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new toy | by jurvetson
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new toy

Not yet available in the U.S., I had to order this camera from Hong Kong. Short answer so far: I’ll be sticking with the Lumix FX-7, and I’ll recommend the Casio Z55 for friends who want to point and shoot. I need to do some more experiments with the Ricoh (and I might just not be talented enough to make it shine), but so far, I am thinking that I might use it only for macro zoom shots. I’ll post some examples (ear, flower).


Tempting features of this Ricoh Caplio R2:

• 1cm Macro Zoom (the key feature for me)

• 800 ISO (nice in theory, but too noisy for me)

• Wide angle 28-135mm optical 4.8x zoom lens

• 500 shots per battery charge (similar to Casio)

• Fast start up and < half second shutter release time lag (like Casio). It does not have a fast focus time for macro shots I discovered.


All three cameras are equal on these critical elements (for me):

• Small size (1” thick pocket cameras)

• 2.5” LCD (essential in my opinion)

• 5MP (the sweet spot for resolution vs. photons/pixel IMHO)


I hesitated to get this camera because of the minimum fstop of 3.3 which does a very poor job in low-light indoor shots (like some Sony Cybershots). The Casio has the best out there at 2.6, and the Lumix has a standard 2.8. I find most of my photos depend on this parameter as I do not use tripods and try to avoid flash


Sure enough, 95% of the photos I have taken in auto mode went straight to the trash. Adjustments to -0.3 or -0.7 EV in outdoor daylight shots came out OK. 400 and 800 ISO were noisy for indoor shots.


And across the board, the lens is sensitive to stray light, with glare and purple fringing in many shots where the Lumix had no problems.


One other nuisance, which could be easily fixed when they start exporting this camera: the factory default settings are horrible. So the out-of-box experience is a major disappointment. The camera powers up in 1MP mode with heavy image compression (could it be that they want the user to be impressed with the number of shots that can be taken with the built-in 27MB of memory?)


So on a spectrum, nothing beats the Casio for ease of use and “auto” excellence. The Ricoh has the most interesting specs along several dimensions, but less than 5% of the photos I have taken so far are keepers. The Lumix is a happy middle ground, with some cool features like optical image stabilization, and a decent range of performance in auto mode. (note: I am only reviewing pocket cameras; clearly better cameras are out there if you are willing to go big)

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Taken on June 4, 2005