Playing with a new Toy - Ricoh Theta S

Finally got round to getting something affordable to do 360 video and photospheres, without the crazyness of putting multiple Go-Pros together or something similar.

Inside the Stop Frame Animation set.. @lcabaan @leedscofart #theta360uk - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

The camera is a Ricoh Theta S, it retails around £299 -  which is just in my price range for experimental play and research.  Quality wise, its never going to be great - you are getting what you are paying for, - video is 1920x960px - which is low and soft for a 360youtube - but more than adaqute for prototyping ideas for storytelling. Picture wise though - images are 5376 x 2688px, which enables 4k quality timelapse and stopmotion projects. Here's a youtube test below...

In an educational context, the Theta S is a good accessible 360 camera. Photos are exported as equirectangular projection - so easy to to import into Photosphere apps, or use as Skyboxes in Unity.

Video needs to be converted first, otherwise you get a lovely 70's double fisheye effect. Both the Ricoh Theta App, or desktop software does this quite simply - non of the complexity of a program like Hugin or Microsoft ICE. Stiching wise, it does a ok job - and as its two lenses, seams aren't too bad. In this respect for classroom use or fieldtrips - its more playful bit of kit to experiment, as its point and shoot.

To get the best out of it - its essential to use the app, I'm working on Android - the iOS version has some more tricks. The app gives you the ability to remote trigger the camera, set self timer or intervalometer for timelapse, and most crucially - manual control of the shutter speed, iso and white balance. Sadly there's no control of the exposure, so if I read the manual right its operating as f 2.0.
It's not great in low light conditions, as was expected.

Creatively - here's the aforementioned double fisheye effect before stiching the video together - which I kind of want to experiment with, roughly each circle is 900 x 900px - so I'll have to do some crazy experimental stuff at a later date.

Its also a great starting point camera for creating panorama worlds ....

Here's a sense of the Theta S's size.  The camera feels pretty sturdy - but you are conscious of the protruding lenses, which could easily scratch or get finger printed...  and the Viewmaster makes a great Google Cardboard headset - but that's another blogpost.

A photo posted by Annabeth (@angrybeth) on