As with previous Ricoh Caplio models, the initial impression is very favourable. The body is all metal, with excellent built quality and good fit and finish to the controls and hatch. It's not a flashy-looking camera, but it does have a distinctive style that is instantly recognisable. For some reason, possibly the relative size of the lens mounting, the R7 looks at first glance to be somewhat bigger than it actually is. Sitting it on my desk next to a couple of Pentax and Casio ultra-compacts reveals the R7 to be surprisingly small, within a few millimetres of the Optio M40. It's a little thicker at 23.3mm, but it will still slip unobtrusively into any pocket or handbag.
As well as the new sensor, the R7 has a couple of other new features too. The first is the new Smooth Imaging Engine III, the camera's image processor, the output of which we'll discuss in a moment. Externally the main new feature is the ADJ control, a small four-way joystick-like control separate from the main D-pad. This allows quick on-screen adjustment of up to four user-selectable parameters, with exposure compensation, ISO setting and white balance as the defaults, although image quality, focusing and metering modes, sharpness, contrast or bracketing can be substituted via the main menu. It is an extremely effective system, and much simpler than the multiple function menus favoured by other manufacturers.
There are a couple of new features available in playback mode as well. Contrast and colour tone can be adjusted after the shot has been taken, and a skew-correction feature automatically corrects images of pages of text, whiteboards or other rectangular objects to make the sides parallel.
Apart from these additions, the R7 retains all of the features of the R6, including eleven scene modes with face detection in portrait mode, two user-defined shooting modes, and a 30fps VGA movie mode, although like the R6 the zoom lens cannot be used while filming. It also has the same Ricoh-designed moving-sensor image stabilisation system.