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Although the Ricoh WG-80’s sturdy construction allows it withstand drops, submersion, and freezing conditions, the camera is difficult to market due to its unimpressive picture and video quality as well as an antiquated display.
The portable Ricoh WG-80 camera ($329.95) can operate underwater at depths of up to 46 feet and is made for harsh handling. Although it is far more robust than a smartphone, the camera is tough to recommend for adventure photographers due to its average image quality, outmoded 1080p video, and a display with poor viewing angles.
While the GoPro Hero10 Black ($399.99) is our top choice for video, the tough Olympus Tough TG-6 ($499.99) retains our Editors’ Choice award for photos.
Ricoh WG-80 Design
The WG-80 has a sporty, bold design. The bright metallic faceplate catches the sun and contrasts against the tough rubberized body. The orange variant we tested is quite flashy, though you can also opt for an all-black version.
The design is standard fare for compact cameras. At 2.4 by 4.8 by 1.2 inches (HWD) and 6.8 ounces, the WG-80 is easy to grab and slides into most pockets. Its zoom lens moves internally, so its footprint doesn’t increase when you turn the camera on or zoom in.
We drop-tested and dunked the WG-80 in the sink, but didn’t have the opportunity to take it out for any underwater imaging. The camera can survive at depths of up to 46 feet, withstand up to 220lb-ft of pressure, work at temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and shake off drops from heights of up to 5.2 feet.
The zoom lens sets the WG-80 apart from wide-angle action cams and smartphones. It covers a 5x range (28-140mm) and focuses close for macro shots. A set of six LED lights surround the lens and help cast light on close-up subjects in shadows. You also get a xenon flash for regular snapshots.
We’re happy to see all these flash options because the lens has a dim F3.5-5.5 f-stop. It can’t compete with the Olympus TG-6’s F2.0-4.9 zoom and is years behind a flagship smartphone with a night shot function in low-light situations. That said, the WG-80’s lights are still sufficient for exposing dark areas during a home inspection or for contracting work.
The macro lights, however, are not strong enough to make a real difference on sunny days. If you’re looking to the macro lights as a way to compensate for any shadow the camera casts on your subject in an otherwise bright scene, these won’t help. For that kind of work, the Olympus TG-6 and its $50 FD-1 ring-light add-on net better results.
Ricoh WG-80 Controls and User Interface
The WG-80 is made for automatic operation, so photographers seeking hands-on, manual controls should look elsewhere. The capture modes are built around scene profiles; you can select different options for landscapes, macros, underwater shots, fireworks, food photos, and more.
A fully Automatic mode is available, as is a Program mode that gives you some control over exposure via the EV compensation function. For the latter, an easy plus/minus adjustment brightens or darkens a picture. The EV function is buried in a menu by default, but you can configure the green button to launch an on-screen menu for quicker access. It adds some flexibility to the controls—you can map up to four functions of your choosing.
Otherwise, the buttons cover the basics. The shutter release and power button are up top. The W/T zoom rocker, as well as the buttons to set the self-timer, flash, macro focus, and mode are on the rear. Menu, playback, delete, and video buttons round out the controls. On-screen menus are intuitive and sensible. Pressing the flash button, for instance, lets you set the camera flash to automatic, make it always fire, make it never fire, and toggle the macro lights.
The 2.7-inch rear display is your only viewfinder and, unfortunately, it’s really subpar. Although adequately bright for most outdoor scenarios, glare is a issue if the sun hits it directly. The screen’s color fidelity and contrast fall off a cliff when you try to view it from an off-kilter angle.
Resolution is an underwhelming 230k dots, much lower than what we’d expect from a quality camera. Brightness is pretty decent, despite the issues with glare. Ricoh includes a sunny day option that ups the exposure of your preview but doesn’t otherwise pump up the screen brightness.
Ricoh WG-80 Power and Connectivity
The WG-80 is a waterproof camera, so it’s light on physical connections. A locking side door covers the micro USB and micro HDMI ports, while the battery and UHS-I SDXC memory card slots are accessible on the bottom.
The rechargeable D-L192 battery should be good for about 300 photos. I used the camera on and off over a few weeks and didn’t deplete the battery, which is a good sign. It also supports on-the-go charging via USB, but we’re disappointed to see the out-of-date micro USB type instead of USB-C.
Curiously, the WG-80 omits any type of wireless connectivity. It’s a head-scratching choice because on-the-go image transfer via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi has been standard on cameras for years.
Ricoh WG-80 Autofocus and Imaging
The WG-80 uses a very basic, but competent, autofocus system. The camera supports three autofocus zones, the largest of which covers about half of the image area at the center. Face detection (for people) is an option, too.
The two smaller focus zones are handy for macro and detail work. Focus is quick enough in bright light, but slows down in low-light situations. The WG-80 isn’t a dim light maven, though, and an orange assist beam adds some brightness to help the contrast-based focus system find its target in these conditions.
The zoom lens covers a 5x range, starting at a moderately wide 28mm angle and zooming in to a short telephoto 140mm. This range is good for day-to-day photography and potentially sufficient for some wildlife shots if you can get close enough to your subject.
I tested the lens resolution using Imatest(Opens in a new window) and it shows strong contrast (2,200 lines), an excellent result for a small-sensor 16MP camera. The lens’ folded optics are prone to flare, though, so you should be careful about photographing into the sun. It shows significant flare and ghosting when a strong backlight is present in the frame.
The WG-80 supports JPG photos only and its 1/2.3-inch image sensor uses a basic CMOS architecture. Ricoh reserves its newer 20MP BSI CMOS chip for the pricier WG-6(Opens in a new window). Photo quality and detail are both good at the lower ISO settings the camera uses in bright light.
Contrast drops off starting at ISO 800, and textures take on a waxy, noise-reduction look when you push the sensor past ISO 1600. For work in dim environments, you should turn to the flash or macro lights. And, if you don’t need a rugged camera, many smartphone sensors are more capable.
Dynamic range is another area where smartphones edge out the WG-80: The camera’s standard mode has a tough time capturing scenes with both bright light and shadows. You often have to pick between clipped highlights and very dark shadows.
To help out in these situations, the WG-80 offers an HDR mode that snaps three photos in rapid succession and blends them in-camera. It effectively evens out exposure across a scene but doesn’t deliver nearly as pleasing exposures as an iPhone 13 in our tests.
Ricoh WG-80 Review Verdict
Price-wise, the Ricoh WG-6 has a suggested retail price of $399.95. (though it sometimes sells for less). Although it has a comparable lens, an upgraded BSI CMOS sensor, and supports 4K video, we haven’t reviewed it. On paper, it seems like a better value for your money, but we hope to look at it shortly.
The WG-6 does a better job of justifying its pricing than the WG-80, which feels more like a cheap camera that would have sold for around $200 a few years ago (before market constriction, COVID-19, and the continuously growing cost of goods messed things up).
The Olympus Tough TG-6 is the all-around most robust compact we’ve tested if you have extra cash to invest. For better underwater and low-light shots, it is a little bit more adaptable, captures a broader field of vision, and lets in more light. The GoPro Hero10 Black is the greatest action camera you can buy if you’re more into video and don’t care about macro images, however the Hero8 Black is still on sale as a less expensive option.