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Digital Cameras - Ricoh RDC-5300 Test Images

(Original test posting: 1/18/2000)

We've begun including links in our reviews to a Thumber-generated index page for our test shots. The Thumber data includes a host of information on the images, including shutter speed, ISO setting, compression setting, etc. Rather than clutter the page below with *all* that detail, we're posting the Thumber index so only those interested in the information need wade through it! ;)

Outdoor portrait: (723k) This is a tough shot for many digicams, due to the extreme tonal range. (Which is why we set it up this way!) The trick is to hold highlight and shadow detail without producing a "flat" picture with muddy colors. We shot this image using both the automatic (723k) and daylight (690k) white balance settings. The daylight version resulted in a slightly cooler tone, so we chose the automatic setting for our main shot (723k). Shadow detail was very good and not too noisy. Color balance seemed right on, for the most part. We only noticed that the blues in the flowers and the model's pants had more of a purple hue, a common problem among digicams we've tested. But otherwise, skin tones and the rest of the flowers look about right. Resolution in this image was just a little on the soft side, evidenced in the model's hair and a few stems against her shirt. The table below shows a series of exposure compensation settings from +0 to +1.5EV in 0.5EV increments, shot with the automatic white balance.

Exposure Variations:
0.0 EV
Shutter: 1/128
Aperture: F10
(621k)
+0.5EV
Shutter: 1/362
Aperture: F10
(723k)
+1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/181
Aperture: F10
(713k)
+1.5 EV
Shutter: 1/128
Aperture: F10
(699k)


 
Closer portrait: (736k) The RDC-5300 does a nice job with this "portrait" shot, thanks to its zoom lens. (Shorter focal length lenses tend to distort facial features in close-up shots like this: The availability of longer focal lengths is a key feature if you're going to be shooting close-in people shots like this). As is typical, this closer version of the above shot required less exposure compensation, with no EV adjustment at all for our main shot (736k). Resolution and detail seem a little better in this shot, noticeable in the individual strands of hair. The table below shows the series of exposure compensation settings from +0 to +1.5EV in 05EV increments, shot with the automatic white balance.

Exposure Variations:
0.0 EV
Shutter: 1/362
Aperture: F8.5
(736k)
+0.5EV
Shutter: 1/256
Aperture: F8.5
(657k)
+1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/181
Aperture: F8.5
(648k)
+1.5 EV
Shutter: 1/256
Aperture: F8.5
(656k)


 
Indoor portrait, flash: (680k) This shot is always tricky because of the potential differences between the color balance of the flash and the bright room lighting. Many cameras produce odd bluish highlights here, and we did see a some on a couple of the RDC-5300's shots. The default flash exposure setting (765k) did a good job of illuminating both foreground and background without over-blowing the highlights, although the image is a little warm. We took one shot with the –0.5 EV setting, producing this (698k) image, which exposed the model correctly (although just a hair dark) but lost illumination in the background. We also experimented with the RDC-5300's S-Mode, which boosts the camera's effective ISO rating in low-light situations when activated. We shot first with no exposure compensation, getting this (680k) slightly dark image with a bit of a magenta cast and a few blue shadows. We also snapped one shot in S-Mode with the +0.5 EV setting, resulting in this (696k) image which produced a better exposure despite some bluish shadow areas. Finally, we connected a low-end SunPak flash to the RDC-5300, which gave us this (759k) image, the most even exposure overall. (External flash sync certainly is a nice feature if you plan much indoor photography!)

 
Indoor portrait, no flash: (621k) This shot is a very tough test of a camera's white balance capabilities, thanks to the strong yellowish cast of the household incandescent lighting it's shot under. The RDC-5300 did pretty well with this difficult light source. We shot with both the auto white balance setting (632k) and the incandescent white balance mode (621k). We felt the incandescent setting was the most accurate color-wise, although it was just slightly cool. (A beautiful job on the whole though!) The auto setting produced a much warmer result.

The table below shows the results of various exposure-compensation settings for incandescent white balance. (The main shot was taken with an exposure compensation of +1.0 EV units.)

Exposure Variations:
0.0 EV
Shutter: 1/22
Aperture: F3.8
(780k)
+0.5EV
Shutter: 1/16
Aperture: F3.8
(620k)
+1.0 EV
Shutter: 1/11
Aperture: F3.8
(621k)
+1.5 EV
Shutter: 1/2
Aperture: F3.8
(636k)


 
House shot: (730k) NOTE that this is the "new" house shot, a much higher-resolution poster than we first used in our tests. To compare the image of the DSC-D770 with previously-tested cameras, here's a shot of the original house poster (765k).

