Ricoh Caplio R1V review

Started Apr 28, 2005 | User reviews thread
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SteveNZ
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Ricoh Caplio R1V review
Apr 28, 2005

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SUMMARY
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GOOD POINTS:

28mm wide-angle (not found in any other ultra-compact, found in only one compact, I think).

135mm tele-zoom.

Low-light auto focus: very fast, very reliable.

Zero light photos: successfully takes good photos in COMPLETE darkness (with a flash), & does it very quickly (ie no problems with auto-focus in zero-light conditions)

Voice recording is very useful & very good; can save just over 2min of audio per MB of card space.

Movie recording is useful (320x240, 30fps, sound, unlimited length).

Battery life very good (can take about 400 flash photos, I think).

Batteries - either AA or the proprietary Li-ion.

Turn-on is exremely fast (1s).

Shutter lag less than 0.1s. Practically instant!

Macro of 1cm.

Easy to use, yet has some advanced features (eg bracketing).

Very few cameras have one or two of the above features; the Ricoh R1V has them all!

BAD POINTS:

No major bad points.

Image quality (sharpness, detail, cleaness) is not as good as Canons or some other brands, but it isn't bad, it's about average.

Lens (F3.3) is a little bit darker than other cams, so more chance of / more blurry images, also results in movies being darker than other cams that have an aperture brighter than F3.3.

Flash underexposes subjects/objects further than about 2m, overexposes subjects/objects closer than about 1m. (But maybe using the macro mode will solve the problem for close shots - I've yet to experiment.)

No other unique-to-this-camera bad-points that I can think of.

==================
MY CREDENTIALS
==================

I've owned & used my Ricoh R1V for 7 weeks now, and have taken 2,200 images in various conditions (caving in zero darkness, direct sunlight, overcast days, parties, indoors).

I've compared images from my R1V to images from two or three other dig cams, & I've discussed with the owners of those dig cams about various ascpects of their camera. But I've not personally used other dig cams (this is my first dig cam), although I've seen others being used & I've seen the images that others produce.

I'm an electronic engineer, who has an eye for quality, detail, and practicality.

i put function before form, and I also value good ergonomics. (But the R1V is not ugly, I think.)

I don't have bias towards or against any brands.

What I'm writing here is as objective as I can make it

==================
CAMERA DETAILS
==================

Good & bad aspects are listed.
NB most of the bad aspects are not unique to this camera.

Zoom is a very useful 28-135mm (4.8x). The 28mm wide-angle is very useful & not available on any other ultra-compact & is available on only one other compact that I know of.

Lens distortion seems to be ok/average/acceptable. At 28mm wide, there's distortion at the edges & corners. But this is expected for a camera of this size with this much zoom. Appropriate framing will mean that you don't have critical subjects/objects at the edges or corners. Zooming it a bit to 35mm or so seems to reduce lens distortion to about as good as good as (maybe better than) other dig cams that have the normal 35-115mm zoom range. Correction (about 80% perfect) can be done manually using the bundled software. Overall, the 28mm is worth the slight distortion.

Lens vignetting is moderate at wide angle. Correction (about 95% perfect) can easily be done manually using the bundled software, however.

Lens is slightly slower/darker than other dig cams; maximum aperture is F3.3 (means that low-light conditions or fast moving subjects will result in slightly more blurred images, compared with other dig cams that have min ap of F2.8) (The difference between 3.3 & 2.8 is only half a stop, however.)

Turn-on speed is Very fast (1s).

Shot-to-shot time is good (about 1.3s) (when not in continuous mode).

Continuous modes - there are 3 continuous modes, which are useful.

LCD turns-off immediately after a shot, for about 1.5-2s, while the image is being processed & being saved to card. This means you can't use the LCD to track/see the subject between shots.

LCD is ok (not great); 1.8in, 110k pixels = average / below-average size, average resolution. < The new R2 model has a 2.5in display but has only 114k pixels, therefore I guess that it also has average resolution. >

LCD refresh rate is ok (not great); is about 10 frames per second, only. However, it's useable for most situations, except fast moving subjects or for unnormally fast panning of the camera.

