Ricoh celebrates 80th anniversary with limited-edition Pentax K-3 II Silver, updates WG-series action cam


posted Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at 5:17 PM EDT


The party continues at Ricoh this week: Just seven days after launching its limited-edition Ricoh GR II Silver Edition camera in celebration of the company's 80th anniversary, it has followed up with yet another limited-edition model and a new action camera, for good measure.

This time around, though, it's not a Ricoh-branded camera that's getting a special variant. Instead, the company is continuing a long tradition of releasing limited-edition Pentax DSLRs, and especially of releasing silver versions which look oh so very handsome when paired with its Limited-series lenses in a matching tone. The latest Pentax DSLR to get the Silver Edition treatment is the Pentax K-3 II, itself an iteration of the earlier Pentax K-3. And this is going to be one seriously rare camera, with total production of just 500 units worldwide!


As in the past, the limited-release Pentax K-3 II Silver Edition is essentially identical to its standard-edition sibling in terms of hardware, differing only in the external body color used for most of its magnesium-alloy panels and some of its physical controls. The leatherette wrap around the body remains in the standard dark gray, and so to do the rear and side panels. Both top and bottom of the camera are now finished in a silver coating, though, as are the controls in these areas.


Before now, we've often seen customized firmware on limited-edition Ricoh / Pentax cameras, but there's no mention of that this time around. It could be that the firmware has been customized regardless -- typically to add a startup or shutdown image matching the camera's limited-edition nature -- or it could be that with such a small number of units available worldwide, it was decided that the effort of maintaining separate firmware was too great to justify the expense. Beyond the body color change, the only other difference noted by Ricoh for this release is that the camera ships in specially-designed packaging.


Available from late spring 2016 from the company's own website, the Pentax K-3 II will come with a list price of US$899.95. That's actually US$100 below list pricing for the K-3 II currently, suggesting that we may soon see an adjustment to the standard version's list price. Of course, the K-3 II already sells for around $200 below list, and we rather doubt you'll see discounted pricing on such a limited-edition variant any time soon. Hence, you can expect to pay around a US$100 premium for the K-3 II Silver, should you manage to get your hands on one.


Want to know more about the Pentax K-3 II Silver Edition, and the camera it is based upon? Read our Pentax K-3 II review for the full story!

At the same time as launching the Pentax K-3 II Silver Edition, Ricoh has also taken the wraps off its latest action camera model. The Ricoh WG-M2 follows surprisingly hot on the heels of last year's WG-M1, which launched just a hair over five months past. At the heart of the new camera is an eight-megapixel 1/2.3"-type CMOS sensor, the same size as used in the past model, but with just over half the resolution. (The WG-M1 was based around a 14-megapixel CMOS chip.)


Compared to the earlier model, the Ricoh WG-M2 also features a much, much-wider angled lens. Where the WG-M1 had a fixed focal-length 3mm optic with a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 16.8mm, the WG-M2 will instead use a 1.6mm lens with a 35mm equivalent focal length of around 9mm. As in the earlier camera, the new lens has a fixed-focus design, so everything from around eight inches to infinity should be rendered sharply. It's a little bit brighter, though, with a fixed f/2.0 aperture instead of the f/2.8 aperture of its predecessor. Couple that with the lower resolution, and this new model should show significantly reduced noise levels. That's borne out by the much wider sensitivity range of ISO 200 to 6400-equivalents, where the earlier WG-M1 had a range of just ISO 100 to 800-equivalents.


The new camera is also significantly smaller and lighter than that which it replaces, a trait which is very desirable in a camera that might be mounted on a helmet, skateboard, remotely-controlled vehicle or anywhere else that size and weight could potentially become an issue. With dimensions of just 2.3 x 1.3 x 3.1 inches and a weight of 4.8 ounces loaded and ready to go, the Ricoh WG-M2 has managed to shave off a third-inch of width, 0.4 inches off the height, 0.4 inches off the depth, and an impressive 1.9 ounces off the weight. This despite now offering double the waterproofing depth (20 meters) and retaining the same dustproofing (JIS class 6), coldproofing (-10°C) and shockproofing (two meters).


As if that wasn't already enough, the new camera also adds 4K video capture capability at a fixed 30 frames-per-second rate, and the existing Full HD and HD video modes now offer double the frame-rate at 60 fps and 120 fps respectively. And by switching to a new D-LI68 battery pack, the new model's battery life has increased from 350 to 450 shots on a charge.


Other features retained from the earlier camera include a tiny 1.5-inch LCD monitor, Wi-Fi wireless networking capability for easy photo sharing, USB 2.0 and Type D HDMI outputs, and electronic vibration reduction. There have been a couple of minor downgrades as well, though: The new model now includes only 68MB of memory instead of 100MB, and is limited to a maximum still-image capture rate of eight frames per second instead of 10 fps.


Available from late April 2016, the Ricoh WG-M2 action camera is priced at US$300 or thereabouts. That's the exact same pricepoint at which its predecessor launched in October 2015.