’ve no doubt many people will still fork up the cash for a 360 camera they know is going to work and it going to work well, enough people do if for Apple afterall. Whether the Theta V can compete with the other new kids on the block, like the recently announced Insta360 ONE, remains to be seen.
You can pre-order the Ricoh Theta V from Amazon with an expected delivery date of September 15.