The Ricoh Theta S and Theta SC have a distinctive vertical, stick-like design. That works quite well for shooting handheld panoramas because it’s becomes a handle to hold it up. And having the twin lenses protrude from the body helps keep the camera body out of the frame.
But there’s also a downside: because the lenses protrude out in the way they do, it’s easy to scratch them. I found this out the hard way, when one my kids accidentally knocked it over and damaged one of the lenses (which is why I’m not the proud owner of not one, but two Theta S’s). Even simply resting the camera on a flat surface risks scratching the lens.
The Theta S and Theta SC both come with a neoprene slip case. It works well enough–just slide the camera in when you’re not using it. But there are some niggling little issues with doing it that one. One is that you can’t see the charge light when you plug it in, so you don’t know whether the USB charge is actually working or not. Another, I admit, might sound pedantic–that it’s a two-handed operation to take it off or put it on–but if you’re already holding a stick or stand to mount it on, and potentially a smartphone app or remote, you’ve already got your hands full.
Third parties have come up with a different approach that I’ve been using lately. It’s a silicone skin that goes over the camera. It offers better grip and a little extra protection when using the camera.
There are cutouts on the side for the buttons.
And on the bottom for the HDMI and micro-USB ports.
On the top, there are cutouts so that the microphones aren’t covered.
On the front, a semi-transparent panel lets the indicator lights shine through, so you can continue to use them normally.
The lens cover is a small hood that removes while the rest of the skin stays out.
So why bother? Grip and protection. In practice, the amount of shock absorption such a thin piece of rubber can offers is limited, but it’s better than the naked plastic of the camera itself. The silicone is also grippier than the exposed plastic. And in the cold, damp conditions I’ve been in lately, that’s a good thing.
While I’m not sure I can invent a better option, I still don’t find the detachable lens hood ideal for the simple reason that it’s too easy to misplace. It can also get knocked off in a pocket or camera bag. And without it, the lenses themselves aren’t any better protected than if you weren’t using the skin at all.
It also comes with a wrist strap and an attachment for it that screws into the tripod stud base on the bottom of the camera. Because I typically use the Theta S with either a stand or a stick, I don’t tend to use the wrist strap.
Overall, I’ve found it to work well. If it’s not perfect, I still think it’s a step in the right direction.
- Adds grip.
- Snug fit means there’s no movement.
- All ports and buttons are accessible, and a special cutout keeps the front lights visible.
- If you’re putting it onto a regular tripod head, you might find the bottom of the case grabbing as you rotate to tighten. It’s not a problem with an extension adapter.
- The hood that goes over the lens sits in place with friction, but it’s pretty easy for it to come off when moving around in a camera bag or pocket.
Where to Buy
I bought mine at Amazon. It comes in black, bright blue, or yellow. Since I prefer not to draw too much attention to my gear, I went with boring black. But both the yellow and blue are good high-visibility colors that help it to stand out in a camera bag or if it’s dropped.