Jun 072013
 

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The Ricoh GR Camera Review – The new large sensor GR arrives!

*A Thank you to B&H Photo for letting me evaluate this camera

Isn’t it nice when you have a camera that is small, well made, easy to use, and gives you superb quality out of the box? A camera with accurate colors, good AWB performance and nice high ISO. How about really nice and hassle free out of camera B&W for those times you want to shut out all of the color in the world. If a camera had all of this, along with a nice big fat APS-C sensor and decent Autofocus with a fast-ish wide angle lens built in I think many of us would jump in! Funny enough, it is usually NOT the big expensive cameras that give us all of this hassle free performance. Nope, this all comes from a camera coming in at $799, and let me tell you, it is a superb camera and tag along companion for your day to day life.

Check out the video below for my thoughts and a full menu overview of the Ricoh GR

If this sounds enticing to you then the new Ricoh/Pentax GR may be just the camera you have been looking for as it has all of these things and more.

The last time I reviewed a GR Digital it was the GRIII and Ricoh GXR. I did not review the GRIV as I felt it was very similar to the GRIII in IQ with a few usability enhancements. The new GR is a whole new ball of wax though as this guy packs an APS-C sensor punch, and it shows. I knew this was the direction the GR series HAD to take in 2013. There was just no other way around it. I am happy to see this camera, I really am.

OOC with the GR at f/2.8

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As I used this GR I thought back and remembered something I talked about in my GRIII review and I will repeat it here as it is all true. 

“But before I get to this review I wanted to talk a bit about what makes me tick as a photographer and why a camera does and does not matter when it comes to getting nice photos. While everyone argues wether camera gear can make any difference in your final output, let me break it down into FACTS right now:

  • Larger sensor cameras WILL give you better IQ than a small sensor camera, especially if printing LARGE
  • NO CAMERA, no matter HOW expensive will make you a better photographer. Time, passion, and practice will.
  • If you know what you are doing and take one shot with a small sensor camera and one with something like a Leica S2, you will get a much better file from the Leica S2. No question on that AT ALL. BUT the photograph will be the same, just with a different rendering.
  • Larger sensor cameras have better ISO performance, more dynamic range and better color. They also have the capability of shooting with limited Depth of Field.
  • The images you create with whatever you shoot will somehow always look like YOUR Images. It’s your style that will get you noticed more than the camera you shoot. Small sensor cameras can even help give you a certain style.

So what I said then before reviewing the small sensor GRII rings true today when writing about the new APS-C GR. Before I begin, here are the full specs of the latest and greatest GR:

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The full specs of the GR

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16 MP APS-C CMOS Image Sensor – APS-C is the way to go!

The GR’s 16.2MP APS-C CMOS image sensor offers low-noise characteristics even at high ISO, super-high resolution imaging quality, color accuracy and a wide dynamic range.

GR ENGINE V Image Processor

The advanced GR ENGINE V imaging engine offers high-sensitivity shooting with minimal noise and fast response times, including fast autofocus and up to 4 fps continuous shooting.

No Optical Low-Pass Filter – THIS IS AWESOME

The omission of the low-pass filter in the sensor design enables particularly sharp details and color-rich images. To balance for lack of the Optical Low-Pass filter, a chromatic moiré compensation function is added to minimize wavy moiré patterns and distortion in certain images.

18.3mm f/2.8 Lens (28mm Equivalency in 35mm Format)

The GR’s fixed wide angle 18.3mm f/2.8 GR lens, equivalent to 28mm in the 35mm format, provides high resolution images with edge-to-edge sharpness and low distortion. The seven element lens design includes two aspherical elements to minimize chromatic aberrations. With its newly designed nine blade diaphragm, the GR lens produces a natural bokeh effect at larger apertures.

3.0″ 1,230k-dot LCD Screen with WhiteMagic Technology – Can see the LCD even in the sun

Featuring Sony WhiteMagic technology which adds white pixels to the standard RGB colors to improve image brightness and visibility, the rear 3.0″ LCD provides composition and playback viewing.

Optional Optical Viewfinders – Bingo!

Two optical viewfinders are available (both sold separately) to enhance composition capability and stability. The GV-2 28mm mini viewfinder and the GV-1 21/28mm viewfinder both attach to the camera’s hot shoe mount.

Full HD 1080p Video Recording

Capture Full HD video in widescreen 1080p resolution (1920 x 1080) with efficient, high quality h.264 compression at 30 fps. Continuous Autofocus remains active with movement as the camera stays focused on moving subjects in the center of its angle of view.

ISO 100-25600

Supported by its APS-C sensor and the advanced GR V imaging engine, the GR offers high sensitivity shooting from ISO 100 to ISO 25600 with minimal noise.

High Speed Autofocus System with 4 fps Continuous Shooting – About as fast as the Nikon A

The high speed autofocus system captures crisp subjects in a mere 0.2 seconds, and start-up time is only one second. The GR’s AF Continuous Shooting function captures a series of photos at a maximum speed of four frames per second, allowing capture of fast-moving subjects in sharp focus.

Designated AF & Aperture Preview Buttons

An AF (autofocus) button is accessible with the thumb on the back panel. When the AF lever is set to the Continuous AF (C-AF) mode, you can capture a series of images of a moving subject – all in sharp focus – by pushing the shutter release button while depressing the AF button. An aperture preview button is on the camera’s side panel for quick confirmation of the depth of field before shooting.

JPG or DNG RAW Capture

Capture both JPG and open-standard DNG RAW images. The GR offers a variety of computer-free image processing functions, including in-body RAW-data development to output JPEG format files.

Manual and Automatic Modes

You can set the GR to shoot on fully automatic mode, allowing the camera to determine the optimal settings for each shot or shoot in manual, controlling all settings to you exact needs. Aperture-priority and Shutter-priority modes as well as custom My Settings mode are available also.

Shutter Speed/Aperture Priority Mode

The GR features the original Shutter speed / Aperture Priority (TAv) exposure mode, featured only in PENTAX/RICOH-brand digital SLR cameras. This innovative mode automatically sets the optimum ISO sensitivity based on the shutter speed and aperture selected by the photographer.

Built-in Flash and Hot Shoe Mount

The GR offers a convenient built-in pop-up flash unit with several flash modes, a Guide Number of 5.4 (at ISO 100) and an effective range of 3.3 – 9.8′. In addition a TTL-A (TTL with pre-flash) hot shoe mount for an external flash is provided. The maximum sync speed for an external flash is 1/400 seconds.

Neutral Density Filter

For further exposure control the GR incorporates an ND filter in both manual and automatic modes.

Image Effects

The Image Effect modes allow the user to add a variety of visual effects to create distinctive expressions without the need for a computer. The direct-access Effect button positioned on the camera’s side panel makes selection of one of the nine image effects easy. Effects include: B&W, B&W (Toning Effect), High Contrast B&W, Cross-Process, Positive Film, Bleach-Bypass, Retro, Miniaturize, High-Key.

Macro Mode

Macro mode allows you to capture the details with sharp close-up imaging. Minimum focus distance in macro Mode is 3.9″.

35mm Crop Mode

For that classic 35mm look, use the specialized crop mode to instantly set a 35mm frame ratio crop.

Durable Compact Design

Despite its large image sensor, the GR has a compact and portable design. Its casing is made of a lightweight magnesium alloy, while its exterior design retains the style typical of the GR series. Designed for maximum comfort and operational ease, all control buttons are laid out for easy access with the right hand.

Dual-axis Electronic Level

For high precision horizontal and vertical alignment, use the electronic dual-axis level to make sure your shot is perfectly aligned with the horizon or framed just the way you want it.

Eye-Fi Card Compatible

With Eye-Fi wireless LAN SD memory cards, the user can automatically transmit recorded images to a smartphone, and even select favorite images and resize them before transmission. In the playback mode, the user can also recall the transmitted images on the monitor using the Effect button on the side panel.

