The trend in cameras today is to the small, lightweight, and powerful, and that is the intent of the Ricoh GR, Pentax Ricoh's new compact, fixed-lens digital camera. Chief among its attributes is a 16.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor paired with a fast f/2.8 maximum aperture lens and a newly designed auto-focus system. Together, these features promise improved low-light performance, shallow depth of field, and wide dynamic range without sacrificing the advantages of a petite, lightweight shooter.

Tucked into a 4.6-by-2.4-by-1.4-inch magnesium alloy body, the camera weighs just 8.6 ounces when loaded and ready and has control buttons designed for one-handed operation. It has a 3-inch, 1.23-million-dot LCD screen and a pop-up flash.

The Ricoh GR has a new 18.3mm f/2.8 lens (28mm field of view in 35mm parlance) for high-resolution, wide-angle images with minimal chromatic aberration and distortion, Pentax Ricoh says. For more creative options, Ricoh is offering an optional wide-angle conversion lens that extends coverage to 21mm. The camera's GR Engine V image processor optimizes shooting to ISO 25600. In addition, a new lens-driving mechanism and an optimized AF (automatic focus) algorithm combined with faster data readout speeds lets the camera focus in two-tenths of a second. Start-up time is approximately 1 second. Its manually adjustable neutral density filter allows users to open the aperture up even in bright sunshine.

This new model offers a number of advanced DSLR-like features such as in-body raw-data development and a depth-of-field preview button on the side panel for accurate framing and focus checking before shooting. A focus-assist function helps with manual focus. A new AF function lever on the camera's back panel, when set to Continuous AF (C-AF) mode, lets you capture a series of images of a moving subject by pushing the shutter release button while pressing the AF button. An optional setting allows the continuous shooting mode to be automatically activated while you press the C-AF button. Continuous shooting mode is 4 frames per second.

The Ricoh GR offers Pentax's signature Shutter-speed/Aperture-Priority (TAv) exposure mode, which automatically sets the optimum ISO sensitivity based on the photographer's selected shutter speed and aperture. Aperture and shutter speed indicators have been added to the monitor screen.

Into social networking? No problem. Ricoh aids the point-shoot-and-share set via compatibility with the GR's Eye-Fi SD card. Built-in menus allow the user to easily enable automatic transmission of images and video to a smartphone for sharing. Users can select and resize images before transmission.

The Ricoh GR offers full 1080p HD video recording in the H.264 format with continual auto focus. The movie recording function captures extended movie clips (1920 by 1080 pixels, 16:9 aspect ratio) at a frame rate of 30 frames per second. Image effects such as Retro and Bleach Bypass are available during movie recording. The AF system remains active as the camera continuously focuses on subjects in the center of its angle of view.

Three new modes have been added to the GR: Retro for a nostalgic look and subdued saturation; High Key for a bright-looking finish with subtle gradation in highlights; and Miniaturize for a diorama-like appearance.

The Ricoh GR advanced digital compact camera will be available in May 2013 for $800.