Ricoh has unveiled what it claims is a digital version of its popular GR film compact camera series in response, it says, to demands from ?loyal GR-series customers?.

Due out in October the GR Digital will cost a penny under £400.

Aimed at professionals and enthusiasts the 8.1MP (effective resolution) model boasts an f/2.4 fixed focal length lens designed to deliver the 35mm viewing angle equivalent of a 28mm optic.

The newly developed six-element in-five-group GR lens ? which retracts into the camera body – features two aspheric elements and one special low dispersion element to help reduce image distortion. Macro focusing is possible down to 1.5cm, claims Ricoh.

An optional wide converter will be available to deliver a 21mm focal length (in 35mm film camera terms).

Also featured is exposure compensation, autobracketing, white balance bracketing, manual exposure and manual focus modes.

Photographers can shoot in JPEG or RAW (Adobe DNG RAW image file format).

Equivalent ISO sensitivity ranges from ISO 64 to ISO 1600.

Housed in a magnesium-alloy body measuring 107x25x58mm key features also include a built-in pop-up flash and a 2.5? LCD screen (210,000 pixel resolution) boasting a field of view of ?100%?.

An optical viewfinder – which fits onto the camera?s hotshoe – will be available as an optional extra.

The camera uses a new ?GR Engine? image processing system designed to deliver ?rich, fine gradations?.

Boasting a top shutter speed of 1/2000sec the GR Digital includes 26MB of on-board memory and weighs 170g (not including battery or SD memory card).

A timer allows shooting at intervals ranging from five seconds up to three hours. Also featured is a 4x digital zoom.

The camera can be powered by a rechargeable battery or two AAA batteries.

Optional accessories will include an external flash, cable release, hood and filters. Ricoh launched its first GR series film camera, the GR1, in October 1996, spawning a family which has included the GR1s, GR21 and GR1V. The GR1?s loyal fans include professional photographers many of whom are known to carry it with them as a spare camera in their gadget bags.

Price and availability of optional accessories have yet to be confirmed.

For details call Ricoh UK on 020 8261 4031.