One camera in this category happily does not have this disadvantage, the Ricoh GR Digital III.
(Click the image for the full size view).
Like the wonderful film version GR1, the lens is fixed and excellent quality.
While a little slow to start up, the key feature of this camera is that when you push the shutter, it takes the picture within a fraction of a second. Fans of street photography will appreciate the ability to pre-set the focus and just shoot with that - very much like Henri Cartier-Bresson used to do with his Leica.
The camera is compact, not as much as many consumer cameras, but considering the features, much much more pocketable than an SLR that might deliver some of the features and speed.
Features, in order of interest to me:
- Fast response to clicking the shutter button. If you don't pause to focus it shoots a reasonable focal distance.
- Wide angle fixed focus lens at the equivalent of 28mm F1.9
- Amazing macro down to 1cm
- The battery lasts 370 shots but if stuck you can run it on two AAA batteries
- Programmable buttons for access to the features you prefer
- HDR High Dynamic Range feature that takes two shots and combines them
- Adjustable everything
- The mode button has a push lock
- Hot shoe and the option of a nice optical viewfinder - a little expensive...
- Big 3 inch display
- Shoots RAW in DMG format
Now Ricoh has included all sorts of in-camera stuff, such as perspective adjustment, but I really feel that this should be done in the computer rather than the camera.
The best thing about this camera is that it looks pretty much like all the other pocket cameras and won't attract attention.
Just installed version 1.21 of the firmware from Ricoh here. To find out what version you have, turn the camera off, hold the macro (down) button and press play for a few seconds. The firmware is the "main" version shown.