Ricoh Theta V Review: Build & Handling

Build & Handling

  • Small enough to take everywhere, but built to last

The Ricoh Theta V carries on that classic Theta shape, which has been adopted by others, but is distinctly Ricoh. Theta cameras always remind me of the monolith from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, but with a rounded top.

And having used all of the Theta cameras now, what I love about them is their portability. The Theta V – like its predecessors – will slip into the pocket of your jeans and you won’t even notice it’s there.

I went to a PTA event for my kids’ school at a local pub where we played skittles (sort of like bowling for those American readers who may be scratching their heads), and I was able to bowl and socialise, removing the camera from my pocket at opportune times, and it was all just so easy.

Again, like its predecessors, button layout – as minimalist as it may be – is largely the same. On the rear camera side of the Theta V is a shutter button, and below that are indicator lamps for Photo mode, Video mode and to indicate when WiFi is turned on.

On one side is a Power button, followed by a Wireless button to enable WiFi and a Mode button to cycle between Photo and Video.

Underneath the Theta V is a standard tripod mount along with a microphone port that is new to the body design and allows you to plug in Ricoh’s new TA-1 microphone.

The body is plastic – though the dual f/2.0 fisheye lenses are made of glass – but this keeps the camera light. Like previous Theta cameras, the Ricoh Theta V feels robust, yet pocketable, which is a really difficult balance to achieve and is one of the reasons I’m a fan of this range.

Is the Ricoh Theta V waterproof?

  • No, the Ricoh Theta V is not waterproof.

However, Ricoh has launched at the same time a new dedicated waterproof housing for the Theta V called the TW-1, which is priced £179.99.

This is perhaps where you might find that 360 cameras like the GoPro Fusion or Garmin VIRB 360 earn their higher price tag. These are 360 and action cameras in one which you can bring with you wherever you go.

The Ricoh Theta V is small enough to travel with you… but you can’t take it everywhere.

What’s more, the Garmin and GoPro cameras are much more versatile thanks to the diverse mounts available for them. You can put the Fusion on your car or the Garmin on your bike helmet. The Theta V has a tripod mount and that expensive new waterproof housing. But for those really novel perspectives you’ll have to get creative.

Connecting the Ricoh Theta V to your smartphone

If you prefer to shoot remotely via the app – which gives you more control – you’ll then need to press the wireless button and open the Ricoh Theta S app (yes, you use the same app as the previous camera), which you’ll need to download if you haven’t.

When the app is open you’ll see a little Theta icon thumbnail on the bottom right of your screen. Tap this and you’ll be prompted to connect to the Theta.

When you tap to connect, you’ll be brought to your phone’s WiFi menu, where you’ll need to find your camera’s serial number, preceded by the word THETA, in the network options.

The password will be the serial number printed on the bottom of the Theta V.

Once connected (it will say ‘Connected, No Internet’, but don’t worry – you’re all set), navigate back to the Theta S app and your live view screen should spring to life.

From here you can start exploring the different settings menus. Ricoh has added some handy noise reduction and HDR rendering options, and in the shooting options you can also choose Interval and Bracketing modes.

The app is still a mixed bag for me, if I’m honest. It’s fantastic for taking photos and videos. It’s simple and intuitive to use, and you have quite a few manual controls at your disposal. I found I had a lot more control over the look of my images and videos this time around with the Theta V than I did with the Theta S and SC.

But it still crashes quite a bit since I last used it. And transferring files isn’t as straightforward as it seems. For instance, shooting images with the camera’s shutter button, saves them to the Theta V. Makes sense. Shooting with the app saves them to your phone. Again, makes sense.

Given the manual controls and visual ability to compose, you can assume that your best images will be shot via the app. However, the images on your phone can only be shared to Facebook or Twitter. Images on the camera itself can be shared to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Gmail, Google Photos or downloaded straight to an SD card in your device. Much handier.

There is a way out, though, for getting those images off your phone if you shot via the app. If you download the Theta+ app, this lets you open your ‘Device images’ shot with the app and apply filters, crops and other simple edits. At the end of this process you can then share them with that wider range of networks.

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Verdict

There are a lot of things I like about the Ricoh Theta V, and then there are some niggles that have persisted from model to model in the Theta line and haven’t been fixed. And the thing is, most of them are all app-based issues, which should be easier to fix.

I love the image and video quality that the Theta V provides. Read my review of the Ricoh Theta S and I gushed at its colour rendition and detail, and Ricoh has improved on these greatly with the Theta V.

On these criteria alone, the Ricoh Theta V could very well be the best consumer 360 camera on the market today. If the GoPro Fusion’s and Garmin VIRB 360’s 5.2K and 5.7K, respectively, are just numbers to you, and you’re not interested in upgrading your memory cards or computer and buying new storage drives to house 4GB 1-minute videos, let alone the higher price tag, the Ricoh Theta V is the camera for you. Or possibly the Insta360 ONE.

The Ricoh Theta V nails the fundamentals and does it in a body that’s feather-weight and more portable than most car keys these days.

But the apps could be a lot less buggy and make it simpler to get your content.

And what would really set the Ricoh Theta V apart would be a waterproof design and a range of mounts

 

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