Ricoh RDC-5000 Features
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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.
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 :-)
The buttons going from left to right are:
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:
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.
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.
|RECORDING FORMAT||JPEG(Exif version 2.1)|
|VIDEO SIGNAL METHOD||NTSC/PAL switchable|
|RECORDING MEDIUM||Internal 8MB / SmartMedia
(compatible with 2/4/8/16/32MB, 3.3V)
|CCD||2,300,000 square pixel CCD(effective 2,190,000 pixels)|
|RESOLUTION||High resolution (1792 x 1200)/ Low resolution (896 x 600)|
|RECORDING MODE||STILL/TEXT/COUNTINUOUS MODE/
INTERVAL (TIME LAPSE from 30sec intervals up to 3 hours)
|MONITOR DISPLAY||1.8" TFT LCD (110,000 Pixels)|
|BUILT-IN FLASH||AUTO/ON/SLOW SYNCHRO/OFF/Red-eye reduction|
|LENS||f=8.0-18.0mm (38-86mm on 35mm camera
Optical 2.3x zoom
|EXPOSURE MODE||PROGRAMMED AE, TTL CCD METHOD|
|EXPOSURE ADJUSTMENT||AUTO / MANUAL EXPOSURE COMPENSATION,
+/- 2.0EV in 1/2 EV steps
|SHOOTING RANGE||4cm -infinity (at Wide)/40cm -infinity|
|OTHER FEATURES||DATA COPY MODE (INTERNAL <-> EXTERNAL)/
Digital Zoom(VGA)/MONOCHROME MODE(B&W,Sepia)/Remote Control(Optional)/Date Imprinting(yy/mm/dd,mm/dd/yy,dd/mm/yy)
|WHITE BALANCE||AUTO / MANUAL MODE SETTING
|SELFTIMER||APPROX. 10 SEC. DELAY|
|INTERFACE||PC : SERIAL(RS232C/AUX),USB
VIDEO : VIDEO IN/OUT
|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
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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