Ricoh Caplio R5
While it is a budget price camera, which in part excuses a plastic feel to the body, the 7-megapixel Caplio R5 nevertheless gives an impression of sophistication with a smooth black faceplate, whopping 7.1x wide-angle zoom (equivalent to 28-200mm) and light sensitivity up to ISO 1600. If you take lots of low-light shots, and plenty of group images (where that wide angle comes in very handy) this could be just the compact for you.
Ricoh is well respected for its image quality – its recently released GR Digital compact being the backup camera of choice for many DSLR users. It has attempted to ensure the R5 is no letdown by adding a CCD shifting vibration correction function to guard against camera shake at the extremity of its huge zoom and a new internal processor in the Smooth Imaging Engine II to avoid image noise at high ISO settings without flash.
Despite build quality not being as high as some others, the R5 feels reassuringly weighty in the palm with battery and optional memory card inserted. It’s quick, powering up in just over a second via a miniscule, recessed power button. The zoom lever is responsive, although it’s surprisingly noisy in operation; you can literally hear the mechanics involved as it extends to maximum wide-angle setting from storage flush to the body. Attendant controls are, like the Olympus Mju 750, small and fiddly.
Still, impressive results are achievable with the R5, though, again like the Mju, you have to work at it. Vibration correction isn’t always enough to ensure blur-free images – photographs taken at extreme telephoto were soft on occasion – so a steady surface or proper tripod is preferable. Like its rivals, it performs best under blue skies, but that’s probably not what you’re considering buying it for.
The noisy lens operation is a little off-putting, as is the plastic feel to the body, but some may consider that its price and features go some way to making amends.