The Ricoh Theta SC is a cheaper version of the Theta S ($628).
The Theta S – successor to Theta m15 – uses two 12-megapixel 180-degree cameras to produce 14-megapixel 360-degree still images, up from its predecessor’s 6-megapixel output. It has 8GB of internal memory, compared with m15’s 4GB, for storing those 360-degree photos and videos.
The Theta SC (I wonder if the C stands for cheaper) has exactly the same specifications as the flagship model, despite being priced $140 lower than the S.
However, the SC does not have a micro-HDMI port for live streaming. Not everyone is an aspiring YouTube star or a journalist needing to live stream an event, so this omission makes sense.
In addition, the SC has a continuous video-recording time of only 5min, instead of the S’s 25min. I do not think anyone will take such a long 360-degree video unless you are covering an event or concert.
The SC has a plastic shell, while the Theta S has a rubber coating. It also means the SC is 23g lighter.
Otherwise, the SC looks just like the S. It has a slim body with a 180-degree lens on both its front and back. The two lenses work together to capture a 360-degree shot when you press the shutter-release button in front (with the Ricoh logo facing you).
The Power, Wi-Fi and Photo/Video buttons are on one side of the camera. At its bottom, there is a micro-USB port for charging and transferring images to your computer.
Press the Photo/Video button to toggle between still image and movie recording, as long as the camera is powered on.
As there is no display, you use the free Ricoh Theta S app (Android and iOS) as a viewfinder.
Sync your smartphone to the camera via Wi-Fi and launch the app. The app gives you more control. For instance, you can compensate for exposure. You can switch from Auto mode to the ISO-priority or Shutter-priority modes.
You can also place the SC on the ground or on a tripod and shoot remotely with the app, so you will not be in the frame.
The app allows you to view those 360-degree images and transfer them to your smartphone. If you look at the 360-degree images in the gallery of your smartphone, they will look truncated.
But you can use the Theta+ app (Android and iOS) that allows you to edit and save the 360-degree pictures as JPEG files so that you can post them on social media or share them with your friends.
As far as I can tell, the SC’s 360-degree images are as sharp and detailed as the S’s. Even if you shoot at the maximum ISO 1,600 setting, images are good enough for Web use.
A full charge of the battery allows for 260 still images – same as on the S – average for a digital compact camera.
Verdict: The Ricoh Theta SC is an affordable entry-level 360-degree camera for anyone who wishes to dabble with 360-degree photography.