Unveiled: Ricoh's New Super-Zoom, the Pentax XG-1


In the realm of super-zoom point-and-shoot cameras, one of the self-referential hallmarks of this genre is "how long can you go?" With manufacturers consistently pushing the boundaries between a lightweight, ergonomically designed body and zoom magnifications upwards of 30x, 40x, and 50x, it becomes difficult to stand out in a field that is pushing compactness and the boundaries of zoom at the same time. Using its own benchmark Pentax X-5, Ricoh has just introduced the XG-1 Digital Camera that is smaller, faster than, and twice as long as its predecessor.

In comparison to the X-5's 26x zoom lens, the new XG-1 doubles this length to 52x to realize a 35mm equivalent focal-length range of 24-1248mm, with a maximum aperture of f/2.8-5.6. Effectively quadrupling this already doubled range, Digital Zoom can extend the equivalent focal length to 4992mm, with minimal image degradation, during an interpolation process. To offset this expansive zoom range, Dual SR (Shake Reduction) image stabilization blends both sensor-shift type and Pixel-Track stabilization methods to minimize the appearance of camera shake. Dedicated to recording movies, a Movie SR mode is also available that corrects for unique types of motion common to working in a more dynamic fashion.

"At the mid-zoom position, you can photograph subjects as close as 1 cm away from the front of the lens."

Beyond this lens's extensive reach and ability to bring distant objects closer, it also has the ability to work with close-up subject matter equally as well. At the mid-zoom position, you can photograph subjects as close as 1 cm away from the front of the lens. If working from the wide to middle zoom positions, shooting as close as 1 foot away from subjects is possible.

In regard to the imaging capabilities of the XG-1, it features a 16MP 1/2.3" backlit CMOS sensor that is aptly designed to output high-resolution imagery with minimal noise and high sensitivity to ISO 3200. For working with moving subjects, a full-resolution continuous shooting rate of 10 fps can be used in conjunction with Auto Tracking AF for maintaining sharp focus during bursts. Even faster shooting rates of 60 fps and 30 fps are available, too, at reduced resolutions.

Besides recording still imagery, full HD 1920 x 1080 movie recording is also supported, at a frame rate of 30 fps in the H.264 compression. HD 1280 x 720 recording is available in 60 fps and 30 fps frame rates, as well as VGA-sized high-speed recording at 120 fps for slow-motion playback. A micro HDMI (type D) port is also incorporated into the body's design for direct playback to HDTVs.

Due to the camera's expansive zoom range and large telephoto-lens design, a fittingly ergonomic body shape is also a key component of the XG-1. Even with the inclusion of the large right-hand grip and stout lens, the camera assumes a smaller-than-average form factor and weighs just 1.25 lb with the lithium-ion battery. A versatile i button permits quick selection of a variety of shooting modes and digital filters, and a top mode dial allows the selection of one of ten exposure modes.

For previewing the effects, as well as composing imagery and reviewing shots, both an electronic viewfinder and rear LCD monitor are available. The 200k-dot EVF is well suited to working in bright conditions and also serves as a third point of contact between photographer and camera for increased stability when shooting with longer zoom positions. For larger viewing, the rear 3.0" LCD offers 460k-dot resolution and is best suited to image playback, focus checking, and menu navigation.

In addition to traditional shooting modes, such as program, aperture, shutter priority, and manual, the XG-1 also features a host of intelligent and creative shooting modes and effects to refine the appearance of imagery in-camera. Handheld Night Scene supports working in low-light conditions by compositing a series of photos into a single frame to minimize any camera shake and increase the effective sensitivity. Similarly, HDR mode will also composite sequentially recorded frames, but this time to gain greater highlight and shadow detail when working in tricky lighting conditions, such as backlit scenes. An interval shooting mode aids in the creation of time-lapse sequences and compatibility with optional LAN SD/SDHC memory cards, such as Eye-Fi cards, can avail remote backing up and monitoring from mobile devices.

