Ricoh RR1 Caplio Review
The $699 Caplio RR1 is very similar to the RDC-7, at first glance it would be difficult to tell them apart. Ricoh went a little "gadget crazy" with their RDC-i700 imaging device and I'm happy to report that with the Caplio RR1 they have focused on building the best possible digital camera. The Caplio RR1 (who comes up with these names?) features 8MB of builtin memory and comes bundled with a 64MB SmartMedia card, the largest capacity card included with a camera to date. Kudos to Ricoh for realizing that a 4-megapixel camera generates large image files and therefore requires a large memory card. The RR1's 4.13-megapixel CCD generates 2272 x 1704 pixel sized images that consume about 1.5 megabytes of memory in JPEG and 8 megabytes in uncompressed TIFF format.
I was only lukewarm about the RDC-7, the first one we had here for review had exposure and white balance problems and the second one was only marginally better. The RR1 has delivered consistently sharp and properly colored images since it came out of the box. In my opinion it is the best camera that Ricoh has made so far and for a highly compact and pocket-sized camera it produces 4-megapixel images that equal its competitors in this resolution class.
The RR1 does not include exposure options like shutter speed or aperture priority, it's basically an automatic point-n-shoot. It does offers digital still image, still image with audio caption, continuous still image, voice recording and motion video with audio. It has a powerful Macro function that allows capturing subjects only 0.4 inches from the lens and has a builtin time lapse recording function. It also has: metering options (multi, center, spot), adjustable white balance with six settings, auto exposure bracketing, user selectable ISO sensitivity (Auto , 200, 400 or 800), four-mode flash with adjustable intensity, auto and manual focus with two presets, B&W and Sepia modes, date imprint, 3x optical zoom with up to 3.6x digital zoom (only in 640 x 480 mode), NTSC and PAL video output, two shutter releases and both an optical viewfinder and the 2-inch color LCD monitor.
The RR1 is powered by the proprietary DB-20L lithium rechargeable battery pack. The good news here is that it's the same as the Fuji NP-80 and the Kodak KLIC-3000 so it isn't what I'd call a "rare" battery pack. If you use the color LCD sparingly the battery will last for an average day's worth of tourist pictures but it's always a good idea to have a charged spare at the ready. The included AC rapid charger will bring the DB-20L pack up to full charge in 90 minutes or less.
As already mentioned, the image quality is very good but the RR1 can also serve as a voice recorder. The length of the audio recordings are limited only by the available memory, the 64MB card can hold 136 minutes. The combination of digital still, audio and the special text capture mode make the RR1 ideally suited as a modern business tool. Its user controls are laid out nicely and well marked. The small monochrome data LCD on the top lets you see most of the important camera settings at a glance without using the color LCD. Flipping up the color LCD exposes the control buttons that give you access to the camera's onscreen menu system and its more advanced operating modes.
The RR1 has the usual playback features; automated slideshow, single-frame, magnified playback, multi-frame playback, protect and DPOF (printing) features. There's a portrait mode sensor that automatically rotates images shot in vertical orientation. You can copy image data to/from the SmartMedia card and internal memory. And very handy is the cropping feature that lets you vertically or horizontally crop an image and then save it to a smaller size. The A/V cable lets you plug the RR1 into a TV or other video device with user-selectable NTSC or PAL signal format.
So there you have it, a stylish and very compact multimedia device that delivers very good images up to 4-megapixel size. The outfit includes the RR1 camera, lens cap, rechargeable battery, rapid charger, 64MB SmartMedia card, padded carrying case, hand strap, A/V and USB cables, manuals and software CD - all this for $699. I think we'll see quite a few of these "under the tree" this year.
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