Ricoh Caplio R1V review
I bought this camera after a lot of research and with a few "must-haves" in mind : wide angle (28mm equivalent), 4x optical zoom minimum, AA-format batteries, included charger and rechargeable battery, time-lapse, fast response time and optical viewfinder. The only other small cameras which come close are the Canon Powershot S60/70 which are much more expensive. Things I would have liked are manual, AP/SP programme exposure and USB2 connectivity.
The first one I got had a fault where it would spontaneously turn off and on. I tracked this down to some kind of loose power switch and the dealer swapped it over. The new one has been fine. In fact, I've noticed that the image quality is much better than the first unit which suffered from the noise problems you'll see mentioned elsewhere in these reviews (random spots at high ISO when you enlarge the image). The new one doesn't seem to have any noise issues at all.
One thing I don't like is that the optical viewfinder is only good for approximately framing shots as it is quite out of focus and shows less than the whole captured frame. On wide angle (the default focal length), the lens barrel imposes into the viewfinder's field of view. Pretty sloppy design as the viewfinder could very easily have been made properly. It then makes the R2 more attractive since it has a larger screen and is otherwise identical to the R1v.
The other annoyance is that manual and aperture/shutter priority programme modes would be very easy to add as they would only require some additional firmware. I guess the marketing people went to a meeting and demanded some product differentiation ...
In summary :
Size, build, wide angle, zoom range, overall fast response times, image quality, menu system, button feel (apart from zoom) ... most things (that's why I bought it)
Optical viewfinder quality, step zoom button action (have to wait until lens moves before buttons register for zooming further), USB1 (only slow for multiple downloads), support software (kinda basic and unnecessary with Windows XP), CDROM (didn't work in my Acer notebook, supplied case (silver like something Judy out of Lost In Space might have), zoom does sound kinda rough and lens barrel is quite loose at full zoom (like the bits don't fit together very well).
Overall, a good buy with many features that other similarly-priced cameras don't have.