In December last year I reviewed what was then Ricoh’s new flagship model, the excellent 7.0-megapixel Caplio R5, featuring a 7.1x zoom lens with a focal length range equivalent to 28-200mm, Ricoh’s own moving-CCD image stabilisation system and a nice high resolution monitor. I was suitably impressed by its combination of performance, features and image quality as well as its outstanding value for money.
However the digital camera market moves very quickly, so just four months later the R5 has been superseded by the R6, which combines all of the features of the R5, adds the latest must have gizmo face detection technology, and somehow manages to cram the whole lot into a compact new body, measuring just 99.6 x 55 x 23.3mm and weighing just 161g including battery and card.
There are few cameras on the market at the moment that even come close to the R6’s specification, and none that can match it on price. It is currently available for just £224.95, which is significantly cheaper than the broadly similar Panasonic TZ3 at £250. The TZ3 has a longer 10x zoom range (28-280mm equiv.) but is both larger and heavier, and has a smaller, lower resolution monitor.
From the moment I got the R6 out of the box I was impressed. Previous Ricoh cameras have been very good, but the styling has always struck me as being a bit industrial. Not so with the R6; the all-metal body is beautifully designed, with some nice touches such as the strap lug and port hatch integrated into the trim on the right end, and the subtly sculpted shape of the thumb-rest area on the back, with its comfortable rubber grip. The control layout is excellent, with everything within easy reach for one-handed operation, but managing at the same time to avoid being cluttered. The zoom control is a rotary collar around the large shutter button (a massive improvement on the R5’s fiddly little rocker switch), and the only controls on the back are the D-pad and four small buttons, so despite the camera’s relatively small size there’s plenty of room for even those with large fingers to hold the camera securely.