Ricoh Caplio R5 review: Ricoh Caplio R5

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The Good 7.1x optical wide angle zoom. Auto resize zoom improves picture quality of close-ups. Choice of colours: red, silver or black. Included carry case and leather belt pouch.

The Bad Prone to freezing. Image review mode sometimes doesn't work.

The Bottom Line Strong zoom features including the new auto resize zoom should interest those who take plenty of shots at distance. Be wary though of the device's occassional freeze.

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7.0 Overall

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With the Caplio R5, Ricoh offers a choice of a red, silver or black casing colour. Measuring 96mm wide by 55mm high by 26mm deep and weighing 140 grams (without battery or SD card), the camera is about the same size as many compact cameras on the market, so handling isn't a problem.

Anyone familiar with the Caplio brand will not notice much change in the design of this model as it keeps all of the functions on the back of the device except for the power and shutter buttons. Lined vertically next to the LCD is a little zoom lever at top, then underneath the playback, adjust, delete and display buttons. The mode selector is located at the top right, with a switch to position it to either image, scene (pre-defined/customised settings) or movie mode. Below the mode selector is the trusty old menu wheel, which you press for flash, macro, image review and other settings.

Both the rechargeable battery and memory card are located inside the slide-away cover underneath the camera and are easy to eject.

The R5's seven megapixels can produce a top picture resolution of 3072 x 2304 pixels. If it's close-ups you want though, there's plenty of zoom capability. Wide angle optical zoom of 7.1x should please those with an eagle eye, and digital zoom of 3.6x can take you closer. The auto resize zoom feature, which we'll get to shortly, can close in even further.

As camera manufacturers have been telling us for a while though, it's not all about megapixels and zoom. If you need to be able to capture an image at the drop of a hat, the R5's shutter response time of 0.09 seconds should serve you well. If you need to take plenty of rapid-fire, back-to-back shots, its continuous shooting mode of 2.8 frames per second should also do the job.

The most notable, and one of the few truly new features of the R5, is its digital zoom function called auto resize zoom. This allows digital zoom of up to 4.8x, and automatically resizes (or crops) your shot in the camera's memory to produce a better quality image. Of course, the tradeoff is image size. For example, if you've zoomed to the maximum 4.8x, the resulting photo will be of 640 x 480 (VGA) in size. So if you don't need a massive image of your close-up, this could give you the high level of detail you're looking for. The other auto resize zoom magnifications are 1.2x (reduced image size of 2592 x 1944), 1.5x (2048 x 1536) and 2.4x (1280 x 960). This feature is not tricky to operate and works just like standard digital zoom, although it can only be used when the intitial image size of shots is set to 3072 x 2304.

To see the finer image quality produced by the auto resize zoom, we shot the same subject twice.

Picture 1 (click to enlarge)  

Picture 2 (click to enlarge)

The first shot was taken with digital zoom of 3.6x, without the auto resize zoom function, while our second snap used the auto resize zoom and its increased zoom of 4.8x. The first shot without the auto resize zoom appears a little more blurry than the second shot using auto resize zoom.

When it comes to shooting video, the R5 can record at a higher resolution than that of its predecessor, the Caplio R4. The R5 offers video recording of 640 x 480 (VGA) at 30fps, which Ricoh quite fairly claims is good enough for publishing on the web. This might be an incentive to upgrade for YouTube addicts.

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