Ricoh Caplio 400G Wide
Review Date: 22nd June 2004
The 3.2 megapixel Ricoh Caplio 400G Wide is primarily designed to withstand outdoor use. It is both water- and dust-resistant, durable, portable, and easy to operate. A reinforced glass dust protector is used in front of the lens, and rubber packing on opening parts and buttons provides JIS protection grade 7-equivalent water resistance and JIS protection grade-6 dust resistance. The camera can be washed with water and used in the rain, and is capable of photography in highly dusty or sandy environments. The 400G Wide can even take pictures under water at a depth of 1m or less, for up to 30 minutes. The camera is lightweight, easy to handle and has padding protection on either side and around the lens to provide superb durability when being used outdoors.
The Caplio 400G Wide's 3x zoom lens ranges from 28mm to 85mm (equivalent on a 35mm camera). A unique lens arrangement and use of highly refractive low-dispersion, aspherical lenses, allows it to perform at the level of conventional 35mm film cameras. The 3x optical zoom and 3.4x digital zoom can be combined to enable up to 10.2x zoom photography. The new wide 28-85mm zoom lens allows you to capture a wider image with sharp focus and not compromise on any detail.
The Caplio 400G Wide has a very quick release time lag of 0.14 seconds. It 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 400G Wide also has a fast start-up time of 1.8 seconds.
The Caplio 400G Wide has a long battery life and a choice of different power sources. You can use the optional high-capacity lithium ion battery to take up to 3,500 continuous shots, which reduces the hassle of changing batteries in adverse weather conditions. The camera also supports readily-available AA batteries (alkaline, nickel, and NiMH). An optional AC adapter is also available for indoor use.
There are 6 scene modes to choose from - portrait, sports, landscape, night scene, text and high-sensitivity. All these modes help to optimise results in varied shooting situations. 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.
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.
The Caplio 400G Wide takes macro shots as close as 1cm from a subject, allowing you to capture every small detail. You can also take advantage of the tele macro function, which provides the same magnification but allows the user to move the camera 4cm away in order to prevent the shadow of the camera from creeping into the shot.
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 400G Wide is its ability to capture 180 seconds of AVI video without sound.
The Caplio 400G Wide 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 400G Wide kit that I used didn't contain too many accessories. In addition to the camera, there is a USB cable for downloading photos to your PC/MAC, AA Alkaline batteries (2), Neck strap, LCD hood, a CD containing the Caplio 400G Wide software, an AV cable and a Instruction manual. 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.