The Ricoh R10 has a new design and bigger LCD than the R7, but little else that excites. The Ricoh R10 review tests this camera...
Another six months on and another R series update from Ricoh. The latest model follows on, at least in release chronology if not in name, directly from the Ricoh R8. The previous release in the series saw a large leap with regards to design – while the R7 was encased within a thin body, tapering in at one end and similar to many of its competitors, the R8 reverted to a wider, more retro body. The Ricoh R10 continues this design trend.
As a result of the Ricoh R10’s similarity in style to the R8 it’s difficult to distinguish between the two. Examining the specification of each model doesn’t make differentiating one from the other any easier – the only real standout change is the slight increase in LCD size, from 2.7in to 3in, even though the resolution remains the same 460k dots.
Apart from the increase in LCD size, nearly every other facet of the R10’s specification is the same as that of the R8 – a hazard, perhaps, of what happens when a series is updated with such regularity. The R8’s 10MP, 1/2.3in CCD sensor remains the same, as does the maximum ISO 1600, though the minimum ISO is clipped from 64 to 80. The useful 7.1x wideangle optical zoom also remains, providing a 35mm equivalent focal range of 28-200mm.
With regards to design, as a result of the increase in size of the LCD screen the rear of the R10 feels more LCD-heavy, and the addition of an ‘fn’ button takes the button count from three to four. The Ricoh R10 also now sees the inclusion of an increasingly-popular electronic spirit level display, a cunning device present on several of Ricoh’s other models that allows you to see when the camera is level with the horizon thanks to an on-screen indicator.
With the design being almost exactly the same as its predecessor, handling also remains very similar. This means that the bulky body may not suit you if your hands are on the small side, although the angular retro body has a sturdy feel to it and if it’s a comfortable fit in your hands it’s a refreshing change from the common push towards sleeker, smaller and shinier bodies. The prompt AF system of its predecessor remains, which, combined with the minimal shutter lag, makes the R10 no slouch in use.
As might be expected with an imaging set-up that is essentially the same as the R8, image quality with the Ricoh R10 reflects that of its predecessor with few noticeable improvements. On the positive side, highlights are maintained without blowing, the overall tonal and colour rendition is impressive, and little fringing is apparent.
However, on close examination fine detail is lost, and images also appear soft overall, something that becomes increasingly noticeable towards the edge of the frame, and high ISO performance is poor.
It’s peculiar that manufacturers are inclined to produce essentially the same camera, simply altering the designation and adjusting only the slightest of features, and still release it in a fanfare of ‘new camera’ hype. The Ricoh R10’s ‘new features’ amount to just three things – a 0.3in increase in LCD size, the addition of an electronic level display, and ‘quick photo tag’ function – which is hardly a giant leap forward considering that the R8 is currently available for some £50 less than the R10. So, while the R10 is a well-designed compact that is by no means unpleasant to use, Ricoh has forgone any attempt to improve the image flaws of its predecessor in favour of releasing a ‘new’ compact in good time – a worrying trend within the compact camera market at present.