Insta360 One RS special deal
360 Camera Reviews

Ricoh Theta X Review: NO STITCHING NEEDED for 5.7K 360 videos + 11k photos

Ricoh Theta X review: NO STITCHING NEEDED for 360 video or photo
Ricoh Theta X review: NO STITCHING NEEDED for 360 video or photo

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

Lensestwo fisheye lenses
Aperturef/2.4
Field of viewfully spherical
Sensor Sizetwo 48mp Sony IMX586 1/2.0 inch sensors
Photo resolution11008 x 5504
Video resolution5760 x 2880, 30fps
3840 x 1920, 60fps
Bitrate120mbps
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)
Microphonesmonaural
Connector:1/4-20 tripod connector (metal)
LCD screen2.25 inch LCD touchscreen
Storage:Internal 64GB (46GB available) + Removable Micro SD
Working humidity:90% or less
Temperature:0°C - 40°C
Waterproof:No
Connectivity:2.4Ghz / 5Ghz
GPSYes (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
AvailabilityMarch 2022 (estimated)

Theta X Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages

  1. 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.  
  2. 5.7k video with stabilization.
  3. 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.
  4. High resolution photos up to 11K.
  5. Automatic HDR.
  6. Low light photo mode.
  7. 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.
  8. Large touch screen.  The very large 2.25 inch touchscreen is clear and easy to use.
  9. Removable Micro SD.  The first Ricoh Theta to feature removable memory.
  10. 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.
  11. Removable battery.  You can get spare batteries.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Full manual exposure with multi bracketing option.
  16. Built-in GPS.  Photos can be geotagged, which helps when you upload them to Google Street View or virtual tour software.
  17. 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.
  18. Theta Plug-In support.  Add new functions with free plugins that you can download from the Theta plugin store.

Disadvantages

  1. 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.
  2. Overheating.  If you record at room temperature, it can overheat.  Mine stopped recording at 13:50 when I recorded at room temperature.
  3. The battery life is quite short.  Around 30 minutes of video.
  4. Susceptible to glare.  If the sunlight is directly at the lens, there will be noticeable glare.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. For photos, it does not have a raw mode as of January 2022.
  9. 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:

SUMMARY

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.

About the author

Mic Ty

47 Comments

Click here to post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • 799 $ ?? their website doesn’t mention this price but thats cheaper than the 4k Theta X , and I didn’t see you mention that now it has a built in GPS. cause this is a game changer for creating 360 tours. but mad that it doesn’t have handheld HDR or RAW, that is a down.

  • what was improved above previous model ? just the internal stitching with stabilization ? no improvement in image quality ?

  • No raw-mode … ok, it isn’t for pros?

    What plugins will run on this cameras? The same as on the Z1.

    Greetings from Germany, Mic

  • Hi!

    Do you know what is the shortest time between photos in intervalometer mode ? For the Z1 it’s 6 or 7 seconds. I hope it is possible to set a shortest interval on this Theta X

  • Hi Mic,
    please try to show 360pics in an envirement, that has a few really bright lights around (like on stage of a theater or concert).
    I would like to know how this bad “sunflares” and glare is behaving indoor, with some bright spots…
    Many thanks!

  • A welcome upgrade it seems, pity it wasn’t the Z1 that had the upgrade but I guess that will follow in the not too distant future now we have seen the lesser thetas upgraded to a better model, been a long time coming.

    Removable media and battery fantastic… That has been on the wish list for a long time.

    Only downside is the lack of the external microphone, at this sort of price range its a must, Vloggers need to use it all the time and on doing walkthroughs on real estate which is what I use a 360 camera for I need good audio as I speak through the rooms to introduce them on the video, essential in my view.

    Overall a long overdue but nice upgrade in the range, time I think to retire some of the older models and now concentrate on a serious upgrade to the Z1 which is by far the best 360 camera out there for the price.

  • Mic,

    Thanks for all these details on the new THETA X. The in-camera stitching and the specs make this a very exciting announcement from RICOH. At theta360.guide developers community, we will be looking to test the API. If you or your readers have questions about business use of the THETA X (construction, real estate, used car sales, virtual tours) we may be able to include it in our testing.

    So far, we noticed unique THETA X usage features include the ability to install plug-ins direct from the camera, the ability to upgrade firmware direct from camera, and it appears that exposure compensation and white balance can be adjusted for live streaming. These are all new and potentially extremely useful for business solutions that integrate with THETA.

    https://devs.theta360.guide/ricoh-launches-new-theta-x-360-camera/

    Thank you,
    Jesse

  • I definitely would throw in a vote for an external mic and raw images if they can add that via firmware. I have long thought the Theta V + mic combo was underrated and under appreciated for the great quality sound it delivered… would love to see Ricoh explore a way to add a similar ambisonic mic to the X.

  • Sounds like a nice Theta V upgrade, as it has a lot of features the V was lacking. However it does not sound like a camera that should be twice the cost of an Insta360 One X2. Max 500-600 dollars would have been competitive.

    • I agree, the review left me pretty underwhelmed. Is it just me suspecting that this uses Quad Bayer sensors? That would artificially inflate the photo resolution and everything else can’t even match my old insta360 one R. In this price I would always take theta Z1 over this.

  • When we first became aware of the possibility of this being the new camera from Ricoh you said it is not a replacement for the Theta Z, which has two one inch sensors.
    Does the smaller sensor in this new camera mean that there is another camera yet to drop from Ricoh?
    Lots to like about this camera but half hour power is not a good choice for professional use.

    Thanks for your info!

