Ricoh has just announced the Ricoh Theta X, a 360 camera that can shoot photos at up to 11k (11008 x 5504) and is the first 360 camera that can shoot 5.7k 360 videos with stabilization, with no stitching needed. Here is a hands-on review.
The Holy Grail of 360 cameras
Although 360 cameras are incredibly useful, they have one important drawback, which is that the videos need to be stitched. 360 cameras have two or more lenses and stitching is the process of merging the images from the different sensors into a single 360 photo or video. If we only have a few photos or videos, then stitching is not a big deal. However, if you have a lot of videos, stitching can take a long time. That is why the “Holy Grail” of consumer 360 cameras has been to have stabilized video with realtime stitching.
There have been a few professional 360 cameras that have stabilized video with realtime stitching, but they have been limited to 4k 30fps and even the cheapest such camera is $1,799 (Labpano Pilot One). The Theta X is the first 360 camera in the world to have stabilized 360 video with realtime stitching at 5.7K 30fps or 4K 60fps, thanks to its Qualcomm QCS605 chip, surpassing the realtime stitching resolution of even high end 360 cameras such as the Insta360 Titan (which has realtime stitching up to 4K 30fps, albeit with the option to record in 3D 360). After recording with the Theta X, the photos and videos will be fully stitched and stabilized, and you can use them immediately, with no processing needed.
Theta X Specifications
|Lenses||two fisheye lenses|
|Field of view||fully spherical|
|Sensor Size||two 48mp Sony IMX586 1/2.0 inch sensors|
|Photo resolution||11008 x 5504|
|Video resolution||5760 x 2880, 30fps|
3840 x 1920, 60fps
|Live streaming:||Yes 3840 x 1920 30fps 100mbps|
|Shutter speed:||1/16,000 to 60 seconds|
|ISO:||50 to 3200|
|Stabilization:||6-axis gyro-based image stabilization|
|Interval shooting:||yes (intervals: from 6 seconds to 1 hour)|
|Connector:||1/4-20 tripod connector (metal)|
|LCD screen||2.25 inch LCD touchscreen|
|Storage:||Internal 64GB (46GB available) + Removable Micro SD|
|Working humidity:||90% or less|
|Temperature:||0°C - 40°C|
|Connectivity:||2.4Ghz / 5Ghz|
|GPS||Yes (QZSS) and A-GPS|
|Compatibility:||iOS, Android, Windows, Mac|
|Dimensions:||136.2 mm x 51.7 mm x 29 mm|
|Weight:||144g without battery, 170g with battery|
|Battery:||Ricoh DB-110; 3.6V 1350mAh|
Capacity: 30 minutes at 5.7k
|Price at launch:||$799|
|Availability||March 2022 (estimated)|
Theta X Advantages and Disadvantages
- Realtime stitching for both photos and videos. Again, no need to stitch videos or photos. This is the killer feature that no other 360 camera has at this price range.
- 5.7k video with stabilization.
- Excellent, very accurate colors. This camera has one of the best, if not the best colors I’ve seen for a consumer 360 camera. It can accurately reproduce even difficult colors like bright red.
- High resolution photos up to 11K.
- Automatic HDR.
- Low light photo mode.
- Larger sensor. It has a 1/2 inch sensor, which is larger than the 1/2.3 inch sensor used in most consumer 360 cameras. In general, larger sensors have better image quality.
- Large touch screen. The very large 2.25 inch touchscreen is clear and easy to use.
- Removable Micro SD. The first Ricoh Theta to feature removable memory.
- Internal memory can record about 1 hour video. In case you forgot to bring your SD card or if you fill up your card, you can use the internal memory as backup.
- Removable battery. You can get spare batteries.
- Charges quickly. If you run out of battery, you can get a decent amount of charge in just a few minutes with a USB power bank.
- Easier to connect wirelessly (switch bands). On previous Ricoh Thetas, it was sometimes difficult to connect the phone app with the camera. On the Theta X, I’ve always been able to connect. In addition, Theta X lets you switch bands to make sure you can connect.
- Long range wireless with client mode. Normally, the wireless range of a 360 camera is at most about 30 feet. With Theta X, however, the wireless range can be as wide as that of your home or office network. The Theta X has a “client mode” that enables it to connect to your home or office wireless network. As long as your phone is connected to the same network, you’ll be able to control the Theta X.
- Full manual exposure with multi bracketing option.
- Built-in GPS. Photos can be geotagged, which helps when you upload them to Google Street View or virtual tour software.
- Disappear from photos. Theta X has Time Shift, which lets you disappear from photos. Just take a shot, move to the other side and it takes a second shot with you erased from the final photo.
- Theta Plug-In support. Add new functions with free plugins that you can download from the Theta plugin store.
- Stabilization is not as good as other 360 cameras. It can’t correct for vibrations. If you want great stabilization, look instead at the Insta360 One X2 or One R or GoPro MAX or Qoocam 8K if you can find it.
- Overheating. If you record at room temperature, it can overheat. Mine stopped recording at 13:50 when I recorded at room temperature.
- The battery life is quite short. Around 30 minutes of video.
- Susceptible to glare. If the sunlight is directly at the lens, there will be noticeable glare.
- No external microphone option right now. If you’re vlogging, you absolutely must have good sound. Viewers can overlook bad video. But they won’t forgive bad audio. If you’re using a camera on a selfie stick, the only way to get good audio is to use an external microphone. Right now, Theta X doesn’t have a microphone option. It does have a USB Type C port, so it is possible to add a microphone, but Ricoh is wondering if there is any demand for this feature. If you want a microphone, leave a comment below. Ricoh guys will read those comments.
- It’s not waterproof. There are some 360 cameras that are waterproof. Theta X is not. And it doesn’t have a lens protector either.
- If you shoot in 5.7K or 4k 60fps, the phone app can’t view or download the video on your phone. If you want to view or download the video on your phone, you need to use 4k 30fps.
- For photos, it does not have a raw mode as of January 2022.
- For photos, it has HDR but the HDR has no anti-ghosting algorithm. So if the camera is moving a bit, you’ll see ghosting in your photo.
In my review video, I said a minor issue is that there’s no live view while shooting. Correction: there is an option to turn on live view while shooting or turn off the screen to save battery.
Here is an unedited full resolution sample photo (standard mode, not HDR):
Here is a sample photo shot in HDR mode:
Another sample photo:
Ricoh Theta X is a groundbreaking 360 camera that features realtime stitching with stabilization at the unprecedented resolution of 5.7K 30fps. Not only is it the first consumer 360 camera to offer realtime stitching and stabilization, but its realtime stitching resolution surpasses that of any camera, even the $15,000 Insta360 Titan. For users who want the easiest and most convenient 360 camera, I highly recommend the Theta X. On the other hand, if you want a 360 camera with excellent stabilization or an external microphone, check out the Insta360 One X2 or One R instead.