The Theta looks so simple it's hard to imagine how it works. You hold it up, click the button and it captures a spherical panoramic image in an instant. There's none of the panning, spinning or stitching you might expect from a conventional camera.
The secret lies in the super-wideangle lenses on either side of the body. They face in opposite directions and each one captures a 180-degree image – the camera then stitches the two images together to produce a seamless 360-degree view of the world.
Built-in wi-fi means you can transfer this to your iOS or Android smartphone and display these 360-degree images in the Ricoh Theta app.
You can also upload them to Ricoh's theta360.com website and pan and zoom around your 360-degree panoramic images in a web browser.
All this, and video too
What's new in the M15 is the video capability. It's now possible to shoot 360-degree videos up to three minutes long. That sounds like a lot of data, but Ricoh says the wi-fi speed is now almost twice that of the original Theta's. And if you think the plain white model isn't quite exciting enough, you can also get it in blue, pink and yellow.
If you want to see what it can do, take a look at the sample shots on the theta360.com website. The quality is hardly up to professional immersive VR standards, but given the Theta's cost and utter simplicity of operation, they look pretty impressive.
You can use the camera handheld – just hold it out and press the button – or fix it to a tripod using the screw thread in the base (you can also attach it to a strap). Power comes from a built-in lithium-ion cell which you charge via USB.
Ricoh says the Theta M15 will be available from November 14th 2014 for £270/US$435/AU$494 (approximate conversions).
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