Simple Review of the Ricoh GRDIV for Travel Photography by William Jusuf

Simple Review of the Ricoh GRDIV for Travel Photography by William Jusuf

Since January, Me and wife already planned to have a vacation.. we can’t go for too long.. so we plan 4 days getaway only 3 of us: Myself, wife and baby Daini (she’s now 8 months old).. If you remember , my first post in Steve website is about celebrating Daini’s birth.

The Mission is to enjoy the 4 days and bring baby Daini to meet her Great Grandmother in Bali.. The surprise is.. at my 34th birthday (August 12th), my wife gave me a surprise by giving me a pleasant birthday gift. Ricoh GR Digital IV… on August 14th.

Its a camera that I’ve been thinking (and hesitating) to buy for quite a long time..She knew since I keep looking at it on many site and blog, reasoning myself , yet I don’t have the nerve to pull the trigger. I know I will love it… Since I am more a street people candid shooter (definitely I am not in league of photographer) but since I had GF2 + the 25 and 45 also Nex5 + CZ35mm and Leitz R Summicron 50… I hesitate to add a street pocket cam in a fixed wide focal length.

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So.. we left to vacation from 16-20 August.. only 3 of us.. me , wife and 8 months baby Daini… So I must choose wisely, which gear to bring.. Then I decide to pack Sony Nex5N + CZ 35mm and Leitz R50mm (stuffed on the baby stroller, for my baby portrait ).

I decided to force myself to use the Ricoh GRD IV most of the time for its size and simplicity. Imagine I must keep carrying baby Daini in front of my chest… 80 % of my time , I simply use Ricoh GRD IV with 1 hand only..

So here are my Traveling with Simple Pocket Camera…. The story begin. We had a 2 hours delayed airplane… while waiting at the Airport.. I shoot some pictures , all using Snap Focusing. It’s a training for me to measure distance  1 / 1,5/ 2.5/ 5 meter or infinity.


Soekarno Hatta Airport .. using infinity snap in high ISO 640

Noodle lover .. I snap 2.5 meter of this old man really enjoying his noodle

Buddies Chatting.. Snap 1,5 meter of this two old buddies enjoy waiting for the airplane


Then 3 of us waiting in the terminal gate.. for almost 1.5 hours delayed.. Baby Daini get restless , I took her for a walk arround while shoot some photos


Busy with themselves… Snap 2.5 meter of people bored waiting

Up the terminal Gates.. Snap infinity

Tired and Bored.. Snap 5 Meter.. of a man tired and leaning on his wife

Finally .. we take off to Bali. We stay in Pan Pacific Nirvana Tanah Lot and my Auntie Home (alternately). The hotel is one great place ! It is cozy.. very beautiful .. facing the Tanah Lot Beach and Pura Tanah Lot… and great 18 holes Golf. Unfortunately I never shoot any landscape before so I must admit this is my first time using wide-angle to cover landscape.


silhouette of the Lobby… facing the Ocean.. Snap Infinty at Sunset


View from the Sunset Lounge.. Snap infinty

Merica Restaurant .. Snap Infinity

Dinner with sunset.. Snap infinity


Ok enough with the Hotel. We had a tight Schedule and my wife wants to take us and baby Daini to visit the Bali Safari Marine Park. It definitely a great place to takes kids.. takes photos .. with many animals. I keep snapping very fast with the GRD. Learning many ways to hold camera in conventional and unconventional ways. The camera works flawlessly. Just keep it on and sleep after 3 min non use and alway set it on snap mode. Spot focusing. Auto white balance.. Auto High ISO up to ISO 800. Easy.

The cons are the GRD will not wake up several times after going to sleep.  I cant figure out how to wake it  so I unplugged the battery and it backs online.


Roar.. Dine with me.. Snap 1.5 meter with the camera hold under my waist facing back.. So this shot taken without looking


Watching Cenderawasih bird.. Snap 1.5 meter

Look. White Tiger.. Snap from waist goes up of a kid surprise look at the white tiger

Evi, the Orang Utan.. Snap 1.5 meter

Eat and Eat.. Snap 1.5 meter


How about the high ISO ? It’s a pocket camera with small Sony Sensor (that also used in Canon S, G etc). I usually will limit my self to ISO 400.. but for fun.. I pump to auto high iso 800 with max 1/30 sec shutter time I dine in a Pool Grill. quite dark.. not total dark.. So I can try snap some high ISO shots.


in front of sushi bar

watching the chef


Well. I can see noise at ISO > 400 and it get quite noisy at 800. I always turn of the noise reduction as well as the Dynamic Range turn off also.  Everything is simply RAW the way it is.  Like the old tricks.. For the high iso shot, I convert it to Black and white :p

The next day while having great lunch at Bebek Tepi Sawah (duck restaurant)… great food and affordable price. Glowing.. somehow the roof shine the sunlight to this 1 cashier.. I simply snap it. We had Sunset dinner at this incredible place called Kama Kandara… watching great sunset … you could swim if you like great food and perfect places to stay also at their private villa.


