Ricoh 5Mp Caplio R1V

Ricoh's latest camera offering, the Caplio R1V, is almost identical to the previously released CaplioR1 -- but with an extra 1Mp resolution taking it to 5Mp.

A compact camera ideal for the home user, the Caplio R1V offers a 4.8x wide-angle optical zoom lens, plus 3.6x digital zoom. Like its 4Mp predecessor, the Caplio R1V also records video and sound.

A front-of-camera sliding switch activates startup and the camera is ready for action in less than a second. Fortunately, the design means you're unlikely to activate this function accidentally.

There are two ways of shooting a subject: the conventional full-press, or the half-press. Half-press allows the user to determine the focal distance of a subject before the shot. This is useful for subjects that aren't centred.

Also offering ways to tweak shots are the Adjust and Menu buttons on the back of the camera. The Adjust function controls white balance, with modes such as overcast and tungsten light, as well as light sensitivity. The Menu button controls settings for photometry, sharpness and image quality, among others.

Importantly for its mid-range target market, the camera is relatively easy to use without reference to instructions on these settings.

Four directional buttons navigate photos in memory, and shooting modes. Portrait, Sports, Landscape, Nightscape, Text and High Sensitivity are available, but Normal is the default.

For close-ups, macro mode lets you get as close as one centimetre to a subject.

There's certainly some fun in recording video and sound with this camera. At 30fps, the video quality should satisfy the R1V's intended users. Recording length is limited by the camera's 12MB internal memory, which gives you just over a minute (on low resolution), and 26 minutes of sound. Adding more memory via the SD card slot can fix this, of course.

The strong power management features makes lengthy videos and sound recordings feasible. In our tests, we frequently powered the unit on and off, and used the LCD screen constantly. Despite this, the included lithium-ion battery took plenty of time to expire. You also have the option to use alkaline batteries.

If you do plan on transferring plenty of video and sound to the PC though, note that there is no support for USB 2.0.

On the PC, the CaplioViewer software presents all the standard display and editing features you would expect of such a bundled program, including slideshows.

The PC can be bypassed however, and photos sent directly to the printer via USB cable if your printer supports the PictBridge standard.

This camera has no glaring flaws. While its only distinguishing feature compared to the previous model is an extra 1Mp resolution, the mid-tier of the digital camera market is not where you look for innovation.

Vendor: Ricoh

Price: $649

Phone: 1300 363 741

URL: www.ricoh.com.au

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