Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

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Introduction

The Ricoh HZ15 is a 16 megapixel compact camera featuring a 15x, 24-360mm zoom lens with a built-in Shake Reduction mechanism. The HZ15 also offers a 3-inch LCD monitor, 720p video recording, handgrip, 20 scene modes and compatibility with Eye-Fi memory cards. The Ricoh HZ15 is available in black priced at £119.99 in the UK.

Ease of Use

The Ricoh HZ15 measures 108.5mm (W) x 61mm (H) x 31mm (D) and weighs 180g, which is pretty compact given the 15x zoom. It just fits in the palm of your hand, and a trouser/shirt pocket, although its perhaps more at home in a small camera bag. Despite its budget price and all-plastic construction, the Ricoh HZ15 feels quite solidly made, with the mix of gloss black on the front half and matt on the back proving to be visually appealing. Even better is the proper handgrip on the front, which is rubberised to further increase your hold on the camera, helped by the thumbgrip on the rear – quite unexpected on such a cheap camera.

The Ricoh HZ15’s 15x zoom lens offers a 24-360mm focal range which places the HZ15 firmly in the popular “travel zoom” category of cameras, although several rivals offer even longer lenses in a similarly sized body. When the lens is fully extended, the camera measures nearly 8cm in depth, but thankfully it retracts fully back into the body when it is turned off. The 24-360mm range is very versatile, covering everything from wide-angle landscapes to close-up action photos. The maximum apertures are respectable enough at f/3.3 at wide-angle and f/5.9 at full telephoto.

The Ricoh HZ15 features an anti-shake system called Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS). Turn it on in the Main menu and the Ricoh HZ15 automatically compensates for camera shake by the equivalent of about 3 shutter-speed stops. You don’t notice that the camera is actually doing anything different when anti-shake is turned on, just that you can use slower shutter speeds than normal and still take sharp photos.

Ricoh seem to have realised the importance of this system, as it is turned on by default, and thankfully leaving the anti-shake system on didn’t negatively affect the battery-life, with the camera managing nearly 250 shots before the battery needed to be recharged. The HZ15 uses an in-body recharging system, which makes the overall package more portable than having a separate charger, but does tie-up the camera while the battery is being charged.

Ricoh HZ15 Ricoh HZ15
Front Rear

The Ricoh HZ15 only has 9 external controls in total, leaving plenty of room for the large 3 inch LCD screen that dominates the back of the camera. The HZ15’s screen has a very low resolution of 230K dots, and sadly it certainly shows, with a grainy display that you don’t often see on new cameras, even budget ones.

The Mode button on the rear provides quick access to seven different shooting modes. The Ricoh HZ15 offers a Manual shooting mode, but sadly the name is a little misleading, as you can’t actually set the aperture or shutter speed. Instead the camera offers the most options available in any of the shooting modes, although as this is an entry-level camera there aren’t too many on offer.

The Auto shooting mode is aimed firmly at beginners. Much like similar systems on rival cameras, when the HZ15 is set to Auto it automatically identifies the type of scene being photographed and selects the appropriate scene mode (portrait, sports, night portrait, landscape, nightscape, macro mode), useful if you’re not sure which mode to pick yourself. Like most automatic systems, it’s not infallible, but does reliably pick one of the above scenes most of the time. There are also 20 scene modes, plus Portrait and Panorama mode.

Ricoh HZ15 Ricoh HZ15
Side Front

The HZ15 offers 720p HD video recording capabilities with three movie sizes available – 1280×720, 640×480 and 320×240 pixels – all at 30 frames per second. and all saved in the MOV file format, which unfortunately does result in some rather large file sizes. Sound recording is in mono, rather than stereo, but you can use the zoom, autofocus and image stabilization during recording. The HZ15 also has a dedicated movie record button on the top, which as you’d expect allows you to start recording with one button press.

The four-way navigation pad on the rear of the HZ15 allows you to quickly adjust 4 different settings that are commonly used. Press it to change the display mode, flash setting, delete an image, and turn macro on / set the timer option without having to scroll through the menu system.

