Ricoh wants to make shooting a 360 photo — and viewing one — just as easy as using an old-school point-and-shoot. On Tuesday, November 19, Ricoh announced the Theta SC2, an entry-level 360 camera that brings new just-for-360 auto modes, along with an upcoming trick that will allow anyone to view the resulting files, even without a 360 viewer.
The Ricoh Theta SC2 uses upgraded sensors and a new processor from the original SC, allowing the camera to capture 4K video at 30 fps, albeit only for three minutes at a time. The 360 camera can also snap 14-megapixel stills, or longer 2K videos. The camera uses two f/2 fish eye lenses and internal stitching to create that 360 view.
Designed as the point-and-shoot of 360 cameras, the Theta SC2 includes a handful of auto modes that require no user input outside of actually switching the mode. A faces mode puts the people in the shot front and center, while also applying some skin-smoothing algorithms. Night view helps reduce noise in low-light scenes. Normally, the 360 camera uses consistent exposure settings from both of the lenses, but the lens-by-lens exposure mode allows the lenses to be adjusted separately for a better exposure in high contrast scenes.
The mode is displayed on the camera’s OLED at the base or grip part of the camera body. The screen also displays the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection status, as well as how much of the 260-shot battery is remaining. The controls are kept simple with a shutter release and a separate shutter release with a selfie timer.
The camera pairs with a smart device using Wi-Fi for all functions, including live view, as well as Bluetooth for remotely triggering the camera. Transfers are about four times faster than the SC thanks to a change in the process that corrects the video at playback rather than during transfer.
While the camera is designed to be simple enough for anyone to use, Ricoh also wants to make the resulting photos available for anyone to view. Animation Photo is a feature coming to the app that pans around the 360 view as a Live Photo (on iOS) or video (on Android), allowing anyone to view the whole image without a 360 viewer. The mode displays a static image until the photo is tapped, which launches the animation that reveals the rest of the 360 view. The Animation Photo mode is planned for a spring 2020 update and isn’t yet available at launch.
Ricoh has not yet shared pricing or ship date for the Theta SC2.