Ricoh Caplio R6

      Photo Review 7.5

      In summary

      A slimline digicam with some handy recording modes for everyday photographers.Ricoh’s Caplio R6 is an upgrade to the popular Caplio R5 model with a slimmer, but slightly longer, body that’s 30 grams lighter than its predecessor. Physically, the two cameras look very similar, which isn’t surprising as they share the same 7.24 megapixel CCD imager and 7.1x wide-angle zoom lens. The same CCD-shift vibration correction function appears in both cameras, although the R6 benefits from improvements to the correction algorithms. It also sports a larger 2.7-inch LCD and is available in silver, black and red. No viewfidner is provided. . . [more]

      Full review


      Ricoh’s Caplio R6 is an upgrade to the popular Caplio R5 model with a slimmer, but slightly longer, body that’s 30 grams lighter than its predecessor. Physically, the two cameras look very similar, which isn’t surprising as they share the same 7.24 megapixel CCD imager and 7.1x wide-angle zoom lens. The same CCD-shift vibration correction function appears in both cameras, although the R6 benefits from improvements to the correction algorithms. It also sports a larger 2.7-inch LCD and is available in silver, black and red. No viewfinder is provided.


      What Ricoh calls ‘a complete re-thinking the design of the double retracting lens system’ has allowed designers to pare 5.4mm off the thickness of the new camera’s body. The lens set-up has also been ‘optimised’ through the use of highly-refractive glass elements. But it’s lost a little speed at the tele end, where the maximum aperture range is reduced from f/4.8 to f/5.2. This is unlikely to have much effect on users.


      Despite its tiny controls, the Caplio R6 is reasonably comfortable to hold and its case feels solid, although the battery/card compartment is a tad too easy to open accidentally and the tripod socket appears to be lined with plastic. It’s a pity Ricoh didn’t redesign the R6’s menu system because it requires far too much toggling to reach controls like the exposure compensation, white balance and ISO. Why they are located on page 3 of the shooting menu when infrequently-used settings like time exposure and interval shooting are on page 2 is inexplicable. Putting the sharpness adjustment on page 1 is quite bizarre.
      A new ADJ. button provides quick access to most of these settings and is preferable to using the menu. The Movie mode is accessed via a tiny slider above the LCD, just behind the on/off button. Three click stops are provided covering stills, video and a My mode that lets users save two groups of customised settings, which must first be registered via the menu system.
      The addition of face recognition technology to the Caplio R6 brings its capabilities up to match competing cameras from Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Samsung. According to Ricoh’s press release, a proprietary algorithm is used for face detection and the camera’s microprocessor can adjust focus, exposure and white balance to optimise exposures. However, the system only works with the dedicated Face mode in the Scene menu. Ricoh claims it can detect up to four faces in a shot.
      After pressing the quick review button, you can now enlarge the image up to 16x with the zoom control to check the shot was in focus. The Display button also includes a new function the causes blocked highlights to ?ash in playback mode. Alternatively, a histogram can be displayed with shooting data in playback mode. Another new function is an auto high sensitivity mode that boosts sensitivity up to ISO 1600 depending on the brightness of the subject.


      The highlight alert causes blown-out highlights to flash when shots are replayed, allowing users to re-shoot with exposure compensation.

      A new function ?ashes blown-out highlights in quick review and playback modes, allowing users to adjust exposure levels to prevent white saturation. The Caplio R6 also sports a dual size recording mode that lets you record two image ?les simultaneously; one at the pre-set size and a reduced file that can be 1-megapixel, VGA, HVGA, or QVGA sized for emailing. The standard 1cm macro function has been augmented with a Zoom Macro setting that couples the digital zoom with the close-focusing control providing greater shooting flexibility.
      Zooming is further extended with an Auto Resize function that automatically changes the image size when shooting at 7M size and zooming beyond the optical limit. Resolution is progressively reduced to VGA size where the effective magnification is 34.1 times. Improvements have also been made to the Skew Correction function, which is handy in business environments where subjects such as signs and presentations can’t be photographed from the front.
      Files that were accidentally deleted can be restored with the new File Recovery feature and the internal memory has been expanded from 26MB to 54MB. Another new playback function lets you skip 10 shots forward or backward, simplifying searching when many shots are stored on a high-capacity memory card.

