Ricoh announces new high-spec compact

New GX100 features 24-72mm wide zoom and RAW mode

I’ve always had a soft spot for Ricoh. In a digital camera market flooded with almost identical “me too” clone cameras, it is one of the few companies not afraid to try something different. By way of an example, Ricoh has just announced the forthcoming launch of a new high-end compact camera, the 10.1-megapixel Caplio GX100.

Launched as a successor to the excellent but aging Caplio GX8, the new model has a number of unique features squeezed into its slim 25mm-thick body.

The most obvious is its ultra-wide-angle zoom lens, which has a focal length equivalent to 24 – 72mm on a 35mm camera, making it ideal for landscape and travel photography, as well as snapping large groups of people without having to stand half a mile away. The new lens is nice and fast too, with a maximum aperture of f/2.4 – f/4.4. If 24mm isn’t wide enough for you, it can be expanded to 19mm with an optional add-on adaptor that fits onto a bayonet mount on the lens bezel.

The GX100 is also the first camera to feature a removable electronic viewfinder, an add-on gadget that fits onto the camera’s flash hot-shoe. Since no pictures of it were available, I’ll stick my neck out here and presume that this is a device rather like the removable optical viewfinder available for the GR Digital, a camera which shares a number of similarities with the new model. This electronic finder will be available as an optional extra as part of the “Caplio GX100 VF kit”.

The GX100 is also Ricoh’s third new model to feature its proprietary CCD-shift image stabilisation system, last seen in the Caplio R5.

Other features include the new “Smooth Imaging Engine II” image processor which Ricoh promises will provide low noise and high image quality, an SLR-style control system with two data input dials, a 2.5-inch 230,000 LCD panel with a 170-degree view angle, a 1cm macro mode and more importantly the ability to shoot in RAW mode as well as RAW + JPEG, a feature which will appeal to serious photographers. Power is supplied by the same 1150mAh DB-60 Li-ion battery as the GR Digital, with the ability to use 2x AAA batteries as an emergency backup.

The GX100 with electronic viewfinder included will be available at the end of April 2007 at a recommended price of £399.99 inc Vat.

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