Ricoh R8

      Photo Review 8.5

      In summary

      An elegant slimline digicam with above-average resolution performance and some innovative features.Ricoh has dropped the ‘Caplio’ tag and simply labels its latest digicam the R8. The new model, which is a minor upgrade to the 8-megapixel R7, sports a 10-megapixel CCD imager, 7x optical zoom lens and 2.7-inch LCD. Its body is a tad squarer and its LCD monitor slightly larger with a significantly higher resolution. The zoom lens and image processor are essentially unchanged. . . [more]

      Full review


      Ricoh has dropped the ‘Caplio’ tag and simply labels its latest digicam the R8. The new model, which is a minor upgrade to the 8-megapixel R7, sports a 10-megapixel CCD imager, 7x optical zoom lens and 2.7-inch LCD. Its body is a tad squarer and its LCD monitor slightly larger with a significantly higher resolution. The zoom lens and image processor are essentially unchanged.
      The 7.1x zoom lens covers a very useful focal length range (equivalent to 28-200mm in 35mm format). Ricoh’s double retracting lens system allows it to be tucked right into the camera’s body when the camera is turned off. Two lightweight plastic covers hinge over the front element to protect it against dust and moisture. They’re pretty flimsy so the camera should be carried in a protective case (not supplied) when it’s not in use. Sensor-shift image stabilisation is included, along with a face detection mode in the Scene menu.


      The slim (26.1 mm at the widest point) black body has been redesigned to provide a ‘no frills’ styling that is both portable and functional. A shallow rubber moulding is provided as a finger grip on the front panel, while the back curves outwards to provide a resting place for the user’s thumb. Two strap eyelets are provided for attaching the optional ST-2 neck strap (either can be used for the supplied wrist strap).


      The USB and AV-Out ports are located beneath a snugly-fitting rubber cover on the lower right side panel. A slide-out hatch on the base panel covers the battery and memory card compartments and is located beside an off-centre tripod mount. The camera provides 24MB of internal memory storage and accepts SD, SDHC and MMC cards.

      The R8 introduces a number of interesting features that will appeal to keen photographers who want a pocketable camera for everyday use. Unlike many digicams, the R8 has the same square format (1:1 aspect ratio) shooting format that was first introduced to Ricoh digicams in the Caplio GX100 almost a year ago and has since been offered in the GR Digital II model. It’s particularly popular with photographers who post images in blogs and take product shots for auction sites.
      The ADJ./OK (Adjust) button, which was refined in the Caplio R7, has been further ‘improved’ in the R8. This button replaces the standard arrow pad and operates like a mini joystick. You can assign four functions from the shooting menu to it for quick access to selected settings. The default settings cover the AE, AF and AE/AF target settings, exposure compensation, white balance and ISO in the still image mode, white balance in the movie mode, text density in the text mode and exposure compensation and white balance in the scene modes.
      With this system it should be possible to change the pre-determined settings faster. You simply press the ADJ. button, select the parameter you wish to adjust by toggling it horizontally and the required setting by toggling up and down. It takes a bit of getting used to, and we found the button to be rather small and awkward to use – and not always reliable.
      The AF target function, which was was previously only available for macro photography, is now available in other shooting modes – apart from the scene modes – when autofocusing is applied. Once you’ve selected the AE, AF and AE/AF target settings by pressing the ADJ. button, you simply select the parameter you wish to use (AE, AF or both) and use the ADJ. button to move the cross-mark to the desired target position. Half-press the shutter button to make the measurement and press it the rest of the way to take the shot.
      Below the ADJ. button are three buttons accessing the menu, self-timer and delete and display buttons. The menu includes three sections: shooting, setup and playback. Typical user itnerfaces are shown in the screen grabs below.


      The quick review button sits above the ADJ. button and is easily accessible. A couple of interesting functions included in the shooting menu are time exposure, interval shooting and the ability to restrict the camera to a fixed minimum shutter speed and lens aperture (although aperture and shutter priority AE modes would have been preferable as they provide much more control).


