The camera’s overall performance is also very impressive. It starts up in approximately two seconds, which is very quick for a super-zoom camera, and shuts down again even more quickly. In continuous shooting mode it is so fast I thought I must have set it up wrong, but no, it really can shoot at over two frames a second in full resolution and keep it up until the memory card is full. The image stabilisation system is inactive in continuous mode.
The AF system is a bit noisy, making an audible whirr as it focuses, but it is impressively quick and accurate, locking focus almost instantly in good daylight. Low light focusing is also very good, thanks to a bright AF assist lamp, a feature that was missing from the R5.
The R6 is powered by a 1000mAh Li-ion rechargeable battery, for which Ricoh claims 330 shots on a full charge. I took around 170 shots while I was testing the camera, including about thirty with the flash, and the battery indicator was still showing a full charge when I’d finished, so this claim is probably accurate. As for storage capacity, the R6 has a big 54MB of internal memory, more than double that of the R5, and enough for 34 full-res shots. A 1GB SD card provides enough storage for approximately 352 shots.
One or two previous Ricoh cameras have been let down by inferior image quality, but this is not the case with the R6. Despite its compact design the lens performs extremely well, producing very little distortion at the wide angle end with good corner sharpness. In almost all exposure situations the metering system performed superbly, coping with high contrast, backlighting, bright colours and low light with equal precision. There was a small amount of purple fringing visible on some high-contrast shots with burned-out highlights, but very little compared to some other cameras, and none at all on most shots. High ISO noise control was also generally good, I would say slightly above average for its class. From 64-200 ISO there was very little noise even on long-exposure shots, 400-800 ISO were noisy but usable, while 1600 ISO was quite noisy and best avoided, as is usually the case.
The Ricoh Caplio R6 is a fantastically versatile all-round camera, an improvement in almost every way on the already impressive R5, offering a winning combination of style, build quality, performance and image quality. It is loaded with more features than almost any other camera on the market, and certainly more than any other in its price range. I would happily buy a Caplio R6 myself.