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.
Ricoh HZ15 Features
The Ricoh HZ15 has a 16 megapixel CCD sensor and 15x optical zoom lens, which is a 35mm equivalent of 24-360mm. To reduced blur the camera has a SR (Shake Reduction) mechanism.
There is an auto mode which automatically adjusts the camera settings for the detected scene. There are also 20 scene modes for you to choose from as well as a panorama mode.
Videos are recorded in 720p HD at 30 fps.
16 megapixel CCD sensor
15x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 24-360mm)
Shake reduction image stabilisation
3.0 inch 230k dot LCD screen
20 scene modes
720p HD video recording
ISO 80 - 1600
3cm minimum focusing distance
0.8 fps continuous shooting
Ricoh HZ15 Handling
The Ricoh HZ15 has a solid plastic body which is small and light enough to carry in your pocket. It also has a rubberised hand grip and a grooved dotted area for your thumb on the rear.
On the top of the camera are the on / off and movie record buttons as well as the shutter release and zoom rocker. On the rear are the mode, menu and playback buttons as well as a d-pad which also gives quick access to macro, self-timer, flash, display and delete. The self-timer and macro options are both unusually available via the same button.
The 3.0 inch screen has a low resolution of 230k dot and does look a little pixelated when zooming in. The menu system is easy enough easy enough to navigate. Pressing the menu button gives you the chance to change the picture settings, going to the bottom of the list allows you to change other camera settings.
Battery life is rated at a reasonable 245 shots according to CIPA test results. We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
Shot to Shot without Flash
Shot to Shot with Flash
Continuous Shooting - 3 shots
The continuous shooting modes are limited to just 4 megapixels.
Ricoh HZ15 Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Ricoh HZ15 Sample Photos
Sample Photos - Colour reproduction is good and the night landscape mode works well in low light conditions. Portraits with the flash aren't great, there isn't any red-eye but subjects aren't consistently lit, some of our test shots were bright on one side but darker on the other.
Ricoh HZ15 Lens test images
Lens Performance - Detail is OK for a sub-£100 digital camera, there is a little purple fringing in contrasting areas but it is generally well controlled. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 3cm which means you can get close enough for a decent macro shot. The full optical zoom photo shows some vignetting.
Ricoh HZ15 ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO 80, 100 and 200, but there is a significant reduction in image quality at ISO 400, with soft images produced. The loss in detail is worse at ISO 800 with very poor quality images produced at ISO 1600.
Ricoh HZ15 White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - Under the incandescent lights the Auto White Balance (AWB) takes a shot with a slight orange cast, with the incandescent preset taking a much better shot. Under the fluorescent lights, the AWB and fluorescent preset both perform well - taking almost identical shots.
Panorama | 1/450 sec | f/10.8 | 4.3 mm | ISO 320
Panorama mode - Panoramas are created by lining up a number of shots. The camera does a generally good job, although there are some issues.
Ricoh HZ15 Digital filters
Digital Filters - The HZ15 has a few filters to help take creative pictures, with a number of examples above.
Video - Below is a video recorded in 720p HD, using optical zoom. Quality is OK, but when zooming in the focus takes a little while to catch up.
The Ricoh HZ15 offers a good zoom range for a very fair price. Unfortunately image quality isn't the best, but those who share images on the web, rather than produce large prints, will be pleased with the colour reproduction. Ideally you need to avoid shooting with a high ISO, but the flash offered quite inconsistent results.