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Ricoh's Caplio R4 digital camera. Courtesy of Ricoh, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Ricoh: Caplio R4 announced (UPDATED)
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Thursday, February 23, 2006 - 13:39 EST)

In its second new camera announcement of the day, Japanese company Ricoh Co. Ltd. has announced an update to its popular Caplio R3, a long-zoom model with image stabilization in a surprisingly compact package.

When announced last September, Ricoh called the Caplio R3 the smallest digicam in the world with a 5x or greater optical zoom lens. The Ricoh Caplio R4 - announced simultaneously in Europe and Asia - retains this lens (and much the same camera body / feature set), but swaps in a new higher resolution image sensor. The Ricoh Caplio R3 / R4's lens spans a range from a useful 28mm wide angle to 200mm telephoto. Thickness is kept down courtesy of a new "double retracting lens system", which separately moves two lens elements into the optical path when the lens extends as the camera is powered up, and removes them again as the camera powers off.

Effective resolution has been boosted from five to six megapixels (the press release mentions a 3:2 aspect ratio mode is available too, although the spec sheet we received didn't indicate this). As with the R3, Ricoh has mounted the R4's sensor on a moving platter, where it can be moved for a CCD shift-type image stabilisation system, dubbed "Vibration Correction" in Ricoh parlance.

Other features include a 2.5" LCD display (but no optical or electronic viewfinders), macro focusing to 1cm, and Ricoh's skew correction function which automatically corrects distorted shots of whiteboards and the like. Images are stored on SD / MMC cards or 26MB of built-in memory, and transferred via USB connection to a computer. The camera also supports PictBridge for direct printing, and offers a video output connection for reviewing images on your TV.

Ricoh's new Caplio R4 will go on sale in the United Kingdom this March, priced at £249.99 inclusive of value added tax. Plans for sale stateside have not been disclosed at this time. The press release also notes that battery life has been extended to 330 shots from the R3's 310, although the spec sheet we received still lists the 310 figure (likely in error).

Ricoh Caplio R4
Ricoh's Caplio R4 digital camera. Courtesy of Ricoh, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
General
Camera Type Compact
Manufacturer Ricoh
Model Number R4
Dimensions 3.7 x 2.1 x 1.0"
95.0 x 53.0 x 26.0mm
Weight 165.0 g
5.8 oz
Image Capture
Sensor Type 1/2.5" CCD
6.04 megapixels (total)
6.04 megapixels (effective)
Filter Type RGBG
Aspect Ratio 4:3
Image Dimensions 2816 x 2112 (5.9 megapixels)
2784 x 1856 (5.2 megapixels)
2048 x 1536 (3.1 megapixels)
1280 x 960 (1.2 megapixels)
640 x 480 (0.3 megapixels)
Image Quality 2 levels
Image Preview / Review
Viewfinder No
LCD 2.5", 114,000 pixels
Lens
Lens Type

Ricoh Zoom Lens
7.1x optical zoom

Image Stabilization Yes
Focal Length 4.6 - 33.0mm (actual)
28 - 200mm (35mm equivalent)
Aperture Range f/3.3 (wide) / f/4.8 (tele) - ???
Focusing System with AF assist lamp
Manual Focus possible (0) steps
Focusing Range Normal: 12" - infinity (30 cm - infinity)
Macro: 0.4" - infinity (1.0 cm - infinity)
Exposure
ISO Sensitivity Auto, 64, 100, 200, 400, 800
Shutter Speed 8 - 1/2000 second
Metering Modes Multi (256 segments), Center weighted, Spot
Exposure Compensation +/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV increments
White Balance Image Sensor - Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten light, Tungsten light 2, Fluorescent, Manual, Manual
Internal Flash Modes: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Mandatory Flash, Slow Synchro, Flash Off
Range: Wide: 0.2m-2.4m; Tele: 0.14m-1.8m
Creative
Scene Modes Portrait, Sports, Distant Landscape Night Scene, Text, High Sensitivity, Zoom Macro, Skew correction
Digital Zoom 3.6x
Self Timer Yes, 2 or 10 seconds
Time Lapse Yes
Movie Format AVI (Open DML Motion JPEG) with audio
320x240 and 160x120
Max. frame-rate: 30 frames per second
Storage
Recording Medium SD/MMC, Built-in
File System Complies with Design Rule for Camera File System (DCF)
File Format TIFF (MMR system ITU-T.6), JPEG (EXIF 2.21)
Connectivity
Video Yes, NTSC / PAL switchable
Computer USB 1.1
Other DC In
Po wer
Battery Type Lithium Ion rechargeable
Battery Form Factor Proprietary DB-60
Product Bundle
Flash Memory 26.0MB built-in memory
Other
Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compliant Yes
Internal Microphone Yes
Remote Control No
More Photos
Ricoh's Caplio R4 digital camera. Courtesy of Ricoh, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Ricoh's Caplio R4 digital camera. Courtesy of Ricoh, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Ricoh's Caplio R4 digital camera. Courtesy of Ricoh, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
 

UPDATED 2006-02-23 19:04ET: Reader Oren Bear wrote in to note that the press release suggests there is indeed a 3:2 mode on the camera, and that the battery life has been extended from 310 to 330 shots. This contradicts the spec sheet we received, which likely means the spec sheet is in error. We've updated the item to reflect this - thanks, Oren!

