Review: Ricoh Caplio RR30
Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Monday, October 7, 2002
Thursday, October 10, 2002
review of the Ricoh Caplio RR30 is a bit of a departure from our
typical review. If I'm not mistaken, the RR30 is the only camera
I've reviewed that is not available in the U.S. You can buy it everywhere
else, though, and since we get readers from all over the world,
I decided to go ahead with this review.
RR30 (€400, about the same in US dollars) is a fairly small
3.2 Megapixel camera with a 3X optical zoom. One of Ricoh's claims
is that it's one of the fastest shooting cameras out there. Is it?
Well, find out now.
in the Box?
Caplio RR30 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:
3.24 effective Megapixel Caplio RR30 camera
AA non-rechargeable batteries
featuring Ricoh RR30 software
page quick start manual (printed) + FULL manual (on CD)
probably wondering "what? no memory card?". Like other
manufacturers (notably Kodak), Ricoh is putting 8MB of internal
memory into the camera in lieu of a memory card. But don't worry,
you can use those too, as the RR30 supports Secure Digital and MultiMediaCard
formats. And since you don't get a lot of internal memory on the
RR30, I recommend picking up a decent-sized card right away.
batteries will be up to you as well, since Ricoh includes two non-rechargeable
AA's. You'll get just 50 pictures from those batteries, according
to Ricoh -- so NiMH rechargeables is a must. Another option is to
buy Ricoh's proprietary DB-43 Li-ion battery. Ricoh estimates that
you'll get about 350 pictures using that one.
last issue I have with the bundle is with the manual. While there's
a "getting started" guide in the box, if you want to get
into the dirty details, you'll need to view or print the one included
RR30 has a built-in lens cover, so there are no lens cap worries.
It's not a tiny camera, but still small, as you can see.
isn't much to talk about the accessories department. Your only choices
(beside the DB-43 battery and charger) include an AC adapter and
a PC Card Adapter. No lens and flash accessories here!
included software is very limited. Mac (including OS X) and Windows
users get software for taking photos off the camera, and Windows
users get a basic photo viewing program. But anything more than
that, and you're out of luck. One of the best editing programs out
there is Adobe Photoshop Elements (2.0), for Mac and Windows.
of the box, my computer running Mac OS X 10.2.1 was not
able to connect to the camera. However, Ricoh does have a newer
version of the software, available here,
which corrected the problem.
the issue of having the manual only on CD, the manuals themselves
are very well written, much better than average.
RR30 is a smaller, somewhat plastic-feeling camera. I'd rate it
about average in terms of build quality. The RR30 is easy to hold,
with one hand or two, and easily fits in your pockets.
official dimensions of the camera are 4.5 x 2.1 x 1.3 inches (WxHxD),
and it weighs just 160 grams empty.
take our usual tour now, starting with the front of the camera.
RR30 has an F2.8, 3X optical zoom lens. THe focal range is 5.5 -
16.5 mm, which is equivalent to 35 - 105 mm. THe lens is not threaded.
If you so desire, you can turn on a 3.4X digital zoom, which will
further enlarge your pictures at the expense of photo quality.
only other items of note on the front of the camera is the built-in
flash. The flash has a working range of 0.2 - 4.5 m at wide-angle,
and 0.16 - 2.5 m at telephoto. An external flash is not supported.
RR30 has a passive autofocus system, in addition to its traditional
contrast-detection AF system. This passive AF system works differently
than the AF illuminator lamps found on some other cameras. Where
an AF illuminator just puts more light on the subject for the contract-detection
system to work with, the passive AF system uses infrared light to
find the proper focus distance. I should add that the Fuji FinePix
S602 uses this same system.
now is the back of the camera. The RR30 has a 1.6" LCD display
which is bright and fluid, and easy to see -- except in bright outdoor
light, which is almost always the case. One thing I did notice occasionally
with the LCD is that pictures look dithered (grainy) in playback
the LCD is a average-sized optional viewfinder. It locks both crosshairs/gridlines
and a diopter correction knob.
the right of the LCD is the four-way switch (and some buttons).
