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Ricoh RDC-7

A 3 megapixel "Image Capturing Device" for mobile professionals with some unusual capabilities!

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Page 2:Executive Overview

Review First Posted: 8/2/2000

Executive Overview
One glance at the RDC-7 and you'll be wondering if it's not some slick device designed for a high-level CIA operative. With a trim size of 5.3 x 2.9 x 1.1 inches (135.4 x 74 x 27.9 mm) and a very light weight of 9.5 ounces (270 g), the RDC-7 is definitely meant to go places. The camera should easily fit into most shirt pockets and includes a wrist strap for added portability. The camera's efficient design maximizes nearly every inch of space, featuring two shutter buttons and a double-sided zoom control, allowing you to hold the camera vertically or horizontally.

The very utilitarian, two inch LCD monitor flips up and swivels around to face all four sides of the camera, rotating a full 270 degrees. This also means that you can flip the LCD around to face the front and then close it back into its locking position to maintain a very sleek profile. The RDC-7 also features a real image optical viewfinder, complete with a dioptric adjustment dial to accommodate eyeglass wearers. A 3x, 7.3 to 21.9 mm optical zoom lens, equivalent to a 35 to 105 mm lens on a 35mm camera, features a maximum aperture of f/2.6 to f/3.4, depending on the zoom setting, and a normal focal range of 9.4 inches (24 cm) to infinity. A macro mode offers a focal range from an amazing 0.4 to 9.4 inches (1 to 24 cm). Focus can be controlled automatically or manually, with the autofocus system using a hybrid of TTL and CCD focusing mechanisms.

When it comes to exposure, the RDC-7 mainly operates under automatic control, with the camera determining the shutter speed and aperture the majority of the time. Through the Time Exposure mode, however, you can choose from a range of slow shutter speeds, from one to eight seconds. Shutter speeds range from 1 to 1/1,000 seconds in the normal,automatic mode. (This is the official spec, our tests revealed a minimum shutter time of only 1/2,000 second.) Exposure compensation can be manually adjusted from -2 to +2 in 1/2 EV increments, and ISO can be set to Auto, 200 or 400. White balance offers Automatic, Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten and Incandescent options. There's even a Soft mode that disables the in-camera image sharpening, and a Monochrome mode for capturing images in black and white or sepia monotones. An auto bracketing function takes three images consecutively, at -0.5, 0.0 and +0.5 exposure compensation levels, centered around the amount of exposure compensation you've set manually. The self-timer mode counts down from 10 seconds before firing the shutter, with a blinking LED on the front of the camera to indicate the countdown. The camera's built-in flash offers Auto, Off, Forced and Slow -Synchro operating modes, with an option for Red-Eye Reduction available through the Record menu (Redeye Reduction works with the Auto, Forced and Slow-Synchro modes). Also through the Record menu, you can adjust the flash power to Strong, Normal or Soft, depending on the amount of flash you need.

The RDC-7 offers a variety of capture modes, including Text, Sound, Continuous Shooting, Interval Shooting and Motion Picture. In the Text mode, the camera is setup for capturing images of text from documents, signs or white boards. The Sound mode allows you to record sound only, with recording time limited only by memory space. You can also record 10 second sound bytes to accompany an image, through the Image with Sound option under the Record menu. Continuous Shooting lets you capture a rapid succession of images, with just one press of the shutter button. The mode works with any file size and quality setting, so shot to shot cycle times vary. In Motion Picture mode, the camera captures moving images with sound, with the length of recording time depending on the amount of memory space available. Finally, the Interval Shooting mode sets up the camera to automatically fire the shutter at set intervals, varying from once every 30 seconds to once every three hours, for time-lapse photography.

For image storage, the RDC-7 allows you to save captured files to either a SmartMedia card or the camera's internal eight megabytes of memory. A button on top of the camera lets you alternate between file destinations, and a Copy function under the Playback menu lets you copy files back and forth. The RDC-7 offers three main image sizes (640 x 480, 1024 x 768 and 2048 x 1536) and three quality settings (Fine, Normal and Economy). Three "PRO" settings provide higher resolutions or improved sharpness at the camera's normal maximum file size, using a pixel-shifting technique and taking two separate exposures in quick succession. An uncompressed TIFF option is activated through the Record menu, and works with all file sizes.

The RDC-7 is equipped for NTSC and PAL video formats, with an NTSC cable provided with US and Japanese versions and a PAL cable with European ones. The video format is changed through the camera's Setup menu. A USB and PC serial cable also accompany the camera, for connection to a computer. A very nice offering of software is packaged with the RDC-7, compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems. The accompanying CD is loaded with Arcsoft's PhotoStudio, PhotoBase, PanoramaMaker, PhotoFantasy, VideoImpression, PhotoPrinter and PhotoMontage, as well as QuickTime. Through this abundance of software, you can organize images, edit and graphically enhance them, create panoramas, set up images for printing, create unique photo mosaics and edit your digital video files. The furnished software constitutes an unusually complete offering, providing all the basic tools you need for organizing, manipulating, printing, and presenting your images and mini-movies.

For power, the RDC-7 utilizes a rechargeable, Ricoh DB-20 lithium-ion battery pack, and includes one battery pack and a charger in its packaging. An AC adapter also accompanies the camera, good for time consuming tasks like image downloading and playback, as well as shooting in the Interval photography mode.

Overall, the RDC-7 features a very sleek, attractive design with a trim profile that lets it go just about anywhere. While more advanced photo enthusiasts might prefer more manual controls, the nice sprinkling of features and the fully automatic exposure control matches the needs of the "mobile professional" the camera is aimed at. The RDC-7 bundles good looks with good image quality and a very complete bundle of software, perfect for amateurs looking for a portable, uncomplicated digital camera.

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