• Price: 170

  • Company: Ricoh

  • Pros: Excellent zoom lens. Small size.

  • Cons: Noisy images. Poor stabilization.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 7 out of 10 We rate this 7 out of 10

One of the core problems with most pocket-sized compact digital cameras is that they have only a 3x optical zoom capacity. This is fine for close-up portrait shots, but it can be frustrating when working with subjects more than 10m away.

One of the core problems with most pocket-sized compact digital cameras is that they have only a 3x optical zoom capacity. This is fine for close-up portrait shots, but it can be frustrating when working with subjects more than 10m away.

Ricoh’s new Caplio R7 places a 7.1x zoom lens within a relatively slender body. At between 20mm and 23mm thick along the length of its body, the R7 isn’t as thin as the slimmest models from the likes of Canon and Casio – but fitting a powerful zoom lens inside this body is still a major feat of engineering.

When turned on, the camera’s lens extends outwards and doubles the width of the camera – and it’s even longer when zoomed in. When turned off, the lens retracts fully into the camera’s body – though the glass is protected by plastic, not metal.

Unlike some compact models, the Caplio R7 is capable of sharp focus at full zoom. It even manages this in low-light conditions, happily focusing on band members from the back of a large gig venue. However, this required steady hands as the built-in ‘CCD-shift vibration correction’ was ineffective with the lens over half extended.

These images also contained a lot of noise. This is symptomatic of one of the Caplio R7’s main flaws – its output is noisy unless lighting is perfect. When we first used the R7, we thought that its 2.7-inch screen was particularly poor. However, from viewing images taken with other cameras, it’s clear that the screen is fine – it’s the output of the R7’s CCD that’s at fault.

The large zoom prevents the Caplio R7 from using a 10- or 12-megapixel CCD, though the 3,264-x-2,448-pixel images are high-resolution for use at almost A3 at 300dpi.

The Caplio R7’s design isn’t great aesthetically – though it’s available in a choice of black, silver and orangey-red. It also feels comfortable in the hand, with a ridged area for your thumb.

The Caplio R7 is a great concept let down by a poor CCD. Most creatives will need to go for a larger model if they want high-zoom facilities.