Ricoh Theta Z1 vs Insta360 One X2: Which Should You Buy?

13th May 2021

Are you trying to decide between the Ricoh Theta Z1 and the Insta360 One X2? These are two of the top 360 cameras available right now; the One X was released in 2020 and the Z1 the year before. The Z1 features high quality 1 inch sensors and the One X2 has amazing stabilization software.

So, which should you get? That depends on what you want to use your camera for. In this post I’m going to take you through the capabilities of both cameras, their strengths, weaknesses and what they are best suited for. By the end of this post you should have a good idea of which camera is right for you.

Specs Comparison

SpecsInsta360 One X2Theta Z1
Image
Video
Lenses X 2: 1/2.3″ Sensor X 2: 1 Inch Sensor
Resolution 360 Mode
  • 5.7K @ 30fps
  • 3K @ 60fps
Steadycam Mode
  • 1440p @ 30fps,
  • 1080p @ 60fps
360 Mode
  • 4K @ 30fps
Bit Rate 120MBPS 56MBPS
Format
  • insv (can be exported via App or Studio),
  • mp4 (enable in-camera FlowState Stabilization),
  • supports LOG and HDR videos
MP4
Modes
  • Standard, 
  • HDR, 
  • Timelapse, 
  • TimeShift,
  • Bullet Time
  • Single Lens
  • 360 Mode
  • Single Lens (with plugin)
  • Timelapse
Coding H.264, H.265 H.264, H.265
Audio x 4 Microphone Ambisonic x 4 Microphone Ambisonic
Livestream Yes - 4K Yes - 4K
Photos
Resolution 18.4MP 15MP
Modes
  • Standard
  • HDR
  • Burst
  • Interval
  • Night Shot
  • Pureshot
  • Instant Pano
  • Standard
  • HDR
  • Manual
Format
  • insp
  • RAW
  • JPEG
  • RAW
White Balance
  • Auto
  • 2700K
  • 4000K
  • 5000K
  • 6500K
  • Auto
  • 2700K
  • 4000K
  • 5000K
  • 6500K
Hardware
Waterproof Yes - 10 metres Splash Resistant
Battery 80 Minutes of Video 60 Minutes of Video
Special Features Invisible Selfie Stick, Re-framing App, AI Editor, Object Tracking, Waterproof Design Plugins, Advanced Sensors
Where to Buy Insta360 Amazon

Design

Both cameras are all-in-one 360 cameras featuring dual fish eye lenses which are able to shoot 360 photos and videos. They can both be used with tripods, monopods & selfie sticks. That’s pretty much where the similarities end.

The Insta360 One X2 is smaller, lighter and features a round touch screen. The cameras lenses are smaller and it features removable memory and battery. The camera can be easily controlled via the touch screen and you can also view your images and videos. The camera body is dual rubber and hardened plastic which is easy to grip.

The Ricoh Theta Z1 is significantly larger than the One X2 and does not feature a touch screen. There is a small LCD screen where you can view current settings, you are also able to change settings with some manual controls. The Z1 is made of a toughened plastic and features no removable memory or battery.

Overall the Insta360 One X2 is the easier camera to use thanks to the touch screen. The lighter body and rubber grip frame makes it more of an ideal action camera which is precisely what it should be used for. The Z1 is larger, more clunky and requires an app to use, however this is more of a professional grade camera with more complex tech under the hood.

Photography

Here is where the differences between these two cameras becomes very apparent. The Ricoh Theta Z1 is specifically designed to shoot high quality 360 photos. The Z1 features two 1 Inch sensors which are 3 times the size of the sensors in the One X2. Larger sensors allows the Z1 to capture more light & detail and is one step closer to DSLR quality.

ricoh theta z1 vs insta360 one x2

Images shot with the Theta Z1 are crisp, dynamic and colorful. When shooting with the auto-HDR option the quality is further improved and the DNG RAW option allows for very high quality if you are willing to edit your images on Adobe Lightroom. Ricoh has developed an excellent plugin for Lightroom which allows you to edit and stitch your files quickly.

ricoh theta z1 vs insta360 one x2

In comparison, the Insta360 One X2 can’t quite match up. Despite being able to shoot higher resolution images the quality isn’t as impressive. This is a great example of why resolution isn’t the most important feature to consider.

Although the One X2 can’t match up in terms of image quality it does have all the right features for good quality images. Pureshot mode automatically combines several exposures to boost quality, you can also shoot in RAW mode for a boost in quality.

Ricoh Theta Z1
Ricoh Theta Z1
The go-to all in one virtual tour camera. High quality sensors and RAW shooting make this an amazing camera for 360 photos.