  Pentax XG-1 Pentax X-5
Image Sensor 1/2.3" Backlit CMOS 1/2.3" Backlit CMOS
Effective Pixels 16MP 16MP
Total Pixels 16.79MP 16.39MP
Maximum Resolution 4608 x 3456 4608 x 3456
Aspect Ratio 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 4:3, 1:1, 16:9
Still Image File Format JPG JPG
Storage Media Internal memory (15.4MB), SD, SDHC Internal memory (75.3MB), SD, SDHC, SDXC
Card Slot 1x SD 1x SD
Lens Type smc PENTAX zoom lens smc PENTAX zoom lens
Focal Length (35mm Equivalent) 4.3-226mm (24-1248mm) 4-104mm (22.3-580mm)
Optical Zoom 52x 26x
Aperture Range f/2.8-5.6 f/3.1-5.9
Lens Construction 15 elements in 13 groups (including 6 aspherical elements) 12 elements in 9 groups (including 3 aspherical elements)
Minimum Focusing Distance Wide: 2' / 61 cm to infinity
Tele: 9.8' / 3 m to infinity
Macro: 1' / 30.5 cm (wide to mid zoom)
1cm Macro: 0.4" / 1 cm (at mid zoom, set automatically)
Wide: 1.3' / 39.6 cm to infinity
Tele: 5.6' / 1.7 m to infinity
Macro: 4"-1.6' / 10.2-48.8 cm (wide to mid zoom)
Super Macro: 0.4-12" / 1-30.5 cm (at mid zoom, set automatically)
Digital Zoom 4x 7.2x
Image Stabilization Sensor-Shift SR, Digital SR, Movie SR Sensor-Shift SR, Dual (Sensor-Shift SR and Pixel Track SR), Digital SR, Movie SR
Viewfinder Type 0.2" 200k-dot electronic viewfinder 260k-dot electronic viewfinder
Diopter Adjustment Available, amount not specified by manufacturer Available, amount not specified by manufacturer
Shutter Type Programmed AE lens shutter and electronic sensor shutter Programmed AE lens shutter and electronic sensor shutter
Shutter Speed 4 - 1/2000 sec., 30 sec. in Manual mode 1/4 - 1/1500 sec., up to 4 sec. in Manual and Night Scene modes
Drive Modes Single, Continuous Shooting, Continuous Shooting High Speed (VGA), Continuous Shooting Fast (4MP), Time-Lapse (30 sec., 1, 5, or 10 min.) One Shot, Continuous Shooting, Burst Shooting (H/L), Self-Timer, Remote Control, Auto Bracketing
Top Continuous Shooting Rate 60 fps at VGA
30 fps at 4MP
10 fps at full resolution (H) for 20 frames
4.7 fps at full resolution for (L) 10 frames
0.67 fps at full resolution
1.12 fps at full resolution
Self-Timer N/A 10 or 2 sec.
Exposure Metering System TTL TTL
Metering Method Face, Center-Weighted, Spot Multi-Segment, Center-Weighted, Spot
Exposure Modes Auto, Program AE, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual Auto, Program AE, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual
Exposure Compensation +/- 2 EV in 1/3 steps +/- 2 EV in 1/3 steps
ISO Sensitivity Auto, ISO 100 - 3200 Auto, ISO 100-6400
Autofocus System TTL contrast detection autofocus TTL contrast detection autofocus
Number of Focus Points Not specified by manufacturer 9 points
Focus Modes Single-AF, Multi-AF, Object Tracking, Face Detection AF, Continuous AF 9 point AF, Spot AF, Auto Tracking AF, Macro, Super Macro, Infinity Landscape, Manual, Focus Point Selection
Built-In Flash Retractable pop-up series-control auto flash Retractable pop-up series-control auto flash
Flash Control N/A N/A
Flash Modes Flash Off, Flash Auto, Flash On, Slow Sync., Slow Sync. + Red-Eye, Red-Eye Reduction Auto, Flash Off, Flash On, Auto + Red-Eye, On + Red-Eye, Slow-Sync, Slow-Sync + Red-Eye
External Flash Interface N/A N/A
White Balance Modes AWB, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Fluorescent CWF, Incandescent, Manual WB, Color Temp (1900K, 3000K, 3500K, 5500K, 7000K, 9000K, 10000K) Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent (D, N, W), Manual
Movie Recording Full HD: 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps
HD: 1280 x 720 at 60/30 fps
VGA: 640 x 480 at 120/30 fps
Full HD: 1920 x 1080 at 30 fps
HD: 1280 x 720 at 60/30 fps
VGA: 640 x 480 at 30 fps
Movie Metering TTL TTL
Movie File Format MOV Motion JPEG
Compression AVC/H.264 Not specified by manufacturer
Audio Recording Built-in stereo microphone Built-in monaural micophone
Audio File Format Linear PCM WAV (PCM)
External Microphone Input No No
Headphone Jack No No
Maximum Recording Time 25 min. Not specified by manufacturer
Monitor 3.0" 460k-dot 3.0" 460k-dot, tilting (90° upward, 60° downward)
Interface USB 2.0, PC/AV Out, HDMI micro (type D), DC input terminal USB 2.0, PC/AV Out, HDMI micro (type D), DC input terminal
Wi-Fi No No
Power Source LB-060 rechargeable lithium-ion battery 4x AA batteries
Battery Life Approx. 240 images per charge Approx. 330 images with alkaline batteries, 550 with NiMH, 800 with lithium-ion
Operating Environment 32-104°F / 0-40°C 32-104°F / 0-40°C
Dimensions 4.7 x 3.5 x 3.8" / 119.4 x 88.9 x 96.5mm 4.7 x 3.4 x 4.2" / 119.4 x 86.4 x 106.7mm
Weight 1.25 lb / 567 g 1.3 lb / 598.2 g