      Shots taken with the test camera were bright and detailed with modest colour saturation but the expected limited dynamic range of small-sensor digicams. Exposure metering slightly favoured shadows, which meant blown-out highlights were common in test exposures, even in relatively subdued lighting. Fortunately, this situation was easily improved by setting the exposure compensation to -0.3EV.
      Imatest showed resolution to be below expectations and confirmed our subjective detection of edge softening in shots. Barrel distortion was also found at the widest lens setting but no distortion was detected once the lens was zoomed beyond the first third of its range.
      Resolution declined sharply as the ISO increased from 400 towards the maximum of ISO 1600, where it was very low. Strong under-sharpening may have contributed to these results as well as image noise, which became obvious from ISO 400 on. Stuck pixels were found in long exposures. Imatest showed colour saturation to be relatively low for a compact digicam and revealed some minor colour shifts in purples and orange-reds. Lateral chromatic aberration was low but we detected some coloured fringing in shots taken in bright outdoor lighting.
      As with other Ricoh cameras we’ve tested, close-up performance was excellent, although shots taken in shade showed a distinct blue cast that the auto white balance setting failed to eliminate. And white that auto white balance managed fluorescent lighting very well, the orange cast of incandescent lighting was only corrected with the manual pre-set and custom measurement modes. Low-light performance was also disappointing, both with and without flash. The flash only had sufficient power to illuminate an average-sized room at the highest ISO settings, where noise made shots almost unusable.
      Overall camera responsiveness was excellent. The camera powered-up in less than a second and autofocusing was fast and positive. We measured an average capture lag of 0.4 seconds, which reduced to instantaneous capture when shots were pre-focused. Individual shots were processed in less than 0.2 seconds and the burst setting recorded a sequence of high-resolution JPEGs at intervals of 0.3 seconds. The two high-speed modes (first and last), which record a single frame containing 16 low-resolution images captured shots at intervals of just over 0.1 seconds. It took just over 0.2 seconds to process one of these bursts.
      The CCD-shift anti-shake system was reasonably effective in bright light, especially with the lens at full zoom. However, it was unable to compensation for dim lighting, particularly with indoor shots. Battery life was excellent. Plenty of capacity remained at the end of our tests. Ricoh claims users should expect around 330 shots per charge.





      Close-up in sunlight.


      Close-up in shade.


      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      Image noise at ISO100.


      Image noise at ISO 1600.


      Setting exposure compensation to -0.3EV allows the camera to record a wider dynamic range than the default settings.




      Image sensor: 5.76 x 4.29mm CCD with 7.41 million photosites (7.24 megapixels effective)
      Lens: 4.6 to 33mm f/3.3-5.2 zoom (28-200mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 7.1x optical; 4.8x digital
      Image formats: Stills ““ JPEG (Exif 2.21); Movies ““ AVI/WAV
      Image Sizes: Stills – 3072 x 2304, 3072 x 2048, 2592 x 1944, 2048 x 1536, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480; Movies – 640 x 480, 320 x 240, 160 x 120
      Shutter speed range: 8,4,2,1 to 1/2000 sec (Movie: 1/30 to 1/2000 sec)
      Image Stabilisation: CCD Shift
      Exposure Compensation: -2.0 ~+2.0 EV in 1/3EV steps
      Focus system/range: External passive/CCD AF; range 30 cm to infinity; macro to 1 cm
      Exposure metering/control: TTL-CCD 256-segment multi, centre-weighted and spot metering; Program AE plus 11 scene modes
      ISO range: Auto, Auto Hi, ISO 64,100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
      White balance: Auto, Outdoors, Cloudy, Incandescent x2, Fluorescent, Manual
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Flash Off, Auto, Red-eye reduction, Forced Flash, Soft Flash, Slow synchro.; range 0.2-3.0 m
      Sequence shooting:
      Storage Media: 54 MB internal memory plus SD card expansion slot
      Viewfinder: n.a.
      LCD monitor: 2.7 inch Transparent Amorphous Silicon TFT LCD, approx 230,000 pixels
      Power supply: DB-70 Lithium-ion rechargeable battery
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 99.6 x 55 x 23.3 mm (excluding projecting parts)
      Weight: Approx. 135g (without battery, card and strap)





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