Ricoh Theta S boosts resolution, introduces Google Street View integration
Ricoh has unveiled the latest version of its 360-degree camera, the Theta S. Thanks to two 12MP 1/2.3" sensors, the S is capable of 14MP 360-degree still images, an improvement over the previous model's 6MP images. Brighter F2.0 lenses, 1080/30p video and integration with Google's new Street View app are all on board.
The Theta S uses a refined folded optics design to complement its boost in sensor resolution and, at 8GB, offers twice the built-in storage of the model before it. Given the large dynamic range often encountered in spherical views, the Theta is capable of analyzing multiple frames and performing high dynamic range processing behind the scenes. Its built-in Wi-Fi has seen a speed boost, though that may not mean quicker file transfer as the S's images are larger. HDMI output is provided for live streaming, and the companion app now offers a live preview.
Not only will the Theta S connect to Ricoh's apps via Wi-Fi, Google's newly revamped Street View app will also recognize the camera. As part of an effort to populate Street View with more user-generated content, 360-degree images can be recorded and uploaded to Street View within the new app. Spherical images captured with cameras like the Theta S will be displayed alongside Google's Photo Sphere images, which can be captured using the Street View app itself.
We see this as a smart way for Google to democratize spherical imagery content, which will essentially help them map out the world beyond simple street views, including areas inaccessible by vehicles. And the Open Spherical Camera (OSC) API, led by Ricoh and Google, will ensure that any app that's OSC-compliant will be able to connect to a device like the Theta to capture and upload spherical images.
An aspect of the camera we find particularly exciting is its ability to computationally extract both still and video imagery after-the-fact. Tying in spherical imagery with gyro- and accelerometer measurements the Theta continually records essentially means that you should be able to carry the Theta around with you while recording video, mounted to anything really, and not care about keeping it pointed in any particular direction or stabilizing it. You can then stabilize the video, and pick any field or direction of view, after the fact. Essentially, the gyro data can be used to continually reorient the view, and since it's a spherical view, you have a large degree of freedom in reorienting (unlike traditional 'digital' image stabilization, which crops video significantly). Furthermore, you can 'extract' whatever field-of-view you'd like after the fact, since you always have 360º data. Imagine recording a video of a scene like this, extracting videos or photos looking in whichever direction you choose, after the fact. It might even mean enjoying the moment during the moment, a luxury photographers often don't have!
The Ricoh Theta S will be available in late October for $349. Google's new Street View app is available today for iOS and Android.
Ricoh Unveils Industry's Most Advanced Fully Spherical Portable Camera: RICOH THETA S
Featuring faster lenses, enlarged image sensor and full HD video capabilities
TOKYO and BERLIN, September 3, 2015 — Ricoh announced today the release of the RICOH THETA S, the newest model in the RICOH THETA series of spherical cameras that capture 360-degree scenes surrounding the user. Unveiled today in Berlin at IFA, the world's largest consumer electronics show, the camera features extra-high resolution, fully spherical photos and videos in one simple shot, a live preview function and even greater compatibility with social media platforms.
The RICOH THETA S, which retains the lightweight portability of the current model—the RICOH THETA m15—captures high-resolution spherical images of up to nearly 14 megapixels. It can also record spherical video in full HD (1920 x 1080*1 pixels at 30fps) with a maximum recording time of 25 minutes. The better quality images are enabled by an enlarged image sensor and fast F2.0 lenses to allow more light through Ricoh's proprietary ultra-small twin-lens folded-optical system.
Also, superior image processing technology and bulb mode for long exposures produce spherical still images with less visual static, even in low-light settings.
Spherical images can be uploaded to theta360.com, shared via Facebook™, Twitter™ and Tumblr, and posted to Google Maps™, Google+™ and YouTube™360°Channel. The application program interface (API) for RICOH THETA S is based on Google-supported Open Spherical Camera API for compatibility with Google's services.
Coinciding with the launch of the RICOH THETA S, Google Maps today introduced the new Google Street View app that allows you to capture and publish your photo spheres instantly to Google Maps for people all over the world to explore. The app also offers the ability to shoot photo spheres and to connect to spherical cameras. This new capability to connect to spherical cameras makes it easier than ever to create Google Street View experiences.
The new RICOH THETA S app for smartphones and tablets can be used to configure settings and instantly view spherical photos and video via wirelessly connected devices. An improved Wi-Fi® module transfers data four times faster than the current RICOH THETA model.
The RICOH THETA S also boasts a fully updated design and user interface. Usability has been improved with an elegant but practical sure-grip black rubber coating and handy face-mounted LED mode indicator. Internal memory has been increased to 8GB.
The original RICOH THETA was launched in 2013 as the world's first mass-produced camera to capture fully spherical images. Since then, the series has inspired a unique genre of visual creativity for capturing everyday scenes from an all-new perspective.
The RICOH THETA S will go on sale at a base price of USD 349 (or equivalent) from late October in Europe (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, Turkey, and the UK), North America (Canada, Mexico, and the United States), and Asia-Pacific (Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand). Ricoh Imaging will market the RICOH THETA S, which was developed and manufactured by Ricoh.
Quotes from Ricoh, Ricoh Imaging and Google Maps
Wataru Ohtani, Ricoh's Corporate Associate Vice President and General Manager of the New Business and Platform Development Center, said: “Ricoh pioneered the spherical camera market and thereby revolutionized how people view the world. This new model offers even higher image quality than before to satisfy both early adopters and people who enjoy communicating creatively through social media.”
Noboru Akahane, Ricoh Imaging's President and CEO, said: “We are delighted to offer users increased value and richer 360-degree experiences with our new RICOH THETA S. The model's enhanced image quality and other exciting new features are sure to expand the scope of RICOH THETA fans in all-new fields.”
Charles Armstrong, Google Maps Product Manager, said: “The Street View app allows people all over the world to explore user contributions, Google's own imagery, and their own published photo spheres through a seamless world map of landscapes, landmarks, business interiors and more. The RICOH THETA S is a great tool to create this imagery, and we hope it inspires people to contribute to the map.”
*1. 1920 x 960 when playing back
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from Ricoh Challenge
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