As I concluded in my review of the original Theta, being able to snap spherical images is lots of fun and quite a conversation starter, but the device is something of a one-trick-pony niche product. I did predict that a video-capable model was in the offing when I noticed six small indents at the top and confirmed with Ricoh that non-functioning microphones were included. Now that spherical video recording is possible, I reckon that this attractive little handy cam could well manage to shake off the niche branding I gave it earlier.
Like the original, the fish-eye lenses on either side of the block body capture just over 180 degrees of scenery each, and the resulting images are stitched together for left to right and up and down spherical goodness with no stitch lines. Users can press the soft-touch button on the front to record a scene or use the Theta app for remote shooting. Stitching together video footage from the two lenses does require the use of a Windows/Mac software application though.
The Theta m15 features auto exposure control, ISO 100 to 1600 sensitivity for still images and 100 to 400 for video, and fast 1/8000 per second shutter speed in both modes. The m15 also allows for wireless transfer of images from device to smartphone at almost twice the speed of the original.
There's 4 GB of internal memory, which should be enough to store 1,200 still images in the JPEG format or a total video recording time of 40 minutes (MPEG-4 format supported by Linear PCM audio), but you can only record in 3 minute blocks. And the integrated Li-Ion battery is reported good for about 200 stills between charges.
The new Theta m15 is available for pre-order now in blue, pink, white or yellow for US$299.95, with availability scheduled for November 14. At the same time, Ricoh is releasing an API and SDK, which will allow users and developers to create custom apps and add new capabilities to the Theta.
The promo video below shows what the new Theta is capable of.
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