      Time exposure settings are also limited to one, two, four and eight second settings. In Interval mode, you can set the camera to take pictures automatically at intervals from five seconds to three hours in five-second increments. However, you can’t program in a starting and ending time and shooting only stops when the menu button is pressed – or the memory is full.


      The Scene mode contains the standard Portrait, Landscape, Sports and Nightscape settings plus Face recognition, High-sensitivity and Zoom macro modes. Settings for black-and-white and sepia-toned capture are provided along with a Skew-correct setting for straightening rectangular objects that are shot at an angle.
      Skew correction has been offered on previous Ricoh digicams and is a useful function for business people. In this mode, the camera can identify the borders of a document when it is photographed and will crop and straighten it to deliver the result shown below.


      Before (left) and after (right)results of the skew correct mode.

      The Text mode, which is also included in the Scene sub-menu, sets the camera to record in black-and-white and offers two image sizes, 10M and 3M plus three ‘density’ settings, Deep, Normal and Light. File sizes with the 10M text mode are typically around 2.29MB, while in the 3M mode, 1.51MB files are produced.
      The R8 comes with a DB-70 rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which stores enough power for approximately 270 shots/charge (CIPA standard).

      Image Capture
      The mode dial on the top panel carries five shooting mode settings: a ‘green’ mode for Program AE shooting (a welcome substitute for the normal full auto mode), two ‘My’ modes, which are memory banks in which groups of camera settings can be ‘registered’ for later use, a Scene mode and a Movie mode.


      The camera can record still pictures as either continuous-tone images or text – but only as JPEGs. Raw file capture is not supported. Eight image size settings are provided – including 3:2 and 1:1 aspect ratio settings, both at the maximum image size available. Two compression levels are provided, Fine and Normal. Typical file sizes are shown in the table below.

      Image size



      File size




      3648 x 2736



      9M (3:2)

      3648 x 2432



      7M (1:1)

      2736 x 2736




      3264 x 2448




      2592 x 1944




      2048 x 1536




      1280 x 960




      640 x 480



      Two resolutions and two frame rates are supported for video clip recording, with typical recording times shown in the table below.


      Frame rate

      Recording time on 1GB card

      640 x 480

      30 fps

      11 min. 59 sec.

      15 fps

      23 min. 42 sec.

      320 x 240

      30 fps

      23 min. 42 sec.

      15 fps

      46 min. 19 sec.

      Playback and Software
      As well as the normal playback modes, which include single and index displays, the former with or without shooting data or blinking highlights, the R8 provides in-camera adjustments for exposure levels and white balance. The former is similar to the levels control in image editing software.


      When you select Level Compensation in playback-the selected image is shown with a thumbnail and histogram and you can adjust the exposure level by toggling the ADJ. button horizontally. Selecting White Balance Compensation provides a similar display, with the histogram replaced by a colour square. Colour casts are adjusted by toggling the ADJ. button vertically (for the green/magenta axis) or horizontally (for the blue/amber axis).


      Playback zoom of up to 16x is provided, along with the usual slideshow, trimming, resizing, copying and DPOF marking for automated printing.
      The software disk contains Ricoh Gate La, which is designed to facilitate file downloading from the camera and allows users to set up folders for storing the contents of memory cards. In the absence of a user-determined folder naming system, each folder will be named by the date of the download.
      Multi-lingual copies of the camera user manual in PDF format are provided on the software CD, along with brief instructions for installing and using the software.

      Pictures taken with the test camera were bright and colourful with the elevated saturation we’ve come to expect from small-sensor digicams. Imatest showed resolution to be as high as you would expect from a 10-megapixel camera – and higher than most small-sensor digicams we’ve reviewed. However, the camera’s dynamic range was similar to other small-sensor digicams, with blown highlights and a tendency to block up shadows in bright outdoor shots.
      Edge sharpness was relatively good, although we detected some corner softening at the wide angle setting, along with slight barrel distortion. Resolution decreased slightly with increasing ISO sensitivity but remained relatively high throughout the camera’s ISO range, as shown in the graph below.


