Want a Tough All Weather Adventure Camera?

A User’s Review of Ricoh WG-4 with GPS

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It is very often that one desires a tough, all weather and small camera to record some of the extreme outdoor activities. There are very few choices available in the market.

 

In March this year, I went on a trekking trip to the Annapurna Range and witness the Holi Festival while I was in Kathmandu. I was looking for a small, all weather camera to record some of the scenes along the way.

 

A friend of mine offered to lend me the Ricoh WG-4 GPS to try out. Yes, a Ricoh, the earlier versions were marketed under the Pentax banner. Since Ricoh bought over Pentax, it has undergone some major re-branding exercises.

 

My first impression was that it was small and could fit the palm of my hands. The rubberized external coating prevents it slipping from my hands. The ergonomics of this camera is good, the dials are placed logically for a single hand operation.

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Ricoh has claimed that “As the 17th generation in our line-up of ruggedized compact cameras, the Ricoh WG-4 GPS and WG-4 represent the culmination of years of experience in manufacturing products that can withstand the elements,” said Jim Malcolm, Executive Vice President, Ricoh Imaging. “Using our expertise in the category, Ricoh Imaging has developed an adaptable mounting solution that continues to build our offering for the active photographer while delivering on consumer demand.”

 

Inside its rugged body, the Ricoh WG-4 series houses a variety of photographic tools to bring inspired adventure to life! Advanced shooting modes like HDR mode produce beautifully accurate scenery depicted true to the memory, during Slow-Motion Video captures and enhances even the quickest action with details regular video can miss. Other user-friendly features include Panoramic mode and Digital Microscope mode, which uses six LED lights to focus on subjects as close as one centimeter from the lens bringing tiny worlds to life.

 

Much like Ricoh Imaging’s popular line of PENTAX DSLRs, the Ricoh WG-4 series now provides enhanced flexibility and creative control with the inclusion of USER and Shutter Priority modes. The newly-incorporated USER mode enables quick recall of frequently used settings while the shutter priority mode allows the photographer to obtain the desired creative effect by setting the shutter speed and allowing the camera to adjust the aperture and ISO for the optimum exposure.

 

Continuing the rugged heritage of the WG series of cameras, the Ricoh WG-4 and WG-4 GPS are waterproof to 45 feet, shockproof from drops of up to 6.6 feet, cold proof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit and crushproof, withstanding up to 220 foot-pounds of force. In addition, the Ricoh WG-4 series features a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor and a thoughtfully designed folded optical 4X zoom lens, enabling its pocketability while also ensuring its optics is not exposed dust and moisture like those of a protruding lens barrel. Finally, the adventure-prone explorer need not worry about blurry images. Thanks to the WG-4’s fast F2.0 maximum aperture and dual shake reduction system, which combines an image-sensor-shift-type SR (Shake Reduction) mechanism with a Digital SR mode, to guarantee clear, sharp images even in shake-prone conditions”.

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What do I like about this camera?

 

1. The GPS function is an important feature that I find very useful. I can easily fall back on this information to find out where I was when I was taking the pictures.

2. It also has an altimeter that I find useful when trekking the Annapurna Circuit.

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3. The in-built video capability is an added feature that appeals adventure photographers.

4. It has a zoom lens equivalent to 25 – 100mm range and an aperture range of f2.0 to 4.9. It is the most useful wide to telephoto range that covers about 90% of the shooting situation.

5. The camera has a macro feature that allows anything up to 1cm from the camera to be in focus. It has 6 LED lights to light up the subject. However, I find it hard to keep the macro focusing ring that came with the camera attached. There is a risk of losing the ring. In fact, there were a few occasions that we have to find the ring. In the end, we took off the ring and kept it.

6. A strap and carabiner clip come together with the camera. It is a very useful attachment to a backpack or camera vest.

7. The image quality for both stills and video photography is reasonably good.

8. It sports a large 3″ LCD screen with 460,00 screen dots.

9. It has a 16 mp sensor which is plenty for most shooting situations.

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10. There are now four types of mounts that will fit most needs.

a. Camera holder

b. Adhesive mount

c. Handle bar mount

d. Suction cup mount

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What do I not like about this camera?

 

1. The battery life. On the ground, I can hardly shoot more than 150 frames before the battery indication showing warning signs. It gets worse if the environmental temperature drops to below freezing.