Always a tough test of camera resolution, the RDC-5300 fared reasonably well on sharpness and detail although the in-camera sharpening seems a little coarse. Some odd compression artifacts show up as interesting textures in the leaves and foliage areas, meaning that the camera is obviously using something other than JPEG for compression. Additionally, the tell-tale shingle area is a bit noisier than average. Despite these minor complaints, the RDC-5300 delivers a relatively sharp image with the auto white balance setting producing the most accurate color results.

Resolution/Quality series:
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F3.8
(730k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F3.8
(360k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F3.8
(243k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F3.8
(250k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F3.8
(133k)
Small/Economy
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F3.8
(72k)


We experimented with the RDC-5300's white balance options on this shot, and found that the auto white balance option won out, producing the most accurate color balance and tone. The daylight setting produced slightly warmer results. Out of curiosity, we shot a series in the cloudy setting, which produced extremely warm results. The table below shows the results of various white balance settings.

White Balance Variations:
Auto
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F3.8
(250k)
Daylight
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F3.8
(247k)
Cloudy
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F3.8
(248k)


Here's an example of the RDC-5300's "soft" mode setting versus the normal amount of sharpness in the table below. As is usually the case, the camera's "Soft" mode combined with strong unsharp masking in Photoshop (in this case radious 0.5 pixels, 250%) produced noticeably sharper pictures.

Sharpness Variations:
Soft
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F3.8
(668k)
Normal
Shutter: 1/64
Aperture: F3.8
(730k)
Soft/Photoshop
(698k)


 
 
Far-Field shot: (736k) This image is shot at infinity to test far-field lens performance. NOTE that this image cannot be directly compared to the other "house" shot, which is a poster, shot in the studio. The rendering of detail in the poster will be very different than in this shot, and color values (and even the presence or absence of leaves on the trees!) will vary in this subject as the seasons progress. In general though, you can evaluate detail in the bricks, shingles, and window detail, and in the tree branches against the sky. Compression artifacts are most likely to show in the trim along the edge of the roof, in the bricks, or in the relatively "flat" areas in the windows. Overall the RDC-5300 did a nice job of capturing this image, though resolution is a little softer than some other digicams we've tested (visible in the leaves and bricks). Color balance is good overall and the noise level in the shingles is about right. Corners sharpness looks good too.

We didn't shoot a range of white balance variations here, but simply used the automatic option for our standard resolution/quality series, which appears in the table below.

Resolution/Quality series:
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/181
Aperture: F8.5
(736k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/181
Aperture: F8.5
(361k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/181
Aperture: F8.5
(231k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/181
Aperture: F8.5
(261k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/181
Aperture: F8.5
(136k)
Small/Economy
Shutter: 1/181
Aperture: F8.5
(68k)


We snapped one shot in Soft Mode, with the result compared to the normal sharpness level shown in the table below.

Sharpness Variations:
Soft
Shutter: 1/181
Aperture: F8.5
(741k)
Normal
Shutter: 1/181
Aperture: F8.5
(735k)


 
Lens Zoom Range (new):
We've received a number of requests from readers to take shots showing the lens focal length range of those cameras with zoom lenses. Thus, we're happy to present you here with the following series of shots, showing the field of view with respectively, the lens at full wide-angle, the lens at full telephoto, and the lens at full telephoto with 2x "digital telephoto" enabled. All these images are shot at the RDC-5300's small file size, to save download times.

Wide
(250k)
Shutter: 1/ 362
Aperture: F8.5
Tele
(255k)
Shutter: 1/ 128
Aperture: F16.5
Digital Tele 2x
(151k)
Shutter: 1/ 181
Aperture: F16.5


"Musicians" poster: (758k) We shot samples of this target using auto (k), daylight (k) and cloudy () white balance options, and found the auto setting to be the most accurate for skin tones and overall color balance. The daylight setting was slightly warmer and the cloudy setting was definitely too warm for this image. Resolution looks very good, especially in detail areas like the silver lines and bird wings on the Oriental model's robe. Color saturation was pretty good as well, evidenced by the blue of the robe and the skin tones. The table below carries links to our standard resolution/quality series.

