360-degree photography experts Sam Rohn, Daniel Pharaoh, and Mic Ty joined us for a virtual discussion on the rise in demand for 360 cameras as virtual tours gained popularity amidst the pandemic. The three shared insights on the THETA Z1’s increase in storage to 51 GB, a new firmware upgrade, plug-ins, and their workflow processes.

Changes in the 360 camera industry

The pandemic shifted the way businesses like real estate, construction, interior design, and more operated resulting in the rise of 360-degree virtual tours. YouTuber and photographer, Mic Ty shared that he’s seen a heightened interest and has worked on more tours in the past two months than a normal year! He believes that now is the perfect time to experiment and get started with 360-degree tours. Daniel Pharaoh, YouTuber and content creator, agreed and explained that people who had never seen or heard of virtual tours are now being exposed to the technology as a result of COVID-19 restrictions which in turn has piqued users’ interest in wanting to learn more.

Shooting virtual tours with the THETA Z1

The THETA Z1 is the three panelists’ top choice when it comes to virtual tour creation. New York City-based photographer Sam Rohn shared that he loves its compact size and ability to provide accurate colors, defined detail, and impressive image quality. Specifically, the DualFisheye RAW plug-in and new firmware updates save him time when shooting or editing. Mic agreed and feels that editing with the THETA Z1 is almost “too simple,” providing amazing quality photos for both professionals and beginners. Echoing Mic and Sam, Daniel also agreed that the THETA Z1 is easy to use and is his favorite tool for capturing a space, as well as teaching his viewers tips and tricks for creating their own virtual tours. The THETA Z1 model is straightforward, simple to explain, and results in high quality photos with minimal effort.

Editing and workflow

For those completely new to 360-degree shooting, Mic shared the benefits of the THETA Z1’s built-in HDR capability and how it automatically stitches a photo into a stunning 360-degree scene. Personally, he uses the new Dual Fisheye RAW plug-in which shoots the photo unstitched, allowing him to adjust the stitching afterwards and merge multiple shots into one. Adobe Lightroom classic has a helpful plug-in that stitches the images together and does an excellent job at looking seamless.

Similarly, Sam uses the Dual Fisheye RAW plugin for essentially everything he shoots and can’t speak highly enough about it as it is indispensable to his photography. One big advantage of shooting in RAW is the ability to adjust color temperature and correct lighting so a room looks cohesive.

<The sample photo that Mic edited>

Daniel follows a similar workflow to the two and when teaching others, recommends three options from lowest to highest quality: auto HDR mode, RAW mode with an application like Lightroom, and DualFisheye plug-in. He also recommends downloading Lightroom to improve the quality and look of any photo in just a few minutes.

<Sample photo that Daniel edited with Lightroom>

Lens to lens with the competition

To Mic, the THETA Z1 blows competitors out of the water! He uses a dedicated 360 camera comparison website to see side by side HDR photos from the RICOH THETA Z1 alongside other popular 360 cameras. While the THETA Z1 may cost more than competitors, it’s worth it and highly recommended for the amount of time saved editing.

After testing out many cameras himself, Daniel shared that the THETA Z1 stands out amongst the rest as an all-in-one camera due to its Lightroom plug-in, dedicated THETA editing apps, and the most recent storage and firmware upgrades.

For someone who photographs as his profession and passion, the THETA Z1 is fun for Sam to use and is the perfect size to slip right in his pocket and bring throughout the city. He agrees with the others on its abilities and shared that if he were to purchase a new 360 camera today, it would still be the THETA Z1.

Benefits of the Z1 51GB and new firmware

All three 360-degree experts emphasized how the increased storage and firmware upgrades have made this camera, which was already ahead of its time, even better! They appreciate THETA Z1’s boosted memory for virtual touring purposes, as well as for personal use on long trips or vacations. Daniel explained that many users currently using older THETA models were looking for more memory for business purposes to shoot large or multiple virtual tours. RICOH listened to this feedback and addressed it directly with the new THETA Z1 51GB. Additionally, the new firmware upgrade feels like a whole new camera to the group with performance updates, new features, and the dual fisheye raw plug-in allowing for optimal usage for a variety of scenes.

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