Continuing the trend they set with the stylish Caplio R3, Ricoh's new model, the Caplio R4, offers something a little different to the competition. Suited for those wanting a classy, high-end compact, it sports a suave design, a huge zoom and fairly decent picture quality.
- Stylish design, Huge zoom, Low noise
- Picture quality was adequate
The R4 is a sophisticated compact with a big zoom that performs more than adequately in most regards.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
Performance and Functionality
The big selling point of this model, like its predecessor, is the gigantic zoom. Despite coming in a compact form factor, the R4 packs in a massive 7.1X optical zoom. At full extension, the lens is twice the width of the rest of the camera and offers a lot more control than your average 3X zoom point and shoot model. Such a lens really comes into its own when shooting sports photography, where shorter zooms can't always keep the action in the frame.
Zoom aside, this is a fairly standard model with very basic manual capabilities. There is a rudimentary shutter speed option which allows you pick from three preset configurations. We didn't find it particularly useful, but it is nice to have the option. ISO sensitivities extend up to 800 and white balance has both presets and a custom mode. We really liked the R4's continuous shot function, which operated at a robust 3.5 frames a second. Combine this with the zoom and you've got a great sports camera in a compact body. There is also an anti-shake setting which is a big help, keeping shots jitter free at high zoom levels.
The support for quick photography is further enhanced by this model's performance in our other speed tests. With a shutter operation time of just .09 of a second and a shot- to-shot time of just over a second, you won't be missing much of the action. Power-up time was slightly slower however, making us wait 2.5 seconds for our first picture.
The R4's pictures were slightly above average, with the camera offering reasonable performance in most areas.
Scoring 10.2 in our Imatest colourchecker, we found the overall colour balance to be pretty good. The inaccuracy was spread fairly evenly across the spectrum, with the problem colours being red and blue. Despite not scoring 6-7 like some other cameras we've looked at recently, realistically you will be hard pressed to tell the difference unless the shots are placed side by side.
Its sharpness rating of 1296 was slightly more impressive. For a six megapixel sensor this is an above average score and although our pictures were not quite as crisp as we expected, they were more than satisfactory. Imatest did reveal quite a bit of oversharpening which made its presence felt. This showed itself in our test shots, with a certain cell shaded look to parts of the pictures that detracted from their realism.
Chromatic aberration was a little above normal, scoring .113% in Imatest. While this isn't at a chronic level - over .15% is considered to be bad - it still has some impact on the pictures and helps explain why our shots were slightly blurry in some parts despite the R4's solid sharpness score.
The R4 also performed well in our Image Noise check, scoring .57% at its lowest setting, which is well within the range we consider to be acceptable. With a result like this, noise shouldn't really be visible, and our clean, smooth shots confirmed this. Impressively, the R4 also continued this strong performance at higher ISO levels, achieving a 1.38% result at ISO 800. Compared to the 1.7-2.2 scores achieved by many other models at these settings, this is a great result and really cements the R4 as a wonderful choice for speedy photography.
The one area that Ricoh manages to consistently distinguish itself is in terms of design. Everything about their products, from the camera itself to the leather holster and camera bag, exhibit style and sophistication. The R4 continues this trend. It comes with a black and matte silver colour scheme and a smoothly finished, entirely metal chassis. It feels robust and solid enough to take a few knocks yet still manages to look incredible.
The controls are fairly minimalist, with a basic function switch, menu button and directional pad. We didn't like the fact that all the options are crammed into a single menu, rather than broken up for simplicity like other models. However, for a compact camera with limited controls, this is only a minor problem.
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