Ricoh Caplio R3 and Canon Ixus 850 IS

December 17th, 2006

I like taking close-up shots of food using a 28mm wide-angle zoom point-and-shoot cameras. I don’t carry a DSLR as I find that it is too big and cumbersome especially in a restaurant or bar setting. And I think a point-and-shoot does pretty good most of the time:

Cold King Prawns with duo sauces

Anyway, I first bought the Ricoh Caplio upon the recommendation of my friend Kooshking and after a year of playing around with it, I must say I really like it a lot. It is complex to use for a beginner but satisfyingly complex for someone who loves to take Food Porn.

Believe me, with a 7x Optical Zoom (in a small body!) and a 28mm wide angle – 200mm telephoto lens, the Ricoh Caplio R3 takes really wonderful pictures.

I get a lot of comments that I take photos up close, but that’s the strength of the Ricoh Caplio R3; it allows me to take as close as 1cm away from the subject while retaining a decent depth of field. I believe it to be the best in this area:


So why the Canon Ixus 850 IS?

Well, I love toys. And I’ve heard that Canon has really good noise-reduction and auto-focus algorithms, much better than the Ricoh R3. One of the weak areas of the Ricoh R3 is that in poor light conditions, there is a lot of noise in the pictures. Which kinda sucks for me as I do most of my photography in dimly-lit restaurants, so my photos of people sucks. In fact, more than 4 people in a group, the photos turn out unsatisfactory, for me.

This is an account for my personal records and this blog will be the first to admit the tests aren’t professionally or logically done. This is because each camera is different so I felt that it is pointless to shoot in the same style. At least the subject is more or less the same.

I did fiddle around with the camera settings like switching Macro or Normal modes, Setting Flash, Focus setting is at “Evaluative” for both cameras, I tried not to adjust the EV values, but sometimes it’s just not possible.

The other point to note is that I’ve been using the Ricoh R3 for a year now and I am very in-tuned to its quirks and I adjust myself (sometimes unconciously) to compensate. Whereas for the Ixus 850, I’ve only gotten it like a day ago, so I am still feeling my way around it.

Anyway, here’s a comparison of macro shots done over the weekend at three conditions. This is not a comparision of which camera is better as both have its strengths, but more of what I feel about the two cameras. Besides, I am not enough of a photographer to make such comments.

These shots have not been corrected (I usually correct my shots using Picasa). The Ricoh R3 shots will be on the top, while the Ixus 850 shots will be on the bottom.

I have enabled EXIF data to be visible to everyone, so feel free to check it out.

Teh Ais (No flash):

RIMG0001 IMG_0058

As you can see, the Ixus 850 shot (bottom) handles low-light, no flash shots better.

Teh Ais (With flash):

RIMG0005 IMG_0056

Try as I might, the Canon Flash is just too powerful, overburns (not pictured here as it’s a screen of blinding white) or it turns out blurry because the Ixus 850 tries to auto-focus with the flash on. I noticed that the auto-focus behaves differently for the Ixus 850 depending on whether flash is on or off.

Scallops (No Flash):

RIMG0012 IMG_0092

Without flash, the Ricoh R3 picture just came out very noisy but the colors are richer than the Ixus 850, which to me looks very dull.

But check out the Ricoh R3 shot when I used flash:


Remember, this picture is straight off the camera without any correction, whereas the Ixus 850 shot was just a patch of over-burned white with no details.

To be fair, when I finally gave up and tweaked the exposure bias, the Ixus 850 turned out pretty good too:


Other things:
The Ixus 850 is sleek and chromed, this, to me, is not a good thing as there is too small a footprint for me to hold reassuringly with one hand and the chrome, discounting fingerprints, can be slippery.

Access to features like EV bias, Macro settings etc is better on the Ricoh which takes one click as opposed to two to three clicks on the Ixus 850. This is important to me as meals with large groups of people in a restaurant environment can be very hectic.

The Ixus 850 is very quiet. Too quiet as I am very used to the noisy Ricoh R3 with the whirring of the motors that vibrate the whole body. I like this because it speaks to me and it is very satisfying when the motors whir and stop at a beautifully focused shot.

The noise reduction algorithm with the Ixus 850 is indeed better. The colors from the Ricoh seem to be richer and more vivid despite the noise while the Ixus 850 provides brilliantly focused but very stark, almost washed out colors.

This blog will have to practice more with the Ixus 850 to get used to the features and to understand the camera.

Let’s see in a year’s time.

One Response to “Ricoh Caplio R3 and Canon Ixus 850 IS”

  1. Kooshking Says:

    Maybe can check out the newest generation of Ricoh in a years’ time. Maybe R6 or R7 by then.

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