Battery life is very long (I've taken 300 flash images in one night, and the battery indicator showed 3 out of 4 segments). (But I've learnt by experience that 3 out of 4 segments actually means about 50% capacity.)

Battery design is very good - takes either the proprietory Li-ion pack, or standard AA (alkalines or Ni-MH, which is very very useful if the Li-ion battery is flat - which is unlikely because it lasts for a very very long time).

Low-light auto-focus is very good (reliable & fast), no problem with indoor party level lighting or street lighting levels.

Zero-light photos are very good, camera pre-flashes to determine focus & exposure, meaning that photos taken in literally 100% darkness come out well focused & exposed, most of the time (about 70-90% of the time) (which is much better than 0-10% for most other cameras).

Reliability/consistency (exposure & focus) of images is good (not perfect). About 99% of images of non-flash are ok. About 90% of flash images are ok.

Flash is poor, because (1) Underexposure for subjects further than about 2 meters), (2) Overexposes subjects closer than about 1m (inadequate auto-adjust of flash strength according to subject distance), (But maybe using the macro mode will solve the problem for close shots - I've yet to experiment.) (3) Flash spread is insufficient for wide-angle, (4) Recharge time is too long for my liking (about 4s). But this flash poorness is shared my most/many other ultra-compact dig cams, I think.

Size is very useful; small & slim, no annoying protrusions. Fits easily in a shirt pocket.

Ergonomics are ok. Flash is sometimes blocked by middle finger of my right hand - but this may be unique to my particular hand grip. Also, you can train yourself to do hold the camera "properly".

Button labels are poor - painted labels, not etched etc - the paint is coming off already, on my camera.

software that's included with the camera is ok, but has the bare minimum features only. For anything more than novice/amateur editing, use 3rd party software. This software "problem" is not major, the camera quality is what's most important, & most prosumers use/have 3rd party image editing software anyway.

Lens cover is very sturdy (thick stainless steel or aluminium), tougher than the typical grey plastic on other cams).

Lens cover design means that when auto-power off works, the lens is unprotected by the cover when the lens itself auto-retracts, because the lens cover only covers when it's manually (mechanically) slid over by hand (the lens cover doens't operate electronically). So you need to get into the habit of turning the camera off when you're not shooting.

Tripod mount is good - metal screw thread.

Voice recording is very useful. High sound quality (for voice), it seems. Very small files, means you can save 520 minutes of audio per 256MB card !

Voice notes for photos - has this feature also; about 8s of audio can be recorded.

5M pixel image quality is definitely worse than at 3M pixel (clarity, noise, cleaness/lack of jpeg compression artefacts, readability of fine/small text). But maybe this is not unique to this camera, I dont' know.

Macro of 1cm.

Auto-Bracketing (+0.5, 0, -0.5 EV).

White-Balance bracketing (R,G, B bias).

Manually-settable white-balance.

==============================
FEATURES I WISH THE R1V HAD
==============================

None of these desired features are essential, the camera is good & useful as it is.

Lens brighter (but the difference between the R1V's lens & others is small, not huge). Image quality better (more detail, less jpeg compresssion artefacts) - but it's acceptable, about average.

Image quality better at high ISO (ISO400 & especially ISO800) (less noise, less colour tainting) - but this is typical of small dig cams, plus very few small dig cams have ISO800 (which is still useful for dark non-flash pics).

Exposure lock (for panoramas, comparison shots, etc).

Labels that are more durable (not merely painted on) (button-function labels).

But NO camera has the R1V's features PLUS these desired features, except a DSLR!

==================
CONCLUSION
==================

Very practical (fast, wide-angle, small, battery life, sound recording, movie recording, low-light auto-focus, zero light photos, 1cm macro).

Easy to use, yet has some advanced features (eg bracketing).

Consequently, it's easy & fast to "capture the moment" at an instant's notice; the camera fits easily into any normal sized pocket (including a shirt chest pocket), & can be quickly turned on with one-hand, it's ready to take a shot in 1s, & it'll successfully capture the shot in 1.1s (even if it's dark or literally 100% dark).

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If you have any more questions, post a question on the forum, & I'll answer it if/when I see it

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SteveNZ's score
3.8
Average community score
4.0
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