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*As always, this review is based more on “real world” use instead of charts, graphs, and all of the techie stuff. When I review a camera I take it out, shoot it for a couple of weeks and judge it by how it performed for me during my time with it. I test for overall build, feel, IQ, ease of use, high ISO, color, etc. If I like it I say so. If I do not like a camera I usually don’t even shoot with it for more than a day or two and I send it back saying “No thanks”. Usually, if you see a review here for a certain camera it means I really enjoyed it.

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Charging, holding, and shooting with the GR

Much like the Nikon Coolpix A I reviewed a couple of weeks ago (and liked) this Ricoh has a built in 28mm equivalent f/2.8 lens, is small and pocketable keeping with the same GR series size and design, and steps it up about 8 notches from the previous GRIV by upping the game with an APS-C sensor. THIS helps take the camera to “superstar status” in the world of compacts. While there are so many excellent compact cameras out today (Sony RX100, Nikon A, previous GR cameras) that can help you create wonderful memories the GR may just be the “ONE” you have been looking for and craving.

For one, the controls on the camera are almost perfect and seemingly made for photographers. It is such a joy to use and shoot and has given me consistent trouble free results. For example, the camera has a jog dial at the top back by your thumb. You can use it to scroll through menu items or push it for instant ISO, IQ, Aspect Ratio, AF or MF modes, and metering modes. It is all right there with a push of the thumb. We also have custom Fn buttons, switches for exposure modes, a rocker for setting exposure compensation or zooming in on a photo, a macro button, flash button and WB settings button. I feel that this thing is the most useful and customizable camera in this segment of cameras. It is beautiful and if you spend time to configure it for your needs, you are all set.

The top of the GR with it’s basic but necessary controls

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In fact there are loads of settings in this camera that allow you to make it your own, even a 35mm crop mode much like what we see on the Sony RX1. This allows the 28mm to become a 35mm by using an in camera crop mode. Pretty cool. (more on that with samples below).

There is a mode dial up top with your shooting modes. I kept it in Aperture Priority as that is how I have shot for 15-20 years but you can choose between A, P, Tv, Tav, M, Movie and custom settings as well. Once you get your settings all whipped up in the easy to understand menu then you are good to go.

I have not had any AF issues, sensor issues, color issues, AWB issues or even COST issues as this camera comes in at a few hundred less than the Coolpix A it is most similar to. After shooting both the A and the GR, I lean to the GR as the winner due to cost, design, menus, control and overall output. The images from the GR may not have the pop, shine or color signature of the Coolpix A (which leans more digital feeling) of the Nikon A but the files look more filmic and less digital. Hard to explain but that is what I feel after shooting with both of these cameras.

The OOC B&W qualities, as usual with the GR cameras is superb. Below are two out of camera JPEG’s shot in B&W mode. The one with the ventriloquist dummies was shot with the “High Contrast B&W” filter that is easily accessible via a button on the side of the camera along with other filters that the camera offers.

The 1st image is in B&W mode, the 2nd in was color converted to B&W and ISO 2500 and the third was in “High Contrast B&W Mode” in camera. The GR Series has always been great for B&W and IMO, can rival what comes out of the Leica MM as far as B&W quality

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When I started shooting the GR my 1st impressions were that it still felt and looked and worked like a GR and those who love the old GR film cameras will feel right at home with this newest GR camera. But before I get too much into the details and image quality let me talk about what is in the box, as you do not get much.

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When I opened the GR I was greeted with the familiar body, which I was happy about. I then found the battery but could not find a charger. What happened? Where did it go? I soon found out that a charger is NOT included but instead a USB cable with outlet is and you must charge the battery while it is in the camera, much like Sony is now doing with their cameras, even the high end RX1. BOOOOOOOO!! How much would it cost to add a small charger where you do not have to have the battery inside to charge? Other than the camera body, battery and USB charger you really do not get anything else. Simplicity all the way around here.

No issues in full sun! This camera has a built in ND filter as well, and I had it set to AUTO. The dog was in full harsh sun but the camera set the exposure perfectly

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So after charging the battery overnight I installed it and just held the camera. Wow. Now this feels like a well made camera. If you have shot with a GR before you know what I am talking about. It is solid, sturdy, buttons all in the right places and the design is all stealthy black (which we pay extra for from Fuji and Leica sometimes). So the GR easily passes the build/feel test with ease. All I can say is that it just feels “right”.

The front of the GR is very basic and stealthy with only the “GR” letters visible. 

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After holding it and testing out the startup time (which takes about 1 second to power on and spit out the lens) I snapped a few test shots with the GR. Being stuck at home all week having to work and write I only had a few things to shoot like my main animal model, my little dog “Baby”. The image above (the one above the  camera) is an OOC JPEG shot in full AZ sunshine and wow, the colors are correct, the exposure is correct and the WB is spot on. This is something my Leica M and Sony RX1 has trouble doing but here is a $799 camera doing it without breaking a sweat. It seems that Ricoh/Pentax has their act together as the images coming from the GR never disappointed me, no matter what the situation. I walked around with it for a couple of days with it in my front pocket and anytime I saw something of interest I pulled it out to snap and in almost any situation, any light, the color was pretty damn spot on. Even this old antique clown under store lighting came out exceptionally nice and store lighting is some of the worst for AWB ever. The GR nailed it.

Some of the toughest lighting for AWB on any camera. The GR nailed it with some very cool and pleasant colors. 

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It was kind of cool to be out without a camera strapped around me as I usually have it. This guy was literally in my front jeans pocket without any size issues. The lens stays in the body until it is powered on and then it pops out. I also like the fact that this is a 28mm focal length as it gives you just enough wide angle to fill in the frame without going to wide. I sometimes have trouble filling a frame with interesting content when using a 21mm or even a 24mm but 28mm is a bit more natural, usually forcing you to get close to your subject.

The Mode Dial on the GR – well made, and solid clicks. You can also see on of the scroll wheels, the shutter button and the power button which glows green when on.

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I soon started to realize this camera had a TON of features that were usable. A built in ND filter much like the Fuji X100s which will help you keep exposure good even at f/2.8 in full mid day sun. There is even a crop mode that allows you to get from 28mm to 35mm with the push of a button. I programmed the left side “EFFECT” button to give me a 35mm field of view so anytime I push it, 35mm! This works like the Sony RX1 crop mode by cropping the image to 35mm from 28,mm. Below is an example:

The 35mm Crop Mode

TESTING THE 35MM CROP MODE – f/2.8, ISO 560-640 (used Auto ISO), OOC JPEGS with zero Noise Reduction.

1st shot is 28mm – full size file OOC JPEG if you click it! ZERO NR – f/2.8

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and below we have the 35mm crop mode, OOC JPEG, full size, f/2.8, ISO 560, Zero NR

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I know you are asking already “WHAT the hell is that ear thing”? Well, it is an incredible and pretty amazing microphone I have recently purchased for my videos (I do other videos besides my youtube camera videos. This device has TWO ears and is called the 3Dio Free Space Pro. Hooked up to any video device or Digital recorder with a mic input your sound becomes simply jaw dropping amazing. You can even use a grip handle and set a GoPro up on top of it and have a full HD video rig with amazing sound. I will have a video up soon on my youtube account showing off what it can do…but right now we are all about the Ricoh GR and talking about the 35mm crop feature.

The 35mm Crop continued…

So if you need to get a little but closer to your subject the 35mm crop is useful to have. Some of you will also get a chance to see that the high ISO noise performance of the GR is its one weak area, and possibly ONLY weak area. It is not up to part with the latest and greatest from Fuji or Sony but to me, I kind of like this. Instead of supwer smoothed over images at ISO 1000-1600-3200 we get more of a filmic feel. Mixed with Ricohs colors, the high ISO noise adds some life to the photos much like the Nikon V1 does. Sharp, good color, and some noise at higher ISO to me is better than NO noise at high ISO, as long as the noise does not look all mottled and blobby. The noise coming from the Ricoh looks good.

