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4K resolution is coming to the popular Ricoh Theta camera later this year

Why it matters to you

The Ricoh Theta line is popular for its simplicity and now 4K resolution is coming with the company's next launch.

4K resolution is coming to Ricoh’s popular Theta cameras. On April 20, the company announced a prototype Theta 360-degree camera, which will be on display at the NAB Shot in Las Vegas from April 24 through April 27.

Details on the latest to the Theta lineup are slim — in fact, the camera doesn’t yet appear to even have an official name. Ricoh says, however, that the camera can capture 360-degree videos in 4K resolution at 30 fps, while earlier models topped out in HD and 2K.

Along with the spherical footage, a four-channel microphone will record spatial audio, or what Ricoh calls “surround sound” audio, to pair with the immersive nature of the 360 format.

The single image of the prototype camera that has been released shows a design similar to the other cameras in the series, with a long, narrow body and two lenses on each side at the top of the camera. Like earlier options, the control scheme is minimal, with a large button on the front of the camera and some controls to one side.

The 4K camera will be available sometime in 2017, Ricoh says.

Launching in 2013, the Theta series is the “iPod of 360 cameras” bringing the complexities of shooting video in every direction to a consumer market in a simple-to-use format. The Theta S is the company’s current consumer flagship with an easy-to-use design and live-streaming capability, though the 1920 resolution stretched around 360 degrees isn’t the greatest.

While other companies now have 4K capability within consumer-priced cameras such as 360Fly, the Kodak 4KVR360 and now the latest Samsung Gear 360, this will be the first time the higher resolution comes to the Theta line. While the Ricoh R is expected to offer 24-hour live-streams, that camera was only released to developers and shot in only 2K.

Ricoh doesn’t have a price yet on the 4K version, but the Theta SC listed for $350 at first launch and the less-featured Theta SC for $300.