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Ricoh have this to
say about the camera:
"The new R8 is the
successor model to the R7 which also had a slim body and 7.1x optical
wide-angle zoom lens (28200 mm in 35 mm focal length). By combining
a new 10 megapixel CCD with the earlier model's popular Smooth Imaging
Engine image processing engine, the R8 takes high-definition photography
to a higher level. This new model combines ease of use and technical specification
in a body that is contemporary and stylish and has been designed based
on the concept: "A tool you will want to use every day"
You can find more information on their website.
The Camera: a
visual tour: (Photos of the camera taken with the Canon
Powershot SX100 IS)
Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm film camera - a medium/compact sized 35mm film camera.
Specifications / Features:
Average box contents - a large memory card would be nice, as would a case. A decent case, and a large memory card is recommended.
Battery usage: Battery life is rated at 270 images according to CIPA standards. I was able to take around 185 shots before the batteries went flat.
Operation and Options: The camera mode is selected using
the top dial. This allows the choice of: Auto, My1, My2, Video, and Scene
Photo mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right below:
Screen / LCD display in photo mode: (shown on the left) The screen resolution with 460,000 pixels is very good, with good colour and has a live histogram. The screen is very clear and the text and menus are easy to read. Optical Viewfinder: There is no optical viewfinder.
Photo menu options: Picture quality / size, Focus (multi, spot, manual, snap, infinite), Photometry (multi, centre, spot), Sharpness, Continuous mode, Colour depth (vivid, normal, neutral), Auto bracket (off, on, white-balance bracket, colour-bracket), Time exposure, Interval, Date imprint, Exposure compensation, White balance, ISO setting, Slow shutter limit, Camera shake correction (on/off), Record dual size, Fix minimum aperture, Restore Defaults.
Photo adjust button gives you quick access to: ISO, Exposure compensation, White Balance, Focus, and Exposure mode. You can customise the fist four options. In macro mode there is a 5th option that allows you to choose the area of focus for the macro photo.
Setup menu options: Format card, Format internal memory, LCD brightness, Reg my settings, Step zoom, ISO Auto-High (Auto 400, 800, 1600), Sub file size, Auto power off, Operation sounds, Volume, LCD confirm, Digital zoom img, Adjust button setting 1, setting 2, setting 3, setting 4, AF Aux light, Enlarge photo icon, Sequential Number, Date Settings, Language, Video out mode.
Scenes: Portrait, Face, Sports, Lanscape, Nightscape, High sensitivity, Zoom macro, Black and White, Sepia, Skew correct mode, Text mode.
Playback (Review) mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right, below:
Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is fairly quick, although initial display can seem a bit sluggish. The zoom is quick, and allows you to zoom up to 16x. The highlight view mode shows any areas where the image is white or over exposed.
Playback menu options: Rotation, Resize, Trim, Level compensation, White balance compensation, Skew correction, Protect, Silde show, Copy to card, DPOF, Recover file.
Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of pictures will fit onto the 24mb of provided memory,
As shown in the table above, 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 use higher compression options to fit more pictures in memory. There is a very good choice of image sizes and compression options, including a square format aspect ratio which is quite rare.
A large memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 1gb memory card, and preferably a 2gb memory card, or larger. The larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to go on holiday then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in, as you don't always know when you will next be at a computer. You can use SD or 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 available as 1GB SD cards, or 2GB SD cards. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Ricoh R8:
Find the latest
prices for SD memory cards at Amazon.co.uk: 1gb (1000mb): £2,
2gb (2000mb): £2,
4gb (4000mb SDHC): £18
(with USB reader)
Speed: The camera is fairly quick to switch on and take photos, from off, to taking a photo in 2.2 seconds. Focusing seemed fairly quick, except in very low light when the flash-assist is used - this takes a little longer to focus depending on the subject (and sometimes fails). The playback mode is also very quick. The camera shutter response seemed instant when pre-focused responding in 0.1 seconds or less - and shot to shot time was fairly quick, with a delay of around 1.6 seconds between shots without flash (with review off). The flash recharge time was very quick allowing a shot to be taken every 2.2 seconds, although it wasn't available in the continuous shooting mode. The cameras menus seemed quick. Continuous shooting is average offering nearly 2fps, taking a shot every 0.6 seconds at the highest resolution.
Ease of use: The camera is easy to use, especially in the AUTO mode and has a number of scene modes that helps get good shots. The controls on the back of the camera are quite straightforward. The menus are responsive and are also easy to use, and the options are big enough and easy enough to see clearly, although built in help would have been nice. The modes are fairly easy to access, mainly thanks to the large screen, and a lot of the options can be accessed using the buttons on the back. It's easy to see when photos are in focus, and the image stabilisation means that more of your shots will be sharp. You can setup your own "favourites" settings using the two "My modes".
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 gives quick access to your favourite settings. 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 geat, especially with the retro two tone design. 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 R8 Sample Photo Gallery!
