Ricoh Caplio RX
Review Date: May 19th 2004
Ease of Use
The Ricoh Caplio RX is a solidly built yet pocketable camera that instantly feels "right" as soon as you pick it up and start using it for the first time. I really enjoyed using the RX during my 2 week review period from a handling point of view and was quite sad to have to send it back! It easily fits into a trouser or coat pocket, yet doesn't have tiny controls that you can't operate properly. For such a small and slim camera it actually feels quite heavy, but I prefer this to a lighter camera that feels more flimsy.
The Ricoh Caplio RX is an exceptionally easy to use digital camera that will not put off new users, whilst being very intuitive to use for anyone who has picked up a digital camera before. Its secret lies in not being too different from other brands on the market. The Caplio RX's interface, both software and the camera body, employs options and concepts that are an accepted part of the photographic industry.
Having said that, the Caplio RX does have a couple of neat touches of its own. The Adj. button on the rear of the camera is a particularly nice feature that allows you to quickly adjust 3 different settings that are commonly used. Press it once and you can alter exposure compensation; press it again and you can change the White Balance setting; press it once more and you can adjust the ISO speed.
The other thing that I liked was the Power button. Unlike many digicams, the Caplio RX has its very own button which lets you turn the camera on and off, regardless of which setting (Play, Camera, Movie) the camera is currently set to. Not the most radical feature in the world but a nice addition nevertheless.
Both the camera body and its menu system are logically laid out. The rear LCD screen is a good size and the optical viewfinder is small but perfectly usable. The most fiddly aspect of the camera's design is the Card/Battery cover. The memory card and the battery are both housed within one large cover on the right of the camera, which is very fiddly to fully open and then close again. This was an issue with the Caplio G4 and one that I wish Ricoh had fixed by now.
Ricoh's claims about the speed of the Caplio RX in terms of starting up the camera and shutter-lag do seem to be accurate. With other digicams you can often wait 4 or 5 seconds for the camera to turn itself on, extend the lens and get ready to take a shot. And you often miss the shot anyway because the of the slow shutter lag. The Caplio RX seems to have solved both these issues and even improves on earlier Ricoh models like the Capio G4.
One of the reasons that I enjoyed using the Caplio RX so much is that it is largely automatic. Whilst you can alter settings like White Balance, ISO speed and exposure compensation, you can't actually set the aperture or shutter speed yourself - this is all handled by the camera. I would place the Caplio RX in the semi-automatic category of digicams. For many people this will allow them to get on with composing and taking photos. Just don't expect to be able to control depth of field and blurring/freezing motion. The Caplio RX borrows a lot of features from the Caplio G4 that I've previously reviewed, whilst slimming down the camera body, adding a wide lens and making it even quicker to use. I enjoyed using the Caplio G4 and I enjoyed using the Caplio RX even more.