The Ricoh Theta Z1 and QooCam 8K are two of the higher end consumer 360 cameras, each offering more advanced hardware than their cheaper counterparts. The Theta Z1 is the first 360 camera with 1 inch sensors allowing it to capture fare more light and detail. Likewise, the QooCam is the first 8K consumer 360 camera.
If you are trying to choose between these two cameras then let me summarise quickly. The right camera for you will depend on how you want to use it; if you want a 360 camera for photography or shooting virtual tours then the Ricoh Theta Z1 is the better choice. If you are more interested in 360 video then the QooCam 8K is the one to get. For more detailed information about these two cameras and their respective strengths and weaknesses read on.
|Specs||Ricoh Theta Z1||Kandao QooCam 8K|
|Lenses||x2 1.0-inch back illuminated CMOS image sensors||x2 1/1.7-inch sensors|
|Video Resolution||4K (3840 x 1920) @30fps||8K (7680 x 3840) @30fps, 8/10bit 4K (3840 x 1920) @30fps/60fps/120fps, 8/10bit|
|Max Bit Rate||80MBPS||120MBPS|
|Stabilization||Horizon Correction||6 Axis Stabilization|
|Livestream||Yes -4K||Yes - 4K|
|Audio||4 Channel Microphones||x2 Microphones / External Audio Output|
|Photo Resolution||23MP (6720 x 3360, 7K)||29MP (7680 x 3840, 8K)|
|Screen||LCD Display||Full Touchscreen|
|Memory||19GB Internal||68GB Internal, 128Gb MicroSD|
|Battery||Li-Ion, Approx 600 Photos, 60 Minutes of Video||Li-Ion, 40 Minutes of Video|
|WHERE TO BUY|
It’s quite likely that if you are trying to choose between these two cameras it’s because you are looking for the best 360 camera for photos. I have a whole post dedicated to that topic, but it’s true that currently these are the two devices to choose from.
Either of these cameras are capable of shooting excellent quality 360 images, certainly good enough for real estate virtual tours or Google Street View. Never the less, if you want the absolute best quality then you should opt for the Theta Z1.
The Z1’s one inch lenses set it apart from the crowd and allows it to capture unparalleled 360 images. With larger sensors the camera can capture more detail, light colour and impressive dynamic range. The Z1 is also the only 360 camera with variable aperture which allows for more intricate control in different lighting conditions.
In comparison the QooCam 8K can’t match up to the Z1’s ability to shoot low noise images in difficult lighting conditions. The QooCam does have one trick up its sleeve; it’s ability to shoot DNG8 images. DNG8 is a mode where the camera stacks eight RAW images and combines them into one. This allows the camera to achieve the best dynamic range possible without requiring more advanced hardware.
DNG 8 produces excellent results most of the time however it can lead to noisy images in very low light settings as well as color issues. I often notice a green tinge or obvious chromatic aberration. The process for combining the images and producing the final result is also quite long, requiring three programs and lots of manual action.
A bespoke plugin for Adobe Lightroom makes editing Z1 images extremely simple. Simply drag your image into the program and enable the plugin. You can now edit and export as you normally would.
If the Z1 is the better camera for shooting 360 photos then the reverse is true for shooting video. The QooCam is the first consumer 360 camera that can shoot 8K resolution video which allows it to produce extremely sharp footage. The Theta Z1 on the other hand is limited to 4K resolution; while the superior lenses do help it shoot attractive video, the Ricoh is simply outgunned by the QooCam’s huge resolution.
The QooCam also had the ability to shoot 10bit video, allowing for millions more colors and truly vibrant video. The QooCam is capable of shooting near professional quality video i nthe right conditions, however it does still struggle in low light. Check out this virtual tour of Hawaii shot with the QooCam 8K
The main issue with the QooCam is that 8K is very hard to work with; you’ll need a powerful desktop to process and stitch the 8K video. Kandao have develop a way to edit your 8K video on your phone via proxies, however for the best quality you need to use desktop software.
Both the Ricoh Theta Z1 and QooCam 8K feature candy-bar designs which allow them to freely stand, they also both feature two fish eye lenses and a few manual controls on the body. There are some key differences which effect usability; for example the QooCam 8K features a large touchscreen whereas the Z1 has a basic display.
The touchscreen allows you to fully control the QooCam without a connection to your phone making it far more user friendly. The Z1 can display its current status and you can change camera modes, but for more advanced manual control you’ll need to connect to your phone.
Audio: The Theta Z1 feaures 4 microphones which allows it to record ambisonic audio, the perfect companion to 360 video. The QooCam’s two microphones can’t complete, however it does have an audio out port where you can attach a more advanced microphone.
Battery: Neither camera can claim to have an amazing battery life, however in my tests i found that the Z1 can last around an hour of shooting video whereas the QooCam can last about 40 minutes. If only shooting photos you can probably double that time frame.
These are two advanced, powerful and fairly expensive cameras. As I said at the start of this comparison the choice is fairly clear; the Ricoh Theta Z1 is the better photography camera and the QooCam is best for video. If you want a camera that can do both then the choice is harder. I’ve found the Z1 to be an overall smoother experience and it has an excellent reputation for shooting virtual tours whereas the QooCam has some software bugs that need to be ironed out before it can be recommended.
See Also: Ricoh Theta Z1 Review