The Ricoh RZ 140 is a traditional 'box' shape but good looking compact, featuring a 38mm to 140mm f4 to f10 zoom lens. It certainly does not try to make miniaturisation a main appeal. It will therefore be easier to hold steady for those with larger hands. Competitively priced, but still fully featured, it is a well thought out product with little need to refer to an instruction book due to straightforward operation and position of the controls.
Apart from the on/off button next to the eye piece, door open catch, and battery chamber on the base for the CR123A cell, controls are on the top plate and few in number. A small LCD panel shows the flash mode in use; auto, on, off or slow sync, plus status of battery, and if the self timer of macro functions are activated. It could use a light for low light use though. Next to the eye piece is a comfortable zoom control but when coming back from the longest settings the finder image was seen to jump a little more than most, while its optics caught up with the position set by the user.
The flash is sensibly placed slightly away from the body so your finger naturally stops just below avoiding obstruction. It's status is indicated by a red LED next to the eye piece that glows when charged and ready but pulsates during recharge similarly a constant green LED indicates that autofocus has been successful, while a flashing light means that it has not as the subject is too close. The camera will still fire though. There is both a maximum telephoto autofocus area indication and minimum marked and this can get confusing especially with mid positions set on the lens.
The RZ 140 has the softest of shutter releases, but unfortunately while this works well with a secure two handed grip a one handed operation can make the camera move slightly at the moment of exposure. There is a 1/4 sec to 1/300th sec shutter speed range, not as wide as some, but good enough for the typical point and shoot photography that such cameras are purchased primarily for.
The results showed a camera more than capable of giving what people want from a compact and it has to be said it was one of the better ones to handle. The only real disappointment was the red -eye reduction beam that seemed more a case of having it on board to make up the numbers than offering any real advantage. A good choice for the tighter budget and supplied with case, battery and strap.