High ISO

Below is a sample at ISO 1600 in my lowly lit office without a light on. You will see noise but it does not kill the photo in any way. With that said, there are better ISO champs out there, including the Nikon Coolpix A. The A looked good at sky high ISO so if low light is your thing, and you pefer smooth noise free images, the Nikon will be the better choice for you though it is $300 more expensive.

Click the image for a larger size with full 100% crop at ISO 1600. Below that are crops from ISO 3200-25,600

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So there ya go! By 25,600 the color goes wonky and the noise is out of control but ISO 1600 and 3200 is not so bad. Remember, these are without any kind of NR at all.

Auto Focus Speed

The Ricoh GR has decently fast AF speed. I compare it to the Nikon Coolpix A as it is about the same. Not blazing but not slow. On par with the NEX cameras from Sony. I found the AF to be accurate as well and Ricoh even has a SPOT AF mode now that really pinpoints your focus point. This is welcome. As with past Ricoh GR cameras you also have your Snap AF where the camera will focus at a set distance that you set in camera. This is great for street photography where you have an idea of the distance you will be from your subjects. The GR gives you all kinds of focus options from Multi AF to Spot AF to Pinpoint and Tracking. You also have MF, Snap and an infinity setting.

Like I said, this guy is super customizable.

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Buggy P Mode?

Others have pointed out to me that there is a bug in Program Auto mode where the camera will never choose f/2.8 as the aperture, no matter what light you are in. My solution to that is to A: Shoot in A mode and set your own aperture or B: Wait for a firmware fix, which I am sure Pentax/Ricoh will soon do for this. It could be that they feel the lens is at its best at f/4, and while it is, the camera is damn good at 2.8 as well. So this does need a fix.

Colors

I have also heard around internet land that people are not happy with the color of the files coning from this camera. Well, I have news for you…the previous GR series were the same. If you want Nikon colors, go for the Nikon A. The Ricoh has its own signature look IMO, just as the IV, III and previous GR’s did. The color is different from almost any camera out there and again, to me, the colors are more along the lines of what you would get with some certain films. Why try to correct what is really the cameras signature look? Just as Leica, Sony, Olympus, Nikon and Canon have their unique color signatures (well, Leica’s change every camera) so does Ricoh.

Many times I will look at a street shot and know it came from a Ricoh digital just due to the colors. For me, I have zero issues with color but can state if you want more pop, shine and “correctness” the Nikon A is the one to beat.

This is a camera that anyone can take anywhere

This Ricoh GR is truly a camera that you can take with you anywhere. Just as with the Sony RX100, Nikon Coolpix A and previous GR cameras, this one can load up in your front pocket and be ready for any photo situation, even if they are silly snaps from your local mall :)

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Out of the three cameras I have mentioned here, I love the RX100 for its speed of AF and ability to get a shot as well as the handy zoom lens, but I have to admit…the GR and Coolpix A beat it for color, IQ, and overall pleasure in use. As good as that RX100 is, we now have large sensor versions that have improved. Such is life in the camera world as manufacturers always try to outdo each other with the latest and greatest. The Nikon “A” is also fantastic, and built very well. In use though, I prefer this GR for many reasons like control, ease of use, AWB and Color out of camera, the nice JPEGS and the great GR lens. Nikon also has a great lens, same specs, and the race is close but at the end of the day I prefer the GR for me though you could not go wring with either.

Pros and Cons of the Ricoh/Pentax GR – They look quite the same as my Coolpix A set of pros and cons!

Pros

  • Large APS-C Sensor delivers the goods
  • Great color out of camera with a filmic look
  • Small size can indeed fit in your pocket!
  • Stealthy matte black, no shiny here!
  • Image quality is superb, detail is superb!
  • AWB is great, even in tough situations
  • Lens is very sharp, even wide open
  • Controls are all on the outside
  • Macro mode one push away
  • Built in flash
  • Build is nice and solid. Feels great in the hand.
  • No lens cap to lose!
  • ON/OFF is quick, about 1 second.
  • HD video on board!
  • External VF is available!
  • The best control of any camera of this kind
  • Many focus modes such as pinpoint and snap that work well
  • The best GR to date and possibly the best pocket cam ever (to date)
  • New TAV mode where you set Aperture and Shutter and camera chooses ISO is unique

Cons:

  • AF can be sluggish at times in lower light, not as  fast as other cameras on the market
  • No built in EVF or VF at all. Boo
  • High ISO not as good as other cameras like the Coolpix A or NEX, so it can get noisy as the ISO goes up
  • No dedicated battery charger ships, just a USB/Outlet so battery must be charged in the camera. Double BOO!
  • Battery Life on the low side at around 300-340 shots
  • Bug in Program Auto mode that will not allow camera to shoot at f/2.8

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My final thoughts on the Ricoh GR

The Ricoh GR is probably the best pocket cam released to date, from anyone. To me it beats the Sony RX100 ($650), and just edges out the Nikon Coolpix A for me as well ($1096). The Ricoh GR comes in at $799 and B&H Photo sent me this one as they were one of the 1st to ship the new camera.  I am glad I was able to check this one out and now I want one. This is a camera that is solid, rugged and understated but at the same time will reward you with ease of use, reliable use and photos that rival the big guns in the camera world. The large APS-C sensor inside of the GR help it to propel out to the front of the pack and next to the main competitor, the Nikon A, the GR slightly edges ahead for me due to controls, design, and the OOC performance. I love the GR colors and while the Nikon A can be cleaner, smoother and more brilliant with the output, the GR has its own brand of charm with a more muted rich color and a little noisier output that gives you some edge.

My 14 year old Scrubby in his last days – ISO 1000

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The 35mm crop mode, built in ND filter, Snap focus modes, Pinpoint focus and cool B&W modes are more reasons I love this camera. Ricoh stuck with the current trend as well and left out the AA filter so what you get is super sharp results without the worry of blurred of mushy results. The menu system is clean, fast and works well as does controlling things such as aperture, Exposure Compensation and shutter speed. This feels like a real photographers camera, not something some big wig execs whipped up for big profits. With a new Leica X supposedly coming on June 11th 2013, and being LARGER and less pocketable, if at all, as well as rumored to be coming in at $3000+, this makes the GR even more appealing. It just doesn’t get much better in this niche of camera.

What more can we ask for? A great prime 28mm f/2.8 lens that can crop to 35mm, easy controls, rugged build, best in class output and trouble free performance. The GR has it all and at $799 it comes in at $300 less than the main competitor, the Nikon A.

I highly recommend this camera if you want a pocketable solution with big sensor output. I love it but with my recent Leica M purchase, I can not afford to buy one so this review unit will go back to B&H Photo. I thank  them for letting me check it out.

This one gets  HUGE thumbs up from me.

Where to Buy?

The Ricoh GR can be bought at B&H Photo at the direct link below:

B&H Photo – Ricoh GR – $796

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Even more images from the GR!

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  119 Responses to “The Ricoh GR Camera Review – The new large sensor GR arrives!”

  1. Thanks for the review Steve! How does the IQ compare to a micro 4/3 like the OMD paired with a Panasonic 14 f2,5 (or the new Oly 17 f 1,8)?

    • Very good review. I’ve had the GR for a little over a week and haven’t probed it to the extent that you have, but am very impressed. On Aperture setting, which I prefer, I notice it defaults to a very low ISO, which makes for terrific, detailed shots. The only problem I’ve had is that at f5, where I find the images consistently sharp, it sometimes slows the shutter speed in daytime shaded areas, to maintain a low ISO, reducing the shutter to 1/40, or even 1/30, which means the camera has to be held very steady and there can be no movement in the shot. In those situations, I plan to try TAV to maintain a faster shutter speed and constant aperture. I also find the macro a little tricky at the closest distances, since the camera ostensibly shoots at 4 inches. At that distance, shooting a flower, for example, it may focus on the leaves, not the intended petals, so I’ve blown a couple of my closest shots. I think more time with the camera will remedy that. All in all, the pictures are outstanding and the built-n auto ND filter is a godsend in a place like here in LA. The camera understated and, although I would never put an $800 device in my pocket without protection, it is indeed pocketable.

