Which Ricoh Theta 360 camera should you buy? In this post I’m going to compare the top Ricoh 360 cameras available right now. We’ll look at the specifications, design and image quality of each camera and analyse their differences. If you are struggling to choose between the various 360 cameras offered by Ricoh then you should know which one is best for you by the end of this post.
|Specs||Theta Z1||Theta SC2||Theta V|
|Lenses||x2 1.0-inch back illuminated CMOS image sensors||x2 f/2.0 sensors||x2 1/2.5-inch CMOS image sensors|
|Video Resolution||4K (3840 x 1920) @30fps||4K (3840 x 1920) @30fps||4K (3840 x 1920) @30fps|
|Max Bit Rate||80MBPS||52MBPS||56MBPS|
|Stabilization||Horizon Correction||No||Horizon Correction|
|Livestream||Yes -4K||No||4K，H264: 3840×1920/29.97fps/120Mbps|
|Audio||4 Channel Microphones||x2 Microphones||4 Channel Microphones|
|Photo Resolution||23MP (6720 x 3360, 7K)||15MP (5376×2688)||15MP (5376×2688)|
|Screen||LCD Display||Mini LCD Display||None|
|Memory||19GB Internal||14GB Internal||19GB Internal|
|Battery||Li-Ion, Approx 600 Photos, 60 Minutes of Video||Up to 360 Photos, 45 Minutes of Video||Li-Ion, 40 Minutes of Video|
|WHERE TO BUY|
Which Ricoh Theta Camera Should You Buy?
Ricoh have a long standing history of creating excellent photography cameras and they were the first company to develop an all in one 360 camera. This experience has allowed the company to develop lens technology which results in high quality 360 images. In many comparisons I find that the Ricoh Theta Cameras are superior when shooting 360 photos in particular.
Ricoh Theta cameras are therefore excellent choices for shooting virtual tours. Depending on the quality you are looking for you have a few options and in this comparison we will be looking at the top 3 Ricoh 360 cameras.
The most advanced and expensive Ricoh Theta camera is the Ricoh Theta Z1. This is an all-in-one 360 camera dedicated to shooting professional 360 photos and is currently the most popular Ricoh 360 camera.
If you are looking for a 360 camera for shooting professional quality 360 photos then the Theta Z1 is for you. Featuring dual 1 inch sensors and DNG RAW capabilities, the Z1 can shoot very high quality images.
Theta Z1 Example Images
Without doubt if you are looking for the highest quality images possible for creating virtual tours then the Z1 is the right camera. It’s easy to use and able to create high quality images quickly. The camera can shoot automatic HDR images but the best quality comes when shooting DNG RAW and editing in Lightroom. You can see more images shot with the Z1 in my Ricoh Theta Z1 review.
The Z1 is the only Ricoh Theta camera than can shoot in RAW mode which allows it to retain the maximum quality. You’ll need access to the adobe suite to take advantage of this but for professional use it’s worth it.
You are also able to expand the functionality of the Z1 with plugins. These plugins give the camera extra features such as the ability to automatically hide peoples faces to shooting multiple exposure images.
If you are also interested in shooting 360 video then the Z1 is also the best in the Theta range. While all Theta cameras are limited to 4K video resolution the Theta Z1 has the highest bit rate and also features horizon correction. All Ricoh cameras are more suited to shooting photos rather than videos so bare this in mind when choosing a 360 camera.
The Theta SC2 is the newest 360 camera developed by Ricoh and is the successor the the Theta SC, Ricoh’s entry level camera. The SC2 is the most basic model of the Theta line-up and is therefore limited in its capabilities. Aimed directly at a consumer market rather than business the Theta SC2 is designed for shooting family gatherings, events and vacations.
While the SC2 retains some of the excellent lens technology that make Ricoh’s cameras great for virtual tours it doesn’t have the same advanced shooting options like DNG RAW.
There is another version of the SC2 dubbed the “business edition” which adds a few extra features that makes the camera more suited to creating VR tours, however the quality still won’t match the Theta Z1.
Shot with the Theta SC2
Auto +0.7 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
The SC2 is by far the cheapest Theta camera available right now, so if you were looking for a user friendly point and shoot then this is the camera to choose.
Released back in 2017 the Theta V is the oldest camera in the current Theta line-up, however that’s not to say its not worth looking at. The Theta V features similar lens and sensor technology to the newer cameras, albeit less refined. The image resolution is the same as the SC2 but it features the same ambisonic audio as the Z1. You’ll also find a very good auto HDR mode for improved dynamic range.
The Theta V is the middle of the road Theta camera that can be suitable for both causal and professional users. Image quality is about the same as the Theta SC2 however it features higher quality video and more shooting modes.
The Thtea V can’t shoot DNG RAW photos which limits its ability to create high quality images in low lighting conditions or indoors. Many people do use the Theta V for virtual tours but you should be aware of the limitations.
Check out these two images shot with the Z1 and Theta V.
THETA Z1 ISO:1600 Shutter speed:60 F value:2.1 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
THETA V ISO:3200 Shutter speed:30 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
Here are some more images shot with the Theta V in various scenarios. As you can see the camera does a decent job of capturing vibrant colors but struggles to keep details with a fewer than ideal number of pixels to work with. The Theta V also lacks any type of screen so any settings must be changed on the app via the WiFi connection.
You should also be aware that the Theta V has a consistent issue where a small red dot will be visible on your images when the sun shines directly on a lens. This is a design flaw that can’t be overcome. Other Ricoh Theta cameras have eliminated this design flaw.
Ricoh has developed a robust line-up of cameras that had something for everyone if you are primarily wanting to shoot 360 photos. Unfortunately none of Ricoh’s cameras perform well when it comes to video; for that check out the GoPro Max or the Insta360 One R.
If you need a camera for shooting high quality virtual tours then the only real option is the Theta Z1. It’s large sensors and ability to shoot bracketed DNG RAW photos puts it far ahead of the competition. If you don’t necessarily need the highest quality images then the Theta V may be good enough when using the HDR mode.
The Theta SC2 is really designed for the casual consumer market and thanks to its easy to use design it performs well, but I wouldn’t consider it for professional use.