The four-way switch is used for menu navigation, plus changing a
Flash (Off, auto, auto w/redeye reduction, forced, slow synchro)
Quick Review - for quickly viewing photos you've taken
minor quibble about the four-way switch is that the buttons are
flush with the body, making them hard to find in the dark.
the four way switch are the OK (for menu) and display (LCD &
info on/off) buttons. Above the four-way switch is the menu button.
up a bit, there's one last button, for self-timer and deleting a
at the far right, you'll find the zoom controller. It smoothly moves
the zoom from wide to telephoto in about 2.5 seconds.
is the top of the RR30, where you'll find the mode wheel, power
switch, and shutter release button. The choices on the mode wheel
mode is just like that found on other cameras. You choose a scene,
and the camera uses the best settings for the job. Your scene choices
Sensitivity - makes the LCD easier to see in low light
much else to report here, so let's move on.
you can see the I/O ports, which are under a plastic cover. The
ports are USB and Video Out.
this side, under plastic doors, you'll find the battery compartment
and SD/MMC card slot.
battery compartment is somewhat unique in that it can hold AA's
or a proprietary Li-ion battery. It also holds the optional AC adapter,
which is more like a battery with a cord attached.
but not least, here is the bottom of the camera. Here you'll find
a metal (I think) tripod mount which is neither centered nor below
the Ricoh Caplio RR30
RR30 takes under three seconds to extend the lens and warm up before
you can start taking pictures. That's above average for a camera
with a zoom lens.
advertised, the RR30 focuses very quickly when you depress the shutter
release button halfway. It takes well under a second under most
circumstances. In lower light situations around the house, the RR30
did an excellent job focusing. Shutter lag is virtually nonexistent,
as advertised. You can also just press the shutter release fully
(without stopping halfway) and the camera will quickly take a properly
speed is very good as well, with about a 2.5 second delay between
of which, let's take a look at the image quality and resolution
choices available on the RR30:
of images on 8MB internal memory
of images on 32MB SD card (optional)
is no TIFF or RAW mode available on the RR30, not surprising considering
that this is pretty much a point-and-shoot camera.
let's talk about the menu system on the RR30 now. While it's not
as "pretty" as the menus on other cameras, the menus here
do their job well. Navigating the menus is very easy, and they are
responsive. Here's what you'll find in the menus:
compensation (-2EV to +2EV, 1/3EV increments)
balance (Auto, daylight, overcast, tungsten, fluorescent, one
push) - yes, that last one is manual white balance!
(see chart above)
(AF, MF, snap, infinity) - more on this below
mode (Off, continuous, s-continuous, m-continuous) - more on this
below as well
AKA metering (Multi, center, spot)
setting (Auto, 200, 400, 800)
(Sharp, normal, soft)
bracketing (on/off) - more below
exposure (Off, 1, 2, 4, 8 sec) - yes, sort of a shutter priority
- more below
imprint (Off, date, date + time) - print date/time on photos
for more details on some of those menu choices.
the focus options. In manual focus mode, you use the left and right
buttons on the four-way switch to focus the camera. You can press
the "OK" button to blow up the subject so you can make
sure it's in focus. Unfortunately, there's no indication of the
focus distance other than seeing if your subject is in focus! The
other two options are "snap" and "infinity".
I'm not sure what distance "snap" is, though -- the manual
doesn't seem to know either.
are several continuous shooting options on the RR30 as well. The
first is just a standard continuous burst mode, which will take
up to 5 photos (at the normal quality setting, at least) at about
1 frame/second. The S-cont mode, which apparently stands for S Multi-Shot,
takes 16 shots in a row at an interval of 1/7.5 sec, and puts them
into one image (like a collage). M-cont, or M Multi-shot mode is
the opposite of the S-cont mode. The camera records the last two
seconds worth of shots that occur before you release the shutter
auto bracketing feature will take three shots in a row, each at
a different exposure compensation value (-0.5EV, 0EV, +0.5EV).
time exposure feature lets you choose 2, 4, or 8 seconds, so you
can take pictures in low light (with a tripod, of course). The interval
feature will take a shot at a set interval, ranging from 30 seconds
to 3 hours. The use of an AC adapter is basically a requirement.
is also a setup menu, accessible via the mode wheel. Some of the
options include formatting the memory card or internal memory, power
saver settings, file numbering, LCD options, and language settings.
that's enough about menus, let's talk about photo quality.
one of the big features on the RR30 is its macro mode, I took two
test shots. The first is the "money shot" (if you pardon
my expression) which was taken just a few centimeters away. The
RR30 can shoot as close as 1cm (at full telephoto; 16cm at wide-angle)!
