The trouble with most gadgets is that even the slightest knock, the tiniest grain of dust or the smallest drop of water can potentially render them inoperable. But what if you need to use your camera in a harsh environment? One answer might be to opt for the rugged Ricoh G700. At around £500, it's expensive, but Ricoh claims the G700 is built to last.
Resilience isn't futile
The G700 certainly doesn't look like most of the cameras you're likely to have encountered so far. There's no svelte metallic design to coo over here. Instead, the G700 is built like a brick outhouse, or rather a toughened plastic outhouse.
The body of the device is fashioned from some kind of dense, yet yielding, moulded polymer, with protectors added at strategic points. The lens is of the non-extending variety and is protected by a layer of toughened glass. The USB socket, AV-out, SD card slot and battery bay are all protected by sealed covers.
According to Ricoh, the G700 is able to withstand drops from up to 2m. The camera is also rain-, splash- and water-resistant to a depth of 5m, at which point it can be used for up to 2 hours at a time. It's impervious to dust and sand too, and it's safe to clean the device using chemical disinfectants, such as ethanol and bleach. Finally, the G700 is built to resist cold temperatures, and can used right down to -10°C. The large, simple buttons are even designed to be used while wearing gloves.
The G700 is larger than the average compact camera, but it's by no means a behemoth. The sombre-looking black body is somewhat offset by the big yellow and grey buttons. The overall visual effect is somewhere between that of a serious piece of industrial kit and a child's toy.
In addition to its hardened outer shell, the G700 offers a decent selection of internal specs. It has a 5x optical zoom lens with a wide-angle equivalent of 28mm, and a 12.1-megapixel sensor. It can record videos too at a maximum, high-definition resolution of 720p. The G700 lacks an optical viewfinder but comes with a large, 3-inch LCD display, with a high resolution of 920,000 pixels.
A powerful, 10-metre flash is built in, although there's also an accessory shoe for adding a third-party flash, should the need arise. Sensitivity settings can be pushed up to ISO 3,200, although the top setting results in picture-noise overload.