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Ricoh Caplio R5 review: Ricoh Caplio R5

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.

Steven Deare
5 min read

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.


Ricoh Caplio R5

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.

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.

The other marked improvement the R5 has on the R4 is a higher resolution 2.5 inch LCD screen. The new model has a screen of 230,000 pixels, well up from the 153,000 pixels of the R4. However, we can't say we found the screen easier to view than other cameras. Ricoh claims the LCD offers better viewing in strong light conditions, but we still found ourselves often having to shield it or move elsewhere to see properly in sunlight.

Other more standard features of the camera include skew correction mode, which can straighten your image if it was slanted. There's also macro shooting at 1cm and close-up flash shooting at 14cm (telephoto) or 20cm (wide-angle).

To put it simply: not good enough. Our review model produced a number of lock-ups and malfunctions during the course of our review period, despite being tested in friendly conditions.

The simplest of these was the old-fashioned lockup. Every now and then while being operated, the device would seize up and freeze. Not even the lens would retract. We couldn't pin this problem down to a certain function causing the lock-up, it was just random. No matter which button we pressed, including the power button, the camera would not break from its frozen state. Of course, this could be quickly and easily fixed by sliding the battery out, then in again. The camera would then return to normal operating mode without the loss of photos or settings.

More alarming was the tendency of playback mode to occassionally not display our images. Several times we pressed the button to reflect on our recent snaps, only to be greeted by a grey screen with the words: "Unmatched file". We flicked back to earlier shots hoping the problem would disappear, but our panic only grew as the grey screen appeared for all of them. While we feared we'd lost our precious images, we later found them unscathed when playback mode operated successfully. One possibile cause of the problem is the camera had difficulty reading our memory card.

It's only fair to note that both of these problems could usually be fixed quickly. When it wasn't producing hiccups, the R5 worked fine. However, when there are so many digital cameras to choose on the market, you have to ask yourself whether you should put up with it. Let's hope every other R5 device in Ricoh's production line isn't as prone to stalling as our review model.