Ricoh outs new ruggedized cameras and action mounts
By Simon Crisp
February 8, 2014
Ricoh has revealed a trio of new ruggedized cameras that are designed to cope with the demands of thrill-seeking photographers. In addition to being tough enough to use in extreme conditions – whether that's underwater, in very cold temperatures, or being subjected to shocks – the new WG-4 GPS, WG-4 and WG-20 cameras will also work with a new action-oriented mounting system.
If the new Ricoh cameras look familiar, that's because they're the successors to the Pentax WG line-up. After purchasing Pentax in 2011, Ricoh Imaging has now decided to use its name on the new rugged cameras. Going forward, the Pentax brand will be used on interchangeable lens cameras, lenses and sport optics, while the the Ricoh name will be reserved for compact cameras.
Ricoh WG-4 and Ricoh WG-4 GPS
The new top-of-the-range rugged cameras from Ricoh are the WG-4 and WG-4 GPS (we bet you can guess the difference). Both cameras feature a 16-megapixel 1/2.3-inch (6.17 x 4.55 mm) CMOS sensor with sensor-shift shake reduction and a 4.5-18-mm F2-F4.9 lens, which gives a 35-mm-format equivalent focal length of 25-100mm. They have an ISO range of 125 to 6,400 and can shoot Full HD 1080p video at 30 fps.
Showing their tough-as-nails credentials, the cameras are waterproof down to 14 meters (45 ft), shock resistant against drops from up to two meters (6.6 ft), can operate in temperatures down to -10°C (14°F), and are crushproof to 100 kg (220 lb). Chunky and easy-to-grip, the 125 x 64.5 x 32 mm (4.9 x 2.5 x 1.3 in) cameras have clearly been designed with action use in mind, and have big buttons which can be pressed even when wearing gloves.
On the rear of the cameras there's a 3-inch LCD display with 460k dots, which also features an anti-reflection coating for use in bright conditions. Meanwhile, a ring of six LED macro lights around the lens barrel should come in handy for use with the Digital Microscope mode, though there's also a traditional built-in flash.
The WG-4 GPS, quite obviously, boasts a GPS unit to record position data and travel log data for captured images. A sub-display on the front of the WG-4 GPS is used to indicate time and GPS data, and the camera also has a pressure/altitude/depth gauge and a digital compass.
Due to be released in March, the Ricoh WG-4 and Ricoh WG-4 GPS will sell for US$330 and $380 respectively. The WG-4 GPS will come in blue or black, while the WG-4 will be offered in silver or lime yellow.
The WG-20 is the little brother to the WG-4 models and, as such, features similar styling but isn't quite as tough or powerful. It's waterproof to 10 meters (33 ft); shock resistant against falls from 1.5 meters (5 ft), though it's still cold resistant to -10°C (14°F) and crushproof to 100 kg (220 lb). Measuring 115.5 x 58.5 28.5 mm (4.5 x 2.3 x 1.1 in) and weighing 164 g (5.8 oz), it's also smaller and lighter than the WG-4.
Inside there's a 14-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CCD sensor which is paired with a 5-25-mm F3.5-F5.5 lens (equivalent to 28-140-mm in 35-mm-format). Sensor-shift shake reduction is omitted for a less capable digital shake-reduction system, and the WG-20 can only shoot HD video at 720p 30 fps. The rear LCD measures 2.7 inches and has 230k dots.
Available in white or red, the Ricoh WG-20 will hit shelves in March for a price of $200.
WG Series Mounting System
Allowing adventure-loving photographers to use the WG cameras in more situations than they might have previously – and no doubt influenced by the success of GoPro cameras and accessories – is the new action-orientated WG mounting system. This consists of a camera holder and a series of ball-and-socket system mounts.
A handlebar mount uses a pinch structure to fasten to your bike, motorcycle or hang glider, with the ball and socket system making it easy to adjust. A suction cup mount can be used for positioning a WG camera onto a car, boat, helmet, or anything with a solid surface, and can easily be removed or repositioned. Meanwhile, an adhesive mount gives a more semi-permanent solution, and is held in place by powerful adhesive tape.
The WG Series Mounting System will be available this month. The camera holder will cost $20, while the handlebar mount will set you back $40, the suction cup mount $43 and the adhesive mount $45.