I have started to mess about with the Ricoh Theta S, which allows me to take 360 degree/VR pictures and movies. The camera is a great size and shape, not that much larger than a chocolate bar.
My first experiments with it were hand-held, and because of this my hand looks enormous in the resulting images. Using a selfie stick tripod fixed that issue, and the shutter can be controlled remotely from the iPhone app. The Smatree SmaPole was the best tripod option I found. It works primarily as a selfie stick, but has a small tripod base that turns the pole into a self-standing base.
Testing movie recording with a fully charged (but empty) camera resulted with a 2.98 GB MP4 file (leaving it to record until the device switched off automatically). Transferring this to my Macbook Air was a little fiddly, as the only way for the Theta S to show up as an external drive was to press and hold the WiFi and shutter button on the camera while plugging in to the Mac. Took about six minutes for the file to transfer.
The file was 25 minutes and 1 second in duration.
Ricoh provides a basic viewer (RICOH THETA) for the Mac, through which you drag and drop the spherical images to see them on your computer desktop. Viewing static images is almost instantaneous, but dragging the movie initiates a longer conversion to an equirectangular MP4 version. This took about 40 minutes for the 25-minute recording.
Transferring the movie using the iPhone app took a while (with the warning not to exit the app during transfer). I actually gave up here, as after an hour I had only transferred about 25% of the 25-minute file.
With a power source attached to the Ricoh Theta S, I have the potential to record up to 45 minutes and 37 seconds of video with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. Bumping that resolution down to 1280 x 720 I have a potential recording time of 2 hours and 13 minutes. Testing now to see how long that takes to import, and whether the loss of resolution is acceptable.
There is a slight design miscue with the placement of the tripod mount hole on the Theta S and the USB terminal. To record for longer than 25 minutes I need external power, but the connecting a tripod blocks the USB terminal. Ricoh is aware of this, and sells the TE-1 extension adapter (for $19…..). However, a couple of Manfrotto Tripod Thread Adapters fixes that issue.