Fun editing on mobile! Fancy 360° atmosphere captured with THETA Z1 by tetsu


Posted date : 2020.09.10

Have you seen fantastic THETA images on social media and wondered how on earth they were taken?

Here we interviewed tetsu, who posts his wonderful photos on Instagram, and asked him about shooting and editing tips, and also about the THETA Z1 he currently uses.

As well as general tips, he talked about special techniques for shooting and editing THETA 360-degree images that will surprise you!

What led him to THETA and Z1

Please tell us about your background in photography and how you heard about THETA.

I do photography as a hobby. I’ve been using a PENTAX SLR for about 10 years, and I’ve been gradually absorbed into photography. I became interested in shooting with fisheye lenses, and from that point, I also became curious about THETA for getting an even wider field of view. Then I finally purchased a THETA S about four years ago.

It seems you bought THETA Z1 at the end of last year. What made you purchase it?

I heard about the THETA Z1 release via the Ricoh Imaging subscription. When I actually saw it in person at the Ricoh Imaging showroom, it felt completely different from THETA S, which I had at that time. Since then I’ve been interested in the Z1.

I decided to purchase it because of a photogenic shooting event that I participated in at the end of last year.

The THETA image taken for Tokyo Photogenic event


The THETA image taken for Tokyo Photogenic event

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Taken with THETA Z1: The 360 degree version of the image above

How do you like THETA Z1?

The best point is that I can set the aperture. It lets me shoot sharp photos even in a dim night cityscape by setting the aperture from f/3.5 to f/5.6.

I also like that the distant background is still clear when I edit the 360-degree images with Little Planet mode.

Taken with THETA Z1

Currently, Z1 is the only model in the THETA series that allows you to change the aperture; f/2.1, f/3.5, and f/5.6. I’m glad to hear you get the most out of the function.

I love that the images taken with THETA Z1 are clear and beautiful even when I edit them with Little Planet and the edges of the image are stretched.

When I edit images taken with THETA S on Little Planet mode, the edges of the image become slightly blurred, and I had to put a lot of effort into fixing them. But the Z1 has great image quality right up to the edges, so I don’t have to spend as much time on it.

Z1 allows RAW shooting. Do you photograph in RAW as well?

I shoot in RAW+ (simultaneous RAW and JPEG), but I use JPEG data most of the time.

Originally, one of things I liked about THETA was that everything, including editing, can be done on a mobile phone. Since the JPEG images taken with Z1 have high resolution, it is easy to work with them even in Lightroom and other applications as the images don’t lose quality.

Taken with THETA Z1

Though, for some situations if I were to need high quality, such as photo contests, I would like to try RAW.

I generally edit images taken with my SLR on my smartphone. Normally RAW data from THETA Z1 can only be viewed on a PC. But I’ve heard recently that there are apps that directly transfer RAW data (DNG) from Z1 to a smartphone or that can stitch edited images also on a smartphone. I definitely want to try those.

*Z1 DNG Transfer App

*Z1 Stitcher 

THETA Z1 and V can be expanded with plug-ins. Do you use any of those currently? 

No, I didn’t know there was such a function. What kind of plug-ins do you have?

For example, we have “Time shift shooting.” This function allows you to shoot with a time difference for each lens on each side so that the photographer can avoid being in frame by moving to the side which is not shooting.

Wow! What a useful function! I don’t have to work so hard to hide myself anymore… (laughs)

Taken with THETA S

Until recently, I have been using THETA S, so I didn’t have a chance to try new functions and new ways of shooting unique to the Z1, but I’d like to try them out!

Tips for shooting with THETA

Your photos edited on “Little Planet” are so wonderful! What kind of scene do you usually choose for shooting?

I choose places where flowers are spreading around or I’m surrounded by tall things such as trees or skyscrapers. That kind of place turns out great after editing.

Taken with THETA S

When I just want to shoot the landscape, I choose one main subject such as flowers, and put THETA on a tripod close to the subject. I sometimes shoot myself or other people in the landscape and in those cases, I shoot 3 steps, 5 steps, and 10 steps away from THETA depending on the scene.

Does it mean you shoot photos at each distance and choose a good one after that?

Not quite. I have a concrete image in mind of how the photos will turn out at each distance from THETA as measured by my steps. So, I decide how many steps I need for the photos I want to create. I count the steps with my own feet.

Taken with THETA Z1

For example, the image above is taken 10 steps away from THETA.

And the image below is taken 5 steps away.

Taken with THETA Z1

What kind of tripod do you use?

I have four types of tripods, and I use them depending on the scene. For example, when shooting low-blooming flowers such as nemophila, I use a very small tripod that stands really close to the ground.

tetsu’s tripod

And when shooting flowers such as sunflowers, I use a tripod stand that can reach a height of about 2 meters.

Taken with THETA S

Recently, I also tried shooting with a flexible tripod and attaching THETA upside down to a branch.

THETA attached upside down

Such a unique way to hang Z1! 

A little while ago, I wanted to create a realistic sensation that the branches were reaching out towards the camera, so I tied it upside down to a cherry blossom tree.

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Hanging THETA Z1 on a branch

I’m always looking for some new way to enjoy shooting with THETA (laughs).

Hanging THETA Z1 on a branch

Editing THETA images

This image of hydrangeas is very nice! Did you shoot it by placing the camera in the middle of the flowers?

Taken with THETA Z1

Yes, I took this photo by placing Z1 very close to the hydrangeas so they surrounded the camera.

Post from RICOH THETA. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Taken with THETA Z1

However, the image above is made from two THETA shots actually.

Oh, is it?

In order to add more depth on the photo, I took two 360 degree images taken at different heights and edited them on Little Planet mode, then overlaid them in Photoshop, and edited the color using Lightroom.

Do you often edit images in Photoshop?

Yes, I do. I often edit single images, but I sometimes combine images with Photoshop.

For example, I edited photos of day and night into one image with Photoshop.

Taken with THETA Z1: After editing with Photoshop

I put two images together in one image; a photo of the rapeseed field in the daytime and one of the starry sky at night in another location.

Taken with THETA Z1: Starry sky for the image above

Wow, that’s awesome! Is this train possibly also photoshopped in?

No, it is real (laughs). I had to wait a long time for the train to pass. I took the shot by laying down beside the field to hide myself.

Taken with THETA Z1: Rapeseed flowers and train used for the image above

It’s the kind of place in the countryside where trains only pass once an hour. In the end, I stayed there for about 3 hours.

Do you have any tips for editing in Lightroom?

There is a free version of Lightroom, but I’m using the paid one. I can use selective adjustments in the paid version, for example, I can increase the clarity and shadow only on the outside of the image to add contrast between the edge and the center of the photo to give it more depth.

Taken with THETA S

Finally, please tell us what about THETA Z1 appeals to you the most.

The high resolution attracted me the most. I use THETA for the purpose of creating beautiful images, especially the Little Planet style. And as I mentioned earlier, images are clear with high quality even after editing on Little Planet mode.

Also, I recently found out that Z1 is suitable for night shooting, so I would like to try capturing various night scenes.

Thank you so much, tetsu! I’m looking forward to seeing more of your dreamy and wondrous images taken with THETA!


For more details, please visit the product page.


Instagram:   @tetsu_photo2

Share this article