Aimed at the outdoor snapper who wants good quality digital images, the Caplio 300G is a straightforward 3-megapixel compact camera, with a few useful extras built in. The first is the rugged water and knock-proof casing, but don't expect to take this one pearl diving because it's only waterproofed to one metre. Special rubberised controls along with seals over most parts.
In terms of ease of use, the Caplio is simplicity itself, with the chunky operating buttons and controls designed for use in adverse conditions – or with gloves. Some of the menu selector buttons on the back panel are less easy to use, however, and feature Ricoh's usual inscrutable function labelling. The manual does help slightly but it's let down with basic instructions and limited technical information.
One really clever idea is the option to use either standard AAs or a rechargeable Li-Ion battery in the same compartment. Neat. The download software is very functional but slightly idiosyncratic and may take some getting used to. Using USB 1.1 it downloads images and MPEG video completely transparently into a directory it chooses, without the camera even having to be switched on.
Image-wise, the Caplio coped very well, with colour depth and overall sharpness to rival the best, but with a trace of optical noise when shooting either very bright or very dark subjects. The zoom is unobtrusively good and the focus is fast, even on tricky mono-tonal subjects. One other really neat feature is the provision of program modes for portrait, landscape, action and night photography – all these work extremely well.
Overall, it's a decent unit for the price, but with only 8MB on board and no spare SD card supplied you will need to spend more if you want to take more than a few happy snaps while at the beach.