I’m not sure how the Ricoh GR one will do in the marketplace, now that smartphones are gnawing away at the digicam sector. But, I figure it will have enormous appeal to enthusiasts and the adventurous. After all, how many people do you know who will die for a fixed lens camera?
But wait, it images to an APS-C sized CMOS. Surely worth a dollar or two and a moment of your time to peruse this review.
The Ricoh GR is a small, magnesium alloy bodied compact camera with an f2.8 lens equivalent to a 28mm 35 SLR optic. It succeeds the 2011 camera — the GR DIGITAL IV — and upgrades the basic specs and functions of that model.
Ricoh GR Features
The lens diaphragm is nine-bladed, so highlights are reproduced naturally; I found I could shoot directly into the light without annoying flares (see the video).
An internal neutral density filter is accessed via the finder menu: handy to slow the shutter speed for shooting flowing subjects like tides, waterfalls etc.
The 16.2 million pixel CMOS captures a maximum image size of 4928×3264 pixels, leading to a 42x28cm print.
Video? Full HD capture at 1920×1080 pixels. In video, the GR takes a different path to every other digicam on the market in requiring you to tap the same shutter button for stills and video recording. I fell foul of this situation a number of times, thinking I was shooting video when I was actually shooting stills! And vice versa!
You can easy fall into this trap as the LCD display has text of an inordinately small size, so you can easily be unaware of where you’re at! So, naturally, you can’t shoot stills while recording video.
But … you can add effects such as Retro and Bleach Bypass to a video recording.
Another: Ricoh calls it an Interval Composite mode. The camera can be set to fire off a sequence of timed exposures of the night sky at a fixed interval, then it selects and combines only the high-luminance pixel data from each of those images to produce a single composite image. Great when you want to combine the trails of the moon and the stars with a landscape.
There is a useful dual-axis on screen level for horizontal and vertical alignment.
And catch this: not only does the camera offer Bulb and Time for long exposures but you can also set the shutter to fire off exposures between 1/4000 second and 300 seconds. That’s right: five minutes!
Ricoh GR Layout
There are relatively few external controls.
At the side of the camera: a flash activation button and beneath it is a button giving access to a range of image effects: retro, high key, miniaturise, cross processing, B&W etc. The B&W mode actually offers three variations: straight mono; tinted mono; high contrast mono.
: on/off button; shutter button; mode dial with positions for auto, PASM, MY1/2/3 user settings and video record. This has a useful detent button that avoids the chance of an accidental alteration to the setting.
: just over the lip is an up-down lever that adjust shutter speed and lens aperture. Off to the right is a button to alter exposure compensation and another to give you screen replay.
Lower down is an AF function button and lever. Set the lever to the Continuous AF (C-AF) mode and you can shoot a series of sharp images of a moving subject by tapping the shutter release button while pressing the AF button. An optional setting takes you to a continuous shooting mode, activated while the C-AF button is pressed.
Lower still is the four way jog dial that gives access to white balance settings, menu, a function button, flash options plus macro. And here’s a trap that’s easy to fall into: set the macro function on the rear four way jog dial, turn off the power, turn it back on again and the macro function is still active. Dangerous if you want to shoot distant subjects in a hurry!
And lower again are buttons for the self timer and screen display options.
The rear screen menu options are extensive, identified by a no frills list of text options.
Ricoh GR ISO Tests
A slight increase in noise became evident at ISO 3200 which rose even further by ISO 6400. At ISO 12800 noise rose further still but IMHO the overall quality made it useful for some shots.
ISO 25600: it’s all over Rose! High noise level, poor sharpness, muddy colour.
I was able to take my first shots just two seconds after startup. Follow ons came in faster than I could hit the shutter!
There is slight barrel distortion.
And a note: if you need more coverage with the fixed lens you can buy an optional wide lens converter that will effectively give you the 35 SLR equivalent of 21mm.
Ricoh GR Verdict
Quality: excellent in all respects: vivid, natural colour, razor sharpness. A top performer.
Why you’d buy it
: top lens; small form factor; copious shooting features.
Why you wouldn’t
: unless you surrender to the principle of a fixed focal length lens you will be frustrated; no stabiliser so it makes it less than perfect for handheld video shooting.
A camera for the specialist.
Ricoh GR Specifications
Image Sensor: 16.2 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multi zone (484), centre-weighted average; spot.
Sensor Size: 23.7×15.7mm CMOS (APS-C).
Lens: f2.8/18.3mm (28mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Exposure Modes: Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speeds: 300 to 1/4000 second, Bulb and Time; movies 1/60-1/2000 second. check
Memory: SD/SDHC/SD/SDXC/Eye-Fi plus 54 MB internal memory.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4928×3264 to 640×480. Movies: 1920×1080, 1280×720, 640×480.
File Formats: RAW, JPEG, MPEG4.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100-25600.
Viewfinder: 7.6cm LCD screen (1.23 million pixels).
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, AV.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 117x61x34.7 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 245 g (inc card and battery).
Price: Get a price on the Ricoh GR at Amazon.