Ricoh Caplio GX
Ricoh might not be the first manufacturer to spring to mind when looking to invest in or upgrade your digital camera, but it’s been producing consistently innovative Caplio models for a few years now. While they might not have been as sexy as rival units, they’ve been increasingly tempting in terms of both value and the area that truly counts: the sharpness and quality of the images. Ricoh hopes its latest, the GX, will be a must-have for photographers looking for the perfect marriage between performance and cost.
Key features include a 5-megapixel top effective resolution, wide-angle lens (28-85mm equivalent), close ups to a distance of just 1cm from your subject, a shutter response time of 0.12 seconds (the world’s fastest at time of writing), 1.2-second startup, plus – aimed at the enthusiast – a hotshoe for off-camera flash (there’s also built-in flash for the happy snapper), manual focus, exposure and aperture priority.
Resolution apart, all these features are unusual and very welcome in a consumer level compact – as is the fact that the GX lets photographers preserve the integrity of their files by shooting in TIFF format as well as the humble JPEG. Build quality of the black aluminium body is also to a high standard, plus the camera feels at once sturdy yet relatively lightweight (205g) in the palm. And with an SLR-like control dial just forward of the shutter release allowing access to key settings on the fly, it’s an amateur model with pro leanings.
If you’re thinking that this all sounds too good to be true, it is – almost. There’s no removable Secure Digital media supplied with the GX – just a slot for you to optionally extend the capacity of the 16MB internal memory. Without an additional card, you can fit just seven full resolution images on the latter. Power also comes courtesy of two bog-standard alkaline AAs (again, there’s the option of practically quadrupling the capacity by investing in a rechargeable lithium pack). Power consumption isn’t especially high: the AAs showed two thirds full after a weekend shoot (Ricoh quotes them as lasting for 120 shots) – just as well, as I found myself almost exclusively using the 1.8-inch TFT LCD as an electronic viewfinder for shot composition; the optical variety is so small as to be almost superfluous.
The Ricoh Caplio GX has ambitions beyond point-&-shoots typically found in this price bracket, and its wide-angle capability is an added bonus if you want to experiment with creative effects or enjoy shooting landscapes or group shots. So if you’re prepared to look beyond the latest trendy gadget, you’ll find this an excellent all rounder. For a street price of around £250, it may well be the only digital compact you’ll ever need.