Ricoh has today announced its latest digital compact, the GR Digital III, boasting improvements over its predecessor including a ‘fast’ 28mm [35mm viewing angle equivalent] f/1.9 lens.

Out next month, priced around £530, features also include a new 10-million-pixel CCD imaging sensor and an image processing engine called GR Engine III, designed to reduce noise ‘without loss of resolution or saturation’.

Also key to the new camera is the ability to set a fixed focusing distance. This feature enables ‘zero’ shutter lag – ideal for ‘candid’ photography when fast reactions are required, explained Kazunobu Saiki, Ricoh’s European general manager for Personal MultiMedia.

In an interview with AP, Saiki also confirmed that, this autumn, Ricoh plans to launch an external TTL flash unit (codenamed GF-1).

Back to the camera, Ricoh says that continuous shooting of five, raw format, frames per second is possible, adding that this ‘rivals popular SLRs’.

The Raw file write speed is ‘2.6sec or less’, according to Ricoh, faster than the 3.8sec speed on the GR Digital II.

The camera also adds a ‘vivid’ setting and the ability to customise colour parameters.

‘For each colour (orange, green, sky blue, red and magenta), hue and saturation can be set at five levels,’ said the firm.

‘This enables you to change to the desired colouration; for example a stronger blue to give a more brilliant sky or flower colour tones with a little less magenta.’

A new floating mechanism in the 28mm lens aims to improve macro image quality (closest focusing is 1cm, says Ricoh).

And a new multi-pattern auto white balance system segregates light and dark areas of the image to ‘optimise’ the white balance setting for each area, instead of using an average setting for the whole image.

Shutter speed priority has also been added, as has a 3in LCD screen carrying a resolution of 920,000 dots.

New to the GR range is Ricoh’s dynamic range double shot function. This enables the user to expand the range to 12EV, to help reduce under or over exposure.

The number of My Settings modes has been increased from two to three, and this coupled with the addition of a ‘My Settings Box’ should enable greater customisation.

To coincide with the launch of the GR Digital III (in mid to late August), Ricoh will launch a new ’21mm’ wide conversion lens, the GW-2, at a price yet to be announced.

Ricoh GR Digital III image