This reviews describes the Ricoh Theta S in the context of Mapillary. This will give more info about some aspects and less about others.
- Reasonably priced.
- Good image
- Best stitching
- Good form factor
- Battery lasts for 500-600 images.
- Min 8 seconds between images in timelapse mode
- Slow getting images off
- Slow deletion process
- GPS tagging is unusable for Mapillary.
The camera is reasonable priced. The image quality and resolution could be better, but for the price it is very good. The spherical image is stitched from 2 images and the stitch line is not seen in general. There are always issues in the bottom (where the camera removes itself) and often in trees and foliage.
Form factor is nice and fits in a pocket. It comes with a neopren pouch, which will prevent the lenses from being scratched but not from damage. I always put it in a plastic box. The camera can be triggered using a button or an app. It is hard to avoid moving the camera when pressing the button, and use the app when the light is less than perfect. Tip: In the app, disable preview and postview to get it ready again as soon as possible.
At the highest resolution it can be set to take an image every 8 seconds, in a lower every 5 seconds. This is fine for walking, but on a bicycle I would at least use another camera to supplement the images.
Position will be tagged on the images if the camera is connected with the app (and the setting is enabled). Unfortunately the app takes the position raw from the GPS, so any GPS error ends up in the images. In my latest 3 smart phones, I some times see that the GPS jumps between where I am and a point up to 100 meters away. Perhaps one time, perhaps 10 times. The app will also record this, which means you cannot trust the tagging. Use your favorite loggin app (hint: OsmAnd for Android) and geotag the usual way.
When you get the camera, update the firmware. The factory version is buggy and very unstable. It cannot be done using the Android app! Only Windows and Mac. That is dumb, because the only ting the Windows app does, is that it uploades a file to the Theta S.
Getting images off the camera is slow. Wifi is very slow, both to copy and delete. It works better to plug it into a computer.
I would not get it to work reliably under Linux, but it works fine under Windows. Using an USB OTG cable I have end up plugging it into my Android phone. The standard transfer mode is very unstable too (I guess they have hacked their way to get it to run under Windows and Mac) but there is a secret trick: Turn the device off. Hold the wifi-button and shutter button in at the same time. Then connect the camera to the phone/computer. Then it will enter the good old USB mass storage device mode in read-only mode. My Android 6 will only look for new USB devices if I press a special button, so here I can attach all cables, press the key combo on the Theta and it will be found. It will only transfer with 5-6 MB/s (Usb 1.1 can do 10 MB/s) so it is slow.
I delete images using wifi. This is a pain too, because the app will start fetching thumbnails of all images. Then I have to press a select all button (a process that takes along time) and then finally the deletion can start, which can easily be 30 min for 1000 images.
The camera have an auto mode, a fully manual, an ISO priority and shutter speed priority. Be careful using anything but auto. If you e.g. say shutter speed must be 200/s, then if the light is too bright the image will be overexposed. This is not a problem with the camera. Any camera with this setting will do the same. It just does what you tell it: Shutter speed 200/s. The manual modes are great if you knows what you are doing and can use the preview.
The camera holds 1600 images, which is enough for walking for 3½ hours straight. You then have to offload them - an USB OTG cable is good. Remember to offload during any significant break and have a battery power supply for both phone and camera when shooting.
Later I will write some mounting tips.
Uploading to Mapillary
Just as with an action camera. Python scripts or the web. The camera has an open standard API, so perhaps Mapillary will support it some day?
With the current state of the technology I think this is a great camera for Mapillary. I think it is the best way to take images for Mapillary, because it shows everything. It with 1 images / 8 seconds it will kill your stats brutally, so no more top 5 in your country.