In the world of compact and ultra-compact cameras, wide aperture lenses are a rarity. They just seem to be too hard to make when offering zoom at the same time. But fortunately, there is one very capable point and shoot that has not only a wide aperture, but a host of other great features that make it my Best In Class pick for compact cameras for interior or low light situations. It may be a fixed lens at f6.0mm (equivalent to 28 mm for 35 mm film cameras), but current owners of the Ricoh GR Digital III have been raving about it. And for good reason. Smart, responsive and stylish, the GR Digital III just may find itself as your favorite camera in the long run.
My Best In Class Pick
Ricoh GR DIGITAL III
In a zoom crazy world, it’s refreshing to find a great camera with a fixed lens that is perfect for interiors and low light situations.
Small enough to fit into a jacket pocket but strong enough to handle some of the toughest lighting situations you will ever run into, the Ricoh GR Digital III is a real photographers camera. It may not be your primary camera for everyday use, but when the lights go low and flash is a nuisance, the GR Digital III will become your go to tool.
Built to fit comfortably in your hand, the GR Digital III has a light hungry f1.9 GR Lens with a scene stealing f6.0mm (equivalent to 28 mm for 35 mm film cameras) aperture. Add the GR Engine III processor and a high-sensitivity 10mp CCD for excellent images with unsurpassed clarity and color with the added ability to shoot at high shutter speeds for the perfect combination of power and style..
And if you’re the type who likes to catch fleeting images with a quick draw whenever they appear, the ‘full-press snap’ feature is designed to operate at a fixed focal length, accomplishing a reaction even faster than the half-press AF feature. And, the GR Digital III is capable of capturing up to five RAW images in succession with a high write speed.
If viewing your images on other cameras LCD screens has left you wanting truer color reproduction, the GR Digital III offers a 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot VGA LCD screen that gives you excellent color and a high resolution so you can be sure that what you see is what you get.
With the addition of the GV-2 external mini viewfinder, you will have the power, the response time and the accurate framing to consider the GR Digital III as a natural extension of your creativity, returning from each shooting experience with little surprises that you couldn’t get with a big, bulky and unresponsive zoom camera.
The Ricoh GR Digital III just may be the camera you’ve been waiting for.
Comparison with Samsung TL500
As strong and technical as the Ricoh GR Digital III is, for casual photographers it’s only weakness is it’s fixed lens. Today’s new digital photographers seem to be expecting at least 3x optical zoom. But as an excellent low light tool with a wide angle lens, the GR Digital III is a top pick in it’s category.
- +Wide aperture
- +Bright LCD screen
- +Full press snap feature
- +Manual control
Where to buy
Ricoh GR DIGITAL III
Ricoh GV-2 External Mini Viewfinder$199.00 @ Amazon.com
Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices
|Product||Ricoh GR DIGITAL III||Samsung TL500|
|Camera Format||Ultra Compact||Compact|
|Weight (without batteries)||6.6 oz||12.6 oz|
|Easy to Use||Yes||Yes|
Close Sensor Size Most digital cameras, even most digital SLRs, have sensors that are smaller than a standard frame of 35 mm film (36 x 24 mm). These smaller sensors have a number of effects on the captured image and the use of the camera, including an increased depth of field, decreased light sensitivity, increased pixel noise, and increased degree of enlargement.
|7.6 x 5.7 mm||7.6 x 5.7 mm|
|Max Shooting Speed (continuous)||2.0 frames/sec||1.5 frames/sec|
Close Image Stabilization Available Image stabilization features are designed to reduce the blur that results from normal, minute shaking of a lens due to hand-held shooting. However, image stabilization does not prevent motion blur caused by the movement of the subject or by extreme movements of the camera.
|Max ISO Setting||1600||3200|
|Aperture Priority Mode Available||Yes||Yes|
|Shutter Priority Mode Available||Yes||Yes|
|Full Manual Exposure Mode Available||Yes||Yes|
Close LCD Screen Size The LCD Screen Size is the length of the miniature LCD monitor measured diagonally.
|3.0 in.||3.0 in.|
|Storage Media||SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card||SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card|
|Battery Type||AAA-size (x2) or Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable||Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable|
Close Max Aperture (tele-photo) The aperture refers to the size of the opening in the lens that determines the amount of light falling onto the sensor. The maximum aperture (tele-photo) is the largest possible size at the tele-photo limit of the zoom lens. The lens aperture is usually specified as an f-number, the ratio of focal length to effective aperture diameter. A lower f-number denotes a greater aperture opening, which allows more light to reach the image sensor.
Close Max Aperture (wide-angle) The aperture refers to the size of the opening in the lens that determines the amount of light falling onto the sensor. The maximum aperture (wide-angle) is the largest possible size at the wide-angle limit of the zoom lens. The lens aperture is usually specified as an f-number, the ratio of focal length to effective aperture diameter. A lower f-number denotes a greater aperture opening, which allows more light to reach the image sensor.
For every photographer who wants a small camera for intimate, low light situations, Samsung has created the compact TL500. Built small and smart with a fast lens for those instances when flash is undesirable, the TL500 should be in every photographers arsenal.
The lens is a 24mm ultra-wide angle Schneider KREUZNACH with a light grabbing f/1.8 aperture and 3x optical zoom. These attributes make it the perfect camera for interior shots where flash reflection is a no-no or for times when any flash is a no-no, a situation that never fails to come up quite often. And having a point and shoot at the ready when it does that will deliver a quality image with speed and versatility is a real pleasure.
Built with features that make this a solid point and shoot camera that could easily become a casual photographers only tool, the TL500 never stops challenging you. Consider the full manual capability, a high-performance 1/1.7” CCD sensor matched with Samsung’s re‑engineered and fast DRIMeIII imaging processor, dual image stabilization and a swiveling, 3.0” AMOLED LCD screen.
Taking video is a snap too at 640x480 @30fps in the H.264 format with Smart Auto 2.0 scene recognition technology, I recommend getting a big memory card because you will love the quality and, thanks to the large swivel LCD, you might find yourself playing Hollywood cameraman in no time.
- +Ultra-wide angle
- +Swivel LCD
- +Dual Image Stabilization
- +Wide aperture
- +Manual control
- -Only 480 video
Where to buy
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SanDisk 8GB Extreme SDHC Class 10 High Performance Memory Card (SDSDX3-008G-P31)$41.81 @ Amazon.com
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How to Pick Digital Cameras
- For Travel Photos
- For Photos of Children or Pets
- For Action or Sports Photos
- For Photos in Low Light