Tanja Barnes


GoPro Fusion vs. Ricoh Theta S — In the Thunderdome, which camera would win?

Four years ago, I was selected to participate in the “Spherical Report 360” initiative — a collaboration with CNN and camera manufacturer Ricoh.

As a participant, I received a Ricoh Theta, which at the time was one of the first one-shot consumer 360 spherical cameras on the market.

Since then, there’s been an explosion of consumer camera devices as evidenced at IVRPA 2018 which took place in Tokyo last week. The conference featured presentations, speakers, panel discussions and hands-on demonstrations of the latest software and hardware.

IVRPA is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. I’m a member of IVRPA, and I love love love IVRPA conferences because it’s where the very 360 software and hardware innovators in the world meet to share ideas and help each other.

One night after a full day at the conference, several us went to Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku.  As we made our way down the stairs to see the dazzling lasers, crazy decor, robots, dancers, and only-in-Japan madness, two separate videos were shot with spherical cameras. One with my two year-old Ricoh Theta S, and one with the new GoPro Fusion.

As far as consumer cameras go, Theta S was state of the art for 2016 as the Fusion is for 2018.  With advances to technology so vast in only a couple of years, it’s not a fair comparison. The Fusion would totally crush it in the Thunderdome!

Even so, let’s stare and compare. Below is footage shot by me with my Theta S…


And below is footage shot with the GoPro Fusion by Alexandre Jenny, Senior Director Immersive Media Solutions at GoPro…


Now as you can see, the GoPro footage is remarkably superior. But the Fusion retails at $699 whereas the Theta S price point is $279.99 (and the newer Theta V costs $396.99).

But it’s worth mentioning that there are dozens of other cameras out there, and many with a price point below $200.  If you’re thinking of getting one of these nifty cameras yourself, I highly recommend visiting 360Rumors.com where blogger Michael Ty maintains an extensive 360 camera comparison and ranking tool. Check it out!