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Ricoh WG-6: A rugged compact camera

The Ricoh WG-6 comes with a 20-megapixel image sensor, a 5x optical zoom lens (28-140mm f/3.5-5.5), a 3-inch display and built-in GPS.
The Ricoh WG-6 comes with a 20-megapixel image sensor, a 5x optical zoom lens (28-140mm f/3.5-5.5), a 3-inch display and built-in GPS.

The Ricoh WG-6 is a tough and rugged compact camera designed to take some punishment from the elements. It is said to be water-resistant to a depth of 20m, shock-resistant from drops up to 2.1m, cold resistant to -10 deg C and crush resistant against a 100kg of force.

In other words, it is the ideal camera to bring on your outdoor adventures. I have dunked the camera in water and swiped it off my desk onto a carpeted floor, and it continues to work.

It has a sturdy feel that inspires confidence the first time you pick it up, despite weighing just 246g or only 38g heavier than an Apple iPhone XS Max.

The well thought-out controls make the camera easy to operate underwater or in winter when you are wearing gloves.

The Mode dial on the top right is big and easily rotatable. Next to it are the shutter release and power buttons. On the camera's back is where you find the rest of the controls, including the lens zoom rocker, four-way directional controller, video recording button and the playback button.

I tried pressing and turning the controls while wearing leather gloves and found changing the settings a breeze.

At the bottom of the camera is a compartment that holds the battery, SD card slot and USB-C charging port. The compartment door's two-step opening mechanism ensures it does not pop open accidentally.

  • FOR

    • Sturdy build

    • Good macro performance

    • Built-in GPS

    • USB-C charging

    AGAINST

    • Image quality suffers at high ISO

    • Visible purple fringing

    • Slow lens

    • No optical image stabilisation

    TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $588

    IMAGE SENSOR: 20-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS

    DISPLAY: 3-inch LCD with 1,040,000 dots

    LENS: 28-140mm f/3.5-5.5

    SENSITIVITY: ISO 125 to 6,400

    SHOOTING SPEED: Up to 3 frames per second

    WEIGHT: 246g (body with battery and memory card)

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

The camera comes with a 20-megapixel image sensor, a 5x optical zoom lens (28-140mm f/3.5-5.5), a 3-inch display and built-in GPS. It also supports 4K video recording at up to 30 frames per second (fps).

While built-in GPS is great for geotagging pictures, I am surprised by the lack of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capability. Especially when it is common these days to be able transfer photos from camera to smartphone wirelessly so that they can be quickly posted on social media.

The display is sharp and bright enough for you to compose photos under bright sunlight. And it does not suffer from major colour shift when viewed from an angle.

Powering up the camera takes 1.3 seconds, while shutting down takes 1.6 seconds. These times are faster than most compact cameras' start-up and shut-down times of 2 seconds.

However, shooting speed is quite slow at 3fps for stills. But more annoying is that the optical zoom is not available during video recording.

As it lacks optical image stabilisation, videos tend to be shaky. This is not helped by its lens which has large maximum apertures of f/3.5-5.5 - something that photographers would call a slow lens.

Still image quality is decent at best. In bright sunlight with low ISO settings, the images are good enough for posting on social media though purple fringing can be seen. However, at ISO 400 and above, the image noise artefacts become readily visible leading to detail loss.

On the plus side, the WG-6 has a 1cm macro mode for shooting subjects from as close as 1cm. Helping the macro performance are the six LED flash around the lens that illuminate the close-up subject, thereby allowing you to use a lower ISO setting for better image quality.

Battery life is average, at 340 still images on a full charge. With its USB-C port, you can recharge the camera easily using a powerbank when you travel.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2019, with the headline 'Rugged compact camera '. Print Edition | Subscribe