The Caplio R3 is a slickly designed camera with stark metallic lines in a very small (95.0 x 26.0 x 53.0mm) and light (around 160g with battery) casing. The top of the camera contains the power button, a small shot button and a very small button that controls the camera's vibration correction function. The rear houses all the camera's major controls, including a vertical zoom control and the 2.5 inch LCD. There's no optical viewfinder. One common issue with smaller cameras like the R3 is that the controls can be somewhat tightly packed together, and it's a pitfall that the R3 doesn't quite escape. Those with larger hands (or less manual dexterity) could find some of the R3's controls a little tricky to deal with.
The R3 uses a retracted lens -- in fact, it's a very retracted lens, using what Ricoh calls its double retracting lens system. When you first power up the camera you'll get something of a shock, partly because it's got a rather noisy mechanism, but mostly because the lens shoots out to around three times the length of the camera body itself. It almost gives the impression that you could use the R3 as some kind of crude hammer. (Note: CNET.com.au does not suggest that you should use the R3 as a hammer unless lives are at stake. You will assuredly break the camera doing so.)
If you've ever laid awake at night wondering whatever happened to those leather patches that adorned university lecturer's jacket elbows in the 1970's, then you probably need serious help. That having been said, you can wonder no more, as clearly the patches have been re-sewn to make up the Caplio R3's carrying pouch. It's an odd contrast in styles, given the sleek metallic lines of the R3 camera itself, to put it into a dark brown carrying case.
The R3 is an effective 5.13 megapixel camera with an impressive wide angle 28mm lens capable of 7.1x optical zoom. There's no digital zoom on the R3 whatsoever. It's not massively well equipped in the internal storage stakes, with only 26MB of internal storage. That's good enough for only 13 pictures at highest (2592 x 1944) resolution. It'll take SD or MMC cards up to 1GB; we'd suggest that some kind of additional storage would be a mandatory purchase if you're considering the R3.