The latest in a line of austere-looking Ricoh digital models reworking the firm's much-respected Ricoh GR Digital III film camera - itself often used as backup for an SLR - the GR Digital III marries a high-quality 10Mp sensor to a new processor and a wide-angle lens.

The Ricoh GR Digital III shows off its digital SLR substitute credentials by being made of the same stuff: the shock-resistant magnesium-alloy body has rubber padding at the front and back, enabling an impressively firm one-handed grip. It even has a digital SLR-style command dial at its top.

Despite the Ricoh GR Digital III's relatively slender dimensions, Ricoh has managed to include a flash and a hotshoe to attach a top-mounted flashgun for more professional results.

There's little that's automatic about the Ricoh GR Digital III: it's an almost entirely manually operated camera with a retractable 28mm lens that's suitable for landscapes and group portraits rather than as a general-purpose zoom. The fact that the lens doesn't move also changes the way that you shoot Jpeg or RAW files, forcing you to step forwards or backwards to achieve the desired framing and calling for a more considered approach to photography.

While there's no optical viewfinder, the Ricoh GR Digital III's 3in LCD screen provides an almost life-like clarity - at least indoors. Turn the responsive Ricoh on its side when reviewing images and the display flips through 90 degrees, just like Sony's Alpha digital SLRs. However, it doesn't quite match semi-pro digital SLRs in terms of light sensitivity, which tops out at a pedestrian ISO 1,600.

The Ricoh GR Digital III's image quality broadly impresses, with barrel distortion kept under control even at maximum wide angle. Any instances of pixel fringing are so subtle as to be ignored. The GR Digital III is therefore a sensible choice for those in the market for a digital SLR-style compact camera, and who care about image quality above all other considerations - including cost.

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Ricoh GR Digital III: Specs

  • 10Mp, 1/1.7-inch CCD
  • f=6.0mm (equivalent to 28mm for 35mm film cameras)
  • F1.9 – F9
  • 4x Digital Zoom, 5.7x Auto Resize Zoom
  • ISO: AUTO, AUTO-HI, ISO64/100/200/400/800/1600
  • built-in flash
  • 3in Transparent LCD 920,000 dots
  • SD memory card, SDHC memory card, Internal memory 88MB
  • JPEG, RAW, AVI
  • USB 2.0 (High-Speed USB) Mini-B, Audio Out 1.0Vp-p
  • NTSC, PAL switchable
  • DB-65 (3.7V) x1, AAA Dry Alkaline Battery x2, AAA Nickel-Metal Hydride Battery x 2, AC adapter (AC-4c option) 3.8V
  • 108.6x59.8x25.5mm
  • 10Mp, 1/1.7-inch CCD
  • f=6.0mm (equivalent to 28mm for 35mm film cameras)
  • F1.9 – F9
  • 4x Digital Zoom, 5.7x Auto Resize Zoom
  • ISO: AUTO, AUTO-HI, ISO64/100/200/400/800/1600
  • built-in flash
  • 3in Transparent LCD 920,000 dots
  • SD memory card, SDHC memory card, Internal memory 88MB
  • JPEG, RAW, AVI
  • USB 2.0 (High-Speed USB) Mini-B, Audio Out 1.0Vp-p
  • NTSC, PAL switchable
  • DB-65 (3.7V) x1, AAA Dry Alkaline Battery x2, AAA Nickel-Metal Hydride Battery x 2, AC adapter (AC-4c option) 3.8V
  • 108.6x59.8x25.5mm

OUR VERDICT

The Ricoh GR Digital III is sturdy enough build to withstand everyday knocks, boasts an impressive lens and a speedy image processor. We like that its unusual and useful spirit-level feature ensures straight horizons. The Ricoh GR Digital III suffers from uninspiring design, however, and its fixed lens limits flexibility and requires care when composing images.

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