Ricoh WG-20 Review

November 21, 2014 | Matt Grayson | |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 14 megapixel JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

Noise

Sometimes it just goes to show that any pre-judgements you have about a camera can be thwarted with the results of a few test pictures. You see, the WG-20 is a budget version of the waterproof tough series from Ricoh and generally when a camera finds itself in this scenario, it falls at the image quality test.

However, the low ISO image results from the WG-20 are very good, if not excellent. Images are super sharp, finely detailed and have no noise showing through whatsoever. The lowest setting is ISO 80 so pushing the setting to ISO 100 isn't going to make any difference with it only being around a third of a stop difference in exposure. The test image confirms our suspicions as well, with identical results. This is great news as it will allow you to select a slightly faster ISO for that low light shot without the need for stabilisation, such as a tripod. In fact, ISO 200 has such a minuscule drop in image quality that you have to be really going over the image with a fine tooth comb to see it.

ISO 400 sees the biggest drop in quality with a loss of detail in the darker area of the bellows on the vintage camera. Edges are still satisfactorily sharp though. From this point, the quality sees a sharp decline with the camera really not coping well with high ISO. The noise reduction software seems to be weak as it can't cope well with the interference of noise at all. It begins to knock down colour at ISO 800 to try and sedate the colour noise invading the images but it can still be seen happening.

ISO 1600 sees a large drop in bright colour. Noise strikes with a pincer movement of colour noise in the darker areas and salt & pepper noise in the mid tones destroying edge detail. At ISO 3200, Ricoh have programmed the camera to drop its resolution to 5 megapixels in order to try and stem the noise that's invading the image. With that, ISO 3200 looks like a lower resolution version of ISO 1600. By ISO 6400, green noise has invaded most area and all but high contrast detail is lost.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso80.jpg iso100.jpg
   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso400.jpg
   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso1600.jpg
   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso6400.jpg

Focal Range

The camera’s 5x internally-zoomed lens boasts a focal length range of 28-140mm when converted into a 35mm camera format.

28mm

140mm

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

Sharpening

Pictures on the WG-20 do seem sharp, but put them into an editing suite, such as Adobe Photoshop and they definitely benefit from adding even some standard sharpening.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

We had some real trouble finding chromatic aberration, which is great as it signifies a good lens. In all honesty, we expected more than what we got because of the price point and that the lens has a piece of glass over the front of it and no-one seems to know if this glass is any good or not. Or whether its close proximity to the lens will affect it at all. We thought maybe not. But that doesn't matter, because the reality of chroma is so slight and only appears at really high contrast edges right at the edge of the frame.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg

Macro

There are two macro functions; Macro and Supermacro. In macro you can get to around 5cm while the Supermacro gets to 1cm but the zoom is limited to 1.8x.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg
   

SuperMacro

SuperMacro (100% Crop)

macro2.jpg macro2a.jpg

Flash

When displayed on the back of the camera, the pictures don't appear to suffer from any vignetting when the flash is off, but view them on a computer and it's a lot more noticeable. It disappears as the zoom is used and isn't present at full 5x optical zoom. Using the flash makes the vignetting worse at wide-angle and is also seen slightly at full zoom.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (28mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (140mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (140mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, both the Flash On or the Red-eye-Reduction settings caused a tiny amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg
   

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Night

If you like night shots, you can select the Night scene mode in the Mode menu of the camera. This mode will allow the camera to take longer shutter speeds to allow more light to pass. So if you shoot at ISO 80 in Program, the images will likely come out darker.

Night Scene

Night Scene (100% Crop)

night_scene.jpg night_scene_crop.jpg
   

Night ISO Auto

Night ISO Auto (100% Crop)

night_isoauto.jpg night_isoauto_crop.jpg
   

Night ISO100

Night ISO100 (100% Crop)

night_iso100.jpg night_iso100_crop.jpg