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Ricoh eyes high-end compact camera niche

Japanese camera maker sees a future in higher-end small cameras, hybrid designs that incorporate features from SLR cameras.

Camera makers can be pretty cagey about their future plans--maybe they don't want to undermine sales of products with such a fleeting shelf life--so it can be frustrating to try to find out who's interested in meeting the demand for high-end compact cameras that cater to the SLR (single-lens reflex) crowd.

Ricoh Caplio GX100
Ricoh Caplio GX100 Ricoh

One company that's trying its best to fill that niche is Ricoh, a Japanese manufacturer in the shadow of giants such as Canon and Nikon. But Ricoh has been trying to lure high-end compact camera buyers with its GX100, a 10-megapixel compact camera that features a flash hot shoe, raw image support and other features geared for enthusiasts.

Ricoh also is willing to offer a little more insight into its hopes for the high-end compact market.

The company envisions "a time where there will be a true convergence of digital SLR and point-and-shoot technologies, resulting in a new breed of hybrid imaging devices that are optimal for both the consumer and prosumer markets," said Jeff Lengyel, manager of Ricoh America's camera division.

Sounds like a tall order. But I've heard from a lot of people who want something both good and small.