You know Ricoh. And not just as an office copier company. Anyone who’s been involved in photography for more than a few years knows that this Japanese company was a player in various film cameras, especially 35mm SLRs.

We recently got one fresh out of U.S. Customs (which intercepted it on its way from Tokyo), and this 8.1MP compact is really impressive.

First, there’s the solid-feeling magnesium-alloy body that measures about 4 inches wide by just over 2 inches high and a mere .75 inches thick. Then there’s the 2.5-inch/210,000-pixel LCD.

But the coolest part is the lens. Not just the 28mm (equivalent) lens with its f/2.4 maximum aperture, but also the snap-on wide-angle lens that serves up the equivalent of a 21mm view.

The Ricoh GR’s 28mm lens is plenty wide. With its 21mm wide angle attachment, it gets even wider.

As our sample shots show, that’s w-i-d-e. While the camera itself doesn’t have a viewfinder (just the LCD), a rangefinder-style viewfinder slides into the hotshoe so you can see what the wide-angle lens sees.

Add to all of that the GR’s ability to shoot at up to ISO1600, and you’ve got quite a powerful low-light compact camera.

While Ricoh isn’t talking price, there’s no question that it won’t be cheap. This is a high-quality camera that may be small and simple to use, but it’s quite serious about wide-angle work.

It is currently available at Adorama:
Camera $750
Add-on viewfinder $199
21-degree wide angle lens $149
Spare battery $39
Lens hood $49