The Theta Z1 from Ricoh is the primary actually premium 360 client digital camera


Ricoh has a well-deserved good status with regards to constructing good, technically glorious photographic gear – together with the virtually legendary Ricoh GR collection APS-C cameras & pocket-sized cameras, that are favourite all over the place amongst road photographers. Earlier this 12 months the corporate launched the Ricoh Theta Z1, which builds on its success with its breakthrough Theta line of 360-degree cameras & delivers an enchancment in picture high quality and construct that may really feel at dwelling within the fingers of fanatics {and professional} photographers.

The Theta Z1 is what occurs whenever you push the boundaries of what's doable in a transportable kind issue 360 digital camera, each when it comes to constructing supplies and what's taking place on the within. Like his extra inexpensive, older brother or sister, the Theta V, he takes each pictures & movies in 360 levels – however not like the V, he makes use of two 1-inch sensors – unprecedented for a 360 digital camera on this class. The celebrated RX100 collection from Sony pushed the boundaries with its personal 1-inch sensor in a conventional compact digital camera and the Ricoh expands the boundaries of 360 pictures in the identical approach by together with not only one however two of such sensors in its Z1 . That interprets to unparalleled picture high quality for 360 photographers – offered you’re prepared to pay a premium value to get it.

Design and development

The Ricoh Theta Z1 feels quite a bit like earlier iterations of the Theta line – it’s basically a deal with with two massive lenses on high, which is a reasonably optimum design for a tool that you’ll often maintain to take 360 ​​pictures. and video. It is a little more cumbersome than earlier generations, and likewise heavier, however it’s nonetheless a really transportable gadget, regardless of the elevated dimension.

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With the bigger development you additionally get a magnesium outer cowl, which has a texture and feels nice whenever you maintain it. In case you have ever had knowledgeable digital SLR or mirrorless digital camera, the sensation can be acquainted and that claims quite a bit concerning the Ricoh audience with this $ 1,000 gadget. The magnesium alloy scale, nevertheless, is just not solely meant to present the sensation that it’s value it; you additionally get nice sustainability advantages, which is necessary on a tool that you simply most likely wish to use in distant areas and off the crushed observe.

The construct high quality additionally feels extremely strong and the button format is easy and straightforward to grasp. There’s a single shutter button on the entrance of the digital camera, simply above an OLED display screen that gives primary details about remaining area for pictures or video, battery life, and connection standing. A single LED supplies details about the mode and recording standing, and 4 aspect buttons management energy on / off, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, swap picture and video mode, and allow primary features similar to a shutter velocity timer.

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Utilizing the {hardware} buttons to manage the Theta Z1 independently of your smartphone, the place you may remotely management all elements of the digital camera when it’s related through Wi-Fi and makes use of the app, is intuitive and easy, and possibly the best way you utilize the Z1 most of the time when you find yourself truly touring. There may be little to fret about, for instance, as a result of it captures a full 360 picture, and you’ll course of all of it afterwards with Ricoh & # 39; s enhancing instruments previous to sharing.

On the backside there’s a USB-C port for charging and wired information switch and a normal 1/4 ″ tripod mount for attaching the Z1 to stands or different equipment. That is helpful as a result of when you use a small lever, you get a greater total image, as a result of the Z1's software program routinely processes the digital camera, and to some extent, the factor that helps it. There may be additionally a small tab for attaching a wrist strap, however what you’ll not discover is a flap or door for a micro SD card – the Theta Z1 depends totally on built-in storage and affords rather less than 20 GB of usable storage.

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Nonetheless photos

The Theta Z1 from Ricoh has two 1-inch sensors on board, as talked about, and these mix to supply a picture decision of 670 × 3360. The digital camera captures two 180-degree picture fields from every lens and routinely sews them collectively in software program to supply the ultimate picture. The result’s the sharpest, most color-accurate pictures I've ever seen with a 360-degree digital camera, aside from the type of content material that professionals have taken on gear that prices not less than 10x extra.

The ensuing photos do extremely effectively when considered via VR headsets, for instance, or whenever you use Theta & # 39; s proprietary 360-viewer for full-screen internet on high-resolution screens. In addition they make it doable to export flat photos that also look sharp, which you’ll crop and edit within the Theta + app. You may create some actually wonderful photos with an fascinating perspective that may be exhausting to get with a conventional digital camera.

