Simply put, the Ricoh Caplio R3 is one of the best Ricoh model's we've looked at recent months. One thing we love about the Ricoh R series is the sophistication and class it brings, right down to the smallest details. The R3 for example, arrived in a high quality black cloth camera bag, and the camera itself was cased in a brown leather holster.
- Lovely design, competitive photos, lightning quick
- Poor features, some minor design issues
Sophistication thy name is Ricoh. A wonderful looking camera that takes some great snaps and will satisfy most buyers.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
This sophistication continues with the camera design. The jet black metal casing is grafted around a slightly misshapen body which kinks on the right hand side to give a distinctive look and feel. The R3 sits nicely in the hand and remains comfortable even after strenuous photography sessions. The buttons are in a largely standard layout with a few traditional Ricoh alterations. Our favourite is the adjust button, which brings up a quick way to manipulate white balance, exposure and ISO settings, rather than navigating through the menu. There are also the standard flash and macro mode commands, as well as a handy "view last shot" button. We didn't like the mode switch however, which replaces the function wheel to jump between video, voice and photo recording. It felt flimsy and was the only cheap feeling part of the camera.
As a basic point and shoot, the R3 is equipped with a standard array of functions including exposure, white balance and ISO presets. The eight preset shooting modes is pitiful in comparison to the 15 or 20 present on some rival models, but there is an image stabilisation function which we always like to see; after all, nobody's hands are one hundred percent steady. The zoom is also a very notable feature. How Ricoh managed to cram a 7.1x optical zoom into such a small lens is beyong us, but it is far and beyond the 3x and 4x zooms normally available on point and shoot cameras.
The effect of the image stabiliser is really noticeable in the pictures, which we think are a big improvement over the earlier R2. Ricoh's previous model suffered from blurring towards the bottom of the photographs, which has been all but eradicated on the R3. Colour saturation was good, without being brilliant (there was no over saturation, which is the most common colour problem) and the only complaint we could venture is that the pictures could be a little sharper in high light settings, but in general the pictures were quite impressive. There was some noticeable noise with ISO at 800, but that is to be expected and the lower settings were more than usable.
If speed is your thing, you will be pleased to hear Ricoh have really outdone themselves with this model. The R3 offers lightning quick responses across the board. Start-up is a mere second, just long enough for the zoom lens to extend and shutter lag is unnoticeable. Image write time comes in at just below two seconds. But what we really loved about this model is the autofocus. It is one of the fastest we've ever encountered. Normally it can take more than a second from the time you half depress the shutter button till when the lens actually focuses, but on the R3 it is barely 30 milliseconds. Combined with the wonderful speed of the other key functions and you've got one of the quickest cameras on the market.
The R3 performed well in our battery tests, managing to take 550 shots before it powered down, which is above average for a standard compact model. It is clearly not made for shooting video however, taking poor 320X240 recordings at 15 or 30 fps.
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