Resolution/Quality series:
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F3.8
(758k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F3.8
(378k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F.8
(219k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F3.8
(230k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F3.8
(124k)
Small/Economy
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F3.8
(71k)


We again tried the RDC-5300's soft setting and compared it to the camera's normal sharpness setting, with the results shown in the table below.

Sharpness Variations:
Soft
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F3.8
(696k)
Normal
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F3.8
(758k)


 
Macro shot: (?k) The RDC-5300 performed extremely well in the macro category as shown here (?k), with a minimum area of only 0.55 x 0.82 inches (13.9 x 20.8 mm). This is really quite impressive, although the 4cm minimum shooting distance means it can be tricky to light macro subjects, particularly if they have a significant three-dimensional component. The 5300's flash did a surprisingly good job of throttling-down, as seen in this shot (?k), but as you'd expect, there's no way it could illuminate evenly this close. (This is where the external flash sync the RDC-5300 offers will really come in handy: You could set up a tiny "light tent" around the subject, consisting of a cone of diffuser material, and illuminate it with several external flash units, or a flash plus reflectors.) Like many digicams we've tested, the RDC-5300 achieves its greatest macro performance with the lens zoomed to its wide-angle setting. This notonly results in the very short working distance, but also precludes use of the 5300's digital telephoto option. in macro mode.

 
"Davebox" test target: (715k) The RDC-5300 produced very good color and tonal results with a minor weakness in the cyan and yellow tones. It also picked up the sometimes difficult differentiation between the red and magenta color blocks on the middle left color chart and the pastels looked really good on the Q-60 chart on the lower left side. The only minor criticism we had is that there is a minor loss of detail in the shadow area on the briquettes. In this shot, the daylight (226k) white balance setting produced a very warm cast, leading us to choose the auto (715k) setting (although it looks just slightly warm as well). The table below shows the usual range of resolution/quality settings.

Resolution/Quality series:
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/90
Aperture: F3.8
(715k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/90
Aperture: F3.8
(333k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/90
Aperture: F3.8
(219k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/90
Aperture: F3.8
(266k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/90
Aperture: F3.8
(120k)
Small/Economy
Shutter: 1/90
Aperture: F3.8
(72k)


 
 
Low-Light Tests 
Ricoh states the RDC-5300's ISO as 100, suggesting it should be capable of delivering usable images at light levels as low as 3 foot-candles (33 lux). We actually measured the apparent ISO of the camera at 120-150 in normal shooting mode though, and 400-600 in "S" mode. In our low-light tests, the RDC-5300 performed respectably but not spectacularly, producing usable images down to light levels of about 1 foot-candle (11 lux, EV7 in our previous parlance). This isn't on a par with the best-peforming cameras available today (January, 2000), but is offers a useful range, and is a fair bit lower than Ricoh's official specs indicate should be possible. (This light level is about equivalent to that of a city street at night, under street-lights.) There was some noise present at this lighting level, which got worse as we proceeded down to levels of 0.5 and 0.25 foot-candles. The camera's boosted-sensitivity "S" mode helps to increase the shutter speed you can shoot at, but doesn't seem to significantly reduce the minimum light level for picture-taking. (As is always the case, boosting the CCD's apparent sensitivity also increases noise levels significantly.) We also observed that the camera had some difficulty focusing at light levels of 1 foot-candle and below, although we didn't find as many mis-focused shots as with some cameras we've tested.

The table below shows the results we obtained in both normal and "S" modes, at light levels ranging from 8 foot-candles (88 lux) down to 0.25 foot-candles (~3 lux).


Exposure Compensation series:
8fc (10EV)
Normal Mode
Shutter: 1/4
Aperture: F3.8
(746k)
4fc (9EV)
Normal Mode
Shutter: 1/2
Aperture: F3.8
(792k)
2fc (8EV)
Normal Mode
Shutter: 1/2
Aperture: F3.8
(652k)
1fc (7EV)
Normal Mode
Shutter: 1
Aperture: F3.8
(740k)
0.5fc (6EV)
Normal Mode
Shutter: 1
Aperture: F3.8
(717k)
0.25fc (5EV)
Normal Mode
Shutter: 1
Aperture: F3.8
(760k)
8fc (10EV)
"S" Mode
Shutter: 1/16
Aperture: F3.8
(731k)
4fc (9EV)
"S" Mode
Shutter: 1/11
Aperture: F3.8
(631k)
2fc (8EV)
"S" Mode
Shutter: 1/5
Aperture: F3.8
(757k)
1fc (7EV)
"S" Mode
Shutter: 1/2
Aperture: F3.8
(731k)
0.5fc (6EV)
"S" Mode
Shutter: 1
Aperture: F3.8
(731k)
0.25fc (5EV)
"S" Mode
Shutter: 1
Aperture: F3.8
(764k)


