Playing The Long Game: Outdoor Photography With Telezooms

Ricoh WG-4 GPS Waterproof Review

The Ricoh WG-4 is the tough, waterproof, compact camera from Ricoh and features a 4x optical zoom lens as well as built in GPS.

| Ricoh WG-4 GPS in Compact Cameras

Ricoh WG-4 GPS Waterproof Review: Ricoh WG 4 GPS Black (3)

The Ricoh WG-4 GPS is a new outdoors camera, released in January 2014. The latest model is waterproof down to 14m and features a lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.0. The GPS model is available in blue or black for around £290, the non-GPS version is available in silver or lime yellow for around £260, and is simply known as the Ricoh WG-4.

Ricoh WG-4 GPS Features

Ricoh WG-4 GPS Waterproof Review: Ricoh WG 4 GPS Black (1)

The Ricoh WG-4 GPS has a 16 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor as well as a 4x optical zoom lens, which is a 35mm equivalent of 25-100mm. It has a wide aperture f/2.0 lens at the wide-angle end to allow as much light as possible into the sensor, great for shooting underwater. To help reduce camera shake there is sensor shift SR (shake reduction).

Being a camera for the outdoors, it is waterproof to 14m, shock resistant to 2m, freezproof to –10°C and dustproof. There are six LED macro lights around the circumference of the lens barrel for macro shooting.

When shooting there is auto picture mode which automatically selects the best camera settings for the detected scene. There are a number of other scene modes such as HDR, digital microscope, time lapse and many more. When you've finished shooting you can edit your pictures in playback using a range of filters. There is a digital spirit level to help keep your pictures straight.

Videos are recorded in full 1080p HD at 30 fps. Optical zoom is available during recording and you can also record high-speed videos at 120fps. The WG-4 can be connected to a HDTV for playback via HDMI.

Key Features

  • 16 megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor
  • 4x optical zoom f/2.0-4.9 lens (35mm equiv: 25-100mm)
  • Sensor shift SR (Shake Reduction)
  • 3 inch 16:9 wide 460k dot LCD screen
  • Waterproof to 14m
  • Shockproof to 2m
  • Freezproof to –10°C
  • Crushproof to 100Kg
  • Dustproof
  • Six LED macro lights
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • ISO 125 - 6400
  • 1cm minimum focusing distance)
  • GPS, Electronic Compass, Pressure Sensor 

Ricoh WG-4 GPS Handling

Ricoh WG-4 GPS Waterproof Review: Ricoh WG 4 GPS Black (5)

The Ricoh WG-4 GPS is rubberised on the outside and has an unusual shape, all of which makes it easy to grip, even in cold, wet conditions. To reduce the chances of the battery / memory card slot being opened by mistake when underwater it has an open / close switch and another which acts as a lock.

A plastic ring is supplied with the camera that acts as a support for using the digital microscope mode. Also on the front of the camera is a small screen which displays the time, it looks very similar to a digital watch.

On top of the camera you'll find the on / off switch and the shutter release. On the back there are W and T buttons for adjusting the optical zoom, the lens is housed internally within the camera. Other buttons include movie record, playback, menu, green and a d-pad which is used for cycling through the menus and also gives access to the self-timer, flash, focus and shooting modes.

Ricoh WG-4 GPS Waterproof Review: Ricoh WG 4 GPS Black (7)

The screen is bright and clear and has a decent resolution at 460k dots. The menu system is well laid out and easy to use. Battery life is rated at a decent 240 shots according to CIPA test results, this will reduce more quickly if you use the GPS frequently.

Ricoh WG-4 GPS Waterproof Review: Ricoh WG 4 GPS Black (6)

Speed - 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.

Shutter Response <0.05secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.175secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.25secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 2.0secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 1.3secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 2.0secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
Continuous Shooting - Flash N/A

Focus and shutter response are both good, although continuous shooting is quite slow when shooting at full resolution. An additional high speed shooting mode is available, and the camera can shoot at 10fps at a reduced resolution of 5 megapixels for up to 30 shots. 

