Lounge review: Ricoh Theta S
The 360-degree camera is still a very niche category, and Ricoh is one of the few brands constantly upgrading its offerings in this segment. The successor to last year’s Theta m15, the Theta S is better in a lot of respects.
The good stuff
The optics have been boosted, and the Theta S captures still images at 14 megapixels, after combining the pictures clicked by the two 12-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch image sensors, which take a 180-degree image each. Each sensor has been redesigned to improve light handling. All this translates into a significant improvement over its predecessor’s 6.4 megapixels. The resulting improvement in image quality is evident, with enhanced sharpness, better detail and crisper colours. The Theta S is also a better bet in lower-light environments than the Theta m15, with significantly lesser distortion noise—but it still needs improvement.
The design remains very handy to use, and the rubberized finish gives it a rugged aura. The Wi-Fi connectivity and video mode LED notifications are now on the body, instead of on the spine.
Setting up the Theta S is very simple. You have a free to download and use app, also named Theta S, for Android and iOS, and the camera connects the phone through a Wi-Fi hot-spot. This app has many uses; it can either be a remote control for the Theta S to take a photo, be used to transfer images from the camera to the phone or to control camera settings, such as the sensor’s light sensitivity, white balance and shutter speed. Ricoh has bumped up the wireless transfer speeds from 2 Mbps to 8 Mbps—while we never felt that the Theta m15 was sluggish in transferring photos, the boost will make a considerable difference in the transfer of Full HD videos.
The higher megapixel count also means that each image and video will take up slightly more space, comparatively. For that, Ricoh has increased the internal storage space from 4 GB to 8 GB. But there is no memory card slot to add more space for a long road trip or vacation.
The fact of the matter is that 360-degree photographs look beautiful and one of a kind. However, the concept has an inherent flaw—if you are clicking a photo while holding the Theta S, something similar to the gigantic hand syndrome will be visible in photos—it’s best used with a tripod or kept on a flat surface.
For a niche gadget priced at Rs.39,995 in the Indian market, the Theta S is a unique, albeit expensive, companion for family vacations.