    • Dear Ricoh enthusiasts,

      Can you help me?

      I really want to buy the GR Expert. Many years ago I had the GR film version and though it was a stunning camera. On the strength of it I bought the first GRD and was hugely disappointed by it’s poor light handling capabilities. I’ve waited years for Ricoh to improve it and judging by the reviews it’s getting they have finally done it. The sample images look great on this website and on a blog I found through here and then I look at the sample images in the review on http://www.dpreview.com and it just reminds of what I remembered about my first GRD … flat images, poor contrast, no real sense of depth.

      Does anyone agree or am I missing something?

      • Well I show what is possible with the camera. If you like what you see here then it is what can be expected from the camera. Many of the DP Review guys are going through the motions without caring too much about the images. But I always found DP review to be like that :)

        • Thanks Steve, very kind of you to reply. I do like what I see here and I immensely tempted by this camera. I loved the GR film and miss having a digital version. What do you think of the first GRD when it was introduced years ago?

      • I find the GR pictures have some depth. I have an RX-100 and while it’s excellent for a compact, I find its photos are a bit flat and a little disappointing, for all the hype. Still a keeper, though. Actually, I find some of my em-5 photos are also flat sometimes compared to my Pentax K-5, which is a terrific camera with fantastic malleable files, but a bit too heavy for me to carry. I find the Pentax K5 gives me the most sense of depth of any of my cameras (it’s the best camera I have), and the GR is not far behind at its 28mm-equivalent focal length. One thing I have discovered since starting my own humble blog (worldfotoforum.com — where the two most recent posts have mostly GR photos), is that the degraded files posted on blog sites are no basis for comparison. Of course, downloaded full files are good for comparison, and the GR’s look pretty good to me. My K-5 photos, once sharpened, have a nicer 3-D look, my GR is not far behind, as is the em-5, followed the Sony RX-100 and my older m43 cameras. All are capable of decent photos, but the sense of depth is missing in the latter.

        • Hi Mike, thanks for your assessment. My concern though, is how well this camera copes with low light. For example your pictures are taken in strong lighting conditions and it seems to me the samples on this blog are also taken in strong enough light. I live in London. I guess I am going to have to try and find a camera shot that will let me test the camera. Thanks again, Anthony

          • Hi Anthony,
            I’ve used the camera in shaded areas (although not under the sometimes gloomy London skies) and the pictures look quite decent, although the 2.8 lens not fast and I notice the shutter speed on Aperture priority slows to 1/40 second or so. But with the wide lens and despite the lack of stabilization, it works. I don’t have the patience to do the elaborate comparisons that Steve Huff and web mavens do, but my general impression is that, of the cameras I own (K-5, GF-1, GX-1, RX-100, EM-5 — more than I need), it’s quite reasonable in low light, not quite as good as the EM-5, which is very good with a fast lens, but not far off. Actually, I think that on a cloudy day in London, there’s enough ambient light that you won’t have a problem.

            • Hey there Mike,
              I’m actually a proud owner of a Pentax K10D and a Panasonic G3. The thing I miss on the G3 vs the K10D is the dynamic range and fine detail of the APS-C sensor, so I was thinking on possibly getting a small APS-C camera to use along with the G3. Sometime ago I had my thoughts on a K5IIs, but after using the G3 I can no longer bear the idea of carrying around a big camera and heavy lenses. So, I was thinking on a Nex 6, but I really did not want to commit to yet another lens system. Besides, I already have some M43 lenses and will probably, in the future upgrade for the upcoming EM-1 for even better low light shooting (I shoot a lot of music concerts). The APS-C camera would mainly work for landscape and some street photography.
              Bottom line: you have an example (aprox) of each camera I would somewhat be interested in getting(except for the Nex), So I would like to ask you how do you compare the M43 EM-5 with the K5 and the Ricoh GR in terms of detail, Dynamic range and general IQ?
              Many thanks!

              • That’s a tough one. The em-5 has the advantage of a fantastic stabilizer and with a fast lens, it can work wonders in low light, so that high ISO noise isn’t a problem. I don’t think twice about using 1600 ISO and it often looks good even higher. I use it in art museums in low light and the results, while the white balance is often off (I shoot in raw and easily adjust later), are great. I haven’t tried that with the GR but imagine the results would not be good, unless I used a flash. I think of the GR as an outdoor camera and sunny or cloudy, it seems to nail the images, as I mentioned earlier, often slowing the shutter speed way down to keep the ISO to reasonable levels, which works because of the wide lens, and the pictures also look fine at 1600 or even higher. You’re stuck with a slower 2.8 but very sharp lens and it comes in a tiny package, so I find the camera is great for landscape and street shooting. The Pentax K-5 is another animal, very versatile, with so much dynamic range in the raw files, but heavy by modern standards. I also haven’t invested in the best lenses and mostly use the 18-55 kit lens at f8, its sharp point, which also makes it an outdoor camera, creating terrific files with a sense of depth, which I also get outdoors with GR. But every time I think of getting rid of the K-5, I decide it’s just too good to go. All are very good cameras and all have limitations, so in a way it’s a toss-up. The way I look at it, a good Pentax or m43 prime lens can cost almost as much as the GR, so the GR is well worth the money, whatever else I use. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to part with any of these cameras. The upcoming Olympus, though, looks like it might be awfully good.

      • Hello
        Difficult question that gives food for thought! I’ ve bought a ricoh as a second camera and took it to Sri Lanka ‘as my main camera witha grd 3) last July and Brittany in August. Of course the files are different from the ones of my leica M8 (though it’d only 10 m pixels compared to the ricoh 16 m pixels). It’s a perfect second camera especially when travelling.
        The things I appreciate are
        - the fast autofocus though its’ not always accurate when you use the pinpoint spot metering on moving subjects.
        - The image quality up to 800 iso. I’ve used it inside temples and the 1600 and 3200 iso are quite grainy.
        - It’s a very discreet camera that enables you to shoot very close to your subject without being noticed.
        - The 35mm crop mode.
        - The quality of the files even in jpeg
        - The ricoh philosophy which makes that camera a real tool for photographers.
        The things I don’t like are
        - Not always reliable autofocus with moving subjects (pinpoint spot metering). I much prefer the grd3 when it comes to that.
        - IQ when you go to 1600 iso or more indoors without flash.
        However I think I’ll be able to tackle these problems with more practice and a few firmware updates.
        I’ve never used a ricoh gr so I can’t compare. but as I used a contaxG1 at the time the ricoh GR pictures look much better to my eyes than the contaxG1. It’s so personal that it would be preposterous to say that one is better than the other but the GR is a camera I like and use a lot when not using the M8. I have it with me all the time in my bag so I guess it must be doing the job correctly on the whole. If I knew how to leave a few photos on Steve’s site I would have done it but unfortunately I don’t.
        DK if that comment will help you. For other points of view have a look at Ming Thein’s website or stopf8.

  2. Thanks for the review Steve.
    The Ricoh GR/GRDx/GXR bodies are cameras, like a M, that truly inspire you.
    They make you want to take photos, to hold that discrete body, set it to white and black and go outside to U-S-E and abuse it !
    The w&bs have tons of character. The ergonomics are juste perfect.
    I’m getting mine on tuesday (but keeping my GRD IV)… Such a long week end…

  3. I have been shooting this camera for 1 week now. Adorama was able to ship it to me last Friday. This camera is just amazing. It just goes. As a result, I have sold my X100S. It is pocketable and user friendly. When I see what I want to shoot, I reach into my pocket, turn it on, before the camera gets to my eye level, it is ready. AF is as fast as X100S. price is cheaper than X100S, color is better than X100S, size is smaller than X100S. so, I am pretty sure selling the X100S and keeping this little one is the right choice. I still will keep my RX100 just because my wife wants the “zoom”; “it is so stupid you have to walk back and forth to zoom”, said my wife. LOL

    thanks for your review.

