Pendulum swings in favour of Ricoh's new Caplio

Ricoh has managed to pack a 4.8x zoom into a slim-bodied camera thanks to a new pendulum retracting lens system.

The Ricoh Caplio R1 can fit such a zoom (28mm to 135mm equivalent) in its 25mm wide frame because a pendulum containing part of the glass lens system swings from the main body of the camera, where it is tucked away, and into the main lens component. This forms a completed lens barrel, providing the extra zoom.

Ricoh's pendulum retracting lens system

Camera makers can usually only get a 3x zoom snugly into such a small body, said Norman Koslowski, Ricoh's marketing communications manager.

He said cameras which have a larger zoom normally did so at the expense of width -- the lens protrudes from the camera mount rather than being stowed away completely.

Ricoh has also reduced startup time on the Caplio R1 to just 0.8sec, PC World found out when testing the camera at a press launch. Other times have also come down. The camera takes 0.05sec to focus and take a picture. When focus is set, Ricoh claims it only takes 0.003sec to capture the image.

Unlike the Ricoh 5Mp Caplio GX, which features manual functions, the 4Mp Caplio R1 is completely automatic. It features six scene modes (Portrait, Sports, Landscape, Night Scene, Text, High-Sensitivity), auto exposure bracketing, white balance and three continuous shooting modes. In Macro mode users can get to within 1cm of the target.

Ricoh's Caplio R1

Ricoh claims the supplied lithium battery lasts 500 shots before needing a recharge. It also accepts AA alkaline batteries, which should allow the camera to take about 200 shots. The Caplio R1has 12MB of internal memory and supports SD Memory Card and MultiMedia Card. The movie mode, which shoots at 30fps, is only limited by the size of the card installed. The R1 connects to a PC via a USB 1.1 port. It costs $649 and is available now.

Along with the Ricoh R1, the company is also due to release next week the 4Mp Caplio RZ1. This camera has similar features to the Caplio R1. However, it will come with a 3x optical zoom (35mm to 105mm), slighter slower start up (0.13 seconds) and only supports AA batteries. It will sell for $499.

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