One-Click 360

We humans are limited in how much we see through our limited field of view. This is reflected in the technology we’ve created through history – binoculars, traditional cameras, telescopes. More recently, cellphones combined with some smart software and has enabled us forward-looking humans to capture a scene all around us, in 360 degrees, for posterity. Problem is, this kind of tech requires the user to rotate around a center point to capture everything, and this makes for some humorous looks and awkward situations.

P2410630.JPGThe Ricoh Theta m15, and other devices similar to it, aims to remove the need to capture this 360 degree view in multiple steps. Instead, the whole scene around it is taken in one single click of its button, granting anyone with a smartphone the ability to capture everything all around you without looking like a human merry-go-round. How is it done? Let’s find out.

P2410635Looking at it, the Ricoh Theta m15 resembles the neuralizer from the Men in Black franchise. It has one main capture button, a Wi-Fi switch, and a power button. There are holes on the top edge for audio pickup, a standard tripod screw mount and a USB connector at the bottom, and of course a pair of bulbous glass domes on both sides of its body. The domes are the front elements of dual 180-degree “fisheye” lenses that enable the m15 to capture everything around itself except the actual body of the camera, so it simply “disappears” from the picture and captures everything else.

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Note that these pics must be viewed through a dedicated viewer for the 360 effect.
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Taken using the m15’s on-board button
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Picture shot remotely using the android app

By “everything else” I mean including the guy or gal pressing the capture button on the Theta, if you go that route. There is another method for capturing photos designed into the m15: connectivity and control through a smartphone through WiFi. This feature neatly solves two issues at the same time; it sidesteps the m15’s lack of a screen, and also gives the user the ability to trigger the camera remotely, thus avoiding a show of huge thumbnails and giant hands when the on-camera button is used. It also enables the user to appear like just another subject in the screen – perfect for environmental shots.

The m15’s Android/iOS app also comes with intermediate camera controls such as white balance, shutter or ISO priority, and time lapse for multiple shots.The m15 is also capable of capturing video, up to a maximum of 5 minutes per clip until the 4GB on-board storage space is consumed. These video clips can be spliced together and edited through Ricoh’s Theta+ app, which was announced on our facebook page and available through this link.

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The dual fisheye lenses in all of its glory

While I feel that there’s not enough resolution to cover a 360 degree view, captures are fine for what they’re meant for – fun captures and casual photos that skip the long process of panning a camera and opens up opportunities for the fast (or impatient) snapper. The Ricoh Theta m15 retails for around $200 – not pocket change, but expected for a specialized device capable of eliciting surprise and admiration even with its low resolution.

 

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Card for comparison
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USB connector and standard tripod mount
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Audio pickup
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“Front” portion with capture button
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Packaging

The biggest thing going for this device is how accessible it is. Sure, there are free apps you can use on your cellphone that will probably give better results resolution wise, but at the cost of time. The m15 does this with a single button press, connecting to a device you most probably already own, then sharing from the same device seamlessly. Its accessibility is not just due to the ease of use – but also to the ease of sharing it through the increasingly popular Facebook feature for displaying panoramic shots. Overall, the m15’s useability trumps concerns about its technical performance – it’s a small price to pay to increase our view by all the degrees of a circle with just one click of a button.

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Ready for the world!

Stay stuck on this page for future 360 degree coverage of sights around the world!

To see a sample of a 360 degree capture in a dedicated viewer, check the link here:

360 Tech Ph. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

 

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