Despite its meagre share of the digital camera market, Ricoh has always been one of the great innovators in the industry. When every other major camera manufacturer is content to push out carbon-copy ranges of almost identical cameras, Ricoh is not afraid to try something different. Its range of cameras may be small compared to the likes of Canon, Sony or Fujifilm, but with superb models like the Caplio R7, GR Digital, GR Digital II and GX8 it offers more versatility and quality than most other manufacturers do with five times the number of models.
Today's camera is another unique concept. The GX100 is officially the replacement for the GX8, but it is not only totally different from that camera, it is also totally unlike anything else on the market. With the GX100, Ricoh has set out to combine the quality, performance and versatility of a high-end semi-pro camera with the convenience and portability of a pocket compact. The result is a camera with a unique 24-75mm-equivalent zoom lens, a 10.1-megapixel 1/1.75-inch sensor with CCD-shift image stabilisation, manual exposure options, RAW capture mode, external flash hot-shoe, 2.5-inch 230k monitor, all-metal body and a unique add-on electronic viewfinder with tilting eyepiece, which clips on to the hot-shoe. That's three uses of the word "unique" in one paragraph, which is a lot for one camera.
Being so unique, it's hard to compare the GX100 to anything else. True semi-pro compact cameras are a rarity anyway, and the only real comparison is Canon's PowerShot G9. It shares at least some of the features, including manual exposure, RAW capture, flash hot-shoe and larger sensor. They are also comparable on price. The G9 is currently selling for around £312, almost to the penny the same price as the GX100. That's where the similarities end however, because where the Canon is a large camera that you hang around your neck, the GX100 really is small and light enough to carry in a pocket. It measures 112 x 58 x 25mm and weighs approximately 250g with the Li-ion rechargeable battery.