By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Ricoh today released a digital still camera capable of recording the exact coordinates at which a photo was taken by using a wireless GPS (global positioning system) tracking device which connects to the camera via Bluetooth.

The waterproof and rugged Caplio 500SE was launched this morning as part of Ricoh’s new range, and comes with a GPS module which can be worn on the user’s belt.

When a photo is taken, the GPS module sends location data to the camera which is then embedded into the digital image’s data.

“Now a ranger in a national park will be able to identify exactly where a rare species of flower was growing, or a rock climber can detect his final destination in unknown territory,” said Ricoh Photographics national sales manager, Stuart Pickersgill.

“They simply take a photo with the new Caplio 500SE and the software embeds the location data onto the image. When downloaded to their computer back at base it will show them the exact location on a map.”

The Caplio 500SE (RRP $1,399) is designed for industrial photography applications and outdoor enthusiasts. Pickersgill believes GPS technology will heighten the appeal of this camera among consumers in this category.

“We believe GPS tracking technology in camreas will prove so popular and beneficial to people whose jobs or extreme hobbies take them off the beaten track, they will wonder how they managed before,” he said.

The built-in Bluetooth – a first for Ricoh – also enables file transfer wirelessly to a PDA or computer.

Ricoh today unveiled four new digital still cameras, including the Caplio 500SE, two new high-megapixel models ranging from six to 10 megapixels and the high-performance Ricoh GR Digital compact camera.

Held at the Boutwell Draper Gallery in Redfern, Sydney, Ricoh created a mini-exhibition featuring photos taken by award-winning photographers on the new cameras.

Professional photographer Marcus Bell told of his experiences shooting with Ricoh’s cameras around Europe, and Ricoh has also enlisted other photographers who have put the new cameras through their paces, including Hamish Ta-Me, Robyn Hills, Bruce Pottinger and Tony McHugh.

“The verdict is that they are set to impress consumers on all levels,” said Ricoh marketing communications manager, Norman Koslowski.

“Our research tells us customers are looking for more powerful tools to capture great images. The new higher megapixel Ricoh cameras are some of the most feature rich on the market, and clever design means we can fit even more power into a compact casing.”

The entry-level Caplio RR660 (RRP $299) was launched featuring 6.16 megapixel image resolution, 3x optical zoom and a 2.4-inch LCD screen.

Ricoh also launched the mid-range 7.0 megapixel Caplio R5 (RRP $599) featuring the new Smooth Imaging Engine for low noise photographs, even at ISO 1600 sensitivity. The Caplio R5 will be available in September in three colours.

Capping off the range was the high-end GR Digital, which features full manual operation comparable to a digital single lens reflex camera in a compact body.