Ricoh Caplio R5 7.2Mp compact digital camera

7.1x optical zoom in a compact format

A rather small four way direction pad lets you alter the flash mode, activate the macro mode, review the last picture taken and set the scene shooting mode. A central OK button also opens the settings menu from where a variety of things can be tweaked including focus mode - multi-point, spot, manual, snap or infinity - metering mode - multi-point matrix, centre-weighted or spot - image resolution with various resolutions in either fine or normal quality mode, continuous shooting mode, sharpness setting, interval timer and more. Auto-exposure bracketing is also available for those tricky exposures.

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One of the headline features for the R5 is its CCD shift vibration correction. It can't perform miracles but it does extend your ability to hand-hold shots in low light or at high zoom levels. Though quite effective there seemed to be a glitch whereby activating the function in the menu had no apparent effect until the camera was powered off then on again. Once active I found I could reliably hand-hold shots down to 1/3 of a second with the zoom at its widest focal length which is not too shabby. The general rule of thumb for hand holding is 1/focal length, so for a 28mm equivalent lens that would be a maximum 1/28 second depending how steady you are.

The R5 also features integral skew correction which lets you take an off-axis picture of, for example, a whiteboard or monitor then, using an automatic trapezium detection algorithm, find its edges and correct its shape so it appeared as if the photo had been taken head-on. Edge detection wasn't always successful either failing completely or highlighting them incorrectly but when it did work it worked well. This is also useful for correcting the problem of converging verticals often found when photographing tall buildings. I should point out, however, that this is nothing you can't do equally well yourself in most half-decent photo-editing software.

In use the R5 was real mixed bag. Power-up times were very good and shutter lag was minimal. As mentioned the zoom function felt clumsy and awkward to use which very much spoilt the feel of the camera for me.

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Focus speed was excellent in normal lighting conditions, but quickly deteriorated as the light faded. With no focus assist lamp I found I was constantly frustrated by the R5s inability to get a lock once the sun went down, negating the advantages of the ISO1600 sensitivity setting and low light shooting mode. Because there's no focus-assist LED the R5 uses low powered bursts of its flash to count down the self-timer, hardly the most elegant solution and one certain to capture the occasional squint.

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