RICOH THETA Live Streaming

RICOH THETA Live Streaming


I recently received a question about live streaming RICOH THETA cameras.

The camera models with live streaming capability are the V, Z1, and X. The SC2 cannot live stream over a USB cable. The SC2 is limited to live preview over Wi-Fi in MotionJPEG. In most cases, the SC2 is not suitable for streaming.

The person referenced an interesting site called webcamtests that does automated web cam testing. I plugged a RICOH THETA Z1 into my Windows 10 computer and found the resolution to be 3840×1920, which corresponds to the specifications on the official web site.

The site also had a feature to capture a single frame and download it.

Corresponds to live stream frame grab, not still image.

The photo is a frame grab from the live stream and not a still image.

Z1 live stream frame grab through web browser

Specifications on the RICOH THETA site for the V and Z1 for streaming are:

  • 4K,H264: 3840×1920/29.97fps/120Mbps
  • 2K,H264: 1920×960/29.97fps/42Mbps

The output is YU12 (Planar YUV 4:2:0).

Streaming as of February 2022

The V and Z1 cannot stream on macOS Monterey (version 12) and it does not look like it’s possible to downgrade from Monterey to Big Sur (version 11) on certain Apple silicon computers. See this discussion about the inability to downgrade an M1 Mac Mini to Big Sur to stream a V/Z1.

To stream on Windows 10, you need a driver that you can download from the RICOH site.

With newer firmware (2.00.1 or above), the Z1 can stream for 24×7 operation. However, you need a USB port with BC 1.2 CDP power rating. If you don’t have a BC 1.2 CDP port on your computer, you may need powered hub. BC 1.2 CDP supplies 1.5A of current while simultaneously sending data. If your USB port (which could be a USB-C or USB 3.0 port) does not supply 1.5A, the camera may lose charge slowly when streaming at 4K.

On my powered hub, only one of the USB ports is USB 1.2 CDP compliant. The only port that works has an icon of a lightning bolt inside of a battery next to the port.

Anker hub

Using an inline power meter, I measured the current draw from the Z1 at over 0.8amps.

Current Draw

If your USB port can only supply 500mA, then the battery will slow drain.

Streaming on Linux works well and there are number of techniques to get the camera to stream to OpenCV.

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