How to get the best quality images from your Theta camera
Many of our subscribers are using the Ricoh Theta camera to create their online virtual tours in minutes, and recently we have been asked by our users how they can improve on the image quality from the Theta Camera.
It is important to know we have not edited any of the images in this blog – they are exactly as they have come off the Theta camera.
We had a little play-around with all the settings ourselves to find out how we could improve the quality, and have come up with some very interesting findings!
With out doubt to produce the best images possible from the Theta is to use the HDR Rendering mode (High Dynamic Range Rendering)
The function can be enabled by selecting HDR Rendering when shooting with the smartphone app in auto mode.
Setting your Theta to HDR is found where you normally set the Shutter Speed or ISO settings. Here are some screenshots from the Theta app (iOS) v 1.6.0. to help with this process.
1) 2) 3) 4) 5)
From left to right:
(1) find “Auto”
(2) click on “OFF” you will then see a scrollable menu starting with “Noise Reduction” scroll to the end and select…..
(3) “HDR Rendering” – Now you can’t actually adjust the EV, but we have found a little trick to make it work, so….
(4) …using the right or left arrow go from “Auto” to the next option in this case we went to “Shutter Priority” then go back to…….
(5) …Auto you will then be able to control the EV (Exposure Value). Once you have done this and leave the setting on “HDR Rendering” you will NOT need to repeat 4) again.
Adjusting the EV is important to get the best HDR results.
Comparing Auto / Manual Settings to HDR
See below the same image – The first image is shot using “Auto Shutter – Exposure Value 1.0” the second image was shot using “Manual Shutter” speed control – while the remaining images were all shot using HDR and just adjusting the EV.
1) Auto Shutter – Exposure Value 1.0
2) Manual Shutter
3) HDR – Exposure Value -2.0
4) HDR – Exposure Value -1.0
5) HDR – Exposure Value 0.0
6) HDR – Exposure Value +1.0
7) HDR – Exposure Value +2.0
You will see for this test 1) Auto Shutter and 2) Manual Shutter give pretty much the same result but 4) HDR – Exposure Value -1.0, has by far given the best result.
To help show the comparison below are the images in a player for the 2) Manual Shutter and 4) HDR – Exposure Value -1.0
You can now see how important it is to shoot using HDR, the main things to consider when using HDR are:
- There is no preview
- The image takes slightly longer to capture (be careful of movement)
- Images take longer to synthesize
- Always shoot from a tripod
- Make sure to adjust the EV to suit each situation (a general rule is the EV to be set to “0” or below (negative) anything above “0” (positive) tends to produce an image that is to bright
- Make sure you have the latest firmware “SC“, “SC2“, “S“, “V” & “Z1“
- Make sure you have the latest version off the Theta app
A Hard Test
One of the most difficult shots to take is the inside of a car, so here’s our little test.
HDR – Exposure Value 0.0
To help show the comparison below are the images in a player for the 1) Manual Shutter and 2) HDR – Exposure Value 0.0
So now you know how important it is to use the HDR settings correctly and how to get the best quality images from your Theta camera. We would love for you to give it a try and share your findings with us in the comments below. If you have any questions at all or you would like to subscribe to our virtual tour software, you can of course always contact us so we can help you make the most of your Theta camera, and if you have any other tricks that make the images even better still, please do share wit our community in the comments.