  4. This camera is my dream come true. I wanted something just for street photography with a wider lens than 35, and voila’! Ricoh made me happy!
    Just not so happy with the battery.. just 300 shoot.
    Anyway , i started a blog with photos taken only with the ricoh, take a look if you want!
    http://federicochiesa.tumblr.com

  5. Got mine today! Couldn’t agree more with your assessment, specially since I am also the owner of a Sony RX100, which will now be sold. The GR’s vast customization options and incredible IQ blew me away with the first 30 shots. I am even tempted to say that I have yet to hold a camera that feels this good on my hand (and yes, that includes Leica and Nikon). It simply blends with your hand. Can’t wait to take it out this weekend to a big parade in Washington, DC.

  6. Steve, honestly, the shot of Scrubby and the last three images have a quality of color/tonal rendition and contrast that looks great and more ‘natural’ than almost anything I’ve seen here, including the Red Dot cameras. I’m impressed and you know I’m not easily swooned. Maybe I have to rethink my small fleet of APS and m4/3 cameras…
    Also, I totally agree with the ‘facts’.
    Bill

  7. I just love the way this camera renders. More natural and pleasing than many others I’ve seen. Really love it.

  8. Great honest review

    now I will use 3 Ricoh ..
    GR1V, GRD IV (i still love this version + its my birthday gift from my wife) and another GR on the way

    I love it in GRD IV
    I love it in film with GR1V
    gonna love it more in GR

    Sincerely
    William

  9. I really love RICOH colors and output. Hard to describe. Look much less digital than the outputs from the others. The nice grain in higher iso, not overly sharp, some subtle colors that really make a difference in the right lights, etc. Film look? Maybe. In fact those are the same reasons why I decided to keep my x100 instead of of upgrading to x100s.

  10. Looks good. Well priced too. Lovely IQ. Love Scrubby’s pic. Wonder how easy it will be to buy one in New Zealand?

  11. Glad to see you shoot with this little black jewel. Indeed, its everything and then some. I received mine about 3 weeks ago. Actually, I’m humbled that Pentax-Ricoh selected my work to grace the GR’s campaign in the US over pentaximaging.com so with an early start with the GR I got a little micro site going at http://wp.me/P2AlGJ-4X5 The BW white conversions are simply outstanding. The GR also compliments the K5 IIs beautifully in so many ways.

  12. No viewfinder, no thanks. I know you can put optical viewfinders in the hot shoe, but you get no info and no focus data there. I don’t pay homage to the GR lineage, I can’t shoot properly staring at the back of a camera held away from my face.

    • Agreed.

      The writer asks “What more can we ask for? ”

      We can ask for an eyelevel finder of some sort, any sort. The old GR-1 film camera which I owned and loved had one. The even tinier Canon SD1200 has a zooming viewfinder.

      Sounds like I’d love this camera, but will likely have to settle for that new Panasonic LF-1 when it comes out. Eye level finder.

      • Well there is a VF available, an optical one. It would be nice to have one built in but for some reason manufacturers are being odd and not putting them in. It seems only Fuji knows how to do this, lol.

        • Yes, and Fuji charges for it, too. Ricoh opted to make a very compact, moderately priced camera, and good viewfinders are not cheap or small. At least they included the bright rgbw screen. That’s a very nice feature. I suppose these prove popular and they get enough requests they might come out with a GR+ with a viewfinder of some sort (probably electronic).

          • Well, I didn’t say it had to be a particularly good eye level finder. Just an eye level finder.

            I wouldn’t use it for it’s own sake, but for composition. It can be optical.

            The old GR-1 Ricoh had a small eyelevel finder. The new Panasonic LF-1 does, and the old Canon SD1200 does.

            To me, the eye-level finder is not a fallback or substitute for the screen. It is there INSTEAD of the screen. The screen then becomes the fallback. Holding two hands in front of me, walking around zombie-style is not my favorite picture taking mode.

  13. Been using my wife’s RX100, but I don’t care for the menus, although I like the photos.

    Now I finally have a compact of my own, for when I’m not shooting my Nikon full frame DSLR. And I like the interface and controls. Image quality has been very good, even in low lighting conditions.

    Reminds me of my long ago Ricoh R1. So compact!

  14. Thanks Steve, nice review as always!

    I have to concur. This camera IS awesome!!!

    I was one of the first to have mine delivered in the UK (boasting:) as I pre-ordered literally months ago. This kind of camera (small, great 28mm lens, high IQ, great colour, large sensor, Ricoh GR ergonomics etc, etc, etc…) excites me more than a FF Leica and as a matter of fact, my M9 hasn’t seen daylight since I got the GR a few weeks ago. I now own 4 GR’s (2 GR1′s (digital), GR1v and the new GR) and think this is my favourite (closely followed by the GR1v and then GR1). I’ve taken quite a few shots which I have yet to upload, although have some on my Flickr and blog (http://www.photosemantic.co.uk/2013/05/22/riooh-gr-v/#prettyPhoto) as well as a small review and a couple of issues I have found with the cameras functionality – Ricoh please fix with firmware ASAP!!!

    Leica better get its act together, and quickly as in my opinion it is losing its differentiating status… Unless the new M Mini is an f2 APSC or even FF, appx “X” sized or smaller camera, and can compete with the likes of this Ricoh or the Coolpix A (not to mention the RX1), and priced within no more than 20% premium (red dot surcharge) the likelihood of it being successful is VERY small indeed. If it is as rumoured however, I’d sooner buy a D-Lux 7 with a 1″ sensor – whenever that happens…

  15. Been shooting mine for the past 3 weeks and loving it so far, I’m peed off by the lack of a charger too. I know other manufacturers can be tight on this issue but never did I expect Ricoh to follow that stingy pattern.

    Enjoyed the good review & video Steve but one aspect that didn’t come out in the video was the new (Pentax inspired) “TAV” mode on the camera whereby you can choose your preferred shutter speed & then select your preferred aperture and the camera will use these by default and just altering the ISO. A pretty nifty feature addition to the GR I think especially as some have been complaining about the camera’s selection of aperture/shutter speed in the “P” mode of the GR and of course with the excellent inbuilt ND filter you mentioned your ISO will never get too high if it is turned to auto. :)

  16. Thanks very much for this, Steve. You’ve probably saved me some money! Doesn’t look as tho’ I’m going to “need” to buy a Leica X2 after all. Get Leica and Nikon rolled into one. And the best viewfinder solution will be a ClearViewer, not adding much to the thickness and giving you all the info. from the LCD.

  17. Great review, it’s good that someone makes the effort to review the smaller brands.

    I’ve the GR and like it a lot, bought my first Ricoh after reading your GXR review.

  18. Very sorry about Scrubby. Is he still with us?

    Looks like a cool camera though. It’s hard to not be the Nikon guy I’ve always been (before Leica) and all other things being equal, go for the Coolpix. My first digital camera was a Coolpix, the 950. But it’s hard to ignore the final judgement of you and Thein Ming in choosing the Ricoh.

    Good review. Nice pictures. I’m in a rut and could use something to fire up my juices.

  19. omg. you were not kidding on the BW. that BW portrait of your fiancee is something of image quality rarely seen. after coming from dpreview and kenrockwell reviews of the GR, it’s only from you that I got to learn of the 35mm crop mode. that could be useful as I find the GR’s lens a bit wide and i couldn’t possibly wait for a longer lens.
    another thing i find interesting is bringing it up in comparison to the rx100. to me, it makes sense, because of the ability to crop! with the prime lens and AA filterless camera, it could be as good as the zoomed RX100!

  20. Steve the link to B&H shows the old camera which is available and some people may be confused and order it

  21. Nice review.

    But I dont get this on the list of cons, though:

    ”High ISO not as good as other cameras like the Coolpix A or NEX, so it can get noisy as the ISO goes up.’

