The Ricoh Theta V 360-degree camera is the successor to the Theta S that was launched in late 2015.
Looks-wise, not much has changed with the Theta V, compared with its predecessor.
It has a slim candy-bar body, with a 180-degree lens on both its front and back. You can 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 Mode (for toggling between photo and video recording) buttons are on one side of the camera. At its bottom, there is a microphone jack and a micro-USB port for charging its battery and transferring images to your computer.
Like its predecessor, the Theta V uses two 12-megapixel image sensors with two 180-degree lens to produce 14-megapixel 360-degree still images. However, it now supports 4K (3,840 x 1,920 pixels) 360-degree video recording at 30 frames per second (fps). It also supports 4K 360-degree live streaming.
In addition, its maximum ISO sensitivity has been bumped up to ISO 3,200 for still images and ISO 6,400 for videos, from ISO 1,600 for both in the Theta S. Higher sensitivity reduces the image blurriness caused by camera shake when shooting in dark environments.
Its internal storage has been increased to 19GB (from 8GB in the Theta S). But I still think having a microSD card slot would have been better, as it would allow users to increase the storage capacity at any time.
IMAGE SENSOR: 2 x 12-megapixel
LENS: 2 x 180-degree f/2.0
SENSITIVITY: ISO 64 to 3,200 (still image)/6,400 (video)
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
BATTERY LIFE: 3/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5
While previous Theta models support only Wi-Fi connectivity, the Theta V finally has Bluetooth, in addition to Wi-Fi. This way, you do not need to lose Wi-Fi Internet connectivity when transferring images from the Theta to your smartphone via the Theta S app (available for Android and iOS).
The Theta S app also doubles up as a remote viewfinder since the Theta V does not have a display. Its working range is around 10m.
However, you have to first connect the Theta V to your smartphone via Wi-Fi, before you are able to connect with Bluetooth. You also have to use the app to switch to Bluetooth. It is just too troublesome. I ended up sticking to using Wi-Fi instead.
Ricoh said the transfer speed over Wi-Fi is 2.5 times faster than with the Theta S. While I did not have a Theta S to test this, I remember from using it in the past that the speed increase is even faster than that. I recalled having to wait for a minute to transfer one photo with the Theta S. With the Theta V, the transfer is done within five seconds.
The Theta V's still-image quality is no different from its predecessor's. Most of the photos I took were beautifully stitched, without visible seams. Colours were vivid, with great dynamic range. But I did find photos taken in dim lighting and with a high ISO setting to be a tad "noisy".
The video quality of the Theta V is much improved. While I used to see pixelation in video footage - even in bright sunlight - taken by the Theta S, I do not see these noise artefacts with the Theta V. Videos look crisp, whether shot in bright or dimly lit conditions.
Like most digital cameras, the Theta V's battery life is average at around 300 still images or 80 minutes of video footage on a full charge.
•Verdict: Apart from its dated design, the Ricoh Theta V is still a great camera for enthusiasts and anyone who wants to dabble in 360-degree photography.