Ricoh Caplio R3 review
I spent $300.00 bought this camera in Marchl 2006. Now you can buy it under $250.00. It was not easy to buy Ricoh camera in the United States. I only find it in New York City camera store, and mail order it. Nowhere else in all US continent I saw it sells Ricoh camera. I had Nikon Coolpix 8400, Nikon Coolpix 5400, Olympus C-4000, Fuji FinePix A303, and Fuji FinePix E500 before I bought this one. I bought Fuji Finepix v10 after I bought this.
I love travel, and love taking many photos during my vacation. This is the one I used most often after I bought all of the above cameras. I took thousands of pictures with it, and I still plan to use it as my major vacation camera.
I was looking for a camera that is small (~6 oz), has large LCD (2.5"), need date print on photos, has wide angle zoom (28mm-200mm), responds fast, and has a long battery life. This camera has all. In addition, it uses SD memory, which is very small and cheap now. The same type of memory can be used on many other electronic devices, such as GPS, MP3 player, etc... After I bought it, I've found it's not only small, but has a leather case come with it, so I can wear it on the belt as if it is a cell phone (it is almost as small as a cell phone). Even though Fuji Finepix 303 and v10 are also very small, they don't come with lether case, so I have to carry it or put it on my pocket, make it less convenient than waring it as a cell phone. When I saw a beautiful scene, I can quickly pull Ricoh R3 out and many good photos I took them this way. I can put it back right away and don't feel I was carrying a camera. (I would have missed may good photos if they are not that easy to carry). That one unique feature helped me and makes me very happy. I also find it's telephoto (up to 200mm) sometimes is also useful to take remote pictures. Antishake feature is not very phenominon. May times in a low light I don't see it improve my picture quality, compare with many other cameras that don't have antishake feature. The battery can last more than 400 photos with a single charge, if you don't flash or constantly change zoom. My favorite resolution is 2M with 1600 x 1200 (normally ~320 K size, easy to e-mail, and also can show full screen view in computer), but this camera doesn't have it. I can only use 3M with 2048 x 1536, but each picture takes 600 K to 720 K in size. Another resolution is 1 M 1028 x 960, which I don't use it much. Fuji and Nickon camera all has my favorate 1600 x 1200 resolution.
Under enough light, especially outdoors, the picture quality was very good. The movie mode also can take good sound movies, but the resolution was not high. Good enough for my travel purpose. I used it and not buying a digital camcorder any more (I don't use it much now).
If date inprint is important to you, then consider buying Nikon, Sony, Kodak, HP, Samsung and Ricohn (These brands all models have date inprint feature). I did a lot of research and found Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic, Leica, Casio, Canon, Minota (any model) don't have date inprint feature. Olympus has best software I experienced because I can use it to adjust brightness, contrast, color, etc with the software come with Olypics camera. I still use them very frequently (with the software come with Olympus C4100) Nikon, Fuji, Ricohn and Canon software I don't see them have this feature (can adjust brightness, contrast, and color).
Many sales person always claim their cameras have date inprint feature when you ask them, but it's not true. Every digital camera once you pull your mouse on the picture (on Windows XP), they will show you what date is taken (given the fact that you set the date before you take pictures), but the date won't show in normal print out for the above model I specified, no matter how expensive a model you buy. It's brand based.
If I use portrait mode to take indoor people photos, the result will be much better than using normal mode. Using normal mode under this condition R3 seldom focus right. If you are not using portrait mode, it is highly recommend to use flash. It comes out much better than if you don't use flash.
Many Sony models, also Fuji Finepix 303, Fuji Finepix v10 I have experienced, can give better quality with indoor low light photos. These camera in general, don't have wide angel feature (<= 28 mm). That's why I still haven't bought any Sony camera. Sony only has wide angle camera with high end models (not P&S), which is not easy to carry when travling outside.
I also tested using manual focus indoor, the result was not as good as I expected. Besides, the manual mode was not like other cameras, clearly indicate the distance. It was not clear to me how to use R3 to adjust the distance with MF mode.