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Ricoh R10 - Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 09/11/2008
Rating: Recommended
Author: Joshua Waller
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Introduction: Announced on the 19th of September 2008, the Ricoh R10 is an update to the Ricoh R8 and features a new hand grip, a larger high resolution 3" screen, a new easy mode, a new auto level feature, new function button, and the same specifications as the R8, such as 10 megapixel sensor, 7.1x wide angle zoom, 1cm macro, anti-shake sensor and ISO1600. The Ricoh R10 is available from around £199. The camera is enclosed in a metal body available in bronze, black or silver and measures approx. 102.0 mm (W) x 58.3 mm (H) x 26.1 mm (D) excluding protrusions, and weighs approx. 168g. excluding battery and memory card.

Ricoh have this to say about the camera:

"Ricoh today announced the development and release of the RICOH R10. In addition to its 7.1x optical wide-angle zoom lens (28-200 mm in 35 mm film equivalent focal length), this new digital camera features a 460,000-dot HVGA monitor, an electronic level, and other new capabilities to further enhance its utility as a tool for easy photography with advance photographic functions."

You can find more information on their website.

The Camera: a visual tour: (Photos of the camera taken with the Canon Powershot SX110 IS)


Front view - camera off.


Front view - camera on, flash, focus assist lamp, lens.


Top: power, shutter, zoom control, mode dial.

Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm film camera - a medium/compact sized 35mm film camera.


Size comparison.


Size comparison.

Specifications / Features:

  • 10 megapixel CCD Sensor
  • Wide angle 7.1x optical zoom lens (28 to 200mm equivalent).
  • 3.0-inch 460,000 dots HVGA LCD display
  • Electronic level
  • 1:1 Aspect square format images.
  • CCD-shift-type image stabilizer
  • HD Output : No
  • Red-Eye Reduction: Yes
  • ISO : AUTO/AUTO-HI/ISO64/100/200/400/800/1600
  • 1cm Macro mode
  • Modes / Scenes: Easy, Auto / Program, My setting 1,2, Video, Scene: Portrait, Face detection, sports, landscape, nightscape, night portrait, high sensitivity, zoom macro, skew correction, and text mode.
  • Histogram available: In playback and record
  • Exposure bracketing: Auto Bracket Function (-0.5 EV, ±0, +0.5 EV /-0.3 EV, ±0, +0.3 EV), WB Bracketing, Colour bracketing (BW, Colour, Sepia)
  • Optical viewfinder: No
  • Manual WB: Yes

Box Contents:

  • R10 Digital Camera
  • Wrist Strap
  • Lithium Ion Rechargeable Battery (DB-70)
  • Battery charger and lead
  • USB cable
  • AV Cable
  • Software CD Rom

Average box contents. A memory card would be nice and I highly recommend getting a case as one is not supplied as standard.

Menu system: The menu system is logical and very easy to use. It doesn't take long to get used to the way the menu system works. The adjust and function buttons gives quick access to the most commonly used options with just one press of the button. You can further speed up access to your favourite settings by customising the function buttons. The playback menu gives you a collection of picture reviewing screens as well as more advanced options such as resize, skew correction, level compensation and white balance compensation.

Picture Size / Quality: The camera lets you choose the image size (10m, 9m, 8m, 7m, 5m, 3m, 1m, VGA), and how much compression is applied to the images (Fine, Normal). In addition, aspect ratio can be set to either 4:3 (default), 3:2 (at 9m), or 1:1 (at 7m). Higher quality images take a large amount of memory, so a high capacity memory card is definitely recommended, unless you're prepared to sacrifice image size or compression to fit more pictures in memory. There is a good choice of image sizes, compression options and aspect ratios with very few cameras offering 1:1 square format photos.


Bottom - Battery (DB-70, 3.6v, 940mAh), memory card slot, tripod mount.

Battery usage: Battery life is rated at 300 shots (according to CIPA standards) - I was able to take over 310 shots before the battery went flat. Battery life will be dependent on the kind of use you make of the camera.

Memory cards: The highest quality large JPEG Fine images take over 3 megabytes. Typically a 1gb memory card would provide room for about 300 images, which I would recommend as a bare minimum. You can use SD, and SDHC memory cards - I tend to use Sandisk Ultra II Plus USB SD memory cards as these let you plug the memory card straight into a USB socket making it easy to transfer images onto any computer, they are currently available as 1GB, 2GB, 4GB SD cards. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Ricoh R10:

Find the latest prices for SD memory cards at Amazon.co.uk: 1gb (1000mb): £4, 2gb (2000mb): £5, 4gb (4000mb SDHC): £6, 8gb (8000mb SDHC): £10
Need more help deciding what memory card to buy? Have a look at our guide to digital camera memory cards or our article what size memory card should I buy?