Original Source Press Release:

Ricoh announces the Caplio R4

HUGE 7.1x optical zoom, 6 Megapixels in a slim, pocket-sized body.

London –UK February 23rd 2006. – Ricoh has announced the release of the new Caplio R4 compact digital camera featuring a 7.1x optical wide zoom, (28–200 mm in 35 mm camera format), the largest in the compact class* and vibration correction function. With a smaller body, the new Caplio R4, has a 7.1x (28—200 mm) wide-angle, high-powered zoom lens, the biggest in its class. Building on the highly successful R3, the new R4 boasts 6 megapixels, longer battery life and a high resolution LCD.

The R4 will be available in both Black and Silver.

Main Features of the Caplio R4:

New 6.04 million square pixel CCD.

  • Often used icons can be enlarged for greater visibility.
  • The brightness of the LCD can be increased to maximum with a single touch and visibility can be adjusted to suit well-lighted areas.
  • The CCD is effective up to 6.04 million square pixels with the Smooth Imaging Engine image processing system. Combined with the vibration correction function, representative, superior, high-definition images can be created.
  • It is possible to select a 35mm aspect ratio (the horizontal to vertical ratio of the image) of 3:2.

The long-life rechargeable battery, a standard accessory, lets you shoot approx. 330 pictures.

  • Thanks to the power-saving features of the internal circuit, it is possible to capture up to 330 separate images under CIPA standards using the standard accessory rechargeable battery even while using the large LCD display. (310 pictures for the Caplio R3).

New improved 2.5-inch large-scale LCD, with 150,000-pixel resolution.

  • The Caplio R4 has an easy-to-see 2.5-inch large-scale LCD monitor with improved resolution (150,000 pixels compared to 110,000 for the Caplio R3).
  • During playback, 12 pictures can be displayed simultaneously on the large screen. While checking previous and subsequent pictures, the screen can be separated into three parts to allow fast forwarding and rewinding.
  • Often used icons can be enlarged for greater visibility.
  • The brightness of the LCD can be increased to maximum with a single touch and visibility can be adjusted to suit well-lighted areas.

7.1x wide zoom lens, largest in its class, in a lightweight 135g, 26mm body!

  • The newly developed Double Retracting Lens System, allows part of the lens assembly to protrude from the camera body during lens storage. This enables the body, a mere 26 mm, to have a 28–200 mm 7.1x wide zoom lens.
  • The highly versatile Caplio R4 delivers outstanding results in practically any photographic situation, whether it’s capturing a panoramic landscape in one shot, wide-angle images in a room where everything is very close, or the fine details of distant objects.

Vibration Correction function, based on a CCD shift method.

  • Whenever it detects excessive camera motion, the vibration correction system, based on a newly developed CCD shift method, moves the CCD in the opposite direction to counterbalance camera shake, resulting in sharp pictures that would have been blurred otherwise.
  • As it is not necessary to incorporate the vibration correction system into the lens, many lens design options, were available, facilitating the design of a slim body and a wide to long telephoto range lens.
  • The Caplio R4 shows its effectiveness best in high-powered telephoto, macro, or indoor shots without using flash. Once again the vibration correction system allows for sharp images that would not be possible otherwise.

The macro function, a Ricoh specialty, has been further strengthened.

  • The camera’s macro mode, can take a macro shot of an object from just 1 cm away.
  • The zoom macro function automatically sets the focal distance of the lens at the optimum distance for capturing an image of each object as large and close as possible.
  • If AF Target Selection is used, it is even possible to focus on objects within the frame without moving the camera. By determining the optimum field of view, taking into consideration such information as the size or contrast of the object, focusing accuracy becomes that much higher when shooting in macro.

High-speed response capability enables stress-free shooting.

  • Release time lag (the time from the instant the shutter button is fully pressed—without using focus lock—until exposure actually starts) is as fast as approx. 0.09 seconds on average. Quick responses are essential in order to capture picture-perfect but near-instantaneous moments such as the expressions and movement of children or pets. Now stress-free, near-instantaneous shots are possible.
  • Time calculated from the instant the focus is locked (half-press) until exposure actually starts is a miraculous 0.007 seconds on average.
  • Shooting interval and start time are both rapid, approx. 0.5 and 1.1 seconds, respectively (measured while the flash is off).

The skew correction function.

  • Through an original algorithm, which automatically detects trapezoids in images and corrects them to rectangles, images of such things as blackboards, documents, or time schedules shot at any angle can be corrected so that the image looks as though it were shot from the front. The camera is most effective in business environments where blackboards, overhead projector, OHPs, time schedules, signs, etc. cannot be shot from the front.

A design combining style with portability

  • The design combines functionality and texture with such features as a comfortable grip, easy-to-use controls, high-grade materials, surface finishing, and a compact body of 95.0 mm (W) x 53.0 mm (H) x 26.0 mm (D).

Price and Availability:
The Caplio R4 will be available from March RRP £ 249.99 inc

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