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Ricoh RDC-5300 vintage digital camera

This post reviews and describes the RDC-5300 vintage digital compact camera, a 2.3 Mp offering with a 3x optical zoom lens, which was made by Ricoh early in 2000.

RDC-5300 Images

My RDC-5300 Camera

I bought this camera from eBay several years ago now along with a Ricoh RDC-7 and a Ricoh RDC-4200 camera as a bundle, although I can’t now remember what I paid for them.

The RDC1-5300 was the newest camera in the bundle and also the camera with the most conventional design. It has had a bit of a hard life however, because there are a few bumps and dents in the case.

Ricoh RDC-5300 vintage digital camera 11
‘Spare’ written on front

I suspect the camera has been used in an industrial setting because the word ‘spare’ is written faintly on the front panel of the camera. It’s written in pencil and has almost completely disappeared, but can just be seen. This suggests it was part of a group of cameras which were assigned to different people in a workforce. This would actually be in keeping with Ricoh’s intended audience; they made a lot of cameras for industrial use, like the G600 ruggedised unit which I think was made for the fire service.

Other than the few bashes to the case the camera was in pretty good condition and worked well when I received it but it has developed a small issue in the intervening couple of years. When the camera is turned on, one of its first actions is to extend the lens and this has started to fail occasionally. I think what has happened is there is a small particle of grit in the gears which control the lens, and this is stopping it from moving. It doesn’t happen every time, and when it does I can get it going again by gently ‘helping’ the lens extract by pulling it, but it’s annoying all the same.

RDC-5300 Description

In my comments above I mentioned that the RDC-5300 was probably aimed at industrial use, and some aspects of the design of the camera also bear this out. For example, the back panel LCD has a protective cover which slides over the screen when the camera is turned off, and pulls away as the on/off slider is moved to the on position. This suggests perhaps the camera is intended to be used in dusty conditions.

The RDC-5300 is also pretty solidly made; although the case is hard plastic, the unit is quite weighty and feels substantial as though it’s made to take knocks.

Ricoh RDC-5300 vintage digital camera 12
Rear panel layout

The layout of the camera is pretty conventional; There is an LCD panel on the back with control buttons beneath, a zoom rocker switch in the top right hand corner of the back panel, a mode dial on the top above the rocker and a series of buttons with a small LCD set into the top panel of the camera.

In the near centre of the top ot the camera is an optical viewfinder, with autofocus and flash indicator LEDs. The shutter release button is on the top of the camera next to the small LCD.

I mentioned above that the camera is autofocus, and on the example I have (which I assume is typical) the autofocus performance is actually pretty decent bearing in mind the age of the camera. It will normally snap into focus within a second or two, although it makes quite a noise doing it2.

There is also the option to manually focus, but as is typical of compact cameras with a limited number of buttons, you would only use this if there was really no alternative because the zoom buttons double as focus buttons and it’s quite a complex operation to zoom and focus using the same buttons.

The menu system, available from a button with that name on the back of the camera, is typically full featured as most Ricoh units are. There are options to set exposure compensation, white balance, imprint the date on the photo and set an interval for automatic timed exposures.

Normally I would take a few sample shots with the camera and include, but at the point I was going to do that the RDC-5300 decided that it really would stop working and the lens extraction problem became (semi) permanent. If I get it to start working again I’ll amend this post accordingly.

Ricoh RDC-5300 Specification

  • Ricoh RDC-5300 Compact digital camera.
  • 2.3 Mp sensor
  • Shutter 1 sec to 1/500 sec
  • 3 times optical zoom
  • Auto focus from 1.6 inch to infinity
  • Auto exposure with centre weighted metering
  • Optical viewfinder which zooms with the lens
  • 8 to 24mm f/3.2 – f/3.7 Ricoh lens (38 to 114 equivalent in 35mm film)
  • 3.3v Smart Media card for recording + internal Memory
  • 1.8 inch TFT LCD monitor on back panel with protective screen
  • Powered by 4 AA cells + external source
  • Proprietary serial connector for connecting to PC
  • Serial No: 162071
  • User manual available online here


I’m a software developer by profession but I’ve been taking pictures since I was about 8 years old. In that time I’ve owned cameras of all types and sizes from 120 roll film thro’ 35mm to my current Pentax K-5, Ricoh GXR + P10/S10/A12 28mm/A12 50mm, Canon S95 and recently acquired Sony NEX 6.

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