Review: Ricoh Caplio RR1
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Sunday, February 17, 2001
Thursday, February 21, 2002
Caplio RR1 ($699) has an interesting history, and kind of a
funny name too. It's a direct decendent of the RDC-7 camera, which
I reviewed back in 2000
(and wasn't thrilled with). The RDC-7 had a "professional mode"
which took two pictures in a row and combined them to make one ultra
high resolution picture. That was great for still life, but if anything
was moving, it wasn't so hot. Next came the i700, which offered
nontraditional functions such as wireless web browsing. With the
Caplio RR1, Ricoh has gone back to the basics (more or less), though
keeping the space age design of its predecessors.
4 Megapixel digital camera field is a crowded one. Where does the
RR1 fit in? Find out now...
in the Box?
Caplio RR1 has a superb bundle, with everything you need right in
the box. It includes:
4.0 (effective) Mpixel Ricoh Caplio RR1 camera
rechargeable Li-ion battery
featuring Ricoh Caplio Utility, MGI PhotoSuite, and drivers
page manual (printed)
gets two big thumbs up from me for their bundle. First and foremost,
let's talk memory cards. The RR1 has 8MB of onboard memory (which
can't be removed) plus a SmartMedia slot. Ricoh gives you a 64MB
SmartMedia card for a grand total of 72MB right in the box. Bravo!
and DB-20L battery
includes a DB-20L Li-ion battery, which we've seen before on cameras
from Kodak and Fuji. As you know I'm not a "fan" of proprietary
batteries: they're expensive and you can't replace them when you're
in a bind, like you can with AA-based batteries. The DB-20L isn't
great when it comes to battery life, either. It will last you just
50 minutes before needing a recharge, according to Ricoh. Thankfully,
Ricoh includes a charger with the camera.
useful things in the bundle include a lens cap with strap, soft
case, and a wrist strap.
Caplio Utility for Mac
software used to transfer photos from the camera to your computer
leaves much to be desired, at least on the Mac. You get a window
that lets you choose between the memory card or onboard memory,
and how many photos are on each. If you want to see what the photos
look like, you've got to look on the camera's LCD display. In other
words, it's clumsy. The camera dose not mount as a USB device like
other digital cameras -- you must use the software or the accompanying
the RR1 is compatible with modern Windows systems, it is not yet
compatible with Mac OS X.
accessory list for the Caplio RR1 is short: besides memory cards
and their adapters, only a remote control and AC adapter is available.
rank the included camera manual as being about average. Every piece
of info you need is there, but some things need further explanation.
The manual for the software is included on CD.
Ricoh Caplio RR1 is a bizarre looking camera. It's kind of like
a modern version of the old 110 film cameras. The body is made of
high quality metal and plastic, and it feels sturdy enough. When
the LCD is folded down, the RR1 easily fits in a pocket. The camera
is easy to hold with one hand or two.
official dimensions of the camera are 5.3 x 2.9 x 1.0 (W x D x H)
with the LCD folded down. The RR1 weighs in at a light 270 grams
without the battery installed. Let's begin our usual tour of the
camera now, beginning with the front.
RR1 has an F2.6, 3X optical zoom lens. The focal range is 7.3 -
21.9 mm, which is equivalent to 35 - 105 mm. The lens is not threaded,
so I don't expect any accessory lenses. While I don't think I have
to say this, the lens does not extend out of the body -- it's fully
to the right of the lens is one of two shutter release buttons on
the camera. The little dot to the right of that is the self-timer
on the left side, you can see the RR1's flash. The working range
of the flash is about 0.6 - 2.5 m. External flashes are not supported
on the RR1.
below the flash is a microphone.
the back of the camera, with the LCD flipped up. The LCD is fairly
large at 2", and the images are generally bright and fluid.
The brightness is adjustable via a button that you'll see in a minute.
The LCD can rotate around to face the subject, and can be tilted
to various position. This comes in handy for shooting over people's
heads, for example. One annoying thing about the LCD is Ricoh's
use of the color pink for information shown on the LCD. It's hard
to see in many cases.
below the LCD is the SmartMedia slot (behind a plastic door). The
slot is not spring-loaded, so you just pull the card right out.
to the right, you can see the mode wheel, which has the power button
inside it. The choices on the mode wheel include:
what are all these modes? Movie, Still and Playback mode will be
discussed later in the review, but what about Text, Continuous,
and Audio modes?
mode will record a picture in black and white. You can adjust the
contrast to get a better shot. The images are recorded in TIFF format.
shooting records images at a rate of roughly 1 frame per second,
with the maximum number of frames being determined by the resolution
and quality settings. For example, at the highest resolution and
quality, you can only take 3 shots in a row. At the highest resolution,
lowest quality, you can get 15 shots. As continuous shooting goes,
the RR1 is pretty slow.
audio recording mode, you can use the RR1 as a personal voice recorder.
