The Ricoh R8 may be the numerical successor to the Caplio R7, but the Caplio branding has gone and the style is completely revamped. The R8 is still at the pricier end of the compact scale at a suggested retail price of £249.99, but it is also packed with features. With the R7 rating as one of our favourite point-and-shoots of last year, the R8 certainly has a lot to live up to.
Ricoh has abandoned the R7's colourful contemporary look and given the R8 a solid, retro style. Our model's black body and gunmetal accents are nicely finished by the matte black lens barrel, although we're less enamoured of the two-tone version. The rubberised grip is comfortable at the back but toothless at the front. It's substantial but not chunky, with a large 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD screen.
Controls are kept simple: a menu button, delete/timer button, a display toggle and playback button are on the back, with a mode wheel on the top. The wheel gives access to different scenes and two customisable user settings. It's a small thing, but we like that the wheel rotates 360 degrees, even if it does have a gritty feel to the movement.
One of our favourite parts of the R7 was the mini-joystick, which has here been flattened to more of a four-way rocker. We found this flatter control was very thumb-friendly, although the grippy raised dots did get irritating after extended use.
The R8 has a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 28-200mm, and we're pleased with the width of the images. The 7.1x zoom is quick for crash zooms, but at the same time, it's brisk for fine alterations.
The yellow and grey menus look suspiciously familiar to those on Olympus cameras, and are as straightforward to use. Our only quibble is that accessing the scene mode list requires superfluous fiddling. We're impressed with the one-touch access to exposure compensation, white balance and others settings via the joystick. This can be customised so your favourite settings are instantly available.
Like the R7, the R8 doesn't include shutter or aperture priority or full manual mode. Exposure compensation allows you to alter the exposure on one sliding scale rather than having to alter shutter and aperture individually, which we admit is more novice-friendly. It just means that more experienced photographers have to somewhat blindly trust the camera.