Steve's Digicams

Ricoh RDC-5000 Features

Ricoh RDC-5000

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The Ricoh RDC-5000 zoom is the second new digicam that we have reviewed with a 2.3 megapixel CCD (yields 1792 x 1200 pixel images). The user can also downsample images to 896 x 600 pixels when a large image isn't needed or storage space is critical. Image quality is enhanced through the use of a precision RGB filter matched to the high resolution imager.

The RDC-5000 is a very compact (5.2W x 2.7H x 1.6D inches) and solidly built camera housed in a highly durable aluminum body. Of special interest is the high speed USB data port in addition to the normal serial port for downloading images to the user's PC.

The RDC-5000 features a 2.3x (38-86mm) optical zoom lens with a very precise autofocus system that can be manually focused when desired. In wideangle position the macro range is an impressive 4cm without the use of any closeup adapters.

Ricoh RDC-5000

On the bottom side you'll find a convenient LCD brightness control, a sturdy tripod mount and the battery access door.

Ricoh RDC-5000

On the back is a 1.8" LCD that is covered by a door that operates with the On/Off slide switch. Underneath of the LCD are the buttons for controlling the LCD Display, activating the menus and selecting menu options. This is the first camera that I have used in a long time that has *single* function buttons -- yeah!

I'm happy to report that due to the positioning of the optical viewfinder the LCD does not get nose prints from us left-eyed users. Now all of you right-eyed people can find out what this is like :-)

Ricoh RDC-5000

Ricoh RDC-5000

On the top there is a small data LCD display, the shutter release, the main command mode dial and four more single-function buttons.

The buttons going from left to right are:

  • Memory select (CARD/INternal)
  • Flash mode (Auto, Slow Sync, Forced On and Off). Redeye reduction is selected from a setup menu, why - I don't know why?
  • Self-timer (10 secs)
  • PICture quality (1800x1200 Fine/Normal/Economy or 896x600 F/N/E)

Ricoh RDC-5000

The RDC-5000 features both a standard serial and USB port for data transfers to Windows PCs or Macintosh computers. There is a Video In/Out port that is switchable between NTSC and PAL formats. The camera ships (in the U.S.) with the AC-2100 110v AC power adapter and it plugs into the 5VDC port.

Ricoh RDC-5000

Image processing is speeded up by the use of an internal 8MB RAM buffer. You can store pictures in this 8MB of RAM if not using a memory card. The RDC-5000 accepts removeable SmartMedia cards up to 32MB capacity. Pictures stored in the camera's RAM buffer can be copied to the memory card. The SM card access is via a door on the side of the camera and the wafer-thin cards are ejected out far enough for even my big fingers to grasp them easily.

Ricoh RDC-5000

This is a lens shade, it friction-mounts to the outside of the lens. It was apparently included at the last minute as it was not mentioned in the instruction manual but there was a seperate piece of paper in the box explaining what it was.

Ricoh RDC-5000

Not only is there an automatic protective cover for the LCD, there's also one for the zoom lens too. Nice touch, no lost lens caps - ever!

Ricoh RDC-5000

This is the main SETUP menu that comes up when the command dial is in the "Setup" position. The menus can be in English or Japanese and the options are simple and fairly self-explanatory.

Ricoh RDC-5000

This is the "Keep Settings" menu, here you tell the camera which option settings to remember or forget between power on and off sequences. Of special notice is the Date Imprint option. The RDC-5000 will superimpose the date or the time and date in the lower righthand corner of the images if the Imprint option is enabled.

Ricoh RDC-5000

This is the Record Mode menu, here you set the desired Recording mode of Single, Continuous or Text. Toggle the White Balance between: Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, Flourescent or Incandescent. Set the Focus for Auto or Manual. Enable or disable Date Imprinting. And for some strange reason you have to go to this menu to turn on the red-eye reduction flash mode rather than toggling it with the flash mode button on top of the camera. Enable or disable monochrome (B&W) mode and of special interest is the Interval Recording Mode.