    That flatly contradicts earlier statements where you praise the noise patterns at high ISO.
    e.g.
    ‘The noise coming from the Ricoh looks good’

    I like those high ISO noise patterns. They are a welcome return to the preferable no-smudge honest noise approach of the original GRDI.

    • It looks better than some other cameras at high ISO but it is still noisier. No contradiction. Most will prefer the smoother noise free results of the A, others will not mind the noise of the GR. But anyway you look at it, the GR is noisier at high ISO. Me, I like a little grit when it looks good. Gives it more realism.

      • Steve, are you basing this assessment on jpegs or raw files? I’ve been shooting with both cameras and find the noise, both in terms of quality and quantity nearly identical at higher ISO. Nikon applies NR to its jpegs above 1600, even when you choose “OFF”. Ricoh actually lets you turn it OFF. So if you’re basing this statement on jpegs, know that you’re comparing NR to no NR. If you’re basing this statement on raw files, well, we’re not seeing the same thing at all…

    • As I already replied, no contradictions. Read my previous reply. Thanks.

  22. I forgot to say: The GR looks hot.

  23. Hi Steve,

    Agreed, it’s a GREAT camera! One thing that strikes me as rather contradictory though is Your leading remark with: “….Its a FACT: Larger sensor cameras WILL give you better IQ than a small sensor camera, especially if printing LARGE…” and a few points later down “…Larger sensor cameras have better ISO performance, more dynamic range and…” nothing ‘wrong’ there;o) BUT then a little further down, above the 1st b/w-shots You suddenly go: “The GR Series has always been great for B&W and IMO, can rival what comes out of the Leica MM as far as B&W quality…” – Now, what do You mean by that? I’m not quite convinced there or perhaps I’m just misunderstanding You?; I shot/shoot/own both cameras and this is certainly not to my findings – I know we all have our own way of seeing things and I’m not even tryin’ to justify my MM since it’s so much more to me than ‘only’ output – You probably know this owning one Yourself already;o) However the Ricoh can certainly fill a major function where the MM can’t – 1st thing that comes to mind is pocketable;o) and the b/w is truly gorgeous (cool/rich midtones) + thank god it’s smaller DNG-files it spits out… Please elaborate on this point if You find the time in Your busy schedule.

    Thanks
    klehmann

    • Not sure of your question? Large sensors will always be better and yes, full frame is better than APS-C for noise, DR, etc. The MM is indeed better than the GR when it comes to high ISO and details, but maybe not DR or tonality. I said “rival”, not “beat” or “equal”.

  24. Hi Steve,

    My GR arrived yesterday and so far so good, as I am still learning the camera. I also have an RX100 and did some shot comparisons and the level of detail and image quality from the GR easily beats the Sony. AF speed on the Sony is still much better than the GR. From a shooting experience the accessibility of functions in the GR easily trumps the RX100 too. I have had the RX100 almost 11 months and found it to be a very capable camera, especially for its size, but on the other hand there seems to be something that holds it back from being an engaging camera for me, most of the features I want in a small camera are there, but it takes a some button pushes and scrolling to get there. Bottom line, I may sell the quite capable RX100 now that I have the GR.

    And now to my real reason for commenting, last evening I ordered a third party wall battery charger and two batteries for the GR for $10.99 on ebay, plus free shipping. It’s from a place in NJ and already has shipped as of this morning. Enjoy your GR. Jeff Smith

  25. Note that in dpreview many refer to the Nikon colors as “dead on,” whereas more than 300 forum posts attempt to fix the blue and green color hues of the GR. I’ve never seen such love for a camera, these GR diehards are bending over backwards to fix the GR colors with the most complicated schemes.

    Ming and others poing out that the GR is great for B/W but that the Nikon A is the one for color.

    • Looking at the color sample images here, I was thinking the same thing. The Nikon has better color but the price of the Coolpix A is an issue. It will be interesting to see the Nikon response.

  26. Hi Steve, thanks for the timely review of this new pocket rocket.

    I’m wondering whether there is really that much advantage to the larger sensor if you end up cropping a lot? I am really tempted to get this for the pocketability and apparently awesome B&W output, but can’t imagine that it will be as flexible as the Fuji X20 that basically comes with me anytime the OMD feels like too much effort (geesh have things changed so much in the last couple years?!).

    Having the option to go optically from 28mm to 112mm with a 12mp sensor that is good up to ISO 800 or so, compared to cropping from a 16mp sensor that is proabably equivalently good upto around ISO 1600 doesn’t seem like a slamdunk to me.

    Another reviewer pointed out the low light focus slows down so much that it sort of counteracts the higher ISO usabilty. Maybe I’m spoiled by the reliability of the PDAF pixels on the new X Trans sensor?

    Also, I still find a built in OVF or EVF really useful, even if I am using The LCD more often than not.

    I’m still really curious to try it for a fixed 28mm B&W take on life, but worried that the trade offs may mean that it won’t be in my pocket as often as the X20 ends up slung under my jacket on its shoulder strap.

    If I can sell a couple m3/4 lenses for a reasonable price, I guess I’ll have to try it out. Unless you think Fuji is going to have another X surprise coming soon?

    Cheers!
    Arėjukas at gerafotografija

    • X20 is nice, but for IQ, this GR really does indeed beat the X20 quite easily. All depends on what you need and want. If you are happy with the X20 and need the zoom, keep it and use it, as that will be the best choice for you. Images will come from whatever we use, so just go with what you are comfy shooting with :) My fave APS-C fixed lens camera has been the X100 (original). I prefer it to the S for IQ and everything else for the lovely colors, feel and look it gives which is different with the new S. Fuji is releasing some new stuff soon including a camera with a sensor that is NOT X trans. Not sure what it is though.

  27. Steve, I just remembered another question I have about the Ricoh. Is there a decent implementation of sweep panorama functionality? I have been happily using this for OOC landscape type pics, kind of like this one. Would I be able to do this with the GR?
    Thanks

  28. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this camera. Do you have a amazon link for France? I regularly buy photo books and others. I would be happy to contribute helping you becausethe quality if your reviews and stories is just great.

  29. Great review! My last Ricoh was the GR-1 back in the day. Maybe it’s time to revisit the GRs.

  30. Hi Steve

    Do you think the Oly combo of EP2 / EP3 with pana 14mm f2.5 / Oly 12mm f2 could rival the GR in some way? especially the in the IQ aspect. Appreciate your opinion since the Oly 12mm is about the same cost as the GR.

    Thanks
    Lee

    • In some way any camera can rival any other, as they all take pictures. But those older Olympus Micro 4/3 models use a 12mp sensor that wasn’t even good when those cameras were new. The images were very noisy, and unlike the Nikon 1 or the GR, the noise was colorful and ugly and looked nothing like film. Add to that the fact that the GR sensor is more modern and less noisy that it is both larger and higher resolution, and there is no real contest. It will slaughter an E-PL2 or 3. Those models are still available new because Olympus apparently wildly overproduced them and the demand now is very low. A modern E-PL5 with the excellent Sony sensor would do better, but it would still be a smaller sensor. Also, the GR lens is designed work in this camera only, always an advantage. No AA filter also, so more sharpness (though for me this is a negative).

  31. This seems to be the perfect camera Ive been waiting for. The only trouble as I can see is the moiareproblem. How big is this issue? Anyone faced this to be a problem?

  32. Steve, excellent pics and review as always. I’m confused; are you shooting the OOC JPGs with all noise reduction turned off at all ISOs for your photography or simply for testing purposes? ie in regular shooting for personal use do you use NR?

  33. Was out this morning for a bike ride with my Ricoh GR which I got a couple weeks ago – this camera really is a ‘take everywhere any time.’ Having pre-ordered and never done that before, I guess my expectations were on the high side. The camera is everything I’d hope for and maybe more. Easy and intuitive to navigate, loads of options in use (you can set this camera up in many ways and change between and within them is so easy, not buried in the menu, options with a push of a button or turn of a dial), amazing sharp lens and great sensor combination, small and fits the hand well. I’m still discovering how much I like this camera every time we go out together.

