Ricoh has a well-earned good repute in terms of constructing good, technically glorious photographic tools — together with the virtually legendary Ricoh GR collection of pocketable APS-C cameras, that are a favourite amongst road photographers in every single place. Earlier this 12 months, the corporate launched the Ricoh Theta Z1, which builds on its success with its pioneering Theta line of 360-degree cameras and delivers a step-up by way of picture high quality and construct that may really feel at residence within the arms of lovers and professional photographers.
The Theta Z1 is what occurs if you push the boundaries of what’s potential in a conveyable kind issue 360 digital camera, each by way of construct supplies and what’s happening on the within. Like its extra reasonably priced, older sibling, the Theta V, it shoots each stills and video in 360 levels — however not like the V, it does so utilizing two 1-inch sensors — unprecedented for a 360 digital camera on this class. Sony’s celebrated RX100 collection was pushing boundaries with its personal 1-inch sensor in a conventional compact digital camera, and the Ricoh is equally increasing the boundaries of 360 images by together with not only one, however two such sensors in its Z1. That interprets to unmatched picture high quality for 360 photographers — offered you’re prepared to pay a premium value to get it.
Design and construct
The Ricoh Theta Z1 feels quite a bit like earlier iterations of the Theta line — it’s primarily a deal with with two large lenses on high, which is a fairly optimum design total for a tool you’re principally going to be holding as much as take 360 images and video. It’s a bit bulkier than earlier generations, and heavier, too, but it surely’s nonetheless a really moveable system regardless of the elevated measurement.

With the bulkier construct, you additionally get a magnesium outer case, which is textured and feels improbable when held. If you’ve ever held a professional DSLR or mirrorless digital camera, then the texture will likely be acquainted, and that claims quite a bit about Ricoh’s target market with this $1,000 system. The magnesium alloy shell isn’t just for making it really feel prefer it’s price what it prices, nevertheless; you additionally get large sturdiness advantages, which is necessary on a tool that you just’re most likely going to need to use in distant locales and off the overwhelmed path.
The construct high quality additionally feels extremely strong, and the button structure is straightforward and simple to know. There’s a single shutter button on the entrance of the digital camera, simply above an OLED show that gives fundamental data about remaining area for photos or video, battery life and connection standing. A single LED signifies each mode and seize standing info, and 4 buttons on the aspect management energy on/off, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, picture and video mode switching and enabling fundamental capabilities like a shutter countdown timer.

Using the {hardware} buttons to regulate the Theta Z1 impartial of your smartphone, the place you possibly can remotely management all features of the digital camera when related by way of Wi-Fi and utilizing the app, is intuitive and simple, and possibly the best way you’ll use the Z1 as a rule if you’re truly out and about. There’s little to fret about in terms of framing, for example, as a result of it captures a full 360 picture, and you may deal with all of that after the actual fact with Ricoh’s enhancing instruments previous to sharing.
On the underside, there’s a USB-C port for charging and wired information switch, and a 1/4″ commonplace tripod mount for attaching the Z1 to tripods or different equipment. This is beneficial, as a result of in the event you use a small deal with you’ll get a greater total picture, because the Z1’s software program routinely edits out the digital camera, and, to some extent, the factor that’s supporting it. There’s additionally a small lug for attaching a wrist strap, however what you received’t discover is a flap or door for a micro SD card — the Theta Z1 depends totally on built-in storage, and affords slightly below 20GB of usable storage.

Still photos
Ricoh’s Theta Z1 has two 1-inch sensors on board, as talked about, and people mix to supply a picture decision of 670×3360. The digital camera captures two 180-degree fields of view from every lens, and routinely stitches them collectively in software program to provide the ultimate picture. The result’s the sharpest, most color-accurate nonetheless images I’ve ever seen from a 360-degree digital camera, in need of the type of content material shot by professionals on tools costing at the least 10x extra.

The ensuing photos do extremely effectively when seen by VR headsets, for example, or if you use Theta’s personal 360 viewer for net in full-screen mode on high-resolution shows. They additionally make it potential to export flat photos that also look sharp, which you’ll crop and edit within the Theta+ app. You can create some actually superb photos with attention-grabbing perspective that will be exhausting to get utilizing a conventional digital camera.

Indoors in low-light conditions, the Ricoh Theta Z1 nonetheless performs fairly effectively, particularly in comparison with its rivals, because of these large 1-inch sensors. Especially in well-lit indoor environments, like within the restaurant instance under, particulars are sharp and crisp throughout the body and colours come out nice.

