Although the information has been floating around for a while now, Ricoh has officially introduced its first GPS-ready digital camera, the 8 million pixel 500SE, in Europe today. The 500SE's integrated precision GPS module provides an easy- to-use device for geo-coding images and video at the time of capture. It is capable of transferring images via Bluetooth or Wifi and receiving NMEA data streams from external GPS devices via the built-in Bluetooth radio. It features the same 28mm wide zoom, 2.5-inch LCD and waterproof / shock-resistant body as the 500G, announced last year.

Press Release:

The Ricoh 500SE GPS-ready Digital Camera

Capture Location Data with Your Images. High-resolution Rugged Camera Optimizes GIS Mapping Workflows

5th February 2007 - Ricoh Corporation solidified its leadership position in providing cameras with integrated GPS technology by releasing the 500SE GPS-ready digital camera. Developed for outdoor location-based photography, the 500SE boasts extreme durability and high resolution to meet the image quality and all-weather usability demanded by the mobile GPS photographer. The camera's integrated precision GPS module provides for an all-in-one, easy- to-use device for geo-coding images and video at the time of capture. For applications that require even greater precision, the camera is capable of receiving NMEA data streams from external GPS devices via its on-board Bluetooth(R) radio.

Once the captured "geo-images" and "geo-video" files are transferred to a PC, they are automatically converted to shape files or merged into geo- databases for instant integration into Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Points representing each file's position may be hovered over to display a thumbnail of the file, or clicked on to access the original image or video.

In addition to storing GPS data in the image and video files, the camera also utilizes a user-configurable "data dictionary" to tag files with workflow-related information. These attributes become part of the GIS layer table for automated database integration.

The 500SE's waterproof and shock-resistant shell protects a high- resolution 8MP sensor that is image stabilized and has an ultra rapid shutter response. Additional features include GPS track log capability, GPS lock (to record the position of an object as opposed to the position of the photographer), and the ability to send images wirelessly to handheld devices via Bluetooth(R) or WiFi. (R)

Major Features of the Ricoh 500SE:

Wireless Imaging Simplified
Bidirectional communication capabilities allow for instant transfer of images to mobile devices via Bluetooth or WiFi*. Alternately, the camera accepts NMEA data from external Bluetooth-enabled GPS devices.
*WiFi version required.

Geo-coded Images and Video
The 500SE’s large LCD provides precise real-time WGS-84 or MGRS position information derived from either the camera’s detachable GPS module or from external GPS devices. As content is captured, this data is embedded into the media file’s header.

Designed to Deliver
Machine reliability and image quality are the foundations of the 500SE’s design. Built to withstand the harshest of outdoor environments, the 500SE is easy to operate and captures stunning 8MP images and superb video in any condition.

Embedded Attribute Data
In addition to storing GPS data in image and video, the 500SE provides a user-defined data-dictionary for tagging the media with workflow-related information. This ‘meta-data’ becomes attributes in any GIS system and may be automatically imprinted on the images.

Automatic Map Integration
Geo-coded images and video are automatically converted into ‘layer files’ by available GIS plug-ins. Hovering over a point displays a thumbnail with the user-defined attributes, while clicking on the point opens the full-size image.

Camera Shake Blur Reduction
The 500SE reduces camera shake blur by combining high ISO settings with fast shutter speeds. Now you can shoot with greater confidence in dark situations.

Powerful Built-in Flash
The built-in flash unit allows clearer shooting in a wider range of situations. Its powerful illumination extends 10 meters in wide-angle shots and 6.5 meters in telephoto shots.

Large, Easy-to-view 2.5-inch LCD Screen
The large LCD screen features an anti-reflection coating to preserve screen readability in high ambient light environments. You can easily adjust screen brightness to optimize image clarity. There is also an optical viewfinder, so you can use whichever is right for the situation, for more reliable photography.

Wide Coverage with 28mm Wide-angle Zoom Lens
Ricoh’s 28mm wide-angle zoom lens can capture larger areas than the 35mm lenses of conventional digital cameras. When there is limited space to maneuver, you can more easily capture an entire building or construction site with the 500SE.

Vivid 1cm Macro Photography
Capture subjects as close as 1cm away in the macro wide-angle mode or 10cm away in the tele-macro mode. The built-in flash unit illuminates subjects as close as 20cm from the camera.

Large Buttons and Dials
All buttons and dials are large enough to ensure you can easily operate the camera even when wearing gloves.

Memo Function for More Convenient Data Management
Keep memos as part of your photo information. Memos are particularly handy for distinguishing numerous similar photographs and can dramatically heighten management efficiency.

The Ricoh 500SE will be available at SRP £549.99 inc Vat and £599.99 inc Vat WiFi version