Ricoh has tacked an extra three megapixels (Mp) onto the Caplio GX8, the latest in its GX range, but apart from that massive jump in pixel count the camera remains virtually unchanged from its predecessor, the 5Mp Caplio GX.
The GX8 sports the same retro appearance as the GX and like the GX, it features a welcome hotshoe which is often omitted from advanced consumer cameras. The built-in flash is quite powerful, but this can be a problem, as many indoor shots can appear far too washed out because of the intensity. Unfortunately, the camera does not allow users to adjust the brightness of the flash, like other advanced cameras.
The GX8 powers up in less than a second and the continuous shooting mode is very fast: you can take up to 16 pictures in the space of two seconds, but only as JPEGs, not TIFFs.
In single shot mode, the camera takes about 15 seconds to record a non-compressed TIFF file. Although long, this is a welcome feature, as many advanced cameras only save images as compressed JPEG files.
The Caplio is rather clunky and heavy. The latter is because the camera is made of solid plastic casing. It is weighty at 280g, but it does give the appearance of a well-built machine. The controls are fairly easy to use, but it certainly favours people with long fingernails or skinny fingers when activating the buttons on the back of the camera.
The mode dial is easy to spin and it contains the Playback mode, Auto shooting mode, A/M shooting mode, Scene mode, Video, Mic and Setup control. The Scene mode is fairly disappointing if you are a lazy shooter and like settings to be predetermined for you: it only allows you Portrait, Sports, Landscape, Night (tripod needed) and Text.
A great feature is the Interval (time-lapse) shooting. Intervals start at 5sec and can go up to hours between shots. In this mode, the camera shoots an image at the set interval time. Although, for longer-timed shots, you need to be near a power source, as it can drain your battery.
The powerful macro mode locks in on a subject as little as a centimetre away, so you can capture really fine detail. However, the LCD screen is small, dark and not that hot at previewing colours accurately.
The GX8 comes with only 26MB of internal memory and an SD card slot. It offers users the choice of either one Lithium Ion battery, or two AA NiMH rechargeable batteries. The supplied software for transferring photos to a PC isn't incredibly easy to use, either.
At $799, Ricoh has come up with a ground-breaking compact camera that we're sure will have many of you reaching for your chequebooks. It's not pretty or fun, but it's excellent value.
(With Rosemary Haworth.)
Ricoh Caplio GX8
Phone: 1300 363 741