A new camera from Ricoh is always a bit of an event. While most other manufacturers launch half a dozen new cameras at once, Ricoh tends to increase its small but specialised range by one model at a time. The last Ricoh camera I reviewed here was the unusual Caplio GX100 in February, but a more relevant comparison for today's camera is the outstanding Caplio R7 which I reviewed in October last year, not long after its launch. Today I'm taking a look at its successor, the new Ricoh R8 (they've dropped the Caplio name this time).
The R8 was launched at the end of February, and has already stirred up an unusual amount of interest among the photographic press. Looking at the R8 this isn't too surprising, because it's certainly an eye-catching camera and has an outstanding specification. Although in terms of features and specification it is only an incremental upgrade of the R7, with the same 28-200mm-equivalent zoom lens but now featuring a 10-megapixel sensor, it has a completely new body with a very distinctive style. Ricoh has taken a page out of Samsung and Panasonic's book and gone for a sort of future-retro look for the R8, with a very angular and boxy body that you'll either love or hate. Unusually for an upgrade model it is quite a lot larger and heavier than its predecessor, measuring 102 x 58 x 26 mm and weighing a substantial 168g, compared to the R7's virtually ultra-compact 99.6 x 55 x 23.3mm and 135g.
Ricoh used to have the long-zoom compact field pretty much to itself, but these days it faces some pretty fierce competition from the likes of the Panasonic TZ3 (£151) and the Canon SX100 IS (£229), both of which are close matches for the specification of the R7 (£150). However the new R8 is currently priced at around £250, which is a lot of money for a compact camera, even one with 10 megapixels and a 7.1x zoom. That price will undoubtedly come down over the next few months, but in the meantime the R8 has only its design and specification to its advantage.