The Ricoh GR has been developed as the successor to the GR DIGITAL IV. It boasts an APS-C sized sensor and 18.3mm f/2.8 fixed lens, but how does it perform in the What Digital Camera Ricoh GR review?
The Ricoh GR is the first in the Ricoh GR Digital range to feature an APS-C sensor; a significant change on the 1/1.7in sensor found in the previous model in the range.
Ricoh GR Review – Features
Not only is the Ricoh GR’s 16.2MP APS-C sensor reasonably large in size, but it also lacks an anti-aliasing filter in front of it for the benefit of detail. Ricoh has also developed a new GR V processor to support the new sensor, which includes a post-capture Moire Pattern Removal function; this promises to counter any ill effects from the omission of the anti-aliasing filter.
The Ricoh GR’s newly-developed 18.3mm, f/2.8 lens is said to have been optimised to work specifically with the sensor, and the marriage provides an effective focal length equivalent to 28mm in 35mm-terms. The optic includes elements with a high refractive index and low dispersive qualities, and it also integrates an ND filter for lengthening exposures.
The GR also features the same Sony WhiteMagic LCD technology seen on Sony’s RX100 and Sony RX1 compact cameras, with its 3in display containing 1.23million dots. With this high resolution it promises improved image brightness and contrast over conventional LCDs, even when shooting outdoors.
Ricoh has also added a new AF Function button/lever to the rear of the GR, in order to make spontaneous continuous shooting easy. An Aperture Preview/Effects button also makes good use of space on the side of the camera; this allows depth of field to be previewed as easily as on a DSLR, although a range of other options can be assigned to it should you require it to perform a different task.
The Ricoh GR is also the first camera in Ricoh’s compact stable to show influence from Pentax, whose camera division Ricoh acquired two years ago. This comes through the Time-Aperture Value (TAv) option, which has long featured on the mode dial of Pentax’s models, adjusting sensitivity according to the aperture and shutter speed selected.
Other features on the GR include a new 35mm Crop mode, which trims away the edges of the frame to change the effective focal length to 35mm, as well as full HD video recording and in-camera Raw developing options. There’s also a raft of Effects options such as Positive Film Tone, Bleach Bypass and High-Key.
Ricoh GR Review – Design
Despite the significantly larger sensor than those in Ricoh’s previous GR Digital models, the Ricoh GR’s body is almost just as compact as the GR Digital IV’s, and at 215g surprisingly light too.
It’s based around the same rigid magnesium alloy chassis as its forebears, and its external design doesn’t deviate too far from what we’ve seen before. Ricoh has, however, made a few changes; the GR’s Aperture Preview button on the side of the camera is a new addition, and the back plate has also gently been restyled in order to accommodate the new AF function button/lever.
While some may have preferred a scrolling dial similar to the one found on the Nikon Coolpix A, holding one of the Ricoh GR’s directional buttons down does at least quickly zip through a long list of options to speed things up.
Ricoh GR Review – Performance
It takes around a second for the Ricoh GR to be ready once powered up, which is roughly what we expect for such a model. Powering down also shows a similar pace, so it can be put away as quickly as it can be
The Ricoh GR’s focus is as prompt as expected, not quite instant – and noticeably behind the current generation of Compact System Cameras such as the Panasonic G6 – but with an almost manic character as it shifts back and forth. Ricoh claims the camera can focus as fast as 0.2 seconds on its standard focusing mode, and though it’s difficult to measure this with precision, this appears to be more or less the case.
Focus in low light
One issue we did experience with the Ricoh G6 came when focusing in moderately-lit conditions without the AF assist lamp. Here, the camera often failed to find focus at all – even after repeated attempts. Admittedly, you would normally ensure this is on when shooting under these conditions, although sometimes this isn’t practical and it’s useful to know that the camera will, eventually, get there.
The Ricoh G6′s write times, however, are impressive. The camera does brilliantly when writing a combination of Raw and JPEG images to a fast card (a 16GB Class 10 SDHC card was used here), with a shot-to-shot time of around a second when autofocusing on a clear subject with the central point.
Outdoors, the screen maintains a clear and detailed reproduction of the scene in front of it, and does well to keep reflections to a minimum. While it still shows some reflections, a comparison with similar modes shows it to do better than average.
Ricoh GR Review – Image Quality
Ricoh’s previous GR Digital models were renowned for their image quality, and the GR follows suit. Thanks to the APS-C sensor the camera is able to resolve better detail at higher ISOs than previous models, with less destructive noise reduction taking place. JPEG noise reduction – even on its lowest setting – is best avoided if Raw files can be processed instead, as this softens fine details too much.The Ricoh GR’s metering system can be somewhat sensitive, swaying exposure either under or over on occasion, although the exposure compensation control falls under the thumb and so can quickly be employed where necessary.