Since I was so close, the camera actually caused a shadow, which
is why the lower right of the sample image is darker. Nevertheless,
the quality is most impressive -- you can easily make out the colored
threads in the dollar bill, and the scotch tape at the top left.
standard macro shot did not fare as well. After finally getting
it properly exposed and white balanced, I noticed that the resulting
image is quite noisy! And it wasn't just this one, all the shots
of The Mouse turned out this way. Looking at the RGB channels, it
seems that most of the noise is in the blue channel. It's weird,
because I never noticed any noise in other photos I took with the
a very balmy October night, I headed back up to Twin Peaks, home
of many night test shots. While it looks pretty good in the downsized
image above, the full size image is disappointing. The shot was
taken with a 2 second exposure at ISO 200, and is quite noisy. the
4 second version, not shown here, is much worse. Another weird thing
was that all the white lights in the picture turned out blue (hmm,
blue noise, blue lights?). If those problems weren't there, the
image would be pretty darn good... it certainly took in enough light.
RR30 did a decent job at the redeye test. You can see just a bit
of it in the left eye, along with some flash reflection in the right.
This image was enlarged a bit so you can see the details.
quality on the RR30 was average, in my opinion. There was one thing
that appeared in nearly every picture I took: a bluish cast! It's
more pronounced in some pictures, but it's almost always noticeable.
For a good comparison, look at this picture, taken at the same time,
same place: Ricoh RR30
LS443. I believe the Kodak is much closer to reality.
was also higher than average, most notable in the sky and shadows.
Aside from those two issues, I have no other complaints. I didn't
see any purple fringing to speak of either. Don't just take my word
for it -- take a gander at the photo gallery
and judge for yourself!
RR30 has a pretty basic movie mode. You can record clips for up
to 30 seconds, without sound, at a resolution of 320 x 240. At the
160 x 120 resolution, you can record for up to 120 seconds.
not having a microphone, you can't use the optical zoom during filming.
You can use the digital zoom, though.
are saved in the AVI format, using the M-JPEG codec.
a short sample movie for you:
to play movie (3.1MB, AVI format)
play it? Download QuickTime.
the movie mode, the RR30's playback mode is very basic. Some of
the features include slide shows, image protection, DPOF print marking,
thumbnail mode, and zoom and scroll.
the zoom controller, you can zoom into your photo as much as 3.4X,
and then move around in the zoomed in area.
feature is the ability to transfer photos from the internal memory
to a memory card.
RR30 doesn't give you much information about your photo -- at least
it tells you the shutter speed and aperture used.
camera moves through photos on the LCD very quickly -- it takes
less than a second to go from one to the next.
Does it Compare?
the Ricoh Caplio RR30 was kind of like riding a roller coaster:
it had its ups and downs. I really liked the responsiveness and
excellent autofocus system on the RR30. But the blue cast and high
noise levels in the photos were a disappointment. The camera is
easy to use and is a good value for the money (remember, it's not
available in the U.S.). I also like the choice of using AA or a
proprietary batteries! At the same time, I don't think it's the
best 3.2 Megapixel camera out there, either. My advice: take what
you've learned from this review and make your own decision about
whether the RR30 is right for you or not.
responsive in terms of shutter lag, startup time, shot-to-shot
impressive dual AF system
easy to hold body
amount of controls (e.g. long exposure, interval, continuous shooting)
for a lower cost camera
macro ability (get as close as 1 cm!)
I didn't care for:
cast in almost all sample images
noise levels, especially in low light shots
movie, playback modes
bundle included with camera
additional 3MP cameras to consider include the Canon PowerShot S230
Fuji FinePix A303
(6X zoom), Kyocera
Finecam S3X, Minolta
DiMAGE Xi, Nikon
Coolpix 3500, Olympus
D-550Z, Pentax Optio 330RS
and the Toshiba PDR-3300
A long list, I know, but it's a crowded field!
always, I recommend a trip to your local camera store to try out
the Ricoh Caplio RR30 and its competitors before you buy!
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our photo gallery!
a second opinion? How about a third?
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to my limited resources, please do not e-mail me asking for
a personal recommendation.