By Neil Bennett | on March 09, 2009
Pros: Big lens on a small body.
Cons: Produces very noisy images; poor stabilization at long zoom; not much better than the R8.
Like its predecessors the Ricoh R8 (read our review here) and R7, the Ricoh R10 is a great piece of miniaturization that somehow puts a 7x zoom lens on the front of a pocket-sized camera. However, also like the older models, it often captures images with a horrible amount of noise – especially under low-light conditions.
The R10 tweaks the R8’s design and functionality, rather than improving on it dramatically. The R10 uses the same 28-200mm-equivalent lens, .3-inch, 10-megapixel sensor and Smoothing Engine III image processor as the R8, so captured images have exactly the same problems as before.
Firstly, noise is a real issue, regularly making captured shots unusable in professional work. This was the R8’s biggest failing and should have been the first thing Ricoh looked at improving for the R10 – but no such luck.
Also, the lens isn’t stabilized enough, so you’ll need a very stable grip indeed to take shots at the furthest zoom extension. To test the R10’s capture at long zoom and in low light, we took photos at a dingy gig – and less than a quarter of the shots were usable. However, even shots taken under even lighting have noticeable noise, and some purple fringing in high-contrast areas.
What is new is an acceleration sensor, which allows the R10 to show a level indicator on its screen that tells you when you’re holding the camera level. It’s a useful tool for novice photographers but for Digital Arts readers, you’d probably only turn it on if you’ve had a boozy lunch before taking photos. The sensor also records whether images were taken with the camera held vertically or horizontally, and adjusts how they’re displayed. It’s a good addition, but hardly groundbreaking.
The R8’s LCD screen has been made slightly larger for the R10 – jumping from 2.7 inches across to
3 inches. It’s a great screen, but whereas the R8 was pretty special for having a 460,000-pixel resolution screen when all of its main rivals have half that, now other top-of-the-line compacts such as Canon’s Ixus 990 IS also have high-res screens.
New to the R10 is an easy shooting mode, where you use the new Fn (function) button to quickly add backlight compensation. The button can also be used to quickly switch between what manual controls the joystick modifies in other modes.
Other new features include an Auto Levels mode that’s similar to the Photoshop function, control over the flash brightness level, and the ability to tag images to find quickly later.
As an update to the R8, the R10 is very poor, ignoring fixing the R8’s noise problems. Overall it’s worth looking at if you want a small camera with a big lens, but only if you want to shoot in bright conditions.