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4K Theta is finally here: Ricoh Theta V specifications, features, samples, accessories

Ricoh Theta V (4K Theta) and the new accessories
Ricoh Theta V (4K Theta) and the new accessories

At IFA Berlin 2017, Ricoh launched the Ricoh Theta V (pronounced “Vee” not “Five”), the long-awaited 4K version of the popular Ricoh Theta, along with two new accessories!  Here are the specifications, features, sample photos and videos, accessories, and first impressions of its key strengths.  9/29/17 update: I’ve been shooting with the Ricoh Theta V and the video quality is excellent!  I’ve added a new hands-on sample 4K 360 video.  I’ve also added info about how to get spatial audio.

Ricoh Theta is the most popular 360 camera in the market.  It was the first all-in-one 360 camera for consumers yet somehow Ricoh nailed the design perfectly the first time around, giving birth to an entire new industry.  Its design has been emulated in one way or another by many other 360 cameras, but the Theta is unique in having a very slim profile that minimizes parallax stitching error, combined with a very effective optical flow stitching algorithm that results in almost perfectly seamless stitching.

Despite its strengths, the Theta has been leapfrogged by other 360 cameras for 360 video.  The current Theta S and Theta SC can only shoot 360 video at 1920 x 960, whereas many other cameras shoot at four times higher resolution in 4K (3840 x 1920).  This is why Theta fans have been yearning for a 4K version of the Theta since 2015, and now it’s finally here!

Here’s the concept video

RICOH THETA V

Ricoh Theta V and Theta SC
Ricoh Theta V and Theta SC

Theta V is the fifth version of the Ricoh Theta (following the original Theta, the m15, Theta S, and Theta SC).  It looks similar to other Thetas except that its body is gunmetal gray and has a smooth plastic finish instead of the matte surface of previous Thetas.  As with previous Thetas, the LED lights in its body are invisible until lit.  Here are the key specifications (differences from the Theta S are in bold):
– two 1/2.3-inch sensors, 12mp each.
– two lenses, fully spherical field of view
– aperture: f/2
video resolution: 3840 x 1920 @ 29.97 fps. H.264. Bitrate: 56 mbps.
– photo resolution: 5376 x 2688
live stream: 3840 x 1920 @ 29.97 fps. H.264. Bitrate: 120 mbps.
– exposure modes: auto, shutter priority, ISO priority, manual
– ISO (photos): 64 to 3200 (in ISO priority mode)
– ISO (video): 64 to 6400
– shutter speed (photos): 1/25,000 to 60 seconds
– shutter speed (video): 1/25,000 to 1/30
– storage: internal 19GB (around 40 mins. of 4K video, or 4800 photos)
– Wi-Fi: 20mbps (2.4gh) or 50mbps (5ghz)
– Micro USB 2.0
microphone input jack
– battery: lithium ion (non-removable)
– battery capacity: 260 photos or 65 mins. video
– weight: 121g
– dimensions: 45.2mm x 130.6mm x 22.9mm (17.9mm)
– MSRP: $429.95
– Release date: September 24, 2017

FEATURES

Here is a 4K 360 video (shot on the Theta V) where I talk about its top 10 features:

Here are more information about its features:
3D Spatial Audio

Ricoh Theta V
Ricoh Theta V

At first glance, the Theta V looks identical to its predecessor, the Theta S.  However, there are tiny holes on the Theta V for four microphones for spatial audio – two on top, one in front and one at the back.  The Theta records not only the cardinal direction but also the elevation.  Check out the sample videos below for demos of the spatial audio (such as the one with the girls eating ice cream).  See also my in-depth article about the Theta V’s sound.

Note: to use spatial audio outside of the Theta app, you need to use the movie converter app, available for download here.  First, stitch the 360 video, then drag the 360 video onto the movie converter icon.  The converted video will appear in the same directory as the original file.

There is also a mic input jack.  The microphone input can be used for an optional spatial audio microphone, the TA-1, which can capture professional quality spatial audio (see accessories below).

Android Apps

Theta V uses an Android-based operating system that enables new features using software plugins.  One of the plug-ins enables Remote Playback (see below).  Other future plugins that are being considered are camera control for raw capability, or a plug-in that will allow the theta to upload its images to a cloud service directly, without using a phone.

Remote playback

Ricoh Theta V remote
Ricoh Theta V remote

The Theta V has a unique feature that enables it to display 360 photos and videos on compatible devices, and you will be able to use the Theta V itself as a motion controller for the display.  Regarding compatibility, Ricoh states, “Miracast-compatible devices, including Amazon Fire TV Stick, may be used. Ricoh will make available a list of compatible devices.”

I’ve seen a representative demonstrate this function on a Miracast-equipped TV and it works exactly as they said.  The TV connects to the camera quickly and you can use the Theta like a floating mouse to navigate, swipe, or zoom.

