We scoured just about every corner of the Las Vegas Convention Center during our CES coverage last week and while paying a visit to the Ricoh booth (for our own leisure), we uncovered a fun little gizmo called the Ricoh Theta. Released during the summer of last year, the Theta is a tiny camera that can easily slide inside your skinny jeans and is outfitted with 2 fish-eye lens cameras to snap 360-degree photos of the entire world around you, with little effort.
Much like Android’s Photo Sphere, or the recently funded Panono, photos can then be viewed using Ricoh’s special app to pan around and view the world as if you were there. The benefit the Theta has over Android’s Photo Sphere is in its ease of use (no need to fiddle around with multiple shots to get the stitching perfect). When compared against something like the Panono — which features 36 cameras firing a combined 108MP image — the Theta is much smaller, and retails for about $200 less than the Panono ball.
Picnic in Hikarigaoka park Tokyo – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
But that doesn’t mean the Theta is perfect. We found image quality to be somewhat lacking (only when zoomed in), but then again what Ricoh is really trying to sell is the experience the Theta offers, something that adds a new level of immersion to traditional snapshots. Also, you’ll need the special-made Theta app (for Android and iOS) to view your spherical images and as it stands, they’re only sharable on Facebook. If Ricoh can eventually add Google+ support, it’ll be golden.
For the photo enthusiast with a little money to burn, you can find the Ricoh Theta at Amazon for about $400.