360 video is getting a lot of attention these days, especially after YouTube announced support for the video format in March.
That's great, but the obvious question is how does one make a 360 video to even put on YouTube?
One of the best options out there is the Ricoh Theta S, Ricoh's newest model of 360 camera since the m15.
It's relatively small and light, and lets you capture about 260 spherical photos and up to 25 minutes of spherical video.
The camera has three buttons on the side: power, Wi-Fi, and mode. There's a shutter button on the front, along with lights that tell you which mode you're in and if you're recording.
The Theta also works with an app, so if you have the Wi-Fi turned on, you can use the app to control the Theta. That's handy if you want to put the camera somewhere and get out of the shot. Which you will, since you're working in 360 degrees.
And one piece of advice, if you've got a light weight tripod, or dare I say it, a selfie stick, use it. I learned this the hard way the first time I was playing around with the Theta S— if you just hold the camera, your hand and the top of your head will sneak into the picture.
The app also takes care of the video stitching for you so you can pretty easily upload it to Youtube and then view it in your Cardboard headset. This is important. If your business is wanting to produce 360 video cheaply, and quickly, you won't have to worry about stitching video from different cameras together. That's a task that's labor-intensive, time consuming, and potentially outside the skill set your business has in-house.
Another important point is that the videos are compatible with YouTube 360. So, you're not sending viewers to some obscure platform, you're sending them somewhere they already go and they know how to use. Plus, they can still watch the video even if they don't own a Cardboard headset.
So, all that said, you're not going to get the resolution or the picture quality of a GoPro rig, but, at $350, you're saving a lot of money, not to mention manpower by opting for the Theta. It's cheap, it's easy to use, it requires little post production. If your brand is just interested in exploring the potential of 360 video, the Theta is a forgiving investment.
Erin Carson has nothing to disclose. She doesn't hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.