The Ricoh R10 is the latest revision of the series previously known by the Caplio moniker.
This time round, Ricoh's concentrated on fixing what it didn't get right with the R8 rather than adding high technology.
The 28-200mm lens remains the same, for example, as does the camera's 10-megapixel sensor.
Choosing to retain so much of the previous model is a bold move for such a relatively small manufacturer – and while we applaud Ricoh's decision not to bow down to consumer demand, cameras at this price point are all too often sold on their pixel count and extraneous feature set.
One of our concerns with the R8 was the seemingly random order of some menu options, so it's nice to see that the R10 has a far more coherent order to onscreen menus. The screen itself is a little larger and brighter, and the rear of the camera now sports a customisable function button while retaining its striking minimalism.
Inside, a new tilt sensor powers an electronic level for perfectly straight landscapes, while Easy mode makes things as simple as possible, if only by hiding nearly all the camera's options in a bid to make it a true 'point and shoot'.
The indisputable highlight of the R10 is its Macro mode, providing some of the most reliable and accurate close focusing we've seen on a compact camera. When enabled, you can feel the lens physically shift, while the display tells you the minimum focus distance based on the lighting conditions. In all but the dingiest light, this is an impressive 1cm away – though sharpness does drop off considerably towards the edges of the lens.
Face to face
Face detection is one area in which the R10 lags behind the competition considerably – it doesn't seem to detect portraits unless the subject is close to the camera, looking directly at it in good light. Far more useful is the Function button, by default toggling a moveable crosshair in order to meter and focus on certain elements.
Other useful configurations for this button include the setting of the aperture to its f/4.95 minimum or step zoom, offering set standards such as 35mm, 50mm and 105mm.
The unreliable flash was our biggest gripe with previous models and, thankfully, Ricoh seems to have finally nailed this; we couldn't recreate the blue colour cast that dominated the R8's flash-lit shots. It's also added flash exposure compensation – useful whether you simply want to lift shadows outdoors or light an entire room.
Keep the noise down
Sadly, while Ricoh has successfully improved on this and many other functions, it's failed to tackle the sensor's noise issues.
At anything above the lowest ISO 80, noise is depressingly apparent and a comparison between the R10 and R8's images reveals little refinement in the camera's Smooth Image III engine. It's almost a blessing that Ricoh has chosen to retain the same 10-megapixel sensor as the R8; an increased pixel count would have only exacerbated the noise issues further.
While this is certainly Ricoh's best R series yet, its release only eight months after the R8 means it could be a case of too little, too soon. It hasn't lost any of the quirky eccentricity that makes Ricoh's compacts so likeable, but when its refined functionality is weighed against our expectations, we can't help feel a little let down by the Ricoh R10.