2. The macro focusing ring that does not stick to the camera.

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3. It is difficult to turn the start-up button on especially in cold conditions when the fingers are freezing.

4. It does not have a RAW or uncompressed mode that limits it to being used as a serious camera.

5.  Changing batteries is cumbersome. One need to unlock the battery cover flap in two places before opening and closing the cover.

6. The lens has a certain amount of flare when shooting back lit subjects.

 

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 Conclusion

This is one tough camera to carry around. It can withstand a lot of abuse thrown at it. You can take it to the beach, swimming pool, biking, hiking and other adventure sports. It is feature packed into an attractive tough rugged body and comes in a range of colour choices. It should be selling below RM1,500 about the price of a GoPro camera. With the introduction of various mounts for this camera, now you can truly mount the camera onto your car, bike, bus, surfing boards etc. The only set back is that you have got to get a few spare batteries if you intend it use it for a day of shooting stills or videos.

A sample of the video taken with the Ricoh WG4

Ricoh WG-4 Ricoh WG-4 GPS – Specifications

Body type

Compact

Body material : Composite

Sensor

Max resolution 4608 x 3456

Other resolutions 4608 x 2592, 3456 x 3456, 3072 x 2304, 3072 x 1728, 2592 x 1464, 2048 x 1536, 1920 x 1080, 640 x 480

Image ratio w:h 1:1, 4:3, 16:9

Effective pixels 16 megapixels

Sensor photo detectors 17 megapixels

Sensor size 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)

Sensor type BSI-CMOS

Color space sRGB

Color filter array Primary color filter

Image

ISO Auto, 125-6400

White balance presets 6

Custom white balance Yes

Image stabilization Sensor-shift

Uncompressed format No

JPEG quality levels Fine, normal, basic

File format

JPEG (Exif 2.3)

Optics & Focus

Focal length (equiv.) 25–100 mm

Optical zoom 4×

Maximum aperture F2.0 – F4.9

Autofocus

Contrast Detect (sensor)

Multi-area

Center

Tracking

Single

Continuous

Face Detection

Live View

Autofocus assist lamp Yes

Digital zoom Yes (7.2x)

Manual focus Yes

Normal focus range 40 cm (15.75″)

Macro focus range 1 cm (0.39″)

Number of focus points 9

Screen / viewfinder

Articulated LCD Fixed

Screen size 3″

Screen dots 460,000

Touch screen No

Screen type TFT LCD

Live view Yes

Viewfinder type None

Photography features

Minimum shutter speed 4 sec

Maximum shutter speed 1/4000 sec

Exposure modes

Auto Picture

Program

Shutter Priority

User

Scene modes

Landscape, Portrait, Night Scene, Night Scene Portrait, Standard, Flower, Sport, Candlelight, Blue Sky, Sunset, Text, Group Photo, Pet, Portrait x Blue Sky, Portrait x Sunset, Portrait x Backlight

Built-in flash Yes

Flash range 10.00 m (Auto ISO)

External flash No

Flash modes Auto, flash off, flash on, auto + redeye, on + redeye

Drive modes

One-shot, self-timer, continuous, burst, remote control, auto bracketing

Continuous drive 2 fps

Self-timer Yes (2 or 10 secs)

Metering modes

Multi

Center-weighted

Spot

Exposure compensation ±2 (at 1/3 EV steps)

AE Bracketing ±2

WB Bracketing No

Videography features

Resolutions 1920 x 1080 (30p), 1280 x 720 (60p, 30p)

Format H.264

Microphone Stereo

Speaker Mono

Storage

Storage types SD/SDHC/SDXC, internal

Storage included 70MB

Connectivity

USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)

HDMI Yes (micro HDMI)

Microphone port No

Headphone port No

Remote control Yes

Physical

Environmentally sealed Yes (waterproof to 14m, shockproof from 2m, crushproof to 220 lbf, freezeproof to -10C/+14F)

Battery Battery Pack

Battery description D-LI92 lithium-ion battery and charger

Battery Life (CIPA) 240

Weight (inc. batteries) 230 g (0.51 lb / 8.11 oz) 235 g (0.52 lb / 8.29 oz)

Dimensions 124 x 64 x 33 mm (4.88 x 2.52 x 1.3″)

Other features

Orientation sensor Yes

Timelapse recording Yes

GPS : Built-in

 

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