With a fast fixed focal length lens, functional design and full manual control, as well as Raw image capture, the Ricoh GR Digital IV impresses on paper. The question is, how does it perform when put through the rigours of the WDC test? Read on to find out...
Ricoh GR Digital IV review – Features
Whilst there are a multitude of compact cameras on the market that will take care of almost every aspect of the image capture process for you, a lot of photographers still want a camera that allows them control over the settings and with a focus on image quality as a priority. The result of this outlook to the compact camera market is normally a combination of a high specification with utilitarian design, or in other words the Ricoh GR Digital IV.
At the core of the GR IV sits the key to the model’s imaging prowess. A 1/1.7in CCD sensor is present, offering an effective resolution of 10 megapixels. Optics are also a key concern with an advanced compact such as the GR IV, so the prime f/1.9 lens, fixed at an equivalent focal length of 28mm, will no doubt be welcome. Another element of the camera’s high-end specification is the LCD screen – while the 3in size is matched by several other compacts, the 1.23 million-dot resolution truly marks it out from the crowd and promises simple viewing even in difficult lighting conditions.
The GR IV, as the name suggests, replaces the GR III in Ricoh’s ‘Digital’ series and offers improvements on its predecessor. One of the main areas which sees improvement is the camera’s focusing system. Ricoh has implemented its new ‘Hybrid’ auto focus system – one which combines an external auto focus system with a conventional internal AF system – which will offer twice as fast AF of its predecessor.
Whilst the specification of the GR IV is no doubt advanced, the functionality can be further enhanced with a range of accessories. The model’s hotshoe can accommodate either an external viewfinder or flash gun, whilst a thread around the lens can feature a 21mm wide lens convertor.
Design and Performance
Ricoh GR Digital IV review – Design
This expandability of the system is in fitting with the
utilitarian design of the GR IV’s body. The metal finish is feels hardy
in the hand and as though it could take a reasonable beating. The body
is rectangular in shape, with the LCD screen taking up its fair share of
the rear though not overwhelming it. The model’s top plate houses the
pop up flash, aforementioned hot shoe and conventional mode dial, as
well as a primary command dial for altering the primary functionality
whilst shooting. The rear of the camera, meanwhile, houses the bulk of
the controls. Alongside the conventional dpad and other control buttons
sit two adjustment buttons in the shape of a vertical rocker and
horizontal rocker, the pair of which allow quick access to the camera’s
controls. Several other intelligent touches, such as the button placed
by the mode dial which you need to suppress to rotate the mode dial, all
add up to give the impression of a camera body design down to even the
Ricoh GR Digital IV review – Performance
The combination of these
adjustment buttons, along with the two ‘fn’ buttons located on the rear
of the camera – all of which are customisable to every need of your
shooting – allowing for the photographer to feel fully integrated
shooting experience. The model’s LCD screen is also worthy of
highlighting once again. The high resolution sets the camera well ahead
of its peers and is comfortably one of the best we’ve seen on a compact
camera. Not only does the LCD screen perform excellently in difficult
lighting conditions, but the high resolution makes it a pleasure to use
in standard conditions as well, in both preview and in composition.
improvements in the model’s auto focus system are also noticeable in
use. The GRD IV is especially prompt to latch on to a subject, even when
said subject is moving. Other elements of the camera’s performance are
also reliable, if not particularly impressive. As mentioned earlier, the
combination of the camera’s utilitarian design and variety of manual
controls mean that every element of the shooting process that you could
wish to alter is at the tip of your fingers, making image capture both
simple and pleasing.
Image Quality and Verdict
Ricoh GR Digital IV – Image Quality
The model’s white balance is reliable, if
not erring on the warm side of the scale, although not so much as to
swamp the image. Image quality itself is, on the whole, impressive. The
GRD IV benefits from its fixed focal length lens with regards to
sharpness and issues of barrelling and distortion – the former is
impressive throughout the frame while the latter is noticeable by its
absence. Fine detail is well rendered throughout the frame, even towards
the higher end of the model’s ISO scale. The GRD IV deals with
highlights and shadows admirably, managing to exposure properly for both
without loss of details or blowing out – this wide dynamic range
results in images with wonderful tone.
Ricoh GR Digital IV – Verdict
There’s an awful lot to like about the GRD IV. Image quality is fantastic, the model’s utilitarian design makes for an excellent shooting experience and the LCD screen is one of the best that we’ve seen on a compact camera. The model won’t be to everyone’s taste however – it boasts a price tag which is comparable with a host of CSC models, thus making it almost a luxury compact, and with holes in the specification such as the lack of HD video capture, the price tag looks even higher. However, if you’re happy to make certain compromises for the sake of image quality and a pure shooting experience overall, the the GRD IV is well worth a look.