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Ricoh Caplio RR530 - Digital Camera Quick Review
Review Date: 04/11/05
Rating: Average
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Introduction: The Ricoh Caplio RR530, available from around £118 ($199 as the E500), is a compact 5 megapixel digital camera, with a 3x optical zoom lens and a 1.8" TFT screen. The camera is enclosed in a compact silver plastic body, with a few metal parts (front, top). The "Super Zoom" 3x optical zoom lens is equivelant to 32-96mm on a 35mm camera. It records unlimited 320x240 / 15fps videos with sound (although there is no built in speaker for playback). The camera's size is: 95 x 44.3 x 25.7 mm, and the camera weighs 130g (without batteries). Nb. The Ricoh Caplio RR530 is manufactured by Premier as the Ricoh Caplio RR530, Pentax Optio 50, Konica Minolta Dimage E500, Vivitar V5385, Hitachi HDC-530E, Rollei Prego dp5500, the main difference being the styling, and the screen size.

Ricoh have this to say about the camera:

"The compact 5.0 megapixel is a digital camera that makes the joy of digital photography accessible even to novice users. The Caplio RR530 is the latest addition to the popular, award-winning Ricoh Caplio series, whose high performance, excellent value and style has won favour with digital photographers around the world. The RR530 consistently produces stunning, crystal-clear images that mark it out from the other cameras in its class. Boasting a 3x optical zoom and 4x digital zoom for a combined 12x zoom, the RR530 is equipped to capture a wide range of scenes."

You can find more information on their website.

The Camera: It's compact and made out of shiney silver plastic with some metal parts.
(Photos of the camera taken with a Panasonic Lumix FZ3)

Front - Camera off.

Front / Side - Camera on, lens extended, flash, microphone, optical viewfinder, USB connector, AC in.

Back / Side - Optical viewfinder, 1.8" TFT, zoom control, play, menu, delete, ok button and 4-way controller. Strap hole.

Top - mode dial, on/off switch, shutter release.

Bottom, under the camera there is a plastic tripod mount and the battery / memory compartment.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm film camera.

Size comparison.

Size comparison.

Specifications / Features:

  • 5 megapixel resolution
  • 3x optical zoom
  • 4x digital zoom
  • 1.8" screen
  • 6cm macro mode
  • 320x240 15fps movie mode with sound
  • 4 scene modes (Portrait, Landscape, Sports or Night.)
  • ISO: Auto, 50, 100, 200
  • 12mb internal memory, SD card slot

Box Contents:

  • Digital Camera
  • Neck Strap
  • USB cable
  • AA Alkaline batteries
  • Camera case
  • Software CD-ROM
  • 72 page Printed Manual

Average box contents - a large memory card would have been nice. Nice to see an included case, and a printed manual.

The Camera in Use:

Battery usage: Battery life on alkaline batteries was fairly poor. Battery life on Ni-Mh batteries was much better, although still nothing exciting.

Speed: The camera switches on and becomes ready in roughly 3 seconds. If the flash is needed, then expect to wait quite a while - roughly 5 or 6 seconds. The screen updates are fairly quick and smooth (in good light). The playback mode is a bit sluggish, but zooming isn't too slow. Playback mode allows you to zoom as close as 4x. The camera has a continuous shooting mode that takes 3 photos in roughly 3 seconds without flash.The general shot to shot time was fairly slow. The camera shutter response seemed fairly sluggish and unresponsive. Focusing was also quite slow, and often failed in low-light.

Ease of use: The camera is easy to use. The controls on the back of the camera are fairly easy to use. The camera is quite compact and pocketable. The menus are easy to use, and the options are easy enough to see clearly. The modes are easy to access, quick and simple - there's a fully automatic mode as well as various scene modes for simple point and shoot operation.

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are fairly easy to use, and they are in a good position. There seems to be the right amount of buttons. The buttons feel okay, the shutter release is quite decent. The buttons are labelled fairly well, although the menu button could be labelled more clearly. I thought the camera felt good ergonomically. Some people may find the buttons too small. I found the 4-way joypad to be a bit small.

Screen / Viewfinder: The 1.8" screen is fairly clear with accurate colours, and updates quite smoothly, it becomes brighter in low-light. The optical viewfinder is small which is disappointing but quite normal.

Image Quality:

Image quality generally: Outside image quality was fairly good, colour was rich and saturated, and the pictures had good contrast, although images were soft and as a result detail was average - noise was visible in ISO50 shots. Indoors - image quality was average - with high noise in photos even when taken at ISO100. Focusing was also a big problem, with the camera focusing slowly and often unsuccessful in low-light. Images were generally fairly soft, and may benefit from sharpening. The maco mode was average and the closest you can get to the subject is 6cm away. Have a look at the Ricoh Caplio RR530 Sample Photo Gallery here.

Image quality issues: There was some purple fringing, slightly higher than average, and noise was high in most shots - especially if ISO100 or ISO200 were used.

Zoom: The camera's 3x optical zoom is fairly quiet. It has 10 steps between wide and telephoto. The camera also has a 4x digital zoom that enlarges the image degrading image quality.

Movie: The movie mode offers 320x240 / 15fps with sound. The movie mode is average, although it does fit a decent length in memory, for example it will record around 38 minutes with a 512mb card.

Size + Compression options: The choices are 5mp (2569x1920), 3mp (2048x1536), 1.2mp (1280x960), VGA (640x480). Compression options are Fine / Normal / Economy. There's quite a good choice here regarding compression, however there is no 3:2 aspect ratio which is useful for people wanting to print their images at the traditional 6"x4" size.

Flash Performance: The flash performed quite well in the photos I took and performed better when the subject was closer to the camera - however I wouldn't expect the camera to light up large rooms, or groups very well. The flash caused problems when used with macro mode, bleaching the image. Flash charge time was quite slow at around 4-5 seconds.

Value for Money: Currently at £118 the Ricoh Caplio RR530 offers very good value for money for a 5 megapixel digital camera with a 3x optical zoom lens, however you may be able to find the Pentax Optio 50 version for less.

Alternative compact digital cameras: The budget 5 megapixel / 3x optical zoom lens Olympus FE-110 / X705, at £99 is also worth considering for those on a tight budget. Check amazon.co.uk / amazon.com for the latest prices. See more suggestions sorted by megapixels here.

Conclusion: The Ricoh Caplio RR530 is a compact 5 megapixel digital camera and is good in regards to value for money and features, however, the average movie mode, poor low-light focusing, and average speed mean that this camera is fairly average, and difficult to recommend. Good results can be obtained when taking photos outside set to ISO50, and when the camera manages to focus indoors, but noise is quite high, and shutter lag and slow focusing defintiely hinder usefulness. Much better results can be acheived by spending a little bit more money on a better camera (for example the Nikon Coolpix 5600), or a similar amount of money on a lower megapixel camera (for example the 4 megapixel Pentax Optio S40/S45).

Ricoh Caplio RR530 Rating: Average
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What I like:

  • Quite compact
  • Saturation, Sharpness, Controls
  • Excellent value for money
  • Takes AA batteries
  • Case included

What I don't like:

  • Poor low-light focusing.
  • Slow focusing / slow shutter response.
  • Soft images
  • No custom white balance
  • High noise at ISO100/200
  • Playback only zooms to 4x

Remember to have a look at the test photos in the new gallery.