Ricoh Caplio G4
Review Date: 28th January 2004
The Caplio G4 has a world-record release time lag of 0.14 seconds (August 2003). The Caplio G4 achieves this speed via its hybrid auto-focusing system, comprising both external and through-the-lens focusing. From 1/2000th of a second to long exposures of 8 seconds, the shutter speed gives you the ability to capture a vast range of shooting possibilities. The Caplio G4 also has a fast start-up time of 1.9 seconds.
An advanced zoom lens helps to bring the shot closer. With a 3x optical zoom lens plus a 3.4x digital zoom, the Caplio G4 features a 10.2x zoom. The camera’s stylish appearance makes it the perfect accessory. Smaller and lighter than the Caplio G3 at just 150 grams, the camera fits comfortably in the photographer’s hand.
A 256-point light sensor scans the subject area to determine optimal exposure settings; it also offers centre weighted and spot metering that incorporates auto-bracketing. When challenging lighting situations such as heavy sunlight arise, the handy auto-bracketing function allows you to take three individual shots, at different exposure settings, at one time. The same functionality applies to the white balance bracket setting by applying tones of red, normal white and blue to three separate images.
Using the optional lithium-ion battery, the Caplio G4 can take up to 400 shots between recharges. An optional AC adapter is available if you wish to use a nearby power source. The camera also has the ability to switch to two AA alkaline or nickel metal hydride batteries.
The Caplio G4 takes macros as close as 1cm from a subject, allowing the photographer to capture the smallest details. The camera offers macros across a zoom range of up to 16cm away, while the built-in flash can be used for shots as close as 16cm.
The Capilo G4 has six distinct scene modes; portrait, sports, landscape, night scene, text and high-sensitivity. The high-sensitivity mode provides superior visibility in dim environments, aiding framing and shooting by illuminating subjects.
There is an external Adjust button on the camera body, so that you do not have to go into the Menu system to adjust exposure, white balance and ISO. One of the more attractive features of the Caplio G4 is its ability to capture 180 seconds of AVI video without sound.
In M-continuous mode, with the shutter button held down the camera memorises the last 16 shots, taken at 0.13-second intervals, in one file. This comes in handy when you are uncertain about the start or finish of a particular action. In S-continuous mode, it can take a series of 16 shots – at 0.13-second intervals, for two seconds of footage – in one file with just one press of the shutter button. When reviewing the 16 shots in playback, each frame can be enlarged individually and quickly skimmed back and forth, creating a sense of animation. In normal continuous mode, the intervals are 0.3 seconds while the button in being pressed.
After installing the RICOH GATE L software onto a Windows PC or Mac OS computer, you simply turn off the camera and link it up via a USB cable. The computer will then instantly start importing at an impressive 3 megabytes per second. Mac OS X users can import images with iPhoto, while Windows XP users can take advantage of Windows Image Acquisition.
The Caplio G4 has 8MB of internal memory and can also use optional Secure Digital memory cards. These exceptionally compact devices do not need a power source to store information and permit fast and simple downloads of images. The camera is also compatible with Multimedia cards.
In Synchro monitor mode the camera conserves power by turning the monitor off before shooting. The monitor comes on when the shutter button is pressed to preview a shot or operate the zoom, and remains on for several seconds after a picture is taken. Most cameras require users to switch modes if they want to review results. With the Caplio G4, however, users can take advantage of the "Quick review" capability in any shooting mode. All they have to do is press a button to display the most recent image.
The Caplio G4 kit that I used contained very little in the way of accessories. In addition to the camera, there is a USB cable for downloading photos to your PC/MAC, a CD containing the Caplio G4 software, a Video cable and a User Guide. There is no memory card supplied, which is pretty annoying as you can only fit 5 images on the camera's built-in 8Mb memory at the highest quality setting.