In settings the place quite a lot of the body is darkish or inconsistently lit, as within the instance on the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo under, the outcomes aren’t almost nearly as good when working in full automated mode. You can see that there’s some blur within the components of the scene with movement, and there’s extra grain obvious in components of the body, too. Overall although, the viewers is fairly effectively captured and the colours nonetheless look correct and good regardless of the various completely different tones from completely different sources.

The Ricoh Theta Z1 nonetheless does its greatest work in brilliant outside settings, nevertheless — which is true for any digital camera, however particularly for cameras with sensors smaller than full-frame or APS-C. It’s nonetheless positively succesful sufficient to seize photos you possibly can work with, and that present a good way to revisit nice occasions or reminiscences in a extra immersive means than commonplace 2D photos can accomplish.

You can modify settings, together with aperture to optimize your picture seize, in addition to selecting between f/2.1, f/3.5 and f/5.6, with increased apertures providing higher-resolution photos. The built-in lens has been designed to scale back ghosting, purple fringe artifacts and flare, and it does an impressive job at this. RAW seize permits you to edit DNG recordsdata utilizing Lightroom, and it really works amazingly effectively with Lightroom cell for superior tweaks proper on the identical system.
Video
The Ricoh Theta Z1 does video, too — although the specs for the video it produces are primarily unchanged from the Theta V on paper. It can seize 4K video at 30 fps/56 mbps or 2K video at 30fps/16mbps, and stay stream in each 4K and 2K. There’s a four-channel built-in microphone for immersive audio recording, and it could possibly report as a lot as 40 minutes of 4K or 130 minutes of 2K footage, although every particular person recording session is capped at 5 minutes and 25 minutes for 4K and 2K, respectively.
Ricoh has harder competitors in terms of video within the 360 digital camera sport — Insta 360’s One X has been a transparent winner on this class, and has led to this digital camera even discovering some followers when in comparison with motion cameras just like the GoPro Hero 7 and the DJI Osmo Action, thanks largely to its improbable built-in picture stabilization.

The Ricoh Theta Z1 simply frankly doesn’t impress on this regard. The sensors do enable for doubtlessly higher picture high quality total, however the picture stabilization is certainly missing, as you possibly can see, and total high quality simply isn’t there when measured in opposition to the Insta360 One X. For a hard and fast set up for real-time live-streaming, the Ricoh most likely makes extra sense, however video isn’t the system’s power, and it’s slightly disappointing given its nonetheless taking pictures prowess.
Features and sharing
The vary of enhancing choices out there both by way of Theta+ or utilizing the DNG recordsdata in each cell and desktop picture enhancing software program for the Theta Z1 is excellent. You can actually create and compose photos in all kinds of the way, together with making use of stickers and textual content that persist with the body as a viewer navigates across the picture. Sharing from the Theta app straight works with numerous platforms, together with YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and theta360.com, the place you will get embeddable 360 photos like these discovered on this submit above.
Ricoh has achieved an amazing job ensuring you cannot solely seize the absolute best 360 photos with this digital camera, but additionally share them with others. It’s additionally main the pack in terms of the vary of choices you could have for getting inventive with slicing up these 7K spherical photos in quite a lot of methods for conventional flat picture output, which isn’t shocking, given the corporate’s heritage.
Bottom line
Simply put, the Ricoh Theta Z1 is one of the best 360 digital camera for nonetheless images that you could purchase for lower than $1,000 – even when simply squeaks underneath that line. It’s one of the best nonetheless picture 360 digital camera you possibly can decide up for significantly greater than that, too, given its sensor association and different technical features of the system, together with its selectable aperture settings and RAW output.
The $999.95 asking value is certainly on the excessive finish for this class — the Theta V retails for lower than half that, as does the Insta360 One X. But I discussed the Sony RX100 above, and the pricing is analogous: You can get a compact digital camera for a lot much less cash, together with superb ones, however the newest RX100 at all times instructions a premium value, which persons are prepared to pay for the very best-in-class system.
If what you need is one of the best nonetheless images 360 digital camera in the marketplace, the Ricoh Theta Z1 is definitely it, and if that’s the precise factor you’re on the lookout for, then Ricoh has packed quite a lot of cutting-edge tech right into a small package deal with the Z1.

Shop Amazon