Ricoh’s Theta Z1 360-degree camera promises to significantly improve the one big area where other consumer spherical cameras fail: Image quality.
Theta cameras have advanced in many ways since they, but they’ve all been saddled with the same tiny 1- or 2.3-inch image sensors, which really limits their photo and video quality. The Z1 is the first to use two, 1-inch image sensors to capture 23-megapixel-resolution 360-degree still images and digitally stabilized 4K spherical video (3,840×1,920-pixel resolution at 29.97fps) with a bit rate of 56Mbps. Ricoh says it can live stream in 4K as well at a bit rate of 120Mbps.
The larger sensors are roughly four times the size of the old sensors and should give the Z1 better dynamic range and reduced noise at night and in low-light conditions indoors. The camera is also its first to have a variable-aperture mechanism letting you select from f2.1, f3.5 and f5.6, so you can step down and potentially improve detail sharpness.
Another first for the Z1 is support for Adobe DNG format (raw). There’s also a new plug-in — Ricoh Theta Stitcher — for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC letting you import, edit and stitch your spherical photos.