The main menu system on the Ricoh HZ15 is straight-forward to use and is accessed by pressing the Menu button on the rear of the camera. Depending on the selected shooting mode, up to 8 options are presented in a vertical column of icons, with a Settings option at the bottom which delves further into the camera’s workings.

Ricoh HZ15 Ricoh HZ15
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

The start-up time from turning the Ricoh HZ15 on to being ready to take a photo is quite quick at around 2 seconds, and it takes about 4 seconds to zoom from the widest focal length to the longest. Focusing is quick in good light and the camera happily achieves focus most of the time indoors or in low-light situations, although performance starts to suffer at the 360mm telephoto end of the lens. Shutter-lag is 0.3 secs and it takes about 1 second to store a JPEG image, allowing you to keep shooting as they are being recorded onto the memory card. Continuous shooting is nothing to write home about at just 0.8fps.

Once you have captured a photo, the Ricoh HZ15 has an above average range of options when it comes to playing, reviewing and managing your images. You can instantly scroll through the images that you have taken, view thumbnails (up to 16 onscreen at once), zoom in and out up to 8x magnification, view slideshows with audio, set the print order, delete, trim, rotate, protect and resize an image. You can also apply an HDR effect and red-eye reduction to an image and change the colour.

The Display button toggles detailed settings information about each picture on and off, such as the ISO rating and aperture / shutter speed, and there is a small histogram available during both shooting and playback. When taking a photo, pressing the Display button toggles between the detailed information, the histogram and gridlines to aid composition.

That concludes our tour of the HZ15’s design and features – now let’s take a look at its image quality.

Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

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Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel Best JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4Mb.

The Ricoh HZ15 produced images of above average quality during the review period. The Ricoh HZ15’s main drawback in terms of image quality is noise, with the relatively slow speed of ISO 200 already showing some noise and blurring of detail. The noise and loss of fine detail get progressively worse as you go from ISO 400 to ISO 800, with the fastest 1600 setting not really worth using.

The Ricoh HZ15 handled chromatic aberrations fairly well with some purple fringing effects appearing in high contrast situations. The 16 megapixel images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpen setting of Normal and benefitted from some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop. The night photograph was good, with the maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds allowing you to capture enough light for most situations.

Macro performance is very good, allowing you to focus as close as 3cm away from the subject. The effective anti-shake system is essential when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range. The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure.

Noise

There are 6 ISO settings available on the Ricoh HZ15. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

Focal Range

The Ricoh HZ15’s 15x zoom lens offers a versatile focal range, as illustrated by these examples:

24mm

360mm

File Quality

The Ricoh HZ15 has three different image quality settings available, with Best being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options.

16M Best (3.36Mb) (100% Crop) 16M Fine (2.30Mb) (100% Crop)
   
16M Normal (1.78Mb) (100% Crop)  
 

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web – Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting of Normal. You can change the in-camera sharpening level to one of the preset levels (Sharp, Normal or Soft) if you don’t like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Chromatic Aberrations

The Ricoh HZ15 handled chromatic aberrations fairly well during the review, with some purple fringing present around the edges of objects in certain high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Ricoh HZ15 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 3cms away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

Flash

The flash settings on the Ricoh HZ15 are Force Off, Flash Auto, Force Flash, Slow Synchro, Slow Synchro+Red Eye, and Red-Eye Reduction. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Force Off – Wide Angle (24mm)

Force Flash – Wide Angle (24mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

v – Telephoto (360mm)

Force Flash – Telephoto (360mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On or the Red-eye Flash settings caused any red-eye.

Force Flash

Force Flash (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Ricoh HZ15’s maximum shutter speed is 30 seconds in the Manual shooting mode, which is good news if you’re seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 30 seconds at ISO 80.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

Image Stabilization

The Ricoh HZ15 has a CCD-Shift-Type image stabilizer, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, we took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with anti shake turned off, the second with it turned on. Here are some 100% crops of the images to show the results.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Image Stabilizer Off (100% Crop)

Image Stabilizer On (100% Crop)

0.6 sec / 27mm
     
1/14th / 360mm

Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

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Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Ricoh HZ15 camera, which were all taken using the 16 megapixel Best JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie

This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1280×720 at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 20 second movie is 72.3Mb in size.

Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

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Product Images

Ricoh HZ15

Front of the Ricoh HZ15

 
Ricoh HZ15

Front of the Ricoh HZ15 / Lens Extended

 
Ricoh HZ15

Side of the Ricoh HZ15

 
Ricoh HZ15

Side of the Ricoh HZ15

 
Ricoh HZ15

Side of the Ricoh HZ15

 
Ricoh HZ15

Side of the Ricoh HZ15

 
Ricoh HZ15

Rear of the Ricoh HZ15

 
Ricoh HZ15

Rear of the Ricoh HZ15 / Image Displayed

 
Ricoh HZ15

Rear of the Ricoh HZ15 / Turned On

 
Ricoh HZ15

Rear of the Ricoh HZ15 / Mode Menu

 

Ricoh HZ15

Rear of the Ricoh HZ15 / OK Menu

 
Ricoh HZ15

Rear of the Ricoh HZ15 / Main Menu

 
Ricoh HZ15

Rear of the Ricoh HZ15 / Settings Menu

 
Ricoh HZ15

Top of the Ricoh HZ15

 
Ricoh HZ15

Bottom of the Ricoh HZ15

 
Ricoh HZ15

Side of the Ricoh HZ15

 
Ricoh HZ15

Side of the Ricoh HZ15

 
Ricoh HZ15

Front of the Ricoh HZ15

 
Ricoh HZ15

Front of the Ricoh HZ15

 
Ricoh HZ15

Memory Card Slot

 
Ricoh HZ15

Battery Compartment

Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

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Specifications

Sensor
Type

CCD

Size

1/2.3″

Total Pixels

approx. 16.44 megapixels

Effective Pixels

approx. 16 megapixels

Still

16M, 14M, 12(16:9), 10M, 5M, 3M, 2M, VGA

16MP[4:3](4608×3456), 14MP[3:2](4608×3072), 12MP[16:9](4608×2592), 10MP[4:3](3648×2736), 5MP[4:3](2592×1944), 3MP[4:3](2048×1536), 2MP[16:9](1920×1080), 0.3MP[4:3](640×480)

Quality level:Best, Fine, Normal

*Continuous Shooting : 4M (2336×1752)

*Photo Frame:3MP(2048×1536)

*ID Photo:5MP(2592×1944)

*Panorama:resolution is fixed to 2M(1920×1080) per frame

Movie

1280×720 : 30 / 15fps, 640×480 : 30fps, 320×240 : 30fps

Sensitivity

Sensitivity range:Auto, Manual (ISO 80 – 1600) (standard output)

Auto ISO range:ISO 80-800

Shake Reduction

Image Stabilizer (CCD-Shift-Type)

Lens
Focal Length

4.3-65mm, approx. 24-360mm in 35mm

Aperture

F3.3(W) – F5.9(T)

Smallest aperture

Wide: F10.8, Tele: F19.3

Digital Zoom

approx. 6X

Optical Zoom

15X

Construction

RICOH LENS, 10 elements in 9 groups (5 aspherical elements)

Focusing System
Type

TTL contrast detection auto focus system

Functions

Modes:Single AF, Multi AF(9 point), Continuous AF

Largest magnification:Approx. 0,1X with focus mode Macro, Focal Length 4.3mm, Focusing distance 0.03m

Focus Range (automatic)

Standard: 0.6m – infinity (at wide setting), 3m – infinity (at tele setting)
Macro: 0.03m – infinity (at wide setting), 2.5m – infinity (at tele setting)
Landscape: 10m – Infinity (at wide setting), 10m – Infinity (at tele setting)

AF assist

Available

Screen
Type

TFT color LCD, 3″

Resolution

approx. 230K dots

Playback

LCD frame rate:approx. 30fps

Shutter
Speed

1/2000 ~ 4 Seconds (Manual Mode setting : 30 Seconds at most)