Speed: The camera can take its first photo from 'off' in 1.9 seconds (without flash), which is quite quick. Focusing seemed very quick. The camera shutter response seems instant when pre-focused, responding immediately - and shot to shot time was quite good, with a delay of around 1.5 seconds without flash. The flash recharge time was quite quick allowing a shot to be taken every 1.5 seconds for two shots in succession, flash is not available in the continuous shooting mode. Continuous shooting is good, at roughly 2fps at the highest quality JPEG setting until the card is full. The playback and menus are also very quick.


Back - 3" screen, play, adjust / 4-way controller, Menu button, function, self-timer, display buttons, speaker.

Ease of use: The camera is very easy to use, particularly in the AUTO mode or the new Easy mode, and has a number of scene modes that help get good results. The controls on the back of the camera are very intuitive and the menus are responsive and easy to use, and the options are big enough and easy enough to see clearly. The several modes are easy to access, mainly thanks to the clear dial at the top right of the camera and a lot of the commonly used options can be accessed using the buttons on the back. It's easy to see when photos are in focus (thanks to the extremely clear, large screen) and the image stabilisation means that more of your shots will be blur-free.

Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The layout of the buttons and controls are good, with the most commonly used options reachable with your right hand. The zoom control and shutter release is good. The mode dial is positioned well making it easy to switch modes with your thumb, and the adjust button and new function button gives quick access to your favourite settings - so that you aren't being slowed down by always having to go into the menus. I thought the camera felt good ergonomically, with a good sized rubber hand grip at the front and back of the camera. The camera feels like a solid, robust and well built camera that is easy to hold despite the small size, fits easily into pockets, and looks great. One of the biggest problems I found was with the flash position, as it was too easy to cover with your fingers.

Image Quality: Here are some real world sample photos taken in various settings, such as Inside, Outside, Macro, to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the Ricoh R10 Sample Photo Gallery!

Inside:

Heather and Flower (ISO336) Flash photo (ISO308)

Inside: The camera has good colour - It took a good "Heather and Flower" photo - there is very little red-eye in the photo. Otherwise it is very good, coping well with group photos, although red-eye was occasionally noticeable. On AUTO ISO, the ISO setting was quite low, and noise was acceptable. The camera did a good job at focusing most of the time in low-light where the focus assist lamp kicks in. Colour is quite natural, though lacking in contrast, this can be improved using Image settings - to change contrast, sharpness and colour depth by customising the image settings in camera.

ISO Noise Test: Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it fragments detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as it is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise and noise is most noticeable in darker areas. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels (ranging from ISO 80 - ISO1600), and manual ISO settings (ISO: 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600).

Below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops, viewable at 100%, from the image taken at different ISO settings, compared with the 10 megapixel Canon Powershot A2000 IS and Panasonic Lumix FX35.

Canon Powershot A2000 IS (10mp) Ricoh R10 (10mp) Panasonic Lumix FX35 (10mp)

ISO Noise Test Photos - Flash is off. Canon Powershot A2000 IS on the left, Ricoh R10 in the middle, Panasonic Lumix FX35 on the right. Any tonal difference is due to white balance or lighting / metering differences.

Canon Powershot A2000 IS (10mp) Ricoh R10 (10mp) Panasonic Lumix FX35 (10mp)
 
ISO80 - Actual Pixels ISO80 - Actual Pixels ISO64 - NA
ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels ISO100 - Actual Pixels
ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels ISO200 - Actual Pixels
ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels ISO400 - Actual Pixels
ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels ISO800 - Actual Pixels
ISO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO1600 - Actual Pixels ISO1600 - Actual Pixels
   
ISO3200 - Actual Pixels (2mp) ISO3200 - NA ISO3200 - NA

Noise results: Noise is very noticeable when viewed at 100% as shown above. ISO400 is probably the highest ISO setting you would want to use with this camera as noise degrades image quality quite dramatically at ISO800 and above. Noise is slightly higher than the competition, although when photos are printed it is much less noticeable.

Image Stabilisation: The Ricoh R10 comes with built in "Vibration Correction" and moves the sensor in order to counter any camera movement when taking photos - this feature helps reduce image blur due to low light or long zoom photography. Examples showing this feature switched on and off can be seen below.

IS Off
ISO200, 1/4
IS on
ISO200, 1/4
Actual Pixels Actual Pixels

With image stabilisation switched on the images are much sharper and clearer, and are much more likely to come out blur free, especially in low light, when using the zoom or when using slow shutter speeds. The camera's image stabilisation system appears to work well, and it's good to see that this feature is becoming the norm with digital cameras and Digital SLRs.

Outside:

Liverpool shops (ISO100) Super Lamb Banana (ISO100)

Outside: The camera has good colours - on default settings they are natural and accurate. There was good detail, and the camera took a number of pleasing images outside with good contrast. Images were slightly soft on default settings, so it could be worth increasing saturation and sharpness settings. In general jpeg artefacts are not easily seen at 'lower' quality setting, however areas with strong contrasts benefit from use of the highest quality setting.