Ricoh RDC-5000

Here's the screen display in Record mode with the white balance set to flourescent, the flash is disabled, we're using the SmartMedia card, there's 19 pictures remaining, currently shooting in 1800x200 Fine Mode, and using an EV override value of +1.0. Also displayed is a zoom bar on the left side but it was too fast for my Snappy video grabber to capture it onscreen.

Ricoh RDC-5000

This is the onscreen EV adjustment menu/window that displays a realtime LCD view as you make your exposure compensation changes.

Ricoh RDC-5000

When you hold the zoom button in the full telephoto position for two seconds you go into 2.5x digital zoom. You get a center "target" on the LCD and the camera automatically goes into 640x480 capture mode. Digital zoom is better accomplished in software later and I don't really know why the camera makers bother adding it at all.

Steve's Conclusion

Ricoh has got a very compact multi-megapixel camera in the RDC-5000. The fit and finish of this camera is excellent, the aluminum body is something that all digicam makers should do -- get rid of the plastic please! It feels good in your hands and the controls are absolutely simple - no darn double-function buttons that need one button held down while you press another.

Ricoh's new camera doesn't come with a lens cap -- it doesn't need one. The lens retracts into the camera and a builtin lens cap covers and protects the lens when it is powered down. But wait, there's more! The RDC-5000 also has an automatic cover for the 1.8" color LCD screen on the back too. Both of these "automatic" protection features really add to the value of this camera and make using it a real pleasure.

Unlike most of the cameras we have tested lately the Ricoh does not have two operating modes (i.e. Auto and Manual), it only has automatic. While we enjoy lots of manual features it's much easier to operate an advanced point and shoot camera. Even when I tried to beat the autofocus and hit the shutter quickly, it made me wait (about a half a second) until it locked the focus before it snapped the picture.

The start up time is about eight seconds before the RDC-5000 is ready to take a picture. Seven seconds to save a 1800x1200 fine mode, five secs for normal and the same for economy mode. Three secs for 896x600 fine mode, and two secs for both the normal and economy modes. It also takes several seconds longer if using the flash as you must wait for it to recharge itself.

One thing that Ricoh has been known for since they started making digital cameras is excellent macro capabilities. The RDC-5000 can focus as close as 4cm (1.6in) when in wideangle position and about 40cm (15.8in) in other focal length settings. Another thing that Ricoh digicams have had for a long time is a remote control option. The RDC-5000 continues that tradition with the optional DR-3 infrared remote control that can be used for both recording and playback modes.

You can record in color, black and white, sepia or text mode which enhances the contrast for capturing images of printed documents. One of the unique features of the RDC-5000 is the interval recording mode. You can set any interval desired from 30 seconds to 3 hours in increments of 30 seconds. The auto power off function will turn the camera off after 24 hours when in interval mode.

The RDC-5000 comes with 8MB of internal RAM that can store photos without using a memory card. It accepts 3.3v SmartMedia flash memory cards and can accomodate any size up to 32MB. You can copy from internal memory to SM card if you use a card reader or Flashpath floppy disk adapter to download your pictures into the computer.

And speaking of downloading, the Ricoh is equipped with the new USB port as well as the old standard (and slow) serial port. It comes with serial cables for the Mac and PC as well as a standard USB downstream cable.

When shooting indoor/flash pictures I found it to be necessary to use a setting of +1 EV for most of my shots to keep them from being too dark. Often in dimly lit environments the focus "OK" light would blink and fail to lock the focus. Even though it was indicating a focus problem, more often than not the picture came out properly focused anyway. This is not a Ricoh-specific problem as most digicams have a difficult time focusing in less than optimal lighting conditions.

