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Ricoh Caplio R6 Black review

Ricoh plays for keeps in both the wide and telephoto stakes

Our Verdict

Another solid effort from Ricoh. It's quick to respond, while delivering sharply focused images 99% of the time

For

  • Very good price

    Good range of features

Against

  • Minor picture flaws on close inspection

With manufacturers falling over themselves to differentiate their compacts from the alternatives, Ricoh's update of the R5, the R6, is cumbersomely described as 'the world's thinnest camera with a 28mm wide angle, 7.1x optical zoom lens'.

It also boasts a 7.24 effective megapixels, though resolution is now, thankfully, not the only headline feature - and throwing about numbers is largely unnecessary as it's how this camera handles and performs that's its charm.

It's in this region that the R6 seems to have made improvements over the R5, as a comparison of features, such as CCD-shift vibration correction reveals it's otherwise nigh-on identical, save for that slimmer 20.6mm body (the R5 was a lardy 26mm) and face recognition this time around.

The latter ensures focus, exposure and white balance are automatically adjusted for human faces, even when not dead centre of the frame.

With battery and optional SD card inserted - go for something like a 512MB if you're planning a trip - the R6 feels well built and weighty in the hand, despite its slender construction of plastic in the main, plus the occasional metal detailing.

Raised rubber bumps fall under the thumb at the rear, meaning it's relatively easy to maintain a firm grip shooting hand held, while the large shutter release button has just enough resistance to accurately pinpoint a half press.

The fact that the zoom lever encircles it may not be to everyone's tastes, but its proximity makes for swift adjustment of focus range.

With a press of the recessed power button, the camera powers up for action in around two seconds, the 2.7-inch LCD bursting into life and the lens extending to maximum wide-angle setting sound-tracked by a mechanical whirr.

Screen visibility is good, even in strong sunshine. On a couple of occasions over our week-long test period our sample displayed a blurred image upon start up that a half press of the shutter button failed to correct, but the old fail-safe of turning the R6 off and on again seemed to right this temporary error.

The battery was commendably still going strong after this period, with an improved life over the R5, despite a smaller housing.

On the menu

The design of the menus is retro if clear, although in truth you don't have to delve too deep within them to go about the process of taking pictures.

A basic three option slider top right of the LCD allows full auto pointing and shooting, selection of one of 12 pre-optimised scene modes or the customisable My setting.

The R6 also features some interesting original features, such as a dual capture mode that enables you to shoot one full-resolution image and a lower resolution, more email-friendly alternative, at the same time.

The 54MB internal memory is also larger than most and will get you started out of the box. The 1cm macro option is a great feature for detailed close-ups.

The photos delivered by the R6 are razor sharp and realistically coloured, if a little cool. Image stabilisation means that crisp images can be achieved even at the long end of the zoom.

To be really picky, there was some softness at the edges of the frame at maximum wide angle, but only under close inspection. Shots taken at ISO 1600 are comparable with the results at ISO 800 on major competing brands - in other words, noisy but still just usable.

Like its predecessors, the R6 reveals itself as a simple-to-use, fast, sharp-shooter for anyone who's looking for a camera to substitute for their DSLR on those occasions when the bulk of a body and lenses isn't suitable or advisable - and shooting from the hip proves much more fun.

We had the sleekly sophisticated black version in for testing, but the R6 is also available in red or silver.

Via PhotoRadar