The camera’s Auto White Balance system is generally sound, although it can be a little warm at times. This can sometimes be quite pleasing in that it has the effect of intensifying colours a little, although in more neutral areas it may be less desirable.
Noise is very well controlled, with the camera doing impressively well to maintain detail at higher sensitivities despite noise becoming more obvious. Video quality is somewhat disappointing, with footage smooth but lacking vital details. Sound quality is perfectly reasonable though.
Ricoh GR Review – Verdict
The Ricoh GR is quite a special camera; a pocketable compact that benefits significantly from its APS-C sensor. Comparisons will naturally be drawn with Nikon’s Coolpix A, which currently commands an asking price around £400 more, and testing the two side-by-side shows the GR to either equal or better it in most areas.
There’s really far more to like about it than there is to feel disappointed by, with only the lacklustre video being an issue. It’s focusing is speedy, write times and prompt, and the combination of its sturdy, lightweight design and bevy of physical controls make it an enjoyable camera to use.
We can only hope that it’s arrival will encourage other manufacturers to develop similarly-priced alternatives.
Sample Image Gallery
These are just a few images captured with the Ricoh GR. For a full selection of images, head on over to the Ricoh GR review sample image gallery.
The Pentax Ricoh GR has officially been announced as a new fixed lens compact in the company’s GR-series lineup. Successor to the GR DIGITAL IV that was launched in October 2011, the first pictures suggest little has changed in terms of its design, however two significant enhancements have been made to the sensor and the lens the camera employs.
Now equipped with an APS-C sized sensor rather than a 1/7inch CCD sensor, the Pentax Ricoh GR provides a larger image-sensitive area as wide as that of a Pentax DSLR sensor. Squeezing a sensor of this size inside a pocket compact so small is a feat recently achieved by Nikon with the release of the Nikon Coolpix A.
The Pentax GR’s similarities with its rival product don’t end here and the 16.2MP resolution the Pentax GR produces is the same as the Nikon Coolpix A.
The APS-C sized sensor is partnered alongside a newly developed GR ENGINE V image processor, which allows the camera to shoot as high as ISO 25,600. Interestingly, the GR takes the similar approach to the Nikon Coolpix A in that its anti-aliasing filter has also been removed – a further indication that this could be the same sensor as found within its premium compact rival. Pentax Ricoh claim the decision to remove the anti-aliasing filter will help produce an optimum lens performance and assure exceptional image quality over the entire image field.
An entirely new 18.3mm f/2.8 GR lens is also featured. Designed to be compact while providing high performance, edge-to-edge sharpness and rich contrast are promised by the manufacturer, while distortion and chromatic aberrations are minimized by the incorporation of two high-precision aspherical lens elements and a highly refractive low-dispersion glass element. The GR also incorporates a manually adjustable ND filter to allow users to open the aperture in bright lighting conditions and for those who’d like to shoot wider than the 28mm equivalent fixed lens allows, Pentax Ricoh will also produce an optional GW-3 Wide Conversion Lens (with 0.75X magnification and optics optimized for the GR) for 21mm ultra-wide-angle shooting .
The Pentax Ricoh GR uses a high-speed autofocus system that’s capable of acquiring focus in 0.2seconds. This has been made possible by the addition of a newly developed lens driving mechanism and optimized autofocus algorithm.
Start up times are claimed to be under a second and in the cameras AF continuous shooting function, the camera can record at up to 4fps. With a body that’s made of magnesium alloy, the Pentax GR features a new preview button for quick confirmation of depth of field, while elsewhere an AF function button/lever has been added to the cameras back panel. This is designed to allow photographers to capture a series of images of a moving subject – all in sharp focus – by pushing the shutter release button while depressing the AF button when the lever is set to Continuous AF (C-AF).
Adding to these improvements, aperture and shutter speed indicators have been added to the 3inch screen that now features a 1.23 million dot resolution. There’s also a redesigned grid guide and an electronic level.
Full HD video (1920×1080) is supported at 30fps and the Pentax Ricoh GR’s AF system is designed to remain active during recording. A Non-directional stereo microphone is also provided and Image effects such as retro and bleach bypass are available for users to apply when movies are created.
Expected to be available from May, the Pentax Ricoh GR will cost £599, however the price of the body with an optional viewfinder is still yet to be announced.