  • Hi Mic,

    Great article! Regarding “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.”:

    Does this also work if on one side you have the ocean with lots of moving waves and you are on the other side and the only moving object (hiding away)? Or is this only for fully static environments without winds on trees, no moving vehicles etc.?

    Thanks!

  • Nice article Mic
    I am quite happy with my Two InstaONE X cameras shooting 32 megapixel 8000×4000 for Google Streetveiw
    i left THETA years ago do to purple fringing and the lack off removable battery and SD card
    i was told that the THETA X has inbuilt GPS and “Digital Compass”
    This allow the camera to shoot blue lines on Google Maps
    so maybe i should get a THETA X in this spring
    Regards Svendus 👍

  • With the addition of changeable battery and microsd they finally can be taken serious, adding GPS is a great bonus.

    I would be especially interested in the possibility to create StreetView/Mapillary sequences. That means, I’ll strap it to my bike helmet and bike through some beautiful landscapes and cityscapes. Or strap the selfie stick to my backpack during hiking.

    What is the minimum interval time for photos? Can it do a photo each second? or at least 1 photo every 2 seconds?
    Is it able to keep that up for considerable time, e.g. regarding heat buildup?
    I’d rather have noise than motion blur, but want to avoid both in good conditions. Can the exposure time be limited for photos to avoid motion blur? That means, “Shutter Priority”, e.g. never slower than 1/300s
    Does it have a magnetic compass?

    • Hi Mapper. In interval shooting mode, the minimum interval is 6 seconds. I have not tested the interval shooting mode for endurance yet. The interval shooting exposure can be controlled and there is a Shutter Priority mode, and the shutter speed can be anywhere from 15 seconds to 1/16,000 second in 1/3 stop increments. Re magnetic compass, I don’t know for sure.

  • How is it that the Theta X has 0.5-inch sensors and achieves 48 megapixels, while the Z1 has 1-inch sensors and only achieves 20 megapixels?

    Why does the Theta X not shoot RAW or Handheld HDR? Aren’t those software capabilities that could have be added to Theta X without premium hardware? Could they be added later with firmware upgrades?

    What prevents the highest-quality, 60 fps video from being transferred to a phone after the video is shot? Is the Theta app simply not capable of their playback at this time?
    Does real-time stitching of photos mean far less downtime before the Theta X is ready to take another picture, compared to the Z1?

    I don’t see a dedicated shooting button. Is there a way to shoot photos without using a connected device like a phone or laptop, and while keeping the Theta X’s LCD screen off, so that its battery life can be maximized?

    • Hi Colin. There are many smaller sensors that have higher resolution than larger sensors. But in general, larger sensors have better dynamic range, bit-depth, signal-to-noise ratio.

      I wish Theta X could add Raw or Handheld HDR. We’ll see. It’s definitely possible to add via firmware update but I don’t know if Ricoh will do it.

      Re 5.7k video, I don’t know why they can’t transfer it.

      The time between shots is the same as for any other 360 camera.

      The shutter is the big black semi-circle below the LCD.

  • Thank You Mic for another super fast review with real world testing!

    Chapeau.

    Theta did a great job with instant stitching for on the road use.

    Professionals will look for more quality control with external stitching.
    Insta Pro 1,2 Titan and Qoocam 8K external stitching gives too close results to me.

    I still hope Kandao release a decent compact Pro camera with a great optics and sensors,
    ProRes 10 Bit recording and RAW image support.

    Thanks for Your big efforts to the 360 and VR community.

  • It would be vital for me to have external mic access. I record a lot of audio, and a dual-setup is tedious in post. I’m puzzled why they didn’t add this at launch?

    Also, will they be able to improve the stabilisation through firmware upgrades, or is it a hardware limitation?

    Would be happy to pay 2.5x the price for a micro four thirds version.

    • I think maybe because their sales for the Theta V spatial microphone wasn’t as high as they expected, so they might have generalized that people don’t care about microphones.

      As for an MFT dual lens 360 camera that is a very tall order. The Theta Z1 was already very difficult to produce. An MFT sensor is twice the size of that and I can imagine it would be extremely difficult to design good optics for it. But if anyone can do it, I think Ricoh can.

  • No external microphone possible? Immediately disqualified for live-streaming and also most other pro scenarios. Sadly, no buy. Waiting for Insta360 to see if they understand the importance of good soundscape better. Otherwise great effort from Ricoh.

  • Hi Mic,

    thanks for all your work reviewing cameras, videos and gathering news.

    I really want to like this camera because there is just not much on the market for enthusiast still shooters like me. To be honest, the samples in this article don’t look that good. Compression artifacts, poor detail, CA. Are they compressed for hosting? Do you know if there are straight out of camera samples available (I haven’t been able to find any).

    I might just be expecting too much from these products but for the type of shots like, tight spaces with things happening basically, DSLR capture won’t work.

    Thanks

      • I’ve looked at that – very helpful – but nothing really ticks all the boxes for me: single shot, good detail, good dynamic range, good lens, reasonable noise, reasonable workflow. The Ricoh Z is perhaps the best but it is 3+ years old, still very expensive and used ones are unavailable.

  • Hello Mic, let’s say I would like to collect 360° hi res images of a very long trekking to later on upload on Google Street View, to create “blue lines”.
    Can I set the Theta X on Interval Shooting, at the fastest available continuous frame rate (1 image every 6 seconds?), push “start” and then let it go without interruptions for hours and hours, say 8-10h in a row (with external power and large enough Micro SD card)?
    Many thanks,
    Giorgio