 
Flash Range Test (New)
(This test was added in August 1999, so cameras tested before that time won't have comparison pictures available. As we go forward though, all the new models will have similar tests available). Ricoh rates the RDC-5300's flash out to a maximum of approximately 9.8 feet (3.0m) at the telephoto end and up to 11.2 feet (3.4m) at wide angle. We found that the flash was still relatively effective as far out as 14 feet, although we began to notice less detail in the shadow areas. The table below shows results obtained at a range of distances from eight to 14 feet.

Flash Range/Distance: 
8 ft
Shutter: 1/90
Aperture: F4.5
(346k)
9 ft
Shutter: 1/128
Aperture: F4.5
(332K)
10 ft
Shutter: 1/128
Aperture: F3.8
(340k)
11 ft
Shutter: 1/128
Aperture: F3.8
(322k)
12 ft
Shutter: 1/128
Aperture: F3.8
(310k)
13 ft
Shutter: 1/128
Aperture: F3.8
(299k)
14 ft
Shutter: 1/128
Aperture: F3.8
(393k)


ISO 12233 ("WG-18") resolution target: (642k) Our laboratory resolution test of the RDC-5300 produced somewhat mixed results. On the one hand, the camera clearly resolved out to at least 700 lines per picture height in both horizontal and vertical directions. At the same time though, the images looked rather soft overall, with the edges of target elements and the lettering appearing less than razor-sharp. Also, we observed an unusual sort of artifact, particularly in the horizontal direction, whereby the fine vertical lines would alternately get thicker and more narrow as their size and spacing steadily decreased. Overall ,the resolution appears fairly good, but not on a par with the best two megapixel cameras we've tested. The tables below carry links to our standard resolution/quality series, for both wide-angle and telephoto zoom settings.

Wide Angle Resolution/Quality series:
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F3.8
(642k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F3.8
(396k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F3.8
(234k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F3.8
(238k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/45
Aperture: F3.8
(125k)
Small/Economy
Shutter: 1/5
Aperture: F3.8
(67k)


Telephoto Resolution/Quality series:
Large/Fine
Shutter: 1/128
Aperture: F3.8
(651k)
Large/Normal
Shutter: 1/128
Aperture: F3.8
(394k)
Large/Economy
Shutter: 1/128
Aperture: F3.8
(228k)
Small/Fine
Shutter: 1/128
Aperture: F3.8
(245k)
Small/Normal
Shutter: 1/128
Aperture: F3.8
(129k)
Small/Economy
Shutter: 1/128
Aperture: F3.8
(72k)


 
Viewfinder accuracy/flash uniformity target: The RDC-5300's optical viewfinder showed an accuracy of 85% in wide angle (172k) and 88% in telephoto (184k). The LCD finder was 98% at wide angle (172k) and 97% (very close) at telephoto (184k). The RDC-5300's LCD monitor in digital telephoto mode doesn't zoom the image on screen, but instead places a guide box in the center of the screen to show you what area will become the final image. Unfortunately, this made it a little difficult to line up our viewfinder accuracy target correctly and we were unable to measure the accuracy of the digital telephoto mode. Even though the optical viewfinder figures hit about average (most consumer digicams average around 85%), the RDC-5300's LCD accuracy is exceptional (we still prefer for LCD viewfinders to show exactly 100% of the final image). Our one significant complaint with the optical viewfinder is that the captured image is rotated about 1 degree clockwise from the view shown in the viewfinder. This is enough to be bothersome, but we don't know if it was a prototype problem affecting only our test unit, or a more general issue with the product.

Flash uniformity was excellent in telephoto mode and fairly good in wide angle.

Geometric distortion is moderate at the wide angle end of the lens' focal length range, showing 0.6% barrel distortion. At the telephoto end, this changes to a very slight 0.4% pincushion distortion.

Chromatic aberration and coma are both excellent, with only a hint of chromatic aberration visible in wide angle mode as slightly greenish fringe on the resolution target elements towards the top and bottom of the field of view. (Estimated at about 0.25 pixels). In telephoto mode, about the same level of chromatic aberration is visible. Likewise, we saw virtually no evidence of coma at either telephoto or wide angle focal lengths.

 

 

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