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Ricoh’s rugged WG-70 is all about the underwater macros

Ricoh has just announced the launch of its newest underwater digital compact camera in the WG-70. Like its predecessor, the WG-60, the latest rugged shooter has dedicated shooting modes for underwater photography.

The WG-70 is almost identical in design to the older cameras in this line, and even shares the same 16MP 1/2.3-inch backside-illuminated CMOS sensor as the WG-60. The sensor has a maximum sensitivity of ISO 6400 and offers a 9-point autofocus (AF) system, with spot AF and auto tracking available on board.

And, as before, its tough credentials are nothing to scoff at – it's waterproof down to 14m (46ft) and shockproof from drops of up to 1.6m (or 5ft). Take it to ghastly cold environs and the WG-70 will survive temperatures down to -10°C/14°F.

The lens has a 28-140mm (35mm equivalent) focal length range with apertures of f/3.5 to f/5.5. Alongside this 5x optical zoom, an additional 7.5x is available when using the Intelligent Zoom mode, although this limits image resolution to 7MP. While the camera has been designed for stills, it can take 1080p (Full HD) video as well, with a "triple anti-shake protection" feature to prevent blurry images for stills and video. 

Getting up close and personal

However, the headline feature would be the new built-in 'digital microscope' mode. This feature works in tandem with the six LED macro lights dotted around the front of the lens (like in the WG-60), allowing users to get a magnified view of tiny underwater critters – a great addition if you're keen on underwater macro photography, particularly since the lens can focus on things as close as 1cm away.

All composing and reviewing will be done on the 2.7-inch LCD display that Ricoh promises is "outdoor friendly" thanks to an anti-reflective coating.

A dedicated underwater shooting mode compensates for light and color shifts that occur due to the refraction of light through water, while a JIS (Japanese Industrial Standard) Class 8 waterproof classification means you can keep it "continuously immersed" in water. It's also got dustproofing that's Class 6, which is the highest ranking there is and means the camera is completely "dust tight".

The WG-70 will begin shipping mid-March with a price tag of $280 in the US. That translates to about £215 in the UK. The camera, sadly, will only be available in limited markets – outside of Japan, it will be available in the US and in some major European countries. It will not be officially available in Australia and Asia.

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