Share your thoughts or experiences with 360 cameras

I ordered the Ricoh Theta S. I also was tempted by the Kodak Pixpro SP360. Half dome seems enough for Mapillary and it seems more elaborated than the Theta.
I did not buy the Kodak because =

  • there is only a short mention of the GPS capability via smartphone
  • I already have an action cam (Garmin VIRB XE)
  • sticking up the Theta seems easier
  • I don’t know for sure if it will work for mly

Congratulations, I hope you will be satisfied with it

Three days ago got a Ricoh Theta S from Amazon. It makes a good picture, even in night. The image quality simlar to Asus Nexus 7 photospheres, but without blurry frames.

Some issues.

  • There is a 3 constantly working bright LED on body, so pedestrian necessarily notices camera. I need to patch this a black electrical tape.
  • Good news: camera have a REST-interface. Bad news: all settings and viewfinding goint through WiFI and this interface.
  • Camera have a speaker, with use only for shutter sound. You can not turn off this sound in default app. Fortunately you can use REST-interface, it has a command to turn off sound. There is a some app in Play Market, but it not works for two devices. So i run a REST-client at my smartphone, and send some json code to camera.
  • Lenses are bright, so i could make a photo even in night (in center of Moscow, with power street lamps and new year illumination). But image have noise in dark areas, even at ISO 100.

My samples:, and on flickr:


I have my Ricoh Theta S for four weeks now and it is time to share my thoughts. I photographed intersections and bridges. I used it on a tripod, a pole, a selfie stick and my bare hand. I never moved and used the automatic exposure settings with the highest resolution. On the bottom of the camera there is a micro USB, a quarter inch screw and a HDMI socket. I measured the heart to heart distance to be 12 mm. So you need plugs with a small footprint if you want to load the battery while it is attached. I have not found a streaming application yet.

One picture takes 4MB disk space and the optional XMP data demands another 300 KB. The Theta desktop program needs 4 seconds to decompress it. I don’t know if Mly has a use for the XMP data. Anyway, if you want it, you have to write it afterwards, file by file.

The wifi on the Theta S works rather well. But of course as so many devices want to wifi with my smartphone, it happens that I have to restart the smartphone. The temptation to take a not geotagged picture without all the hassle of preparing two devices is high.
This is an Open Street Map node, a postbox.
Look in the data for the node, the tag “source_ref” links to

Allow me to be negative and to show bad pictures as a lesson for us all.
Here the pole was not held straight and we have a bit of slant. It is possible to straighten that afterwards.

The longitudinal form of the Theta S had the advantage that you can easily stick it through meshes. But behind the mesh the device has to be vertical as Mly does not correct this.

The quality of the Theta S pictures is acceptable. You can read the letters on the streets signs if you zoom in from not too far.
But look at how Mly deteriorates the image quality. The letters are illegible and the landscape hurts the eye.

I tried to get better pictures of some objects with a HDR app, but that did not help.

I thought the ground distance between the pictures could be longer for them to connect in Mly. But strangely, that is not the case.
With the Mly web upload, all files must be geotagged, or the upload will stall. Usually I uploaded 5 files at a time, but 29 files is also possible (on a good day?).

There is still a lot to tell which is not Mapillary related. I suggest you have a look on Facebook.

As a courtesy to all of you, I wrote the text on Microsoft Word in order not to give you spelling errors.


Thanks for the Theta input @filipc and @trolleway

We are planning to add the Theta WiFi control interface to the apps as soon as we can. Will remember to turn off the sound! (ping @Anders )

I don’t own a Theta, but I plan to buy one at some point this year.

Can you take pictures automatically every X seconds, or do you have to manually press the button to shoot a picture?

Interval shooting 8 seconds.
I have not tried it as I shoot standing still.
With a Theta Wifi control interface from mly the interval could be much less as the cause for this long time is the stitching process.
The stitching could take place at a later moment.

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I am not sure of what is possible.
I don’t even think that the quality and possibilities of the Theta S are worth putting much effort into.

The Garmin VIRB XE is worth an effort.

Today I web manually uploaded +100 theta pictures in one go. It was on UTP, not by WIFI. By the way, have a look at Manneken Pis.

I did another 130 on WIFI and it went well.

I did a first test interval shooting 8 seconds while walking without stopping during sunset and I am surprised with the acceptable quality of the original pictures. It was not in narrow streets.


I also tested the 8 second interval. It works allright while walking out in the open, but then the resolution gets an issue because the interesting objects are relativly far away.

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So I have been practicing with the Ricoh Theta S that I will use on my long walk. For now, I have been using a selfie stick holding it high, but as noted above, I am in every shot. I am thinking about cutting a small piece of paper to put between the camera and the selfie stick in just the right position so that I (but almost nothing else) am blocked out from the view. Any thoughts on that?

I think you are using the same camera i borrowed of Mapillary.
Some tips:

  • The selfiestick makes it difficult to keep the camera pointing in the right direction (and that is important even whith a 360 camera. Mounting a small horisontal bar on the stick should make it easier.
  • I also tried mounting a small disc between camera and sefiestick, but thought it was more annoying to have the disc in every picture, just wear a dark baseball cap or cowboy had.
  • Try to adjust the mount so you can connect a usb cable (it should fit). It is nice to keep the battery loaded.
  • I found it is better to hold the stick in the front (around your breast) then on your back.

Would a small disc be less annoying than this?
This is the setup I will use for a 1,000 km walk I’ll start in about a week so I might end up in quite a lot of shots :smile:


No problem. The less you hide, the better.
The only problem is the picture size.
You could use a rectangular disc :smile:

Interesting testing results @filipc , @Harry and @Ainali . Now the picture quality (namely resolution + capture interval) needs go up one notch and the prices come down another :smile:
But really neat as is already!

Just saw the 360Fly in Denmark at In an earlier post I wrote “looks promising and seems to have everything we need” but now I cannot find time lapse photos in the specifications or manuals. The closest in the FAQ is a guide to grab images from recorded video. So unless anybody knows something I don’t, it does not look like a good Mapillary camera.

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What about Gear 360, review are promising

I think this is best option to 800$

I have been reading a lot about Gear 360. Here are what people say (compared to Ricoh Theta S):


  • Best picture and resolution
  • Has an SD card (Ricoh only has 8 GB internal)
  • Many options


  • The app only works with some of Samsung high end phones. The basic modes can be changed directly on the camera, but forget about stuff like time lapse interval (important for Mapillary) and image resolution. The app is necessary to get any firmware updates to the camera - one should already improve image quality.
  • Ball shaped - does not fit into a pocket.
  • Much more visible stitching lines than both Ricoh and LG.

I have not been able to dig up reliable information about time lapse, neither timing nor resolution. I don’t know if it will make a video instead of jpgs, only make video resolution or it is full resolution pictures.

I will say: If you have one of the supported phones go Samsung. Else go Ricoh Theta S.

Edit: While Samsung has this very closed platform, Ricoh has a completely open REST API, so developers can easily write a lot of cool software. We could hope that Mapillary would integrate with this API! claims that the Gear 360 images will only be stitched together if you have a Samsung phone - i.e. it happens in the phone and not the camera. Such a mode would definately make it possible to shoot time lapse far faster, but for a good Mapillary session you might have to keep the phone stitching all night?

I lack a lot of info about Gear 360, but the close ties to a Samsung phone does it for me. I will order a Ricoh Theta S today.