Ricoh WG-4 GPS 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 WG-4 GPS Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Colour is good and there is very little red-eye in the portrait photo with flash, although the camera has used a high ISO setting and detail is low. The Digital Microscope allows for very impressive macro shots using the 6 LED lights surrounding the lens, and the adapter ring so that you can place the camera directly only the object you want to photograph, although at a reduced resolution of 2mp. 

Ricoh WG-4 GPS Lens test images

Lens Performance - The super macro mode can be activated in the normal shooting mode (at full resolution), and you can also switch on the 6 LED lights surrounding the lens. This is very useful as it can be difficult for light to get to the subject when it is so close to the lens, as the camera will focus on a subject that is less than 1cm away from the front of the lens. 

There is some corner softness when using the wide-angle end of the lens, and you need to be careful if the sun is in the frame due to flare and loss of contrast. Detail is reasonable, but noise can be seen in shadow areas, as well as in blue skies when shooting at ISO125. 

Ricoh WG-4 GPS ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Noise is quite low at ISO125, and ISO200, with good detail. Noise increases at ISO400, and at ISO800 noise becomes quite noticeable with a drop in detail. Detail drops again at ISO1600, although results may still be usable. ISO3200 shows a high level of noise although may still provide usable results if images are going to be resized. ISO6400 shows a lot of noise and is best avoided.

Ricoh WG-4 GPS White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Under the incandescent lights the auto white balance (AWB) has a warm colour cast, with the incandescent preset taking a good picture. Under the fluorescent lights, the AWB performs well, with good results when using the fluorescent preset also.

Ricoh WG-4 GPS Digital filters

Digital Filters - You can select from three image tones when shooting (bright, natural, monochrome). When you have finished shooting you can enter playback to edit your pictures with a number of digital filters.

Video - The camera records full HD video and optical zoom is available, however noise from the lens is quite noticeable when using the optical zoom.

Value For Money

The Ricoh WG-4 GPS is available for £290 which makes it average value for money, with other cameras available with GPS and Wi-Fi for less:

Olympus Tough TG-850, Tilting screen, £269
Nikon Coolpix AW120, 18m, Wi-Fi, GPS, £279
Panasonic Lumix FT5, 13m, Wi-Fi, GPS, £269
Olympus Tough TG-3, 15m, GPS, £349
Canon Powershot D30, 25m, GPS, £259

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Ricoh WG-4 GPS Verdict

The Ricoh WG-4 GPS is a tough looking, action orientated waterproof digital camera, with a provided carabiner strap making it easy to strap onto your trousers or bag. The clock on the front will light up when you press the shutter release button when the camera is off, providing a useful watch, if you don't have anything else available. There are also 6 LED macro lights which can help light up subjects for close up macro photos. 

Unfortunately, image quality isn't as good as we hoped, detail isn't great and we found the images suffered with noise in shadow areas, although the bright lens should mean you can stay away from the higher ISO settings, unless you're in really dark conditions. If you tend to shoot images to share on the web, then images quality will be good enough, particularly as colour reproduction is decent.


Ricoh WG-4 GPS Pros

Fast f/2.0 lens
HDR built in
Good colour
Carabiner strap provided
Impressive macro mode
6 LED lights for macro photographs
Good range of digital filters for editing photos

Ricoh WG-4 GPS Cons

Awkward tripod socket position
Doesn't feature a panoramic mode
Noise in images


Ricoh WG-4 GPS Specifications

Max Aperturef/2 - f/4.9
35mm equivalent25mm - 100mm
Optical Zoom4x
Image Sensor
Pixels16Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4608
Pixels (H)3456
Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
Sensor Size1/2.3inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution460k
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus1cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
  • Snap
  • Infinity
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest4sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Scene modes
  • Program Variable
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity125 - 6400
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shootingNo Data
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
Video FPS30fps
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium-Ion
Battery Life (CIPA rating)240shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsRechargeable lithium-ion battery D-LI92, Power adapter D-PA135, USB cable I-USB7, Carabiner strap O-ST144 (for black and silver WG-4/GPS), Carabiner strap O-ST145 (for blue and lime yellow WG-4/GPS), Macro stand O-MS2, Software (CD-ROM) S-SW145

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