Ricoh WG-20 Review
|Full model name:||Ricoh WG-20|
|Dimensions:||4.5 x 2.3 x 1.1 in.
(114 x 59 x 28 mm)
|Weight:||5.8 oz (164 g)
Ricoh WG-20 Review -- First Impressions
by Mike Tomkins
Preview posted 02/05/2014
The Ricoh WG-20 follows on from last year's Pentax WG-10, and as will be immediately obvious, perhaps the most significant change for this year is the brandname. We've known for a long time that it was coming, as Ricoh has been very clear about its plans for Pentax. The Ricoh brand will be used for all fixed-lens cameras going forwards, while the Pentax brandname will be reserved solely for interchangeable-lens cameras.
In spirit and design, though, the Ricoh WG-20 harkens back all the way to the Pentax Optio WG-1, the camera that launched the rugged WG series in the first place. The WG-20 is the third camera to use the exact same body design that debuted with the WG-1, and it also boasts much the same sensor and lens. And as far as we can see, the Ricoh WG-20 doesn't differ from the Pentax WG-10 at all, beyond the brandname, screen-printed markings, and color scheme. Like that camera, it drops the GPS receiver, sensor-shift stabilization, and high dynamic range shooting mode of the WG-1, but otherwise gives you much of what the 2011 camera offered at half the price it once sold for.
And affordability is clearly the name of the game, here. The Ricoh WG-20 is significantly less expensive than the company's current flagship rugged models, the WG-4 and WG-4 GPS, despite a more far-reaching 5x optical zoom lens. Sure, the WG-20 isn't waterproofed and shockproofed to quite the same degree as those cameras, doesn't shoot as swiftly, has a dimmer lens, lacks mechanical stabilization, and has a slightly smaller LCD monitor. And of course, it lacks the location-awareness feature of the WG-4 GPS, in particular. But in exchange for paring off those features, the Ricoh WG-20 costs only a little more than half as much as Ricoh's rugged flagship.
The Ricoh WG-20 can be used at depths of up to 33 feet (10m), which is plenty for beach, pool, snorkeling and casual scuba diving, although for the latter, you'll want to pay attention to your depth. There's also shockproofing good for a 4.9 foot (1.5m) drop, crushproofing to 220 pounds (100kgf), freezeproofing to 14F (-10C), and dustproofing (to IPX6 / JIS 6 standards). In short, the WG-20 is a camera you shouldn't be afraid to take anywhere, ensuring you'll get shots others might miss.
The Ricoh WG-20 is based around a 1/2.3-inch CCD image sensor with an effective resolution of 14 megapixels. Total resolution is 14.48 megapixels, and the chip provides a sensitivity range of ISO 80 to 6400 equivalents under automatic or manual control. The full-resolution burst shooting rate of 0.68 frames per second is pretty anaemic by 2014 standards, but at a reduced resolution of five megapixels, you can capture as many as 19 shots at a somewhat more useful rate of 2.27 frames per second. With an ISO sensitivity of 3,200 to 6,400 equivalents, that climbs to a worthwhile 5.26 frames per second.
The Ricoh WG-20's sensor sits behind a 5x optical zoom lens whose design includes 11 elements in nine groups, five of them aspheric, housed behind a protective cover. The lens offers 35mm-equivalent focal lengths from 28 to 140mm, while actual focal lengths range from 5 to 25mm. At wide angle, there's a two step aperture offering either f/3.5 or f/4.2. At telephoto, the choices are a rather dim f/5.5 or f/6.6. And in a concession to cost-saving, the Ricoh WG-20 lacks true mechanical image stabilization. Instead, there's only "pixel track SR" that aims to correct blurring post-capture, "digital SR" that simply raises ISO sensitivity and hence shutter speeds, and movie SR which functions by moving the capture area window around the surface of the image sensor to counter shake.
The WG-20 uses a contrast detection autofocus system. There's an AF assist lamp to help with focusing on nearby subjects in low light, and the system can also locate and take account of up to 32 faces within the image frame. The face detection functionality is also used to provide a self-portrait assist mode, for the selfie fans among us. Focusing modes include both 9-point and spot, and there's an automatic tracking function, as well. Ordinarily, the WG-20 will focus as close as 1.64 feet (50cm), and in macro mode this is reduced to as little as 0.3 feet (10cm).