You can record more than two hours of audio on the included 64MB
SmartMedia card! Sounds are saved in WAV format.
now to our tour: the on/off button is right in the middle of the
mode wheel. Wrapped around the wheel is the zoom control. I'm not
a big fan of the placement of the zoom control, though I'm not sure
where else they could have put it. You have to reach for the switch,
rather than having it near where you fingers are resting. The zoom
mechanism itself is smooth and quiet, though a little slow for my
to the right, you can see the optical viewfinder. Underneath it,
there's a diopter correction wheel, for keeping things in focus
for those with less than perfect vision. The viewfinder itself is
of average size. One thing that someone else noticed with the RR1
was the fact that when you use the optical viewfinder (with your
right eye, at least), your nose goes right into the mode wheel.
the far right is the battery compartment. Under a plastic door is
where you'll put that Li-ion battery.
move on to the "top" of the camera now. On the left is
the main "control panel", as I'll call it. One thing that
bothered me right away with the arrow controls: rather than putting
the up/down/left/right buttons in the usual "plus" formation,
Ricoh put them apart, as you can see above. This bothered me for
some reason. Anyhow, those buttons in blue are used for menu navigation.
Other buttons include:
- toggles through info shown on main LCD
compensation (via left arrow; -2EV to +2EV in 1/4EV increments)
balance (via right arrow; see below)
are the white balance choices on the RR1? You've got the usual suspects:
auto, cloudy, tungsten, and fluorescent. Plus there's the very handy
manual white balance function, which lets you use a white or gray
card to get the perfect setting. If that's not enough, the RR1 will
let you tweak the manual white balance even more: making the color
more or less red or blue. Great!
to the right, there's four silver buttons plus the shutter release
button. The four buttons control:
- toggles through the resolution and quality choices
- toggles between the SmartMedia card and internal memory
those buttons is the LCD info display, which shows such things as
flash setting, shots remaining, quality and resolution selection,
the left side of the camera is where you'll find the I/O ports.
The two on the right are normally under a plastic cover. From left
to right, the ports are: DC in (for optional AC adapter), A/V out,
and Digital out (for USB).
the other side of the camera, the only thing you'll find is the
speaker. Those holes are for threading the strap through.
here's the bottom of the Caplio. The only thing to note here is
the metal tripod mount. You can also see where you open the SmartMedia
slot, towards the lower right of the photo. When you depress the
shutter release button halfway, focusing can take as little as a
second, but sometimes two depending on the subject.
the Ricoh Caplio RR1
RR1 starts up in just over three seconds, due in part to the fully
enclosed lens (there's nothing to extend). When you depress the
shutter release button halfway, focusing can take as little as one
second, but sometimes much longer, depending on the subject, Shutter
lag seemed variable too -- sometimes it was barely noticeable, other
times it was frustrating. I couldn't seem to figure out why it was
inconsistent. Shot-to-shot speed was average -- you'll wait about
4 seconds between shots.
you're recording a TIFF file (what Ricoh calls "non-compressed
mode"), the RR1 will be locked up for over thirty seconds while
the file is written to the card. A note to fans of TIFF images:
I could not get Photoshop 6.0 to open the TIFF files saved by this
camera. I had to use GraphicConverter (this is on the Mac).
we're talking about TIFFs, here's a chart which tells you about
the different resolution and quality choices available on the RR1
(keep in mind there's 8MB of additional memory built in):
of images on included 64MB card
bravo to Ricoh for taking the lead on the memory card front!
let's take a look at the various menu choices on the Caplio RR1.
with sound (on/off) - add 10 sec audio clips to each picture
mode (Auto, Manual, 2.5 m, Infinity) - more below
strength (Strong, Normal, Soft)
sensitivity (Auto, 200, 400, 800)
imprinting (Off, date/time, date)
screen (New, add) - this lets you combine two photos into one.
It will split either vertically or horizontally. This only works
at the two lower resolutions.
(-1, 0, +1)
mode (Off, black & white, sepia)
mode (on/off) - using a lightbox, you can use the RR1 to photograph
your film negatives and create digital images from them
shooting (range of 30 seconds to 3 hours) - for time lapse photography.
Camera will take a picture at the set interval. AC adapter a requirement!