Pool… Snap at infinity

Sunset at Kama .. Snap at Infinity

Enjoying .. Snap at 1.5 meter

My table view.. Snap at infinity


The next Day.. we have lunch at this great hotel called the Royal Pita Maha. It is highly recommended for the private villa and the best Spa in Bali. It is very harsh light and day.  I don’t shoot much since we must climb down to valley and carrying a baby is out of the question for me. We simply had beverages at the top restaurant.

We then went for real lunch at Potato Head Seminyak.. Great place Good food and drink..also great people. The lighting here is a challenge for the small GRD 4 since it’s midday with hot harsh lighting directly to the pool and beach.


Portraiture.. Snap 1.5 meter

Ready To Swim

Click..We’re In Love!

 I love this little camera in spite of the many limitation of the camera but also the pure photographic tool function so here’s my 4 days review list of the Ricoh GRD IV.


The cons go first..but I try to live with it

– Small Sensor.. that means.. cant pump it to high ISO .. iso 80 to 400 is very good.. ISO 400-800 is usable.. noise is visible but better if we use BW mode

– Lens is fixed in 28 mm.. So I must learn and reset my view coming from 50-100 mm shooter

– You can’t do crazy bokeh (although I do it with 1 cm macro).. but the results wont come close to DSLR

– the wont wake up problems.. I had this hang Ricoh few times after the camera goes to sleep.. It simply wont turn on again.. Must plug out battery


The Love of this Ricoh GRD …

– Simple straight forward operation with the front wheel and back wheel button.. allow me to use only 1 hand to do all

– Snap focusing, gosh this feature is so nice.. I almost shoot all my photos in snap focusing..

– Autofocus very fast (for a pocket).. almost get focus in blink of eye even in dark condition

– Auto white balance is the best in every camera I ever handle.. it spot on. From almost all the file, I never do anything to the white balance just right

– Skin tone.. gosh I am loving the skin tone … better than my funny color skin tone of Nex and GF2..

– the ergonomic and grip.. I am wearing it whole day.. not even a sore hand.. I could do many maneuver while shooting it

I get sore in my finger after using Nex5N + Leitz Cron 50 for 2 hours..

– Battery capacity.. well I can get +/- 430 shots per charge with all time stand by…


So will this Ricoh replace my Nex 5N + manual lenses or my Micro 4.3 with the great native lenses ??

Yes and No

Yes if I need to go discreetly, not attracting attention and can’t take anything but a Hand phone sized Camera. Yes if I need to go to the street, the unsafe not friendly environment..

No for Its small sensor just wont give the Shallow DOF , the high ISO and all the big sensor do. No for the look I want from the Zeiss and Leitz lenses. No if I were a pixel peeper and crop fanatic (fortunately I am not)

I know this GRD will taken in my pocket everywhere I go… Just take it out and snap and you are good. I am loving this simple pocket camera as it simply fills my needs for a wide-angle good result fast pocketable photographic tool.

If this looks like a camera you would enjoy you can purchase this camera at B&H Photo Here. 


William Jusuf


  1. Ah my GRD IV will arrive any day now. I really lusted for the small sensor camera and Reports like this convince me to pick one up.
    Although some of your photos are processed too much for my liking, I enjoyed a great deal of them!
    I really look forward to print GRD IV files…

  2. Ignore the small sensor haters and the self-proclaimed experts who some how know it all but have nothing to show for it.

    I’ve got the GRDIV as well.

    It is the first digital camera I have ever owned.

    I wanted a camera that I could learn on, play with, and be able to take some great pictures in the process.

    Of all the reviews, advice, etc, I read about learning about which camera to choose, I honed in on this one: the best camera is the one you carry with you.