Exposure system
Metering

Multi-segment metering(AiAE), Spot metering, Center-weighted metering

Exposure Control

Scene modes:Manual, Auto, Portrait, Movie, Panorama, SCN(Auto Scene, Landscape, Sport, Beach, Sunset, Fireworks, Night Landscape, Snow, Children, ID, Glass, Photo Frame, Panning Shot, Sketch, Fish Eye, Party, Indoor, Leaf, Museum, Night Portrait)

Auto scene modes:Auto, Portrait, Night Portrait, Macro, Portrait Backlight

Compensation

±2EV(1/3EV steps)

Flash
Modes

Force Off, Flash Auto, Force Flash, Slow Synchro, Slow Synchro+Red Eye, Red-Eye Reduction

Effective Range

Wide: approx. 0.5m-4.7m (ISO 800)
Tele: approx. 1m-2.6m (ISO 800)

Exposure Parameters
Modes

Single, Continuous Shot, 3 Shots, Time-Lapse 30sec, Time-Lapse 1min, Time-Lapse 5min, Time-Lapse 10min

Self- timer count: 10sec, 2sec

Continuous shooting: approx. 0.8 frame/sec

Face Recognition

Face detection:Face Detection AF&AE is available up to 12 faces

White Balance

Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Fluorescent CWF, Incandescent, Manual WB

Digital Filter

Normal, Vivid, Sepia,Black and White

Release Function

Start-up Time: approx. 2.0 sec

Release Time Lag: approx. 0.3 sec

Movie
Recording

Video HD

Resolution:1280×720 : 30 / 15fps, 640×480 : 30fps, 320×240 : 30fps

Quality level:fixed

Shake reduction: Image Stabilizer (CCD-Shift-Type)

Sound: Yes

Playback
Options

Playback modes:Slide Show, HDR, Red-Eye Reduction, Rotate, Resize, Color, Protect, Delete, Trim

Playback functions:Single, Index (9/16 Thumbnails), Zoom (Approx. ×2~×8, scroll available), Histogram

Storage
Internal

Approx. 8MB

External

compatible with SD/SDHC memory cards

File Format

JPEG(conforms to Exif 2.3)

MOV(Motion JPEG), with sound

Special Features
Features

Video HD with independent movie recording button to instantly switch to the movie recording mode

20 scene modes for easy capture of specific subjects and scenes

Compatibility with Eye-Fi wireless SD cards

In-body recharging system for simple use

Easy-to-hold grip, compact and lightweight body for comfort and operability

World time:Supported

Date Imprint:*Date Imprint Available (Date, Date & time)

Image Tone:Normal, Vivid, Sepia, Black and White

Language

27 Languages(English, Chinese [Simplified and Traditional], Japanese, Korean, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, Indonesia, Vietnamese, Italian, German, Dutch, Russian, Polish, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Greek, Turkish, Hungarian, Croatian, Czech, Arabic, Hindi)

Interface
Interface

Video output: AV terminal, NTSC/PAL

USB: USB 2.0 (Micro 5 pin USB)

Power
Source

Rechargeable lithium-ion battery LB-050

Performance

Still*: Approx. 245 shots (Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery)
Playback**: Approx. 215 min. (Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery)

* Recording capacity shows approximate number of shots recorded during CIPA-compliant testing.
Actual performance may vary depending on operating conditions.
** According to the result of PENTAX in-house testing.

Dimensions
Height

approx.60mm

Width

approx. 108.5mm

Depth

approx.31mm

Weight

approx. 203 g (loaded and ready)

approx. 181 g (without battery and SD memory card)

Compatibility
PC

PC : Windows XP(SP3), Vista, 7 and 8

Mac

Mac : OS X 10.4 or more recent

Accessories
Included Software

MediaImpression 3.6.1 LE (Windows) or MediaImpression 2.2 LE (Macintosh)

Kit Content

Rechargeable lithium-ion battery LB-050
AC/DC Adapter GAC-03-EU
USB cable I-USB143
Strap O-ST143
Software (CD-ROM) S-SW143

Optional

Black neoprene case

Rechargeable lithium-ion battery LB-050

Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

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Conclusion

The Ricoh HZ15 is one of the cheapest travel-zoom cameras currently available, packing a versatile 15x zoom lens that starts at a wide-angle 24mm into a compact package that can easily be slipped into a coat pocket. The effective optical image stabilisation system and rubberised handgrip help to ensure that your pictures are sharp, while the overall build quality is surprisingly good for a camera at this price-point.