(on/off) - takes three shots in a row, at -0.5EV, 0EV, and +0.5EV
compression mode (on/off) - turns on TIFF mode
metering (multi, center-weighted, spot)
mode (on/off) - speeds up the shutter speed
exposure (Off, 1, 2, 4, 8 sec) - force a slower shutter speed
last two items are about it for manual control over the shutter
speed on the RR1. You can choose the low end, and speed things up,
but you can't do much else. That's a shame considering that the
camera has nearly every other manual control.
addition to this menu, there's a setup menu which allows you to
change things such as date and time, power and beep settings, and
how long a photo is shown on the LCD after it is taken, among other
got an expanded photo test section for this review. Starting off
with not one but two macro tests!
always knew that my electric shaver would come in handy (well, for
besides the obvious)! Here you can see that the Caplio RR1 is a
macro machine. It's right up there with the Nikon Coolpix cameras
when it comes to macro ability. You can get as close as 1 cm from
your subject in macro mode!
the sake of comparison, here's the usual test shot.
you can see, the camera did a good job here as well. Another thing
to note about macro mode on the RR1 is that the focal length is
locked right in the middle (between tele and wide) in macro mode.
the sky is noisy, the RR1 still did a pretty good job at the night
shot test. Remember from the menu-talk above that there are four
ISO settings: Auto, 200, 400, 800. Since Auto mode will boost the
ISO when it needs to, I chose the lowest fixed setting for this
shot: 200. I've also got samples taken at ISO 400
and 800 too. Things
really start to get noisy at those levels, though.
was my major gripe with the RR1's image quality. Outdoors, the camera
does a pretty good job, but if the light levels get low, or if there
are shadows, it's not so impressive. Rather than just talk about,
I've shown you above. Both of these cameras are midrange 4 Megapixel
cameras and the photos were taken within seconds of each other.
Both were at the highest quality JPEG setting, in auto mode. As
you can see, the noise on the RR1 causes the details of the bridge
tower to be lost, compared with the D-40Z (though you can also see
that the D-40 exhibits some "purple fringing"). Take a
look at the cat photo in the gallery
for another example.
from the noise issue, the photo quality was pretty good. Images
were well-exposed, the color was accurate, and I didn't see any
"purple fringing" problems that often plague digital cameras.
Please take a look at the photo gallery
for some samples, and judge the quality for yourself.
Caplio has an impressive movie mode. Movies are recorded with sound,
and can be as long as you have memory for. That means you can record
a five minute movie with the included 64MB card!
movie resolution is lower than on other cameras, at 288 x 212. The
frame rate is 15 frames per second.
cannot use the optical zoom during filming, which is a trait of
most digital cameras who record sound with movies.
you like passing cars, this movie is for you!
to play movie (AVI, 1.1MB)
view it? Download Quicktime.
Caplio's playback mode is pretty good. All the usual features are
here, such as slideshows, image protection, DPOF print marking,
and "zoom and scroll". You can also copy photos between
the internal memory and the SmartMedia card.
nice extra feature is the ability to rotate and crop photos on the
camera. When you crop a photo, you pick the orientation of the crop
(portrait or landscape) and the size of the resulting image (1120
x 840 or 640 x 480) You then select the area you want and after
a short wait, your new image is ready!
zoom and scroll feature is pretty standard. You can zoom in as much
as 3.6X (1.4X and 1.8X are the other choices-- nothing in between)
and then move around in your photo. A graphic in the corner shows
you where in the image you're looking.
RR1 is fairly slow moving between photos. When you first switch,
a miniature version of the photo is shown, and about three seconds
later, the full-sized image shows up. Unfortunately, the RR1 doesn't
show any exposure information about your photos.
only other gripe about the playback mode is that you've got to go
to the menu to move into thumbnail mode. I prefer the "zoom
out" method myself.
Does it Compare?
Ricoh Caplio RR1 is sort of a mixed bag in my opinion. It's a real
multipurpose camera (doing stills, video, and audio), takes good
pictures in most situations, has a superb macro mode, and has a
decent amount of manual controls. The included bundle is superb,
as well. On the other hand, the noise levels seemed higher than
on other 4 Megapixel cameras I've tested. Also missing are the manual
controls over shutter speed and aperture, and the shutter lag was
often longer than the competition. I'm also not a huge fan of the
design of the camera. The RR1 is a camera that will fit the needs
of many people, but if I was in the market for a 4 Megapixel cameras,
it probably wouldn't be the one I'd buy. Go try it and the competition,
and decide which camera is right for you.
amount of manual controls
good photo quality outdoors
as a personal voice recorder
I didn't care for:
are noisy in sample images
lag can be long
real aperture and shutter speed controls, despite other manual
transfer software leaves much to be desired
a fan of the layout of controls and "how it feels in my hands"
4 Megapixel cameras you'll want to check out include the Canon PowerShot
QV-4000, Olympus C-4040Z
DSC-S85, and the Toshiba
always, I recommend a trip down to your local reseller to try out
the Caplio RR1 and its competitors before you buy!
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our photo gallery!
a few more opinions?
out the Steves
Digicams and Imaging
Resource reviews of the Caplio RR1!
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to my limited resources, please do not send me requests
for personal camera recommendations.