The RDC-5000 comes with one of the largest bundles of software of any current digital camera. Included in the box is:

  • PhotoStudio - Enhance and manipulate (Windows/Mac)
  • PhotoBase - Organize and categorize (Windows/Mac)
  • PhotoPrinter - Print multiple images using templates (Windows)
  • PhotoFantasy - Create fantasy images (Windows)
  • ClubPhoto - Create albums and share on the Net (Windows/Mac)
  • PhotoMontage - Build a montage image from thousands of smaller images (Windows)

There's even more value in the box as Ricoh includes the AC-2100 power adapter for cameras sold in the U.S. This is usually a $40-50 option with the other cameras so it's a nice "freebie." One thing they should put in the box is a set of rechargeable NiMH batteries and a charger. As with all digicams with color LCDs, autofocus and motorized zoom lenses, the RDC-5000 goes through alkaline batteries like candy -- invest in a set (or two) of good NiMH rechargeable batteries.

The Bottom Line

The RDC-5000 is a great value for the money but it does have some image problems related to the compression scheme it uses. I have seen some areas that should have been a smooth color that were filled with little dots or flecks or blotches or whatever you want to call them. I saw the same thing with the Fuji MX-2900 and wonder if both of these new 2.3 megapixel cameras are using the same CCD imager and processing firmware?

6/14/99 update: Ricoh says that they have corrected the compression/artifact problem. They also say that all cameras that shipped have this new firmware update.

Overall I was impressed with this camera as it was a major step up from the RDC-4300. I was not happy with the way the RDC-4300 consistently seemed off on the white balance when used indoors with the flash. I am thrilled to report that the RDC-5000 does not suffer from these problems.

For the consumer market at which this camera has been targeted I think it will be well received. It is not a manual control camera, it is a fully featured point-n-shoot type of digicam that takes really big pictures. You can hand it to a complete novice and they will be able to use it with very little practice and without having to read a hundred page manual.

08/21/99 update: Ricoh has released a new USB driver for users with Windows 98 OSR2.

Download the new
USB drivers for Windows 98 Second Edition

If your camera is working OK with USB now do *not* install this update, it is only for those with Win98 OSR2 that are experiencing a USB problem.

RDC-5000 Specifications

RECORDING MEDIUM Internal 8MB / SmartMedia
(compatible with 2/4/8/16/32MB, 3.3V)
PICTURE MODE Fine/Normal/Economy
CCD 2,300,000 square pixel CCD(effective 2,190,000 pixels)
RESOLUTION High resolution (1792 x 1200)/ Low resolution (896 x 600)
INTERVAL (TIME LAPSE from 30sec intervals up to 3 hours)
SHUTTER 1-1/500 sec.
MONITOR DISPLAY 1.8" TFT LCD (110,000 Pixels)
LENS f=8.0-18.0mm (38-86mm on 35mm camera format)
Optical 2.3x zoom
+/- 2.0EV in 1/2 EV steps
SHOOTING RANGE 4cm -infinity (at Wide)/40cm -infinity
Digital Zoom(VGA)/MONOCHROME MODE(B&W,Sepia)/
Remote Control(Optional)/
Date Imprinting(yy/mm/dd,mm/dd/yy,dd/mm/yy)
BATTERY AA ALKALINE x 4 (NiCd/NiMH/Lithium possible)
DIMENSIONS 131.1 x 68.8 x 39.3mm (5.2 x 2.7 x 1.6 in.) (W x H x D)
WEIGHT Approx.315g (without battery)

Recording Capacities <Internal 8MB>
1,792 x 1,200: F 9images/N 19images/E 38images
896 x 600: F 29images/N 55images/E 99images
Image Size/Storage 1,792 x 1,200: F ~795KB / N ~401KB / E ~204KB
896 x 600: F ~270KB / N ~139KB / E ~73KB

Steve's Ricoh RDC-5000 Sample Pics

Ricoh's RDC-5000 Pages

DC Resource's RDC-5000 Review & Pics

Imaging-Resource's RDC-5000 Test Pictures

Megapixel.net RDC-5000 Review

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