Ricoh RDC-7 Image capturing device

The Ricoh RDC-7 is a very early, 3 Megapixel digital camera produced by Ricoh with quite an interesting and novel design.

My Camera

My Ricoh RDC-7 was bought as a complete kit with two batteries, a soft case, the original CDs with software, the charger & external power supply and a 64M smart media card. The seller sold it a spares or repair because when he tested it the exposure seemed to be over exposed.

When I received it I took a few test shots and found the exposure to be ok so I assumed the seller was mistaken, but subsequently as I’ve tested more thoroughly, I’ve discovered that there actually is a fault. If the camera is used in low light the exposures are ok but when the light level increases the exposures get more and more over exposed. This suggested to me that possibly there is a problem with the aperture not closing but oddly enough, if I take a video the over exposure doesn’t occur. I’m still trying to work out what might be wrong.

The other issue I found is that the camera would suddenly turn off when it was being used. Initially I thought this was simply down to the battery being old and not retaining charge, but it was doing the same thing with both the batteries the seller supplied and a new battery I bought for another camera I own. Eventually I found it is due to the memory card door and the micro switch which turns the camera off when the door is opened. I don’t know if the fault is with the switch or the door, but it is very sensitive to movement and if the door just creeps forward the switch turns the camera off. To use the camera I just press a small piece of card in the micro switch to make sure it keeps closed.

Other than this slight issue with the memory card door the camera is in remarkably good condition with just a couple of scratches on the bottom of the camera to give away that it’s not straight out of the shop.

Ricoh RDC-7 Description

One of the interesting things about the Ricoh RDC-7 is that it isn’t called a digital camera but an Image Capturing Device (although the model number RDC-7 suggests Ricoh Digital Camera).

In design the camera (I’m going to call it a camera) is somewhat similar to modern designs because of the lift up LCD screen which can be rotated almost 360 degrees. Under the LCD are a set of buttons to set parameters  for pictures taken, and to access the menus. On the back of the camera is a rotary switch which selects the mode the camera operates in; playback, record, sound record, movie etc. Around the outside of this switch is a zoom rocker switch, and in the centre is the main on/off button.

On the top of the unit is an LCD which displays frame count, picture resolution etc and a set of four buttons for self timer, picture resolution, flash and data storage selection. The main shutter button is also on the top of the camera, and a second release is situated on the front next to the lens for when the camera is used with the optical viewfinder and held upright.

For its time, the RDC-7 was a pretty sophisticated unit and, in typical Ricoh fashion, could certainly hold its own in terms of features with cameras made a lot later, but of course the aspect where it really shows its age is the speed at which it operates. Every operation takes what seems like an age, with focusing taking several seconds and writing big files another few seconds. I guess this is to be expected for a camera of this vintage, but it spoils what would otherwise be quite a fun little camera. Obviously the picture quality isn’t going to be great – at the time this unit was made digital camera weren’t yet as good in terms of dynamic range or resolution as a 35mm slr – but for simple snapshots it would probably be ok.

The manual is available on-line and that describes in great detail how the unit works and it’s various functions so I’m not going into any more detail here. If I manage to sort out the problem with over exposure I will take some test pictures and post a follow up story.

Ricoh RDC-7 Specifications

  • Ricoh RDC-7 Image Capture Device
  • Model launched in 2000
  • Shutter speeds 1 sec to 1/1000 sec
  • 35 – 105mm eq zoom lens
  • Centre weighted exposure meter
  • ISO Auto, 200 & 400
  • Autofocus or Manual focus
  • Redeye reduction option
  • f/2.6 – f/3.5 max aperture
  • Optical and LCD monitor
  • 2inch 200,000 dot Monitor
  • Auto white balance + 3 pre-sets
  • Top resolution 2048 x 1536
  • File formats Jpeg, Tiff for photos – Avi for video and Wav for sound
  • Internal 8Mb memory
  • Date imprint option
  • Interval shooting option
  • Auto bracketing
  • SmartMedia memory card
  • Manual available on-line here


Categories: Ricoh, Vintage

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4 replies

  1. Fascinating! I love reading about these early digital cameras! I just did a full write up of the Fujifilm FinePix S1 Pro from 2001 on my site!

    Do you have any sample photographs from this Ricoh that you could share?

  2. I remember this camera. And how I CRAVED it when it came out! Love the form.. Like those old APS cameras.. 😀

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