Gear Review: Ricoh WG-M1 Action Cam

By on July 1, 2015

In the world of action cams, it would appear that GoPro pretty much rules the roost. There is no doubt that GoPro is the most prevalent, with the most model-specific accessories. But the fact is, there are also many other very viable alternatives to GoPro. One that I’ve had the opportunity to test in the real world is the Ricoh WG-M1.

Ricoh hit the market with the WG-M1 slightly less than a year ago, with an entry price of around $300 MSRP. Initial reviews were pretty ambivalent, saying the price wasn’t justified by the features. But right now, this capable little cam carries a street price of $150 which, in my opinion, really changes things. And, good news: here it is even cheaper!

These are a few of the nice features of the WG-M1:

  • Rugged waterproof/shockproof form factor with no extra housing needed
  • Built-in color LCD display
  • Adjustable field of view
  • Universal tripod mount
  • f2.8 Lens
  • Wi-fi connectivity
  • User-accessible battery
WG-M1 On Chest Harness

WG-M1 On Chest Harness

The thing you notice most about it is the very unique layout. The basic shape sort of resembles a Contour that’s been flattened in the middle. So the shooting position is similar to the “tubular” cams such as the Contour or the iON, but more similar to the Drift or the Garmin VIRB. Cams with these shapes tend to conform to a lower profile for helmet-top shooting, but don’t do quite so well with a chest harness. I have used the WG-M1 with a chestie, though, and with a slight bit of extension added, it tucks in fairly well.

Where I really like using the WG-M1 is mounted to the bow of a kayak. I can see immediately if it’s aimed the way I want, because the display screen is right on top. Once in place, I forget about it, other than clicking back & forth between record and standby mode.

There are four basic angle-of-view settings to choose from: Wide (approx. 137°), Medium, Narrow, and Underwater (approx. 90°). Aspect ratio for stills is selectable between 16:9 and 4:3, and the still photo angle-of-view is 160° at 4:3 aspect ratio.

It has several capture modes: still, up to 14 megapixels; Movie, up to 1080p @30fps, or if you can settle for 720p, 60fps; Time Lapse; Loop, to use it like a dashcam; or Motion Detection, like a gamecam. It has 100mb of internal memory, so if you forget your microSD (up to 32gb), you’re not totally out of luck for shooting.

WG-M1 On Suction Cup Mount

Suction Cup Mount

Of course, for this kind of money, you’re not going to get 4K video, and you also won’t get 60fps at 1080p (unfortunately). One complaint I’ve seen is that every time you turn the power off, the cam reverts back to all the factory default settings, such as aspect ratio, white balance, shooting mode, etc. That hasn’t bothered me (yet), because during the course of an activity, I put it in standby mode when not shooting, so the settings stay put. The menu is user-friendly enough that if you familiarize yourself enough with it, you can whip through the settings each time you shoot without too much fumbling. Video clips are limited to 25 minutes, so you need to keep an eye on running time, so you know to click it back into record mode.

Here's a frame grab from a 1080p clip.

Here’s a frame grab from a 1080p clip.

Another gripe I’ve seen is that there aren’t many accessories for it. (It comes with a basic flat adhesive mount.) But since it uses the standard ¼” tripod mount, any aftermarket tripod mount accessory will work with it. I picked up a very inexpensive (like $5) suction cup mount; and it came with a GoPro adapter, so now I can mount it to any GoPro-specific accessory mount. A generic chest harness I picked up online for around $20 came with an extension piece, so now I have even more options. It comes with a built-in lanyard strap and carabiner, so tethering it is really easy, particularly when mounted to a kayak deck.

Still image using the 14-megapixel camera setting.

Still image using the 14-megapixel camera setting.

The wi-fi feature is fantastic. In addition to having an on-board screen, you can set up live-view through your smartphone wirelessly and control all of the camera’s functions. This is really handy when using it as a helmetcam. You can also use the wi-fi to preview recorded clips on your smartphone screen, although the connection is slow enough that playback tends to be pretty choppy.

Overall, this is one heck of an action cam for the money. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get into making fun videos for under $200.

Here’s a video shot with the WG-M1 bow-mounted on my kayak:

Here’s a video I shot with the WG-M1 handheld:

Michael Henderson

About Michael Henderson

Born and bred in Franklin, Pennsylvania, Mike learned about adventure from an early age. Even before he learned to walk, Mike made trips to the Outer Banks with his family, where he slept under his dad’s cot in a canvas tent along the beach. The adventures continued, to the mountains, the Great Lakes, the Pacific Coast, and everywhere in between. Those trips included backpacking into the Grand Canyon and up Mount Rainier, camping in the Rockies in the snow, and skiing right out the front door at home on old alpine skis with cable bindings. Other family activities including canoeing, water skiing, ice skating, bouldering, body surfing, and fishing.
By the 1980s, Mike’s interests expanded to include windsurfing, inline skating, photography, and eventually mountain biking, geocaching, and kayaking. He currently teaches photography at the Venango College of Clarion University, as well as windsurfing, geocaching, camping skills, and cross-country skiing at various local outdoor workshops. He collaborated and managed what has been considered the world’s largest, longest-running, and most successful geotrail, the Allegheny Geotrail. Some of his paddling exploits include two Ocracoke-to-Portsmouth Island crossings; St. Ignace, Michigan-to-Mackinac Island; and multiple excursions along the entire Pennsylvania shoreline of Lake Erie.

2 Comments

  1. James Brennan

    July 21, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Where did you get the chest harness for the wg 1m. They are not available in europe.

    • Michael Henderson

      Michael Henderson

      October 17, 2016 at 8:25 pm

      Hi James, sorry I didn’t reply sooner! I use a harness that’s designed for the GoPro, I just put the universal tripod adapter on it.

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