Ricoh is not a newcomer when it comes to digital imaging. It surely isn’t the first company that comes to mind when you think of cameras, but it has a very respectable lineup that ranges from cheap, pocketable point-and-shoots to more sophisticated offerings with interchangeable lenses.
Ricoh describes the Theta as “the world’s first mass-produced imaging device that encapsulates fully spherical scenes with one shot.” To elaborate a bit, it’s a small, peculiar looking point-and-shoot camera that features two 180-degree wide-angle lenses mounted on opposite sides of the device. When one captures an image with the Theta, the result is a 360-degree image that places the viewer at the center of a 3D scene.
Think of it as a next-level selfie machine.
The best way to describe the Theta’s 360-degree images is to think of a globe with the viewer situated at the center of the X, Y and Z axes. You can pan around 360-degrees from side to side or up and down, and the app also lets you zoom in and out.
In terms of operation, the Theta worked as advertised each and every time. Connecting from a handset is beyond simple, since the Theta broadcasts its own wireless network and you connect just as you would with any other Wi-Fi access point. My only gripe it that I wish the device would also capture 180-degree images in addition to 360-degree photos. This would allow users to capture pannable images without having to stand in an area obscured from the Theta’s view to avoid appearing in them.
While the Theta is absolutely one of the coolest things I have seen come out of IFA this year, it’s also most certainly a niche product. There are definitely some professional use cases — think about how much easier this device will make realtors’ lives, for example, allowing them to quickly and easily capture 360-degree views of rooms in a house they’re selling — but consumers at large likely won’t be intrigued enough to spend $399.99 on such a specialized camera.
It’s still a very cool offering from Ricoh, however, and those who can justify the $400 purchase won’t be disappointed.Share on Facebook