    The only problem I’ve found… In low light/contrast situations the focus can hunt or lock on at the wrong distance. ‘Snap Focus’ helps here, and works well. Hopefully the Ricoh reputation for firmware updates will do something about this. BTW, in most any other situation the auto focus is very fast, and I like the fact I can set one of my F buttons to switch between multi AF and spot or pinpoint AF with a push of a button.

    Looking forward to getting the 21mm adapter/lens… 1:1 aspect ratio, B&W, on-board level and grid screen, will make me feel like I have a very compact SWC ;-) For a ‘wide’ view 21/28 companion in use with my M9 or film camera and a longer lens I don’t feel I’m missing anything for image quality which is pretty amazing for a camera this compact. Who would imagined a few years ago we’d have a camera like this?

    • I don’t know of any camera using cdaf that doesn’t struggle in low light/contrast situations. It sounds like the GR is behaving normally. I’ve never heard of a firmware update that fixed that fundamental difficulty. They do often speed up focus in good light, but it sounds like the GR is OK at that.

  34. Got mine on friday and it’s an amazing little camera.

    Did some street shots with it yesterday:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/dbartnek/

    • Daniel, your shots are amazing. Did you shoot them in RAW or JPEG? Any photoshop tool to adjust?

      • Thanks jae, i shoot RAW+ (JPEG) and use the file wich suits best to what i prefere. Mostly the jpegs are very usefull. They only need a little adjustment (DR) i did with Lightroom4.

  35. looks pretty promising camera Steve.. well, it’s a ricoh/pentax anyway.. I’d expect something cool from them.
    I can see many potential from your review. I was tempted by the coolpix A, but this GR is really something that you can’t simply resist. Now I know which one definitely to but.
    Thanks Steve.

  36. Can anyone comment of the overall usability of the GR vs the Leica X2? The X2 is capable of producing amazing images but it seems to take some work, especially in mixed lighting situations where it tends to blow the highlights. The autofocus also leaves a lot to be desired. Any insight would be appreciated.

    Adam

  37. Thanks Steve for this wonderful review. I was just waiting for your review before deciding to buy one.
    I was just wondering if you can use the battery charger of a grd1 or grd3 to charge the GR battery and if you can use the preceding battery models.
    Sorry about Scrubby
    Jean

  38. Please look at the following attachment and scroll down on it where you see the 100% crop of the Ricoh GR and Coolpix A and this Proves that the Ricoh has a far sharper Lens.
    http://www.cameraegg.org/nikon-coolpix-a-vs-ricoh-gr-vs-fuji-x100s-vs-fuij-x-pro1/

    • The clearly had a defective Coolpix A as that is so far off from what I got from the one I had it is ridiculous. Not sure of what they did but the one I used was very sharp and appeared sharper than the Ricoh by a tad in my real world shooting results. Either one will give you plenty of sharpness regardless of what you are shooting with it. The “A” is razor sharp as is the Ricoh.

  39. cheers for the reply but I am interested in both but can only afford to buy one and I like the ricoh as it has a ND Filter but I have heard that Canon are Bringing out a APS-C compact soon so I will hold of.
    mind you ND Filter is not everything and does the Nikon A have a Rubber feel to it or not.

  40. Great review Steve.

    I just played with it at Precision Camera and was shocked at how fast and responsive everything was on the camera. We are truly being spoiled.

    I was thinking about holding off and picking up another film GR1s but now I don’t know. I shot some files on my SD card and they are damn impressive, even in the crappy interior of the store.

  41. Nice review!

    Well! what will I do with those point&shoot cameras that I have?

  42. An ex BBC photgrapher friend of mine who has fallen on hard times
    i said to my friend as soon as i have sufficient funds i will buy for her :

    28mm Ricoh GR
    35mm Sony RX1
    50mm XPro 2 & Fuji X 35mm f1.4
    75mm Sigma DP3
    135mm OMD2 & Om Digital 75mm f1.8
    FF : Upcoming FF Sony nex

    :)

  43. I have had my GR for about three weeks, at first I was not sure about it in comparison with my GRD111 but now I love it, it’s close in image quality to my M9, the big difference and it’s big is it comes nowhere near the feel/emotion I can get from my 50mm Sonnar, the GR is going to be the most used camers I have, favourite things. 35mm crop. pinpoint autofocus, easy aperture change, snap focus of course.

    The great thing about pinpoint focus is you can pre-focus on a given spot by half pressing the shutter and just press at the decisive moment, I use it more than snap as it can be much more accurate.

  44. If the offered a good electronic viewfinder i would buy two

  45. Fantastic camera! My second GR and instantly upon taking the first picture, I realized that it far surpassed the previous models. The built quality is actually better – with more tactile buttons and switches, screen is better (hard, glare-resistant plastic and increase resolution), and the magnesium body is courser – allowing better grip.

    Image quality excels – right up there with what Fujifilm is offering through their X-Pro lineup.Hardly have to sharpen Raw files – which, even with high levels of ISO noise, look like film.

    Overall, I have found my new stand-alone camera. My previous Ricoh III will be placed on the Shelf of Honor, right next to the Brownie, Rollei, Contax G2, and NIKON FE2

  46. “I soon found out that a charger is NOT included but instead a USB cable with outlet is and you must charge the battery while it is in the camera, much like Sony is now doing with their cameras, even the high end RX1. BOOOOOOOO!! How much would it cost …”

    Environmental sustainability and looking long term is also why Ricoh GR does not come with a proprietary charger, but it charges the battery via the USB. Many reviewers have booed that move, but in fact, environmental issues, regulations and long-term compliances and penalties are more complex and affect photography to a greater extent than what many reviewers dare to check in the first place.

  47. Steve , Can you do one of your crazy comparisons of the Ricoh GR with lets say Lieca X2 Vario or even more crazily with Leica M .

    I have the DLux 4 and M9 and I was thinking to replace the Dlux4 with RX 1 or the Fuji X100 or the Leica X2 . Now I can consider the GR as well and I am very impressed with your reiview .

    • Well, the GR is a different camera than the Vario X or Leica M. The Vario is only meant for those that want a zoom in daylight. It is not a camera for moving subjects, street, or low light evening work. Basically, a Vario is good for static shots in the daytime..landscape or food. :) The GR is a pocket camera with good speed and performance. ISO lacks behind others in its class but it is still excellent. The X100 is different still as it is an RF shaped camera with the best feature of all, a built in EVF/VF. The X2 is the slowest of the bunch, again, only for static subjects. The RX1 offers the best IQ of every camera you mention but is also expensive and limited to 35 f/2. All depends on what you want and need.

      • Why is the vario not a good street camera, as well as a pretty good daylight zoom? Its got a nice manual focus ring with a distance scale right on the lens, and can easily be used for zone focus from f3.5 in low light (which is about as fast as I ever use at 18mm on an APS censor for zone focus) to f6.3 or 7.1 in good light. Sounds like a great street camera, with the benefit of a nice zoom for more varied shooting.

        Are you just basing this on slow-ish auto-focus? Its well out of my price range for what it is, but I think it could be a really nice camera to carry around doing a combination of street and other shooting.

        • Its not a good street camera as for street you need to catch the moment quickly, and the X1 or X Vario can not do that even if using MF. If you want to be stuck with only Zone Focus than any camera will do. But the X is good for good light, static subjects. Same as the X1. I would not use it for street due to A: AF speed and B: Slow lens that just will not work when light gets low and C: There are MUCH better options in and under this price range for street work. Not bashing anything, just stating facts.

          • Fair enough, you don’t like zone focus. I LOVE zone focus for street – prefer it to the fastest auto focus. Don’t consider myself stuck with it at all. The highly popular and praised Ricoh GRD and GR cams are so popular largely because of snap focus, which is nothing but a good shortcut to zone focus. But I agree, if you want to use AF for street, the vario probably isn’t too good. Nor the Coolpix A – for my uses the Coolpix A is the best street camera I’ve used…

            Thanks for the clarification!