Zoom: The lens provides a 7.1x optical zoom equivalent to 28 - 200mm. I've included examples below to show what the zoom is capable of. An example of digital zoom can be seen in the gallery.

Wide-angle (28mm) Roughly 3x Optical Zoom Full optical zoom

Exposure: The photos of the clock tower are exposed well with detail in the dark areas, although there is some highlight clipping. Exposure in other photos was generally very good. Vignetting was not noticed in these photos. It can be useful to under expose images with bright backgrounds (eg; sky) with use of exposure compensation. Some purple fringing can be seen in the wide angle shot.

Lens noise and zoom: The shutter makes very little noise and the lens is fairly quiet and gives you very good control over how you frame your subject with roughly 19 steps between wide and telephoto zoom. The camera also gives the option of step zoom - this lets you zoom to the following set positions: 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 105mm, 135mm, and 200mm.

Other Image Quality issues: Purple fringing / Chromatic aberration was not generally an issue and was rarely seen (although can be seen in the wide angle shot of the clock tower).

Macro Lens Performance:

Timex Watch Macro Actual Pixels (ISO154)

The camera can take macro photos where the subject is roughly 1cm away from the lens in macro mode! Colour and detail is very good, and there appears to be very little noise at ISO200. The camera has manual white balance which can help get better shots in artificial lighting.

Video mode: The camera features a video mode option on the scene mode - VGA videos can be recorded at 30fps with sound. Optical zoom is not available whilst recording, only digital. The videos are recorded as AVI files and quality appears to be fairly good.

Conclusion

Image Quality: Image quality is generally good - with good colour, saturation and contrast. Noise is higher than average compared to the competition, but detail is generally good (until ISO400 and above where results could be classed as unusable). There was some red eye in group photos, but generally red-eye was low. To get the best results then some tweaking may be required as images are slightly neutral on default settings (increasing colour depth gives photos a bit more punch). The camera was quick at focusing. The built in image stabilisation in the camera was effective. I didn't notice any vignetting (darkened corners). There is a good range of image sizes, compression options, and aspect ratios including 1:1 square format photos. White balance and metering seemed to be very good with plenty of scope to cope with different lighting situations. The camera gives very good control over image quality with various options such as saturation, contrast etc. (8/10)

Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is available in black, silver or bronze, and has a compact and stylish body considering the 7.1x optical zoom lens. The camera has a very good 3.0" screen with an excellent resolution of 460,000 pixels. The camera feels well built, and is comfortable to hold. The camera is easy to use, and has quick access to the most commonly used options. The layout of buttons and controls is very good. The camera speed is good, with a good switch on time, quick focusing time, excellent shutter response, quick playback mode, quick menus, quick continuous shooting, and good flash recharge time. The camera has a wide range of features that should suit every person, such as manual focus, "My" modes, numerous scene modes (although there could be more), level and white balance compensation, good video mode, excellent macro mode, CCD-shift image stabilisation, a wide angle 7.1x optical zoom lens, etc. (9/10)

Value for Money: The Ricoh R10 from around £199, is quite good value for money, and is one of the smallest digital camera available with a wide angle 7.1x optical zoom lens. The Ricoh R10's main rivals are the Panasonic Lumix TZ5, and the Canon Powershot SX110 IS. (8/10) See more digital camera reviews sorted by megapixels here.

Summary: A reduction in price, and improved features, such as the impressive high resolution 3.0" screen, increases the Ricoh R10's overall score compared to the Ricoh R8. If you want a wide angle camera with a large zoom - but also want the camera to fit in your pocket then the Ricoh R10 is a good choice. Your options are fairly limited as you'll either have to buy a bigger camera for more zoom or loose zoom if you want a smaller camera. If you can stick to the lower ISO settings, and want a compact wide angled digital camera with some unique features such as an electronic "spirit level", 1:1 aspect ratio photos, a 28mm wide angle lens, and lots of customisable functions then the R10 is to be recommended. Overall image quality is good, and the camera offers an appealing package.

Ricoh R10 Rating: Recommended (8.3/10)
Available for £199 - or Get the best price below!

What I like:

  • Good image quality
  • Great wide angle 7.1x optical zoom lens
  • CCD-shift image stabilisation helps with zoom and low light
  • Excellent 3.0" screen - very good resolution
  • Robust, compact metal body
  • Good battery life
  • Excellent macro mode
  • 1:1 Aspect ratio (Square format) available
  • Electronic level
  • Numerous customisable quick access adjust / function buttons
  • Two"MY" custom modes on the dial
  • Quick performance

What I don't like:

  • A lot of noise at ISO400 and above
  • Limited scene modes
  • Poor flash position

Additional Test Images are viewable in the Ricoh R10 Sample Photo Gallery.
Tested with Firmware version 1.13. Get the latest Ricoh R10 Firmware here.

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