      Imatest showed colour accuracy to be slightly lower than expectations, although skin tones were very close to the mark. Aside from elevated saturation, particularly in reds and blues, we found hue shifts in yellows and cyan, although greens were accurately recorded in the main. Lateral chromatic aberration was low in our Imatest assessments, although we found some obvious purple fringing in outdoor shots taken in bright conditions.


      The auto white balance control had the usual problems with incandescent lighting and appeared to have more difficulties neutralising colour casts as ISO sensitivity was increased. However, it delivered good results with fluorescent lighting. The pre-sets tended towards slight over-correction but the manual measurement was close to the mark.
      The built-in flash had insufficient power to illuminate an average-sized room, even at the highest ISO setting. However, it tended to be overwhelming in close-up shots unless the subject background was similar to the subject itself. No flash adjustments are provided.
      Close-up performance was impressive, particularly when the flash was switched off. The ability to focus to within 1 cm of subjects produced some excellent results. The R8’s extensive digital zoom capabilities weren’t as impressive because test shots were soft and artefact-affected.
      We weren’t impressed by the Text mode, which didn’t reproduce text in a readable form with any of the density settings. Examples of the Deep and Normal settings are shown below.


      Text mode – normal. Text mode – deel.

      Video quality was unimpressive, even at the higher resolution and frame rate setting. Compression levels were relatively high, image noise was evident and highlights were blown out. We also detected other artefacts. The audio track also lacked clarity and had a limited dynamic range. Maximum recording time is 90 minutes, which is pretty good. But the image stabilisation system was an average performer and not much help in dim lighting.
      It took just under two seconds to power up the test camera and slightly longer to shut down. Shot-to-shot times with the test camera averaged 1.58 seconds without flash and just over three seconds with. The camera took just over half a second to display a high-resolution shot on the LCD screen.
      We measured an average capture lag of 0.47 seconds, which reduced to less than 0.1 seconds with pre-focusing. The standard continuous shooting mode recorded 10M/Fine shots at 0.6 second intervals, slowing progressively after eight shots. In the Cont-M and Cont-S modes, sequential shots were taken at 0.15 second intervals and combined into a single 16-shot image of 3.44MB size.





      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      Close-ups at 1 cm from the subject.


      Digital zoom.


      8-second exposure at ISO 400.


      8-second exposure at ISO 1600.




      Image sensor: 6.16 x 4.62 mm CCD with 10.3 million photosites (10.0 megapixels effective)
      Lens: 4.95-35.4mm f/3.3-5.2 zoom lens (28-200mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 7x optical, up to 4.8x digital
      Image formats: Stills ““ JPEG (Exif 2.2); Movies ““ AVI Motion JPEG with sound
      Image Sizes: Stills – 3648×2736, 3648×2432, 2736×2736, 3264×2448, 2592×1944, 2048×1536, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480; Movies – 640 x 480 at 15/30 fps, 320 x 240 at 15/30 fps
      Shutter speed range: 8, 4, 2, 1 sec. to 1/2000 sec.
      Image Stabilisation: CCD-shift
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2 EV in 1/3 step increments
      Focus system/range: TTL auto focus; range 30 cm to infinity; macro to 1 cm
      Exposure metering/control: TTL-CCD metering with 256-segment multi, centre-weighted, spot metering; Program AE plus 11 scene mode settings
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
      White balance: Auto, Outdoors, Cloudy, Incandescent (x2), Fluorescent, Manual; white balance bracketing provided
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, red-eye reduction, flash on, flash synchro, soft flash, flash off; range 0.2-3.0 metres
      Sequence shooting: 1.0 fps (6.9 fps at 3MP in high-speed mode)
      Storage Media: 24 MB internal memory plus SD/SDHC expansion slot
      Viewfinder: n.a.
      LCD monitor: 2.7-inch Transparent amorphous silicon TFT LCD, (approx. 460,000 pixels)
      Power supply: DB-70 rechargeable lithium-ion battery (approx. 270 shots/charge)
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 102.0 x 58.3 x 26.1 mm
      Weight: 168 grams (without battery and card)





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