Ricoh Australia R50
Adequate for the asking price
- Small and lightweight, novice-friendly scene functions, manual focus options
- Noise noticeable even at low ISO settings, lethargic playback menu, images lacked vibrancy
The Ricoh R50 is an average compact camera that provides a fair-to-middling performance across the board. While image quality could be better, it offers an assortment of useful modes and features to make the beginner's life easier.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
The artist formally known as ‘Caplio’ is back with a new entry-level compact camera. Simply titled the R50, this latest addition to the Ricoh range packs plenty of consumer-friendly features into a highly portable package (standouts include a 1/2.3in 10-megapixel CCD sensor, a 5x optical zoom, 15 scene functions and a manual focusing mode). At $299, it provides passable image quality for the asking price, although even at low ISO settings noise was more prevalent than we’re used to. While it should satisfy those in need of an affordable point-and-shoot camera, we can’t help but feel there are better options on the market. It’s also a bit drab looking to boot.
The R50 is the latest entry-level compact to offer 10-megapixel images. While this number is beloved by marketers and shoppers alike, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee great results — especially if it isn't paired with a decent sized sensor. In the R50’s case, we found our photos were adequate at best, and that was when shooting in optimum conditions. Like most prospective R50 users, we began shooting at the default setting straight out of the box, and were less than enthused by the results. While fairly sharp, our test shots suffered from some speckling and colours appeared washed out and muted. If you’re the type of photographer who prefers an injection of rich vibrancy, the R50 might be a little too neutral for your tastes.
The R50 offers ISO settings from 50 to 3200, with results taking a turn towards ugly at 400. Typically, a compact camera’s output should remain uncompromised at ISO 400, so the R50 is slightly under par in this respect. Image noise and loss of detail were both unpleasantly high when we magnified photos that were taken at this setting. This was further exacerbated by dim lighting, with the inbuilt flash failing to eradicate noise from the frame (this problem can be partially attributed to the R50’s maximum wide aperture of f/3.5).
For most people, the two most important selling points for a compact camera — apart from the ability to take great photos — are style and portability. While the R50 excels in the latter category (it measures just 93x56.3x23.4mm), its appearance could be considered too plain for some. With its traditional silver finish and basic oblong design, it lacks the visual pizzazz of some of its trendier rivals, such as the Nikon CoolPix S550 or FujiFilm FinePix Z100fd. Subsequently, pulling it out of your purse or jacket is unlikely to occasion much comment from friends or family. If you prefer your gadgets to instil delight and envy in those who see them, we’d advise looking for something swankier.
It’s not all bad though. Casual users should be particularly impressed with the inclusion of 15 separate scene functions. From the sports function (for fast moving images) to the cosmetic function (for flattering skin tones), the range of modes on offer will allow novices to get the kind of result they desire with minimal know-how. Another interesting feature of the Ricoh R50 is its manual focus mode. This is achieved by making incremental adjustments with the camera’s macro button. To be honest, we’re not sure whether many users will take advantage of this function, but it remains a nice feature to have at your disposal. It should prove especially handy on those rare occasions when the autofocus has trouble ‘locking’ on to an intended subject.
We found the R50’s menu interface took some getting used to. For one thing, it lacks the comforting familiarity of a function wheel, which is sure to throw some users off. This means you will need to wade through multiple menu screens to select certain shooting options, which can be irritating in the long run. Adding to the pain is the lethargic playback menu. Swapping between images can take up to two seconds, while moving back to camera mode takes even longer. Consequently, you could end up looking at the flashing ‘Processing’ message more than your actual photos. On the plus side, the 2.3 inch LCD display does a good job of displaying information and images (this is just as well, as the R50 lacks an optical viewfinder).
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