The only improvements from the RDC-5000 are:
So, I'm going to use pretty much the same conclusion comments as the ones I used for the RDC-5000 with a few modifications:
Ricoh has got a very compact 2.3-megapixel camera in the RDC-5300. The fit and finish of the camera is excellent, the construction is 50/50 aluminum and plastic. 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.
It 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-5300 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 5-7 seconds before the RDC-5300 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-5300 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 optional DR-3 infrared remote control 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. The RDC-5300 also has an 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-5300 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-5300 comes with a large bundle of software, 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-5300 goes through alkaline batteries like candy -- invest in a set (or two) of good NiMH rechargeable batteries.
The Bottom Line
The RDC-5300 is a good value for the money. Overall I was quite satisfied with the way the camera handled and the image quality that it delivers. It's not as speedy as other 2-megapixel cameras we've tested recently due to a lack of a buffer for anything other than the Auto-Bracket mode. You can cheat and put it into continuous mode where it will let you shoot up to 3 pictures quickly but then it pauses for a good long time as it writes out the images.
For the consumer market at which this camera has been targeted I think it will be well received. But, it will face stiff competition from the Canon S10, the Toshiba PDR-M5 and the Nikon 800 cameras in the same resolution and price range.
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