I don’t have a Miracast TV but I do have an Amazon Fire Stick, but have not yet been able to establish a connection to the TV (I get an error that says the signal is too weak even though I’m standing in front of my TV).  I will update this when I’m able to resolve this issue.

Google Street View Auto Mode

Theta V is certified by Google to be Street View Mobile Ready.  Users can shoot in a new Street View Auto Mode which will let users create Street View connected images simply by walking, biking or driving.

In-camera stitching?

As of October 2017, stitching of photos is in-camera, while stitching of videos is via the app or via the desktop software.  Ricoh stated, “At launch, video stitching will be performed on demand as files are transferred to your phone. However, Ricoh plans to release a firmware update in October that will add real-time, in-camera stitching, which will reduce the time it takes to transfer videos to your phone.”

RICOH THETA V SAMPLE PHOTOS

Here are official sample photos from the Theta V, provided by Ricoh:


Although the Theta V’s resolution is the same as that of the Theta S, the samples show that the Theta V has better image quality.  The images appear sharp throughout the frame except for areas very close to the stitch line.

crop from Theta V sample photo
crop from Theta V sample photo

There is much less chromatic aberration compared to previous Thetas, although there is still some purple fringing near the stitch line.

much less chromatic aberration
much less chromatic aberration

In terms of flare resistance, there are a few flare artifacts and the Theta V has its predecessors’ distinctive red dot flare.

Theta's distinctive red dot
Theta’s distinctive red dot

Here is a screencap from Ricoh’s presentation, comparing the photo quality between Theta S and Theta V.  My impression is that the improvement is primarily with the processing of the photo.

Theta S vs. Theta V comparison by Ricoh
Theta S vs. Theta V comparison by Ricoh


THETA V SAMPLE VIDEOS

Here is a playlist of sample videos posted by Ricoh! Thank you very much to Wade Angelo for bringing these videos to my attention!

My observations are similar to those I’ve made for the sample photos.  I look forward to actual head-to-head comparisons against other 360 cameras.

ACCESSORIES

Together with the Theta V, Ricoh also announced two new accessories: the TA-1 3D spatial audio microphone, and  TW-1 waterproof case.

TA-1 microphone

Theta V microphone accessory TA-1
Theta V microphone accessory TA-1

When the Theta V photos were leaked showing a microphone jack, some readers wondered about the utility of the microphone which would be visible in the video. Now Ricoh has revealed the TA-1 microphone shows the primary purpose of the microphone jack: the TA-1 attaches to the base of the Theta to record 3D spatial audio. The TA-1 will be $329.99.

TW-1 waterproof case

Ricoh Theta V TW-1 waterproof case
Ricoh Theta V TW-1 waterproof case

Ricoh also announced the TW-1 waterproof case, which is specially designed to minimize refraction and to allow the user to have full access to the Theta’s on-camera buttons.  You can see from the sample video here that the stitching looks very smooth!

The case can be used up to a depth of 30 meters.  It works not just for the Theta V, but also works for the Theta S and SC (when used with the Theta S, you need to use the included silicon frame). The TW-1 will be $229.99.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Based on these samples, the Theta V is undoubtedly a clear improvement over the Theta S. The bigger question is how it compares to other 360 cameras in 2017. In that regard, here are what I see as the Theta’s strengths:
– excellent video quality (in my opinion, the best among 4K 360 cameras as of October 2017), despite some flaws such as purple fringing;
– excellent stitching (as of October 2017, best in class)
– best audio quality and audio capabilities.
– underwater case that works very well
– there may be future plugins that add significant functions.

AVAILABILITY AND OTHER INFO

Theta V is already available for preorder from Amazon for $429 (shipping on the release date, September 24).

For more information on the Theta V, bookmark this page for other updates and check out the Ricoh Theta Facebook page.

About the author

Mic Ty

26 Comments

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    • Hi Richard. Sometimes horizon leveling doesn’t work 100% so we don’t know yet for sure. The previous Thetas had it (if you open the file in Ricoh’s app), so I would expect it.

    • Hi Richard. Sometimes horizon leveling isn’t perfect. Previous thetas had horizon leveling, so i would be surprised if this one didn’t.

  • I have to say I’ve been really looking forward to this release. I own the Theta S but have missed 4K. Last week I purchased the 2017 Gear 360 by Samsung.

    However, I think I’ll be replacing both with the Insta One which was just announced. It just has too many nice features. Ricoh are too late to the market with this IMHO. It’s already out-dated when you look at the latest competition.

    • That’s my question right now: Looking to replace the Theta S (Keymission had too many negatives and I returned it).

      I have pre-ordered the Insta One, but would I better off with the new Theta?

      • Hi Scott. Until I get them I wouldn’t know for certain. But on paper, I like insta’s stabilization and price. I like the Theta V case, but Insta’s case might be just as good.

