There weren’t always a plethora of options and products available to photograph 360° images. But now there are, and which one is best for you? In this blog, we’ll compare the 3 leading consumer based 360° spherical cameras on the market or are “Coming Soon” the market. They are the Ricoh Theta, the Bublcam, and the Panono. We want to know which of the 3 is easiest to use and which has the best quality. To be clear, we have only put our hands on the Ricoh Theta and not the Panono or the Bublcam. Also we are only really comparing the 360° panoramic still image capabilities and not the other features the cameras come with.
The Ricoh Theta offers the best portability for users who prefer something simple and easy to carry and handle. Although the Bublcam and Panono are not far off either. All of camera can fit in the palm of your hand. The Panono seems like it will take the ‘quality’ trophy and the Bubl, we think will be somewhere in the middle of each as it relates to quality of imagery.
Let’s start by looking at the Ricoh Theta. The Ricoh Theta is probably the most well known and oldest 360° spherical camera.
The device is as light as 95g and has a dimension in range of 42mm (W) x 129mm (H) x 22.8mm. At this size, you can see how the device can easily fit into your pocket. That’s about as portable as it gets. The Ricoh Theta’s achilles heel is certainly the image quality. With a dismal (for 360° panoramic photography) 5 to 5.6 mp, it leaves you teased for better images.
In terms of quality, we move to the other end of the spectrum. The Panono…
The Panono provides the highest level of pixels at 108mp. This is mainly because of the amount of cameras used to capture all 360 degrees of the photo. Without actually testing it for ourselves, we feel that the high quantity of lenses could have drawback. More cameras will ultimately mean more stitching. More stitching means the product will have a greater chance of producing an image with errors. But as explained earlier, these are just assumptions based on the available public information. We have not completed any hard tests and we are overall very optimistic that Panono has already resolved these.
Let’s not forget about the Bublcam.
The Bublcam’s image quality seems to be comparable with both The Ricoh Theta and the Panono, From viewing image samples, I would say the quality much better than the Ricoh Theta, but slightly behind the Panono. The Bublcam’s reported 14mp combined image sensor is double the Ricoh Theta’s, but a far cry from Panono’s 104mp behometh image file. When considering power and operation hours, the Bublcam is a clear leader with a 3.7 lithium-ion battery coupled with options for a USB and a power adaptor.
All 3 Offer
All 3 spherical cameras offer a few things in common. All are easy to use and are suited for consumer use. Each come share functional responsibilities with their respective mobile apps and all 3 have a viewer for sharing the interactive panoramas. This is of course where we feel all 3 fall short. The cameras need a more robust sharing and virtual tour creation platform like Spinattic.com
Ricoh Theta Image Sample: http://www.theverge.com/2013/9/5/4698682/ricoh-theta-panorama-camera-sample-photos
Bublcam Image Sample: http://bubl.io/experiences/147fe0bc-8bc0-401d-bd47-d653e2744abb
Panono Image Sample: https://www.panono.com/#/en/panorama/2848
Below is a table that may better provide a understanding on the features and factors that make these 360° cameras distinct from each other. Please share your questions and views about various features!
|Field View||4 x 190°||360°||na|
|Object distance||25 cm||na||10 cm|
|Camera Pixels||14 mp||108 mp||–|
|Image Mode||JPG, 14 mp, Multiplex * 3840p * 3840p||na||Still image: Auto, shutter priority, ISO priority *5,
|Exposure Control Mode||Auto||Auto||Auto|
|Exposure compensation||na||na||Still image: Manual compensation (-2.0 – +2.0EV, 1/3EV step) *5|
|ISO sensitivity||na||na||Still image: ISO 100 to 1600,
Video: ISO 100 to 400
|White balance mode||na||na||Still image: Auto, outdoors, shade, cloudy, incandescent lamp 1, incandescent lamp 2, daylight color fluorescent lamp, natural white fluorescent lamp, white fluorescent lamp, light bulb color fluorescent lamp*5,
|Shutter speed||na||na||Still image: 1/8000 sec. to 1/7.5 sec.
Video: 1/8000 sec. to 1/15 sec.
|Memory||64 mb flash||16 GB||Internal, appx 4GB|
|Number of photos that can be recorded, time *1||na||na||Still image: Approx. 1200,
Video (time per recording): Max. 5 minutes *7,
Video (total recording time): Approx. 60 minutes. *6 *7
|Power source||3.7V LiPo at 1560mAh, Approx. 2h, Mini USB 2.0 port with USB cable + power adapter||USB Charge||Lithium ion battery (built in) *2|
|Battery life||na||na||Approx. 200 photos *3|
|Image file format||na||na||Still image: JPEG (Exif Ver. 2.3), DCF2.0 compliant,
MOV (Video: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, Audio: LinearPCM)
|External interface||USB, microSD||na||microUSB: USB2.0|
|Exterior/external dimensions||80mm (3.14″)
|na||42mm (W) x 129mm (H) x 22.8mm (17.4 mm *4) (D)|
|Weight||280 g||480 g||Approx. 95g|
|Usage temperature range||(-15° to 40° C)||na||0°C – 40°C|
|Usage humidity range||na||na||90% or less|
|Storage temperature range||0° to 25° C||na||(-20°C – 60°C)|
|Storage Capacity||4GB – 32GB Class 10
UHS-1 microSD card
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