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The R1V has a movie mode of course, but while competent it is no better than average these days. It can manage a smooth 30 frames a second, but image size is limited to QVGA, just 320 x 240 pixels. It has sound, and shoots until the memory card is full, but the optical zoom cannot be used while filming, which is probably just as well considering that noisy zoom motor.
One interesting feature in the menus is the excellent interval timer, which can be set to take a set number of photos automatically at intervals of anything from 30 seconds to 59 minutes - useful for close-up bird watching or household surveillance. The R1V has two menus, the main one for major functions such as AF and metering settings, sharpening, drive mode and card formatting, and another that launches when the ADJ button is pressed. This contains frequently-used functions including exposure compensation, white balance, ISO setting and image size. This is a very sensible setup, and allows quick handling and adjustment.
Concerning the all-important photography tests, the R1V performed well. It focused quickly and accurately, coped well in low-light situations and its extra-wide zoom range offers a lot more versatility than most cameras in its class. Colour rendition was generally excellent, although the landscape mode, which biases the camera towards blue and green, tended to produce rather unnatural-looking tones, making trees and grass look like plastic and any human skin tones look like something from a George Romero movie.
I found that its only real weakness was, unfortunately, a rather severe image noise problem on the higher ISO settings, especially when shooting in low light. The R1V has a wider than average sensitivity range, shooting at up to 800 ISO, but at this setting the image was very noisy. To be fair you could still probably get a decent snapshot print from it, but I have seen better noise control on cheaper cameras.
The R1V is a good camera for Ricoh, especially as the company tries to re-establish itself in a highly competitive market. It’s a nice mid-range snapshot model with enough useful and unusual features to distinguish it from its competitors. Its excellent zoom range would be a real advantage in most situations, and its decent picture quality will ensure satisfactory results. If this is the future for Ricoh, then it should be a bright one.
A good all-rounder that, although not particularly cheap, offers some unusual features for the money. Its excellent zoom lens makes it ideal for landscape photography, and its high speed performance means you’ll never have to miss another shot. If you’re looking for a summer travelling companion, the Ricoh Caplio R1V is certainly worth considering.