Ricoh PX

Price: $300

Tiny and tough

The low-down: This 16 megapixel camera has a 5X optical zoom (28–140mm). It is waterproof to 3 metres for 60 minutes and can be dropped 1.5m without damaging the camera. It is small, with a face area slightly larger than a credit card and 20mm thick. The good news is that it fits in any pocket, the bad news is that the controls, such as they are, are tiny. Camera settings, except for exposure compensation, must all be made through the menu system. When the P mode is selected there is a reasonable degree of user control, but you wouldn’t want to be changing the ISO or focus mode under water. The LCD is low resolution but has a hard coating for protection in the rough. The user manual is excellent.

LIKE: Well, it is small, so if pocketability is a priority the Ricoh will fit the bill. Also it’s a reassuring and relaxing thing to be standing in the rain taking a photo and not having to worry about water getting into the works.

DISLIKE: The controls are generally too small or not easily accessible. The zoom is sticky and jerky. It is not a responsive camera.

VERDICT: These extreme pixel-count compact cameras are a mystery. Beyond a certain point adding pixels does not improve resolution because image noise and associated noise reduction blur fine details. So why do they do it? Presumably the answer will be found in the marketing department where big numbers are important. While the Ricoh PX is affected by noise and noise reduction blurring you probably won’t notice it on screen or in prints up to A4. Ricoh is up against tough competition from Canon, Panasonic and Olympus in the everything-proof category.


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