That's not all, though. Like its recent predecessors, the Ricoh WG-20 retains the company's "digital microscope" mode. This uses an array of five LED lights -- one less than in current flagships -- to provide even illumination of your subject, reducing shadows. In this mode, the camera can focus as close as just 0.4 inches (1cm), although the lens is fixed at the middle of the zoom range.
On the rear panel of the Ricoh WG-20 is a 2.7-inch, TFT LCD panel through which images are framed and reviewed. The display is a little smaller than is typical of modern digital cameras, and its resolution of around 230,000 dots -- equating to around 320 x 240 pixels -- is also a little low these days. Ricoh has included an anti-reflective coating, however.
As well as the LEDs that make up the digital microscope macro light, the Ricoh WG-20 also includes a built-in four mode flash strobe. This includes red-eye reduction capability, and when using Auto ISO sensitivity, has a rather limited effective range of 13 feet (4m) at wide angle, or 8.2 feet (2.5m) at telephoto.
Although it doesn't offer priority or manual-mode shooting, the Ricoh WG-20 does provide both green and program modes, plus a fair selection of scene and special effect modes. Shutter speeds range from 1/1,500 to 1/4 second in most modes, although the night scene mode allows shutter speeds as slow as four seconds. There's also an auto picture mode, which analyzes your subject, then selects one of 16 different scene modes automatically. Multi-shot modes include digital wide (stitches two shots to create a five megapixel image roughly equivalent to a 21mm wide angle), and the relatively commonplace panorama function. There are also 12 digital filter effects.
And the Ricoh WG-20 can shoot more than just stills. You can capture high-definition movies, too, albeit with the older, less-efficient Motion JPEG compression. These include monaural PCM WAV audio. The highest-resolution mode provides an HD (720p; 1,280 x 720 pixel) video at a rate of 30 frames per second. Interestingly, in-camera movie editing extends beyond the typical functions to extract a single frame as a still image, and to trim the start and end of the clip. You can also add titles to the start or end of the clip in-camera.
Connectivity includes a combined USB 2.0 High Speed data and NTSC/PAL composite video output port, and a Type-D Micro HDMI terminal. Ricoh has also included an infrared remote control receiver, letting you get yourself into your photos.
Images and movies are stored on Secure Digital cards, including the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types. There's also a fairly generous 97MB of built-in memory, enough to save the day with a good few of the most critical shots if you accidentally leave your flash card at home. And Eye-Fi Secure Digital cards are supported, if you want to banish the USB cable and transfer your images via Wi-Fi. Power comes courtesy of a D-LI92 lithium ion rechargeable battery pack, rated as good for 260 shots on a charge. A power adapter, USB cable, AC power cable, carabiner strap and software CD-ROM are included in the product bundle.
Optional accessories include the O-ST1352 floating strap, to help make sure you don't lose your camera when splashing around at the seaside, lake, or pool, and the O-CC1182 protector jacket. The WG-20 is also compatible with Ricoh's new mounting system, which consists of three new camera mounts. Each attaches via the O-CH1470 WG Holder, an accessory compatible with all cameras in the WG line.
The O-CM1471 WG Adhesive Mount can be affixed to smooth items like helmets, canoes, and bicycles with adhesive tape, great for recording a first-person view or getting a shot of yourself in the center of the action. Since the adhesive tape can't be reused, you can buy more tape in the O-CM1474 WG Repair Parts 1 kit.
The O-CM1472 WG Handlebar Mount clamps onto pipes and frames, making for a reusable mount that's ideal for bicycles, motorcycles, hang gliders and more. Finally, the O-CM1473 WG Suction Cup Mount provides a reusable alternative to the WG Adhesive Mount when shooting from a smooth surface that's conducive to suction-mounting.
Available from March 2014, the Ricoh WG-20 is priced at around US$200, $20 more than its Pentax predecessor. Available body colors in the US market are white and red.
The WG-series mounting accessories are available from February 2014. Pricing is set at US$20 for the camera holder, which is needed to use any of the other accessories, while the adhesive mount costs US$45, the handle bar mount costs US$40, and the suction cup mount costs US$43. Pricing hasn't been disclosed for the other accessories or mount repair kits.
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