The R7's overall performance is also little changed from its predecessor. It starts up in a little over two seconds, which is pretty brisk, and shuts down again in under two seconds. The AF system is also very quick in good light, focusing in a fraction regardless of range and zoom setting. In lower light it slows down noticeably, but its low-light focusing is very reliable, and with the bright AF assist lamp it has no trouble focusing in the dark at a range of several metres. As with the R6, shooting speed is extremely impressive. In single-shot mode it can shoot over a frame a second, and in continuous mode it can manage two frames a second at full resolution and keep it up until the memory card is full. The R7 is powered by a 1000mAh Li-ion rechargeable battery, larger than the one in the R6. I couldn't find any specific claim about battery duration, but I shot over 150 photos and the charge meter was still reading full.
The only negative point about the R7's performance, and one which may put some people off, is how noisy it is. I'm not talking about image noise here, but the actual mechanical noise of the camera's operation. Power-up, zooming and focusing are all accompanied by loud whirring sounds as the motors and cogs inside the camera spin. It is far louder than any comparable compact, and it makes the camera sound a bit clunky and primitive, when nothing could be farther from the truth.
With the higher resolution sensor and new processing engine, image quality is also improved over the already impressive R6. The 256-segment metering provides very accurate exposures, although where it reached the limits of its dynamic range I found it tended to burn out highlights in order to keep shadow detail. Default colour rendition is also a little more highly saturated than is usually the case, but a quick adjustment in the menu provided a more naturalistic tone. The overall level of detail is very good, although no better than I would expect from an 8MP camera, but once again it is the lens that is the stand-out feature, providing excellent corner-to-corner sharpness and detail across the focal length range, with virtually no barrel distortion at all at wide angle, and only the tiniest hint of chromatic aberration in the corners of the frame. Noise control at higher ISO settings is also excellent, with usable images right up to 800 ISO.
Once again Ricoh demonstrates that in terms of technical ability and value for money, its cameras are among the best on the market. The Caplio R7 is an outstandingly versatile pocket compact with an unmatched list of features. It is stylish, well made, has blindingly fast performance and excellent picture quality, at a price that beats its few competitors. If it doesn't sell like hot cakes this Christmas then Ricoh needs to fire its advertising agency.