Ricoh WG-5 GPS Review

November 4, 2015 | Amy Davies | |

Introduction

The Ricoh WG-5 GPS is a rugged camera which features a 1/2.3 inch, 16-million pixel High-Sensitivity Backside Illumination CMOS Image Sensor. That sensor is paired with a 4x optical zoom lens with a maximum wide aperture of f/2.0 at the widest point of the lens, rising to f/4.9 at the telephoto end of the lens. In 35mm terms, the lens offers a focal length equivalent of 25-100mm. There’s also a digital zoom available which boosts that reach up to 7.2x. A sensitivity range of ISO 125 - 6400 is offered, and there are other useful features such as full HD video recording and inbuilt GPS. As a rugged camera, its credentials are waterproof down to 14 metres, shockproof from a height of 2.2 metres, freeze proof down to -10 degrees and crushproof up to 100kg. The Ricoh WG-5 GPS costs £259.99 / $379.95.

Ease of Use

The WG-5 GPS, like other Pentax / Ricoh rugged cameras that have come before it has quite a distinctive look, and your initial impression of it is that it certainly could withstand quite a few knocks and scrapes.

It’s quite a thick camera, but it’s still possible to fit into a fairly loose trouser pocket. Alternatively, you can attach a lanyard to one side of the camera and wear the camera around your wrist or neck.

On the front of the Ricoh WG-5 GPS is a window revealing an LCD screen, which displays the time, and, if you’re using the camera underwater, the pressure at which you’re at thanks to an internal pressure sensor.

Around the lens is a series of lights which are used when you’re photographing macro subjects - when you’re quite close to an object, the lights help to prevent shadows from the camera or your hand. Also in the box comes a stand for allowing you to photograph something flat extremely close up - you attach this to the front of the camera and simply place the camera on the surface you wish to photograph. Here you will definitely need the lights on - if you’re photographing something quite reflective you may notice the lights appear in the shot.

Ricoh WG-5 GPS
Front of the Ricoh WG-5 GPS

On top of the Ricoh WG-5 GPS, there are just two buttons. One is the on/off button, while the other is the shutter release. Although the shutter release is bigger than the on/off button, they are quite close together so it can be easy to accidentally press the wrong button - especially if you’re wearing thick gloves or your view of the camera is obscured by something.

Moving to the back of the Ricoh WG-5 GPS, all of the buttons are grouped on the right hand side, which makes it easy to use the camera one handed. On the downside, the buttons are a little on the small side, which makes them a little more difficult to use with thick gloves. On the plus side, they are all raised quite significantly far from the body, making them fairly easy to feel for when using the camera underwater.

The buttons are all pretty much what you’d expect to find on a compact camera. At the top are the two zoom buttons, which are marked W for wide, and T for telephoto, pressing these zoom the lens in and out. Since the lens is completely encased within the body of the camera to keep it water/dust proof, you won’t notice anything zooming in and out unless you look closely - this is also why it only offers a relatively short 4x optical zoom.

Underneath the zoom rocker are two buttons - one accesses playback, while the other is a direct button for recording video. Underneath these is a four way navigational pad, with each direction on the pad accessing a specific function. Up accesses timer mode, while left accesses flash functions, right the macro focusing function, and the down button for changing the shooting mode. In the middle of the pad is an OK button.

Ricoh WG-5 GPS
Rear of the Ricoh WG-5 GPS

If you press the down button, you’ll be presented with all the different shooting options which are available. Here you’ll find mainly an array of scene modes, as well as the standard automatic shooting mode. For those that like to take a little more control, you’ll also find a Program mode and a Shutter Priority mode. Considering that the camera’s lens has a maximum wide aperture of f/2.0, it would have been nice if there was also an aperture priority mode.

When you’re in Program mode, you’ll be able to change quite a few settings, such as white balance, metering and the “Image Tone” (this gives you options for making the colours of your photos look different). You make these changes via the main menu which is accessed via a dedicated button just  underneath the four way pad. When you’re in Tv (shutter priority) mode, you can also make changes to white balance etc, but you can also control the shutter speed. You do this by pressing the red record button, and using the up and down keys to select the shutter speed you require. You’ll notice that the aperture the camera selects to correspond to the shutter speed is displayed on the screen. Using the red button to do this means that first you’ll need to press the green button to enter video mode, then use the red button as normal.

Within the Mode options, you’ll also see a User setting. This is useful if you want to save a group of settings, such as a particular white balance setting with a particular metering setting, so you can come back and use it again whenever you need to.

Ricoh WG-5 GPS
Front of the Ricoh WG-5 GPS

There’s just one door on the WG-5 GPS, behind which you’ll find the battery and memory card compartments, as well as the ports for the charger and HDMI cable. The door is protected by a double lock system, meaning you have to move two switches before the door opens and making it pretty unlikely that you’ll accidentally open the door when you don’t want to - something which is reassuring for a camera that goes underwater.

If you look at images in playback, you have a few editing options available, which are accessible by pressing the down key on the four way navipad. Here you’ll see you can set up a slideshow, rotate an image, remove red eye, crop an image, protect it (from deletion), set it as the image which shows on start-up, or add a digital filter.

When you’re using the Ricoh WG-5 GPS in good light - which for this type of camera is likely to be often, then autofocusing speeds are pretty quick, if perhaps not as instant as we might normally like. When light drops a little, the camera struggles a little to acquire focus, so it’s not really something we’d recommend using in particularly dark conditions all that often. Otherwise, general operational speeds are quite good, and you don’t need to wait too long in between taking shots.

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