Ricoh WG-30w Review

 
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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Ricoh WG-30w
Resolution: 16.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3 inch
(6.2mm x 4.6mm)
Lens: 5.00x zoom
(28-140mm eq.)
Viewfinder: No / LCD
Native ISO: 125 - 6400
Extended ISO: 125 - 6400
Shutter: 1/4000 - 4 seconds
Max Aperture: 3.5
Dimensions: 4.8 x 2.4 x 1.2 in.
(122 x 61 x 31 mm)
Weight: 6.8 oz (194 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 12/2014
Manufacturer: Ricoh
Full specs: Ricoh WG-30w specifications
16.00
Megapixels
5.00x zoom 1/2.3 inch
size sensor
image of Ricoh WG-30w
Front side of Ricoh WG-30w digital camera Front side of Ricoh WG-30w digital camera      

Ricoh WG-30W Review -- First Impressions

by
Preview posted

The Ricoh WG-30W follows in the footsteps of last spring's Ricoh WG-20, itself a straightforward rebadging of last year's Pentax WG-10. Where that camera changed only in name due to the acquisition of Pentax by Ricoh and an adjustment of the latter's camera branding, however, the Ricoh WG-30W has some significant changes.

Key among these is a brand-new body that's now better waterproofed than before, although it still doesn't quite match the depth rating of the Ricoh WG-4 series cameras. With a depth limit of 40 feet (12 m) for two hours, the Ricoh WG-30W bests its predecessors by a full seven feet, but trails the WG-4 cameras by a scant five feet.

The body has even more aggressive styling than did the WG-10 and WG-20, and like those cameras, it is still shockproof to survive a 4.9 foot (1.5m) drop, crushproof to 220 pounds (100kgf), freezeproof to 14F (-10C), and dustproof (to IPX6 / JIS 6 standards). In other words, you'll give up before it does, most likely.

Inside, the key changes are a slightly higher-res sensor and a new Wi-Fi wireless networking radio, while most other hardware features -- including the lens and LCD monitor -- are unchanged. (A variant of the WG-30W without the Wi-Fi radio is also being offered in some markets as the Ricoh WG-30.)

The new 16.0-megapixel image sensor is a backside-illuminated CMOS type, just as seen previously in the WG-4 series cameras. Compared to the 14-megapixel chip of the WG-20, you can expect the Ricoh WG-30W to have around 9% greater linear resolution -- on paper, at least.

More significant will be the switch from a CCD sensor in the WG-20 to a CMOS sensor in the WG-30W, which will likely make the camera more responsive. (We don't yet have any performance information, however.) ISO sensitivity is still limited to a maximum of ISO 6400 equivalent.

The Ricoh WG-30W's 5x optical zoom lens looks to have been lifted straight from the WG-10 / WG-20 design, and still has a 28-140mm equivalent focal length range. Unlike the WG-4 series cameras, there's no mechanical image stabilization here -- instead, Ricoh provides only pixel-track SR combined with what it calls "Digital SR" -- another way of saying the ISO sensitivity is raised to attain a higher shutter speed.

Maximum aperture has not yet been disclosed, but the minimum focusing distance has: The WG-30W will focus down to 0.4 inches (1 cm) in Digital Microscope mode. Since holding the camera so close will likely shade your subject, an array of LEDs around the lens will provide even illumination. Like the WG-4 series cameras, the Ricoh WG-30W now has six evenly-spaced LEDs, which should provide more attractive reflections than the five unevenly-spaced LEDs of the WG-20. Note that there's a significant catch to the Digital Microscope mode, though: Resolution is locked at just two megapixels with a 16:9 aspect ratio. (In other words, you're probably capturing a single Full HD video frame.)

The macro LEDs surrounding the lens are also used in a couple of other ways by the Ricoh WG-30W. Perhaps the most interesting of these allows the camera to provide a self-portrait assist function, helping you to center your face by showing which way the camera should be pointed. Turn it towards the LED that's blinking, and when they've all stopped blinking you know you're in the center of the picture.

What Ricoh calls its "Instant Illumination Enhance" function, meanwhile, flashes the LEDs right as the shutter is released, helping throw a little extra light on your subject at the moment of capture. (This differs from Digital Microscope Mode, which shines the LEDs before exposure as well.) You can also use the LEDs as a flashlight. And perhaps an even more unusual function is the ability to turn on the LCD panel to see the current time by holding down the OK button when the camera is powered off. Handy if your phone has run out of batteries and you don't wear a watch, we suppose!

Speaking of the LCD monitor, it's a smaller and lower-res than average 2.7-inch panel with 230,000 dot resolution. That equates to a 320 x 240 pixel array, with red, green and blue subpixels side-by-side at each pixel location. It's the same display type used in the WG-20, and rather smaller and lower-resolution than those of the WG-4 series cameras. An anti-reflective coating is included to help tame reflections.

As well as an Auto Picture mode capable of recognizing 16 different scene types, the Ricoh WG-30W has a variety of other shooting functions -- some common, some less so. Up to 32 faces can be detected within the image scene in just 0.03 seconds, and the system can also locate the faces of pets, taking these into account when determining focus and exposure. A Smile Capture function will automatically trip the shutter when your subject is smiling. There's also a four-shot Handheld Night Snap mode that overlays the images into a single frame that's sharper than a long exposure, but lower-noise than a single shot would have been.

There's also an interval shooting mode, 12 digital filter functions, and an Underwater "Mermaid" mode. This latter can also provide a "Mermaid Movie" function, and whether for still or movies will yield better color underwater by correcting for muted reds and low contrast.

And since we're discussing movies, let's stay on that topic. The Ricoh WG-30W shoots Full HD video (that's 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution, aka 1080p) at a rate of 30 frames per second. There's also a high-speed camera (but the speed hasn't yet been stated) at HD (1,280 x 720 pixel, aka 720p) resolution. Movies use H.264 compression, and a Movie SR function attempts to stabilize them post-capture by warping the frame and sharpening edges.

We mentioned built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking at the start: This now allows the WG-30W to pair with your smartphone, not only to transfer images for sharing online, but also for remote control. You can view a live view feed remotely and then trip the shutter, handy for self-portraits or skittish subjects.

Other connectivity options include Type-D Micro HDMI high-definition video output and twin remote control receivers on both front and back of the camera body, providing coverage whether you're in front of or behind the camera.

Available from December 2014 in Carbon Grey or Flame Orange body colors, the Ricoh WG-30W is priced at US$300. It comes bundled with a macro stand, and a variety of accessories are available including a camouflage-themed O-CC1572 Protector Jacket, handle bar mount, helmet mount and magnet mount.

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