Virtual Tours

If you are looking for a camera specifically for virtual tours then out of these, the Ricoh Theta Z1 is definitely the camera to choose. The Z1 is considered the best all-in-one camera under $1000 for VR tours and there’s a whole ecosystem in place to make creating VR tours with the Z1 very easy.

That’s not to say you can’t create virtual tours with the One X2 (and it’ll be cheaper too), but the quality won’t be good enough for higher paying clients. Watch the video below for a more detailed comparison between the Z1 and X2 when it comes to shooting Virtual Tours.

You can also view virtual tours shot with both of these cameras in the same place here (Theta Z1) and here (One X2)

Video

If the Z1 takes the lead when it comes to photos then the opposite is true when it comes to shooting video. Insta360 has designed the X2 to be the best 360 action camera on the market, and they’ve pretty much succeeded.

The One X2 can shoot 5.7K 360 video, HDR video, single lens video at 1440p @50fps as well as timelapse & timeshift video. The Insta360 app features automatic AI videos editing and a range of special effects, all designed to help you create dynamic, interesting video content.

360 cameras are not known for their video quality, but the One X2 actually does a pretty amazing job of producing sharp, colorful video with plenty of detail. Probably the standout feature is the flowstate stabilization which allows you to shoot any kind of action shot while keeping the horizon level.

The One X2 is one of the most innovative and feature packed action cameras ever and if you are looking to create unique shots then the One X2 is your best bet. My review of the One X2 talks in detail about the video capabilities of this camera

In comparison the Theta Z1 is relatively weak. The camera is limited to 4K resolution and features only basic stabilization. You can shoot timeslapse but not the very unique timeshift (moving time-lapse) which is possible with the One X2. Despite having superior quality sensors the video quality looks pretty poor when comparing the two side by side.

Insta360 One X2
Insta360 One X2
The top 360 camera for shooting video. Amazing stabilization, unique video modes and a waterproof design.

Other Features

Battery

I’ve found the Ricoh Theta Z1 to last for around an hour of continuous shooting, this is usually more than enough to create a large virtual tour which is the most common use of this camera. Battery can be saved by not maintaining a connection to the app.

The Insta360 One X2 will easily last over an hour, usually 1:30hr if battery saving measures are in place. What makes the One X2 even better is the fact that the battery is removable, so you can have spares ready to go if you need to.

Water Resistance

The Insta360 One X is fully waterproof up to 5m, meaning you can take it swimming or shoot water based activities without worrying about damage. Insta360 even has a specific under water filter to improve quality. The Z1 is only splash resistance so I wouldn’t risk using it anywhere near water.

Plugins

One great feature of the Z1 is that you can expand the functionality of the camera with plugins. There are a few dozen plugins make by both Ricoh and the community. Some popular plugins include an automatic face blur, the dual fish eye (multiple unstitched raw images), voice activation, wireless live streaming and single lens shooting. By downloading all the plugins you are able to add many new features to your camera

Insta360 updates their cameras with a few new features every 4 months or so with new firmware but there is a limit to what they can add.

Audio

The Theta Z1 features 4 microphones which allows it to record ambisonic audio, this fits perfectly with 360 video as it allows the user to hear sound from the direction in which is originated. The One X2 features just two microphones which work well for vlogs but don’t have the same depth as the Z1 mics.

App

Each camera comes with an accompanying app. Each app allows you to control the camera setting and view media. The Insta360 app is considerably more advanced and features a full mobile video editor, it also features AI for automatic editing, tutorials for shooting and color correction capabilities. The App is one of Insta360’s best assets and allows you to create high quality videos on your mobile.

Ricoh Theta Z1 vs Insta360 One X2: Conclusion

The verdict is pretty easy on this one. If you want to shoot 360 photos then go with the Ricoh Theta Z1, especially if you want to shoot virtual tours. If you are looking for an action camera with the best video capabilities then the One X2 is by far your best choice.

While there are other difference between the two, notable the excellent Insta360 App and the range of plugins for the Z1, the deciding factor is whether you are going to use your camera for shooting videos or photos more.

Both of these cameras are excellent at what they do and there’s plenty of life in them both.

Insta360 One X2
Insta360 One X2
The top 360 camera for shooting video. Amazing stabilization, unique video modes and a waterproof design.
Ricoh Theta Z1
Ricoh Theta Z1
The go-to all in one virtual tour camera. High quality sensors and RAW shooting make this an amazing camera for 360 photos.

 

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Owner of threesixtycameras.com. 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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