Ricoh is updating its rugged action camera line with the new WG-M2. It's 40 percent lighter and smaller than the WG-M1, and it shoots 4K video at an absurdly wide 204-degree field of view. You can drop it, freeze it, and knock it around all without using a case. Ricoh will start selling the new camera in April for $299.
There's a good chance you didn't know that Ricoh even made action cameras because, until now, the company didn't offer the specs or image quality that most action camera users are always looking for. That could change with the WG-M2. It shoots 4K video at 30 frames per second, 1080p at 60 frames per second, and 720p at 120 frames per second, all at a bitrate of 100Mbps. It also shoots 8-megapixel stills. That's on par with mid-range action cameras like the Sony AS50 or GoPro's Hero 4 Silver and Hero 4 Session.
With respectable specs, the camera's other features start to look a bit more attractive. It's waterproof to 65 feet (about 20 meters), can withstand temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius, and will survive drops from about seven feet. There's a 1.5-inch LCD screen on the top for framing up shots, too. The curious bit is the field of view — the WG-M2 defaults to shooting at 204 degrees, which is far wider than the 170-degree FOV offered by GoPro. One benefit is that there's an option to shoot at a more narrow field of view, which allows the camera to digitally stabilize the image.
GoPro and Sony have a stranglehold on the high end of the action camera market, so their competitors have spent the last year or so trying to differentiate themselves by catering to different types of users. Garmin's VIRB is focused on overlaying data and telemetry on your videos, the TomTom Bandit edits your footage for you, and Nikon (and now, Samsung) are trying to beat GoPro and Sony to 360-degree video. Now that the specs are competitive, Ricoh's ruggedization will probably please a certain section of consumers, and that might be all it ever needs to do.