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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 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 1/9/2001

Executive Overview
Compact, lightweight, and very portable, Ricoh's RDC-6000 offers pocket-friendly design with a nice complement of features, perfect for busy consumers. Measuring just 4.33 x 2.64 x 1.56 inches (110 x 67 x 39.5mm), and weighing 7 ounces (220 grams), the RDC-6000 is easy to keep up with, especially when you use the included wrist strap and soft case. The camera features a 2.1 megapixel CCD that can be interpolated to nearly 3 megapixels (and an image resolution size of 2,000 x 1,480 pixels) with the Image Enlargement feature under the settings menu.

The RDC-6000 offers both a Galileo type (also known as "real image") optical viewfinder and a 1.8-inch, color LCD display for composing images. The informative LCD display reports a fair amount of camera information, including battery power and the number of remaining images, which can be canceled for a clear view of the image area. The LCD monitor also features a grid template that divides the image into thirds both horizontally and vertically to aid in image composition.

Optically, the RDC-6000 features a 8.24mm, aspherical glass lens, equivalent to a 40mm lens on a 35mm camera. Instead of a lens cap, the lens is protected by a clear plastic cover that remains in place at all times. Focus can be automatically or manually controlled, and an Area option allows you to establish the area of the frame on which the camera will base its focusing (25 framing areas available). Two fixed focusing distance settings are also available, 2.5m and Infinity, for faster shooting. Normal focus ranges from 11.8 inches (0.3 meters) to infinity and from 5.11 to 11.8 inches (0.13 to 0.3 meters) in Macro mode. No optical zoom function is available, although a digital telephoto option enlarges images to 2x, 3x, or 4x. (Remember that digital zoom isn't the same as a true optical zoom lens, compromising image quality by increasing noise and decreasing resolution).

Exposure is automatic, with Aperture Priority, Exposure Compensation, and ISO adjustments available. In Aperture Priority mode, the user can set the lens aperture from f/2.8 to f/13 and the camera selects the best shutter speed (from 1/500 to 1/4 second). Exposure compensation can be adjusted from -2 to +2 EV (exposure values) in 0.25 EV increments, and ISO can be set to 100, 200, or 400 sensitivity equivalents. The camera's white balance system offers Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten, Fluorescent, User Define, and W/B Calibration modes. User Define allows you to manually adjust the red, green, and blue levels in a picture, while W/B Calibration bases the white value on a white card placed in front of the camera. The camera's built-in flash operates in Flash Off, Auto Flash, Forced Flash, or Slow Synchro modes, which are controlled by a button on top of the camera. A Redeye Reduction option is available through the Record settings menu. An Auto Bracketing function provides a little flexibility with exposure, capturing three images at different exposure compensation levels with one press of the shutter button. There's also a 10-second self-timer, which can be used with an accessory remote control (available separately).

A variety of capture modes are available on the RDC-6000. Text mode increases the image contrast to capture clear images of text. Quick Shooting mode captures a series of consecutive images at approximately one frame per second with one press of the shutter button (the total number of images depends on the amount of available SmartMedia space). A Movie recording mode captures moving images without sound (the total recording time is also dependent upon available memory card space). In Movie mode, the shutter speed ranges from 1/2,000 to 1/30 second, and remains under automatic control. Interval (time-lapse) mode records a series of images at preset intervals (from 30 seconds to 180 minutes) until the mode is canceled or the memory card runs out of room. Finally, the RDC-6000 offers a Monochrome shooting mode, allowing users to record images in black-and-white or sepia monotones.

The RDC-6000 records images to 3.3v SmartMedia cards (an 8MB card is included with the camera). Standard file sizes include 1,600 x 1,200, 800 x 600, and 640 x 480 pixels (320 x 240 and 160 x 120 for movie files), with Fine, Normal, and Economy JPEG compression levels available. As we mentioned earlier, the RDC-6000 features an interpolation algorithm, called Image Enlargement in the Record menu, which bumps up the maximum file size to 2,000 x 1,480 pixels (Fine compression only). (Note: Interpolated images are enlarged by using a software program to mathematically increase resolution, it should not be equated with true, optical image resolution.)

Power is supplied by a rechargeable DB-20 lithium-ion battery pack, supplied with the camera. Also included are an AC adapter and battery charger. A video cable connects the camera to a television set (NTSC for US and Japanese models, and PAL for European models). Once connected, the television can display captured images or be used to compose new ones. An optional accessory remote control increases the camera's video capabilities, by turning it into a presentation tool. A USB connector and RS232 serial cable are provided for connection to a computer. Two software CDs include Ricoh's utility software for downloading images, as well as a complete suite of ArcSoft image editing software, and the necessary TWAIN and USB drivers. All software is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems.

Overall, we found the RDC-6000 to have a nice selection of features and a lightweight, compact size for easy portability. While image quality was not the best we've seen, the RDC-6000 offers 2-megapixel capability at a very affordable price. The combination of automatic exposure, manually adjustable focus, and white balance settings makes the RDC-6000 a great match for the consumer who doesn't want to worry too much about exposure decisions, but who also prefers to have manual adjustment tools available when needed.


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