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Indoors in low gentle situations, the Ricoh Theta Z1 nonetheless performs fairly effectively, particularly when in comparison with its rivals, because of these massive 1-inch sensors. Particularly in well-lit indoor environments, similar to within the restaurant instance under, particulars are sharp and clear on the body and colours come out nice.

In settings the place a big a part of the body is darkish or erratically lit, similar to within the Robotic Restaurant in Tokyo under, the outcomes should not almost pretty much as good when utilized in totally automated mode. You may see that there’s some motion within the elements of the scene with motion, and that there’s additionally extra grain seen in elements of the body. Normally, nevertheless, the viewers is pretty well-defined and the colours nonetheless look correct and good regardless of the various completely different tones from completely different sources.

Nevertheless, the Ricoh Theta Z1 nonetheless does its greatest work in clear out of doors environments – which applies to any digital camera, however particularly to cameras with sensors which might be smaller than full-frame or APS-C. It’s nonetheless completely able to capturing photos that you may work with, and offering a good way to go to nice occasions or reminiscences in a extra immersive approach than commonplace 2D photos can obtain.

You may alter settings, together with aperture to optimize your picture recording, and select between f / 2.1, f / 3.5 and f / 5.6, with increased apertures that supply increased decision photos. The built-in lens is designed to scale back ghosting, purple peripheral artifacts and flare, and does this excellently. With RAW recording you may edit DNG information with Lightroom, and it really works amazingly effectively with Lightroom cellular for superior changes on the identical gadget.


The Ricoh Theta Z1 additionally does video – though the specs for the video that it produces are basically unchanged from the Theta V on paper. It may file 4K video with 30 fps / 56 mbps or 2K video with 30 fps / 16mbps and reside stream in each 4K and 2K. There’s a built-in four-channel microphone for immersive audio recording, and it will probably file as much as 40 minutes of 4K or 130 minutes of 2K footage, though every particular person recording session is as much as 5 minutes and 25 minutes for 4K and 2K, respectively.

Ricoh has extra competitors with regards to video within the 360 ​​digital camera sport – Insta 360 & # 39; s One X is a transparent winner on this class and has led this digital camera to even discover some followers in comparison with motion cameras & # 39; s such because the GoPro Hero 7 and the DJI Osmo Motion, largely because of the incredible built-in picture stabilization.

The Ricoh Theta Z1 frankly makes no impression on this. The sensors usually present probably higher picture high quality, however the picture stabilization is completely lacking, as you may see, and total high quality is solely not there when measured in comparison with the Insta360 One X. For a hard and fast set up for real-time reside – streaming, the Ricoh might be extra logical, however video is just not the facility of the gadget and it’s a bit disappointing, given the nonetheless taking pictures expertise.

Features and sharing

The vary of enhancing choices out there through Theta + or utilizing the DNG information in each cellular and desktop picture enhancing software program for the Theta Z1 is great. You may create and assemble photos in numerous methods, together with stickers and textual content that keep on with the body whereas a viewer navigates via the picture. Sharing from the Theta app works instantly with quite a few platforms, together with YouTube, Twitter, Fb and, the place you will get embedable 360 ​​photos, similar to these on this submit above.

Ricoh has executed a superb job and has ensured that you may not solely take the absolute best 360 ​​photos with this digital camera, but in addition share it with others. It additionally leads the best way with regards to the vary of choices you must be artistic with dividing these 7K spherical photos in numerous methods for conventional flat picture output, which isn’t stunning, given the corporate's heritage.

Backside line

Merely put, the Ricoh Theta Z1 is the very best 360 digital camera for pictures that you may purchase for lower than $ 1,000 – even when you squeak under that line. It’s the greatest 360 ° digital camera that you may considerably enhance, given its sensor setup and different technical elements of the gadget, together with the selectable aperture settings and RAW output.

The asking value of $ 999.95 is certainly on the high of this class – the Theta V sells lower than half, as does the Insta360 One X. However I discussed the Sony RX100 above, and the costs are comparable: you will get a compact digital camera for a lot much less cash, together with superb ones, however the newest RX100 at all times has a premium value that persons are prepared to pay for the easiest gadget.

If what you need is the very best 360 ° digital camera available on the market, then the Ricoh Theta Z1 is straightforward, and if that's the precise factor you're on the lookout for, Ricoh has packed lots of superior expertise in a small bundle with the Z1.

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