By now we all have seen at least one or two 360° videos on Facebook or YouTube. I know when looking at my first one I was not really sure what I was supposed to be doing. As I got the hang of moving around the video with my mouse (I think it was checking out a F16 cockpit while flying) I fell in love with 360° video and pics. You would assume that this kind of tech would be very expensive and more for big video businesses to make but as the technology grows more and more with VR, camera manufactures are starting to jump on board bringing 360° to the normal masses. Thanks to the geeks over at NFM we got in one of the new Ricoh Theta S 360° cameras for review…now let the 360° fun start.
The Theta S came in a very plain-looking box with a very small plain instruction manual. Doing my unboxing I did not have high hopes for the camera based off the initial impressions. Once I had the little camera out I could see that the build quality went into the camera and not the packaging….but at $350, which is a considerable purchase, I would like to see a little more into the packaging.
The Theta S looks like a very small selfie camera stick. It has a very nice matte black finish and feels great in the hands. The Theta has three buttons on the side: power, connection/wifi, and camera/video toggle. I like that there are not a bunch of fancy options and it helps make the Theta S very easy to use. The fish-eye camera protrudes on both sides of the stick so be very careful sitting it down without it being in its sleeve. In the box it comes with charging cable, sleeve, instruction manual, and camera.
The home automation area at @NFMTweets is getting on point! #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
Once I let the camera charge I was ready to jump out in the world and take tons of 360° video…um but I didn’t know what to do with this thing. The instruction manual gives you bare basics on charging and care and sends you to the website for more info. Thanks to YouTube and trial/error, I started to figure out how to use the Theta S pretty quickly.
First things first you need to download either the iOS or Android app so that the phone can pair with the camera. Once paired you will be able to see all of the pictures and videos you have taken. One of the best parts of the app is the ability to take remote pics and video without having to hold the camera. I hated that I was in every picture (holding the camera) and this is a great feature to be able to avoid this. I found that a little self standing tripod and the camera worked great as long as you know that no one will run off with the camera while you are tucked away taking the picture.
We took the Ricoh Theta S with us for some heavy trial at E3 in LA. As you can can see from the video and pics below and above, it’s a pretty cool experience. Using the Theta S we were able to bring most of our followers right there with us as we posted to Facebook and YouTube. I noticed a few others walking around using 360° cameras but it was not out as much as I thought I would see.
Once you take the pictures and video you use the application on your phone to transfer over the images. Then from the application you can choose to share them or save them for later viewing. I did find that if you have a lot of video or pictures this can take quite awhile. A 1.7GB video took us about 20 minutes to transfer to our phone while pictures only take a few seconds.
One of the biggest issues I have with 360° has nothing to do with the Theta S. It seems although we have the tech out there to make these pics in HD, the social networks have not caught up in allowing them to post. Currently as it stands you are only able to upload to Facebook, and YouTube. Once you upload you loose tons of quality as well and the videos look pretty rough. Now Ricoh does have an embedded player (as seen above) that you can put into articles and WordPress to show off your pics. You can also share links to the Ricoh page where they can use their player to see the full quality of the video…but who wants to click a link? I found this pretty annoying. I hope before long we will see the quality of the pics and video drastically increased to make this a usable source of content. Check out the Facebook and YouTube uploads below to see the difference.