Ricoh Theta SC: Entry level for 360-degree photography

The Ricoh Theta SC's images are as sharp and detailed as the S's.
The Ricoh Theta SC's images are as sharp and detailed as the S's.PHOTO: RICOH

The Ricoh Theta SC is a cheaper version of the Theta S ($628).

The Theta S - successor to Theta m15 - uses two 12-megapixel 180-degree cameras to produce 14-megapixel 360-degree still images, up from its predecessor's 6-megapixel output. It has 8GB of internal memory, compared with m15's 4GB, for storing those 360-degree photos and videos.

The Theta SC (I wonder if the C stands for cheaper) has exactly the same specifications as the flagship model, despite being priced $140 lower than the S.

However, the SC does not have a micro-HDMI port for live streaming. Not everyone is an aspiring YouTube star or a journalist needing to live stream an event, so this omission makes sense.

In addition, the SC has a continuous video-recording time of only 5min, instead of the S's 25min. I do not think anyone will take such a long 360-degree video unless you are covering an event or concert.

The SC has a plastic shell, while the Theta S has a rubber coating. It also means the SC is 23g lighter.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $488

    IMAGE SENSOR: 2 x 12-megapixel

    LENS: 2 x 180-degree f/2.0

    SENSITIVITY: ISO 100 to 1,600

    CONNECTIVITY: Wi-Fi

    WEIGHT: 102g


    RATING

    FEATURES: 3/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Otherwise, the SC looks just like the S. It has a slim body with a 180-degree lens on both its front and back. The two lenses work together to capture a 360-degree shot when you press the shutter-release button in front (with the Ricoh logo facing you).

The Power, Wi-Fi and Photo/Video buttons are on one side of the camera. At its bottom, there is a micro-USB port for charging and transferring images to your computer.

Press the Photo/Video button to toggle between still image and movie recording, as long as the camera is powered on.

As there is no display, you use the free Ricoh Theta S app (Android and iOS) as a viewfinder.

Sync your smartphone to the camera via Wi-Fi and launch the app. The app gives you more control. For instance, you can compensate for exposure. You can switch from Auto mode to the ISO-priority or Shutter-priority modes.

You can also place the SC on the ground or on a tripod and shoot remotely with the app, so you will not be in the frame.

The app allows you to view those 360-degree images and transfer them to your smartphone. If you look at the 360-degree images in the gallery of your smartphone, they will look truncated.

But you can use the Theta+ app (Android and iOS) that allows you to edit and save the 360-degree pictures as JPEG files so that you can post them on social media or share them with your friends.

As far as I can tell, the SC's 360-degree images are as sharp and detailed as the S's. Even if you shoot at the maximum ISO 1,600 setting, images are good enough for Web use.

A full charge of the battery allows for 260 still images - same as on the S - average for a digital compact camera.

Trevor Tan

• Verdict: The Ricoh Theta SC is an affordable entry-level 360-degree camera for anyone who wishes to dabble with 360-degree photography.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2016, with the headline 'Ricoh Theta SC: Entry level for 360-degree photography'. Print Edition | Subscribe