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Ricoh RDC-6000

Ricoh's inexpensive 2 megapixel digicam doubles as a USB webcam. (With optional software.)

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Page 12:Test Results & Conclusion

Review First Posted: 1/9/2001

Test Results
In keeping with our standard policy, our comments here are rather condensed, summarizing our key findings. For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the Ricoh RDC-6000's "pictures" page.

As with all Imaging Resource camera tests, we encourage you to let your own eyes be the judge of how well the devices performed. Explore the images on the pictures page, to see how well the Ricoh RDC-6000 performed, and how its images compare to other cameras you may be considering buying.

The RDC-6000 had a little trouble with color balance during our testing. The camera's white balance system had difficulty with the lighting in both our Outdoor and Indoor portrait shots, but managed to reproduce color on our House, Musicians, and Davebox test targets fairly accurately. For the most part, the manual white balance setting produced the most accurate results, although we noticed some magenta tints in a couple of shots. We also noticed odd, green and magenta color casts when shooting with the flash. The RDC-6000 reproduced the large color blocks in our Davebox test target fairly well, though with just a touch of undersaturation. Tonal range was rather problematic, as the subtle variations of the Q60 target were visible only up to the "C" range, and the black and white grayscales showed color shifts toward the lighter ends of the ranges. Overall, we'd really like to see the contrast on the RDC-6000 turned down a couple of notches: Highlights tend to blow out, and shadows plug, in the same image. Less contrast would preserve much more detail at both ends of the tonal range.

The RDC-6000's resolution is at the lower end of the current 2 megapixel camera spectrum. (Perhaps not surprising, as the camera's price is at the lower end of the spectrum as well.) Good detail is visible out to 700 lines per picture height in both horizontal and vertical directions, but aliasing ("jaggies") start back at about 550 lines in the horizontal direction, and 600 lines in the vertical. Overall, we'd "call" the resolution at 650 lines/picture height in both horizontal and vertical directions.

Exposure is automatically controlled on the RDC-6000, with the user only able to adjust white balance, exposure compensation, flash mode, and ISO. We were only able to obtain bright, useable images at light levels as low as four foot-candles (22 lux) at the 200 and 400 ISO settings, and as low as two foot-candles (44 lux) at the 100 ISO setting. Beyond that, the image became very dim, with only the reflection in the silver lid visible at the 1/16 foot candle (0.67 lux) level. Noise is moderately high with the 100 ISO setting, and dramatically higher with the 200 and 400 ISO levels. To put the RDC-6000's low light performance into perspective, an average city night scene under modern street lighting corresponds to a light level of about one foot-candle.

We found the RDC-6000's optical viewfinder to be a little vexing, as it doesn't provide you with very clearly-defined edges of its field of view. If you don't worry too much about precise framing, it's about as accurate as most digicam optical viewfinders, but we'd really prefer a more definitive "edge" to the field of view. The LCD monitor fared much better, showing approximately 95 percent of the final image area at the 2000 x 1480, 1600 x 1200, and 800 x 600 image sizes. However, we noticed that the 640 x 480 resolution size resulted in a similar final image area as that of the optical viewfinder. We usually like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, so the RDC-6000 performs well in this respect. However, the performance of the optical viewfinder is such that we wouldn't recommend using it at all.

The RDC-6000 performs reasonably well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 4.13 x 3.10 inches (104.85 x 78.63mm). Color balance looks pretty accurate, and there's a nice amount of detail visible. The brooch appears a little soft, possibly due to a limited depth of field. We also noticed a fairly bright area in the center of the image, which gives the light background of the dollar bill a slightly magenta cast.

Overall, the RDC-6000 performed a bit below average for its two megapixel category, perhaps not a surprise, given a price point set well toward the lower end of the two megapixel range as well. The camera's white balance system struggled with difficult light sources, and color balance was noticeably off in several cases. Exposure tended to be a little too bright, particularly in sunny situations or when shooting with the flash, but the ability to adjust the exposure compensation corrected this problem somewhat. The RDC-6000's limited exposure capabilities restrict the camera's low light shooting range, but with the flash enabled, the camera should handle most indoor night scenes. Despite its flaws, the RDC-6000 could represent a good "value buy" for consumers looking for a two megapixel digicam on a budget. (Hard to say, as prices will vary over time, but at introduction, Ricoh was clearly aiming this product at the value-conscious digicam market.)


Conclusion
Though we weren't overly impressed by the RDC-6000's image quality, we liked the camera's compact size and affordable 2-megapixel price. The RDC-6000's limited but useful manual exposure controls and variety of shooting modes (including a time-lapse photography option), provide impressive utility for its small size. We also enjoyed the very flexible white balance setting, as well as the grid template function, and bountiful software offering. Compact and reasonably priced, the RDC-6000 may tempt those active consumers who are looking more for a digicam to document day-by-day activities rather than produce high-end photos.

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