Image quality from the Ricoh HZ15 isn’t that great, though, with noise at low ISO speeds and aggressive processing removing finer detail, while the low-resolution LCD screen is like something from the noughties. The Manual shooting mode is a little misleading, not providing the expected photographic control, video is only 720p quality, and burst shooting is glacially slow at 0.8fps.

Still, the Ricoh HZ15 only costs around £120, and with its focus firmly on providing a big zoom lens in a small body, it does offer something that most of its smartphone and compact camera rivals can’t offer. Despite our reservations about the image quality and the rather sparse feature set, the Ricoh HZ15 is still worth considering as a cheap and effective travel-zoom compact.

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 3.5
Ease-of-use 3.5
Image quality 3.5
Value for money 4.5

Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

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Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Ricoh HZ15.

Canon PowerShot SX160 IS

Canon PowerShot SX160 IS Review thumbnail

The brand new Canon PowerShot SX160 IS is one of the more affordable travel-zoom cameras on the market. For less than £150 / $200, the Canon SX160 offers a 16x optical zoom lens, 16 megapixel sensor, 3 inch LCD screen and 720p movies. Read our in-depth Canon PowerShot SX160 IS review to find out if this is the right travel zoom camera for you.

Fujifilm Finepix F800EXR

Fujifilm Finepix F800EXR Review thumbnail

The FinePix F800EXR is the latest travel-zoom camera from Fujifilm, sporting a 20x lens with a versatile focal range of 25-500mm. The 16 megapixel F800 EXR also features wireless image transfer, GPS support, full 1080p movies, a high-contrast 3 inch LCD screen and 8fps continuous shooting. Read our in-depth Fujifilm FinePix F800 EXR review to find out if it’s the ultimate travel camera…

Nikon Coolpix S9500

Nikon Coolpix S9500 Review thumbnail

The Nikon Coolpix S9500 is an affordable, full-featured travel-zoom compact camera. Featuring a 22x zoom lens with a focal range of 25-550mm, the slimline Coolpix S9500 has a 18 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor, high-resolution 3-inch OLED screen and boasts GPS tracking and wi-fi connectivity. Read our detailed Nikon Coolpix S9500 review now…

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ35

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ35 Review thumbnail

The Lumix DMC-TZ35 is Panasonic’s new entry-level travel-zoom compact camera for 2013. The TZ35 (also known as the ZS25) packs a 16 megapixel MOS sensor, 20x wide-angle zoom lens, 3 inch LCD screen, 1080i HD movies, 10fps burst shooting and full manual controls into its pocketable body. Available in silver or black for £299 / $299, read our Panasonic DMC-TZ35 / ZS25 review to find out if it’s the right travel camera for you…

Samsung WB250F

Samsung WB250F Review thumbnail

The Samsung WB250F is a new travel-zoom camera that won’t break the bank. The WB250F offers a wide-angle 18x zoom lens, 14.2 megapixel sensor, 1080p video recording, 3 inch LCD touchscreen and built-in wi-fi connectivity. Read our Samsung WB250F review to find out if it’s worth the modest price-tag…

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX300

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX300 Review thumbnail

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX300 is an affordable travel-zoom compact camera. A 20x zoom lens, 18 megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor, 10fps continuous shooting, built-in wi-fi, Full HD movie recording and 500 shot battery life are all on offer. Priced at around £250 / $300, read our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX300 review to find out if it lives up to its full promise.

Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

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Download Luminar & Try Free »

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Ricoh HZ15 from around the web.

ephotozine.com »

The Ricoh HZ15 was announced in August 2013 and is a pocketable digital camera with 15x optical zoom. It also has a 16 megapixel sensor, 720p HD video recording and is available for just under £100.
Read the full review »

Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

Ricoh HZ15 Review Image

Mac users, we’re pleased to announce Macphun’s all-in-one photo editor Luminar is now available for just $69£52

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Use coupon code “PHOTOBLOG” to save another $10 on Luminar.

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