  48. i am so sorry for scrubby…
    at least he had a really beloved buddy.
    our dogs are so short lived!
    we have a wonderful maltese. she is our joy; she understands human language in a ever surprising way.
    i took some 20,000 pictures of her.
    thank you for sharing with us your sentiments, i really appreciate that.

  49. Thanks Steve, for this nice and convincing review!
    I had the Fuji x100s for some time, but somehow it just wasn’t my camera, and sold it.
    Now for me it’s gonna be the GR or the forthcoming Olympus EP-5… (which you will be reviewing as well, no…?)
    Could you tell me, just talking image quality and handling speed, which one you prefer…?
    Thanks for your thoughts.

    Jack

  50. Almost got one but got the Coolpix A for $500 instead. Is it worth having both.

  51. Mr. Becker,
    Where did you find a Coolpix A for $500??

  52. eBay came with case a wrist strap and wifi adapter.
    It was like new. No box had to get a charger for it.

  53. How is the lowlight performance at over Iso 5000.
    I wonder which one of these would do the best over 5000 GR,X100S,Coolpix A.
    I think the X100S is the least noisiest of the 3 I have the X100S and the Coolpix. Don’t have the Ricoh Still.

  54. Hi,

    Thanks for the great review. I owned a GRII and since then a Panasonic GF1 some of the images I took on the GRII are still some of my favourite photos I have taken, so its exciting to think what it would be like with a full sized sensor inside. The only thing that is a little disappointing is the 2.8 aperture. I believe the GRIII had 1.9 and the RX100 1.8 I loved the 20mm 1.8 lens on the GF1, did you find yourself wishing Ricoh had stuck with 1.9?

  55. Hi Steve,

    Very nice review, as always. Could you post some street shots at night? I’m very interested to know how this camera handles bright street lamps. I was quite disappointed by the glare i experienced during my time with the Fuji X100.

    Thanks!

  56. Got the Ricoh 28mm OVF on mine and its great. You can see the focus confirmation light in your peripheral vision. Absolutely takes this camera from incredible to essential. You’re missing out on a truly incredible camera of this generation.

  57. Hi Steve,
    no-one said any word about the missing stabilizer. What is that about?

    Thanks for your comments, I always like it very much – better than any german tests.

  58. This is exactly what I was waiting for, the only problem is…it’s not in the store yet (where I live)
    PS. That little dog looks funny….

  59. This is such a tough call – GR or A? I had a look at them today. I like the form and feel of the Nikon, but some of those functions on the GR would be missed if using the A. Not enough customisation on the A, and video hidden away, grrr.

    But the thing that makes it trickier here in Hong Kong is this: The A is CHEAPER than the GR. Not by much – both just north and south of US$900. I guess the GR is still in its new-to-market shortage flush, with no discounting, while the A is already into its first wave of discounts.

    Many others have said it before me, but it would be great to see you do a shootout between these two.

  60. Could have sworn I read somewhere that the external flash sync speeds were 1/2000th.

  61. Your review is stunning as always but ruined by one moment by your description on Scrubby.
    As a dog owner myself with two wonderful dogs, the piercing eyes of Scrubby took me to the future of my dogs and made me so sad I wanted to crawl up and cry for the rest of the day. I don’t think I could have any courage to take shots of my beloved before they are about to pass away. But the rest of the pictures are great. Thanks

    • Thank you, sorry it made you feel that way. I do disagree with you on that though. I spent the last days with him laying with him, talking to him, petting him, crying over him and taking photos with him and of him as I always did for the past 14 years. Would not change that for anything.

  62. Hi Steve,

    thank you for that review. How would you compare the Ricoh GR to Sigma DP2 Merrill in terms of IQ?

    Stefan

  63. Just got the Ricoh GR and after just one afternoon with it, for me it is absolutely TERRIFIC. It feels great and secure in your hand. Autofocus is quite snappy. Images are sharp and detailed. I like the colors especially in RAW as they have more saturation and pop. The UI and controls are great and I love this camera for all the reasons I disliked the RX100. Being able to set both the aperture and shutter speed and let the auto ISO float is how I like to shoot (which I can do as well with the RX1 in manual mode). You can crop to zoom because images have plenty of resolution so the 28mm fixed focal length is no problem at all for me. This camera is small, light, fast to use, has truly excellent image quality and is FUN FUN FUN to shoot.

  64. Thanks for the review, I agree with all the fine features of the camera but I do find the images lack contrast and appear unappealingly flat.

  65. Thanks for your review Steve! You provided those important details that would make or break the deal for me in getting the GR. That said, the internal battery charge was also a double boo for me – in this case, it is a deal breaker. Coupled with the lack of VF and relatively short battery life, I can see how fast I will drain this GR in no time.

  66. BalaJi MicroTechnologies is registered in India under Indian companies’ act 1955. We are a part of “B.B. GROUP OF COMPANIES”.
    “We are a machine vision solution provider & recognized as a premier designer and leading supplier of high-performance imaging systems and other imaging components for wide variety of applications. Our company core interest lies in security/surveillance, Industrial/machine vision and medical imaging domain.” BalaJi MicroTechnologies has seen tremendous growth over the years and recognize as one of the leading and highly experienced machine vision solution provider in India.

  67. Steve, how useful is the macro setting? 3.9″ seems less like macro and more like close up. I like everything about this camera but I have a reservation about what seems like limited macro. Thanks!!!

  68. Hi Steve, I’ve been using the Ricoh GR for a few months now and love it. Upfront I’ll say that I’m a jpeg shooter – I know, I know what a noob, etc, but I’m very time poor and don’t have hours to sit in front of screens processing images I’m not getting paid for. If you’re a full time pro, I understand that RAW is more forgiving if you have the time. I’ve shot RAW for ages but was loosing so much file space on cards and discs for what? The jpegs I’m shooting with either PS or Nik software editing quickly is yielding great results…..and yes I print photos to around 8×12! I’ll say that Snapseed on the iPad is totally underrated. I’m the owner of a Canon 60d with a Sigma and Canon lenses, and also own an X100s. Now the DSLR is great for everything bit big, the Fuji X100s is just amazing for ooc jpegs for literally anything that doesn’t require a zoom (I know Steve doesn’t like this as much as the X100 rendering) however the Ricoh GR is pocket-able, fully spec’d with great features such as snap focus, interverlometer, ND filter, etc and its very understated. You get great results with discretion. JPEGS are good (not as good as X100s), lens is ok, features amazing, ease of use 10/10. Here’s a few links to some pics that were all shot jpeg, processed quickly in Snapseed on iPad. What do you think?

    https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-IqHQazbqEl0/UnOeT2vCeYI/AAAAAAAADuM/pExYmoSmDZA/w1340-h888-no/13+-+1

    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-0MQRPhZPyT0/UoyLl1-2hTI/AAAAAAAAD8c/LOnQbruISTQ/w588-h887-no/13+-+4

    https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-usBamKfW3QQ/Uos5bMbZnlI/AAAAAAAAD4c/kq19peDmnrU/w640-h424-no/blogger-image-1382395376.jpg

  69. On the subject of the battery charger, I have one of these and love it. If you can find it (seems to be discontinued?) I’d get one:

    http://www.amazon.com/PowerGen-Multi-Purpose-Universal-Battery-T-Mobile/dp/B004B8CAT6/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

    It can charge any lithium ion battery I’ve thrown at it. Just make sure you read the instructions. And it charges from USB, which is a big plus for me – if I’m traveling abroad all I need is to buy a local USB charger if I change plugs, instead of carrying around clunky adapters. Everything I own (except my laptop, which I wouldn’t take traveling abroad) charges from USB.

  70. What do people find most useful to use and program in the “Fn1″, “Fn2″, and “Effect” settings? Just looking for some of the best ways to get the most out of the camera.

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