HD is dead – 360 degree HD is the future.
Or so all the VR manufacturers would have you believe. As flat screens become boring and virtual reality approaches, we’re seeing more and more products designed to take 360 degree video – the Ricoh Theta S, though, is a bit ahead of the curve.
The Theta S can uses dual 12 megapixel image sensors and bright f/2 lenses the capture HD spherical image. These lenses are capable of filming in an ISO range of 100-1600 – basically, that means you can get good quality images in pretty low light.
Automatic exposure can be used for stills or video, which is handy – especially if you’re keen on getting action shots if you’re into sports or event photography. For more precise shots, though, the Theta S can be operated manually: useful getting more ‘arty’ shots or setting exposures for longer to get that time-lapse effect.
But no-one takes videos just for themselves anymore, right? To that end, the Theta S has been built with tech on-board that lets you post videos/photos straight online. Built-in WiFi also lets you remotely live-view footage on your smartphone or tablet: you can make a whole film crew with just one of these, a tablet and a mate, basically.
The movies record at 1080p, but only 30 frames per second – we say ‘only’, that’s not exactly bad, but it isn’t the 60 FPS you’d get from, say, a GoPro. But a GoPro doesn’t film 360 degrees, so. There’s 8GB of memory on board, too, meaning you can store about 25 minutes of footage before having to drop it off and empty the drive.
If you’re stuck for ideas of what to shoot with the Theta S – it’s hard to think exactly what needs to be filmed in a sphere – the camera comes with the option to directly upload your videos to Google Street View. Find an unmapped area near you (basically, go off road) and you could be the first person to chart uncharted ground… kinda.
You’ll be paying about £300 for the Theta S (including UK shipping), and that’s not bad for what the camera offers. It’s a good starting point for anyone interested into looking at filming VR-ready videos, and can make pretty interesting panoramas, to boot – ones that don’t chop off and merge peoples faces in a weird way.
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