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Ricoh WG-M1 storms into the action cam market

If you’re the adventurous type and like to keep a track of your exploits you’ll know that regular digital cameras and smartphones don’t quite cut the mustard. Enter the action cam – an ultra-ruggedized alternative that’s guaranteed to stand up to the hardiest of punishments, and enter Ricoh with the WG-M1, the latest to hit the market.

At first glance this is a fairly chunky device, and a far cry from sleeker models doing the rounds in terms of design. It’s waterproof to 10 meters, shock-resistant against falls from two meters and resistant to temperatures as low as -10°, so should certainly tick most of the boxes. Part of the benefit of the size is an ability to offer an ultra-wide angle lens that can take still shots at 14 effective megapixels or full HD movie clips, and it offers continuous shooting at speeds of approximately 10 images per second. All of this can be previewed on a 1.5” colour LCD or through a wireless connection on a smartphone or tablet, which also allow you to take pictures or view live video from afar, and there’s a whole bunch of optional accessories depending on where you want to mount it.

Clearly aimed at stealing some market share from GoPro’s impressive series of rugged snappers it’s nice to see Ricoh coming up with something that certainly looks the business, but looks, as they say, can be deceiving. It’s a bit early for reviews, but a few people have had a look at some early models, so let’s see what they had to say.

1ClickNews does have some issues with the design, but thankfully they’re not too damaging: “Holding it in the hand is an odd experience, thanks to the fact that the 1.5-inch LCD display is embedded in the “top” of the unit, so holding it requires a claw-like grip.” It goes on to state that since it’s not supposed to be used as a handheld camera, this shouldn’t be a problem, and also notes the impressive viewing range given by the wide angle lens “the field-of-view while taking video is an impressive 137 degrees, although that’ll increase to 160 degrees for stills.”

Camcorders Reviewed goes on to explain a little about the shooting modes and formats available:

“Different crop modes will let you treat the camera as if it had different focal lengths built-in—even though it only really has one. There are a few different video formats at the camera’s disposal, with 1080/30p as its highest quality recording mode. You can also get 60fps if you’re willing to go for 720p clips, and there’s a slow-mo 120fps mode at a resolution of 848×480.”

It was also impressed by the range of different mounts available, which include a grip adapter that makes it handle a bit like a gun, adhesive mounts for snowboards and helmets and a handlebar mount for a bike. It concludes by saying that Ricoh has produced a genuine alternative to GoPro’s veritable monopoly with a product that shows a lot of promise.

Popphoto seems to agree, and is impressed by the fact that it has avoided the mistake others have made by imitating the GoPro designs too closely. Digging into the look and feel it is impressed by the deceptively light weight and small size:

“Overall, it’s roughly the same size as a GoPro 3 in its waterproof housing, but a little bigger. The lens also sticks out past the body. From the original pictures, the fact that it has a built-in screen can make it seem bigger than it actually is. It was also actually a little lighter than I expected it to be in my hand.”

The controls are also well situated, making it easy enough to use whether in the hand or mounted, and though the screen feels small, it’s at least a handy option to have, and of course the smartphone option is a genuine alternative in certain environments.

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The WG-M1 is available in black or orange and retails for £199.99, with a release date to be confirmed. Expect to spend a fair bit more accessorising with some of the optional mounts though.