So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Ricoh Australia R8
Sturdy compact with a wide-angle lens
- Sturdy and sophisticated design, 28-200mm lens with stabilisation, incredible LCD display
- Noise very prominent at ISO 400 and above, some oversharpening
While the Ricoh R8 offers a few excellent features such as the 28-200mm lens and the brilliant LCD screen, its images have a few issues that mean it may not be right for everyone.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
Ditching the Caplio name is an interesting decision by the small camera manufacturer Ricoh. The name was previously associated with sophisticated and high quality compact cameras such as the Caplio R7, so it will be interesting to see where Ricoh takes its new range in the coming year.
Its new unit, the R8, seems to indicate little has really changed other than the name. A new design is present, but the same philosophy is still evident. Ricoh has provided a sturdy, stylish compact camera with a few nifty features that will appeal to enthusiasts. However, there are some image quality issues that mean the R8 isn’t all it could have been.
The biggest of these is noise control. This camera is one of the worst we’ve seen in recent months in terms of image noise. Even ISO 400 resulted in a hefty amount of speckling and some significant detail loss; both of these issues were noticeable even at small magnifications. Images at ISO 200 and below were certainly useable but even they exhibited some minor noise. This basically means the R8 is a camera reserved for sunny days and well-lit rooms.
We also found the shots looked a little oversharpened for our tastes, but this wasn’t as much of an issue and isn’t really noticeable at most print sizes. The good news is detail levels were high and the overall clarity was excellent. There was a decent amount of purple fringing outdoors but it was kept under control in our indoor chart tests and there was little in the way of corner softening.
Colour balance was generally pretty accurate, with the standard slightly oversaturated primary colours. However, at times the camera struggled to achieve a well-exposed shot, with several of our chart snaps looking a little pale. Outdoors this proved not to be a problem and our shots were well balanced with good exposure and adequate detail in dark areas.
The speed of the unit was satisfactory in all areas. Its shutter lag clocked in at 0.08 seconds and it took 2.2 seconds to start up; both of these times are about average. The shot-to-shot time was slightly speedier at 1.6 seconds, and the burst mode operated at a pleasing 2.8 frames per second.
One noteworthy thing about the R8 is its lens. With a focal length of 28-200mm it offers both wide-angle shooting and a 7x optical zoom. This is extremely useful and quite a feat considering the relatively small dimensions of the unit. The lens is also image stabilised to help eliminate hand-shake, so shooting at the maximum zoom level shouldn’t be a problem.
The unit has custom white balance along with some shutter speed caps and a fairly basic face detection mode. There are also two settings on the mode dial that allow you to save your configurations for later use. No manual shooting modes are present, although manual focus is included.
Past R series models all resembled each other quite closely, but the R8 steps more into the territory of the GR digital series. It has a flat design with a slightly rounded hand grip on the right side. We wouldn’t say it looks as smooth as past units but it certainly keeps with the sophisticated theme and feels extremely sturdy.
We should also note that the 2.7in LCD screen is nothing short of exceptional. There is no viewfinder on the R8, but the 470,000 pixel display means that this really isn’t an issue. It produces crisp, colourful pictures and refreshes quickly enough that there is minimal delay when moving the camera.
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