Inside: The camera has good colour - It took a good "Heather and Flower" photo - there is no red-eye in the photo. It has a good flash, and copes well with group photos, with little red-eye in group photos. On AUTO ISO, the ISO setting was kept below ISO400, however noise was noticable, and better results may be possible by using a lower ISO setting, especially if the subject is close to the camera. The camera did a good job at focusing most of the time in low-light, although struggled in very dark situations. There is an focus assist lamp to help focus. Colour is quite nuetral, however setting the colour mode to strong boosts saturation - this produces high saturation, and good contrast levels.
ISO Noise Test: Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels (ranging from ISO 64 - ISO1600), and manual ISO settings (ISO: 64, 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 Digital IXUS 90 IS and 10 megapixel Olympus Mju Stylus 1030SW.
ISO Noise Test Photos - Flash is off. Ricoh R8 on the left, Canon Digital IXUS 90 IS in the middle, Olympus Mju Stylus 1030SW on the right. Any tonal difference is due to white balance or lighting / metering differences.
Noise results: The Canon and Olympus cameras have relatively low noise upto ISO200 / 400 with the Olympus having slightly less noise, but also slightly less detail, and smoother images overall. The Canon and Olympus offer almost usable ISO800 results, and all cameras struggle at ISO1600, with the Olympus offering the best ISO1600 results. The Ricoh shows the most noise at all ISO settings, with especially poor results at ISO1600, this is quite disappointing as even ISO100 shots outdoor seem to suffer from noticable noise - and whilst it's not possible to alter the noise settings - it could be possible to get better results by setting the camera's sharpening setting to soft. Both the Canon and Olympus offer addidional ISO range, albeit at lower resolution, with the Canon's results being quite acceptable for small 2mp pictures, and the Olympus' results being overly soft, but still potentially useful. Noise results from the Canon and Olympus are quite good considering the camera's both have 10 megapixel sensors, and overall aren't particularly worrying, however it's a shame the same can't be said for the Ricoh's results.
Image Stabilisation: The Canon and Ricoh both offer built in optical (Canon) / CCD-shift (Ricoh) image stabilisation so for blur free photos you can still use the lower ISO settings to try and avoid image blur. The Olympus lacks built in image stabilisation, so to avoid image blur you will need to increase the ISO Setting, or use the digital image stabilisation mode, which automatically increases the ISO setting for you.
Outside: The camera has quite nuetral colours, and more colourful results were obtained by setting the colour to "Strong". There was very good detail, and the camera took a number of pleasing images outside, with good contrast, with low chromatic aberations and purple fringing, although noise was noticable when images were viewed at 100%. In general 'normal' quality jpeg artefacts are not easily seen, however areas with strong contrasts benefit from use of the highest quality setting. In cloudy or grey conditions - best results were obtained by setting the white balance to cloudy, rather than leaving the camera on Auto WB.
Zoom: This lens provides a wide angle 7.1x optical zoom starting at 28mm equivalent which is great for 'normal' everyday photography, zooming to 200mm allowing photos of distant objects. I've included examples below to show what the zoom is capable of. Digital Zoom basically takes a crop of the centre of the frame and enlarges the image, degrading image quality, and is therefore best avoided.
Exposure: The photos of the clock tower are exposed well with detail in the dark areas as well as the lighter areas - exposure in other photos was generally very good. Purple fringing was noticed in some of these photos. 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.
Lens noise and zoom: The lens makes some noise, although seems quieter than previous Ricoh cameras, and gives you roughly 28 steps between wide and telephoto - this gives very good control over how you frame your subject.
Other Image Quality issues: Purple fringing / Chromatic aberration was generally very low.
Macro Lens Performance:
The camera can take maco photos where the subject is only 1cm away from the lens! Colour and detail is very good, and images are very sharp. Setting the white balance manually helps achieve better results. The camera zooms in slightly when set to macro mode, but can also be used zoomed in further.
Video mode: The camera features a good video mode - it records VGA videos at 30fps with sound as AVI files. Compared to other digital cameras the Ricoh can't fit very long videos on the memory card, as it doesn't use very high compression, such as MPEG4. The video mode doesn't let you use the optical zoom whilst recording.
Summary: The Ricoh R8 looks and feels great, and is capable of taking some great photos. The camera has a sharp wide angle 7.1x optical zoom lens, and is almost ultra compact, similar in size to other ultra compact cameras such as the IXUS 90 IS. Ricoh appear to have moved this camera upmarket with a newly designed body, and improved hand grip and control dial. The camera features built in anti-shake which helps keep pictures sharp, and has one of the sharpest screens I've ever seen. The camera still suffers from a poorly positioned flash, and noticable noise levels at all ISO settings. However, if you can look past the noise and can work with the camera - then it is capable of producing some excellent results.
What I like:
What I don't like:
Additional Test Images are viewable in the Ricoh R8 Sample Photo Gallery.