About 5 months ago, I read on a tech blog that YouTube has started to support 360-degree videos. The news made me curious so I decided to watch a 360-degree video on the popular video streaming website. It was really an awesome experience, the feature gave me options to pan around the footage and look where I want to look, not where the cameraman wanted to show me. After YouTube started supporting these types of videos, a new round of talk was initiated around the world about the future of 360-degree cameras.
You might be surprised to know these types of cameras are available in the market from a long time. The 360 degree has not been popular earlier because there were only a few platforms where one could share 360-degree videos.
Anyway, we are not here to discuss the history of 360 cameras and future of 360-degree videos. The incident that I told in the above lines was just to give you a perspective. The product that we are going to discuss here is the RICOH Theta M15 360 Degree Camera, which is becoming really popular among camera lovers around the world. But before we move on, let me clear one thing that this camera is not meant for professional photography. The whole 360-degree camera technology is in its early stages and so is this camera.
Easy Controls But Annoying To Use
There is no display panel on this camera because of which it becomes a little hard to control the settings efficiently. But do not get me wrong here, the interface of the camera is much simple to get used to. There are just three control buttons on this device that can be used in combination to activate different modes and change the settings. The camera is also equipped with three LED lights that notify the users about different incidents.
However, the main problem arises when the users try to take a shot or capture a video. As there is no viewfinder, so there is no way for you to see what the camera is actually going to capture. You have to just rely on your senses and hope for the best.
Luckily, the Theta M15 offers Wi-Fi connectivity through which users can pair it with a smartphone or a computer. If you find Wi-Fi setup a hard task, then use a micro USB port, which the RICOH has placed on the bottom of this camera.
It looks like the manufacturer has spent the good amount of time in designing this camera. Each and every part of the body of this device seems perfectly crafted for the purpose of enhancing the experience of the users. It weighs in at 95 grams and is so compact that you can easily fit it inside the pocket of a jeans. You even get a tripod mount hole at the bottom of the camera.
The device is also available in multiple color variants including white, blue, yellow and pink.
Great At Stitching Images And Videos
The greatest problem that a 360-degree camera faces is of stitching the images and videos. But the smart software that this camera comes preloaded with is really great at doing that task. The end result is always perfectly smooth videos and images. However, you will get a little artifact at the bottom of the image because the camera itself comes into the way of capturing all the information.
Poor Sensor Quality
I must admit that the two sensors that RICOH has used on the either side of this device are bad at capturing details. The camera fails to collect a decent level of information even when it captures images in 6.4 MP. The quality further degrades in low lighting conditions and noise starts to fill the whole image. Although the device is capable of shooting videos in full HD but the footage will lack sharpness.
Can Be Controlled Using A Smartphone
One of the most interesting features of this camera is that user can control settings with an app that can be installed on a smartphone. Both iOS and Android platforms are supported.
Through the app, you can even change those settings which are not accessible with the control buttons on the camera itself. The Interface provides an option to tweak the ISO, Shutter Speed as well as Compensation. The smartphone app also lets the use of interval shot feature on this camera.
The images that the camera shoots can also be downloaded to the smartphone using the app and its interface allows you to pan the footage in 360 degrees.
If you love 360-degree cameras like I do, then you would definitely want to shoot all day on the Theta M15 and create a digital library. But unfortunately, that is not possible, mainly because the onboard storage is limited to 4GB only and there is not even a micro SD card slot on it. In this limited memory size, you can only store 1200 pictures or 60-minute videos. Another disappointing thing is that only five minutes of video can be recorded in one go. Moreover, the camera captures images in JPEG format and videos in MOV format at a low frame rate of 15 fps.
Bad Battery Life
The storage is not the only deal breaker for the Theta M15. It runs on a really low capacity lithium ion battery. You will only be able to shoot 200 images on a single charge.
- Is capable of recording full HD videos
- Android and iOS apps are available
- ISO and Shutter speed can be changed using the app
- 3 LED indicators
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
- Compact body
- Captures images in 6.4 MP
- Tripod mount
- Interval shooting is also possible
- Comes in 4 colors
- Limited storage
- Cannot record more than 5 minutes of video in one go
- Low capacity battery
- Highly priced
I could not believe that the Theta M15 is such a great device. Its portability and features are unparalleled. However, there is one thing that we cannot ignore, ‘the price’. Not everyone can spend 29499 rupees for a device like this. If RICOH wants this camera to survive in the market, then it will have to bring the price down.