Ricoh Theta V with StreetView Review

The Ricoh Theta V is a consumer-grade 360 camera that shoots photos and videos in full panoramic mode (360 degrees). It retails for $379.95 but can be found pre-owned in great condition under $250 on ebay.

It is one of the first 360 cameras that allows to shoot a video to publish on StreetView. The StreetView app links to the camera, you shoot a small movie (under 3 minutes) of the path you want to display on Google StreetView, you save the movie to your phone and later on you can upload through the StreetView app.

The concept is appealing for Google Local Guides as it allows anyone to add missing StreetView from the maps which so far was not possible from photos.

Unfortunately the reality is far from perfect:
– first movies have to be shot in increments of 3 minutes or less due to file size issues. This means that every 3 minutes you have to spend time restarting the process,
– then the download from the camera to the phone is erratic. If you download the file right after shooting it, it is likely to transfer in less than 2 minutes. If for some reason (like no more storage on your phone) you can’t download it immediately, you’re out of luck and the movie make take hours to download later down the road (I’ve given up waiting for the later downloads, losing some of my movies).
– The StreetView map will only accept to upload a movie downloaded straight from the camera which prevents using a computer to circumvent the downloading over Wi-Fi problem.
– Uploading via the StreetView app will take a very long time if you shot a few movies as each 3-minute movie takes over 2GB.
– if after all this work you manage to upload your updated view of the Street or path you visited, the contribution program considers these videos as 1 photo or 1 video (not sure as nothing appeared clearly). In any case, your work is not fairly recognized by the Google Maps Local Guide system.

I purchased the Ricoh Theta V used as a replacement for my Samsung 360 that I scratched because I was very interested in the concept of uploading new content to StreetView, but the UI of the Ricoh Theta V is unfortunately not on par with the Samsung 360. There is no screen for camera control on the camera, the Android app is clunky, keeps giving options that are not available while connected to the camera instead of greying them out, requires the WiFi connection for communication with the camera…

I shot a lot of pictures, a few videos and a bunch of 360 photos for Google Maps, and at this time I would not recommend the Ricoh Theta V for Google StreetView because it is not very user friendly to use and the Google Maps Local Guides program gives little to no recognition for the work of uploading these pictures. Also some of the uploaded videos remained as dots on the map instead of showing the blue StreetView line on Google Maps.