  • Sorry Ricoh. Too little, too late & overpriced.
    Next time check your competition.
    The Insta360 One looks much better @$130 less.

  • Hello Mic, it’s Mr Negative again… 🙂 Like I said a couple of weeks ago, I think that Ricoh is to late with this cam – just like the GoProFusion is… And the price is way to high for this cam with “optics” that gives glare and pink/red glitches in the seams -wich are not good either. This cam could be a LG360Cam version 2 IMO looking at the quality of videos, pictures and stitching seams. One year ago I would have thought this was a nice “must have” camera but not today…with so many other better and cheaper cameras out there. How can they even think people will buy this camera and accessories to that high price?????
    So I’m sorry to say…Ricoh Theta V turned out to be what I expected…
    I hope I will be positive again when I’ve seen your review of the Yi 360 camera just like I’ve been with the Xiaomi… 🙂

    • Hi Ulf. On paper maybe Theta seems unimpressive. But specs aren’t everything, so I want to compare the actual image quality and usage experience rather than make conclusions based on specs.

      • Hi Mic! Well, the videos and pictures that was provided to us by Ricoh Theta is not specs. It’s the limit of what the cam can do…I don’t think Ricoh should ever let something out they weren’t pleased to show.
        But as usual…I can be wrong.
        Thank you very much for your effort to show us all fantastic things you do on this site!!!
        I respect you and your knowledge a lot and visit your site as often as I can :).

  • Thanks for the update. I was a little surprised with no HDMI out.

    I guess I had expected a more refined version of the Ricoh Dev Kit

    Other reviews seem to indicate a USB connection will work for “studio style” live streaming cases ”

    “The biggest concerns 360-degree video live streaming, something which rival cameras like Samsung’s Gear 360 support through a smartphone, but for which the Theta V demands a USB connection to a Windows PC.”
    ::
    https://www.slashgear.com/ricoh-theta-v-hands-on-360-camera-goes-4k-31496648/

    Looking forward to seeing the full specs for the Yi

  • I too have been really looking forward to this, but as others have said, too little too late. I’ll wait to see more sample. 4k video is great, but the quality didn’t look very good. I was hoping for much higher photo quality, but it still looks too messy/compressed in areas, especially looking at trees and foliage in the mid distance.|

    The spatial audio and under water casing look interesting though…

  • I really want this to be every bit as good as the Theta S with bells on. The 4K and livestreaming really are great additions. However, it does seem to be too little too late. I will withhold final judgement until it’s actually out in the wild. I’ve been wanting this camera for oh so long as the Theta S is the best 360 I’ve owned in terms of photos and the video stitching is wonderful (if only the resolution were better) but 4K is becoming a dime a dozen and it seems that Ricoh is not bringing much more innovation to the game to remain as excited about the beast which bums me as I REALLY have been looking forward to this one for what seems forever and a day. I suspect they’re late to the party.

    • I am very disappointed that the still photo resolution is exactly the same as the Theta S. Yes, the image have improoved a bit, but in contrast to normal pictures, image resolution is still an issue for sphrical images taken by consumer cameras. There is no doubt that video have been the focus in this model.

      Several other brands have almost twice as many pixels in a still phto as the Theta V, some for half the price and with a very reasonable quality. Sorry, I have to upgrade to another brand this time.

      • Hi Simon. I would have wanted a higher resolution as well. But one thing I’ve learned is that specs aren’t everything. Cameras with lower specs can end up with better image quality. I’m hoping that’s the case with Theta V. I would wait and see…

    • Hi Brian. Yes I would agree. But perhaps the actual image quality is better than we think. Otherwise, on paper it does seem a little underwhelming, except for the cool (but expensive) waterproof case.

      Best regards,
      Mic

  • The purple fringing – especially in the first video sample – is horrible. I would consider this camera unusable. Gear 360 2017 or Xiaomi Mi output looks *much* better for less money.

  • Hi Thank You for good information it is rather strange Richoh could have build in a 6 axel Gyro
    for a lossless, borderless videostabilisation we asked several times but did not get any response
    it seems that we have to work with our DSLR for years to come
    The 10 mm 2.8 Sigma Fisheye were a good investation

    https://goo.gl/maps/qq4BdhHwXL92

  • I picked one up last week and used it for the first time at a wedding this weekend. It worked great! I didn’t own a Theta s however I had seen first-hand what the video from it look like and there’s really no comparing it to the 4k on the Theta V. The only thing I’ve noticed is I’ve had issues on all devices on 2.4 gigahertz however 5.8 works great and I haven’t even had to turn on Bluetooth. I do wish we could somehow get past this 25 megabyte limit. The wedding I filmed was exactly 25 minutes long a minute longer and I would have missed part. Very impressed though and although I do wish I’d been able to get closer. I’m still glad the photographers there let me set it up at all. https://youtu.be/oZaSXyFPoV8

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