    As an electronic musician, I also understand the importance of limits and limitations when it comes to expanding ones creativity, developing talent, and expanding knowledge. I learned synthesis using the most basic of synthesizers – Roland SH-101. I squeezed every last bit of sound out of that keyboard that my talent allowed before I moved on to more complicated synths. I’m still learning, constantly, but my initial learning curve and approach set the stage for mastery of more complex instruments later on. I feel the same in regards to digital photography – as a novice, beginner, or “shooter” limitations can help. Too many options, too much technical ability can be overwhelming to someone who hasn’t mastered the basics.

    The GRD IV is indeed a limited camera – fixed prime lens, small sensor, narrow dynamic range.
    However, these limitations are counterbalanced by its size, speed, reliability, ease of use, and discreteness.

    Over the year that I’ve had it, I found my “sweetspot” for the camera, and have taken some photos that have impressed many professional photographers using full-frame Nikon DSLR’s making amazing livings with their work.

    They all had the same feedback: the composition and lighting of the photographs was key to their opinion of my photos value and worth.

    That eye was developed within the limitations of the GRDIV. Narrow dynamic range made me recognize when lighting would be optimal. Fixed prime lens made me recognize ideal composition. And I was able to experiment quickly due to the way the GRDIV “disappears” when you use it.

    When I see photos like yours, William, I am further inspired to continue my exploration of the GRDIV. Your photos, while they may not be perfect, are beautiful and as a commentator described, full of soul. I like the the look, just as much as photos I’ve seen from Leica’s and other amazing cameras. Are they “better” or “worse”? These are such subjective judgements they are meaningless to me.

    Thank you for sharing, William.

    • thank you Perpetual

      the main reason for me to use this camera.
      is to learn..
      I started as LX3 shooter .. then going M4/3 and Nex.. all in 50-100 mm range

      I need a wide (not 24 nor 35)… its 28 mm.. to teach me from basic..
      how to see.. structure, shape, line, … Composition 101..

      your opinion is spot on with my aim getting this Ricoh

      I know I need to learn… I believe this Ricoh GRD with all its limitation.. will stretch myself and hopefully.. I could develop to be a better moment capturer

      I know also that I need to learn how to PP better.. all this time I learn by trial and error 🙂
      thinking of getting a good lesson now..

      For all of you … thank you for all the good input… all are very useful


  3. Good day gents…

    This is my first post in Steve’s site. I’ve been lurking on Steve’s site for few months… No, I’m not a good photographer… But I believe I have eyes to see pictures with soul, taken with passion or not…

    In my humble and very personal view, the pictures shown by William definitely show that there are souls in each of them.. maybe not as strong as the more experienced photographers, but definitely there… They could be made stronger if they could be grouped into two or three themes and then remove others that do not fit into the themes… and don’t forget, the 28mm field of view of GRD also limit what William could include and exclude on the frame…

    I cannot believe to read the comments that against post processing… What’s wrong with that? People that coming from shooting with negatives, especially B&W, must be familiar with negative development, burning, dodging, toning, etc. And those are not wrong during printing process… why now it became unacceptable on digital? In my opinion, in B&W photography, picture is only 1/3 of process while it is taken… the other 1/3 is when the negative is developed, and the last 1/3 is when it is printed, to yield as the final art. Couldn’t digital post processing treated in similar way?

    Or is there a holly grail on digital photography that picture should be 90% perfect while it is taken? Why some people forget that even in digital, the colour scheme (including the lens coating) and dynamic range that is adopted/chosen by each camera manufacturer affect how the original file (even at raw) looks like. Same scene, same lighting, taken with Olympus, Sony, Canon, Nikon, or others… the result would not be the same! So, photographers would have right to adjust it as they like…

    Just my two cents… (no…, maybe just one cent)…

  4. I bought the Ricoh because it had a CCD sensor, almost same as the d-lux4 and produces very similar results. I like the look of ccd sensors, and the grd4 gives amazing results (as i’ve shown in my link above).
    I get great results just shooting in jpg, not raw. The OOC jpegs look fantastic. Just DONT OVERPROCESS. The camera already comes with some decent modes.
    I usually shoot with a 5dm2, i needed a TRUE pocketable camera and this was the winner.

  5. And to get back to the camera, ;), I recently bought one, and agree that the sensor is limiting, but the processing firmware is good at optimizing its capabilities. The lens never ceases to amaze with its sharpness and clarity shot wide open – something few compacts can do, and the size, stealthy color , and lightning fast AF makes for a terrific street photography tool.
    It’s over-priced, but if you find a good used example (I paid half retail for a camera with less than 300 shutter count 🙂 ) I really recommend it to anyone wanting an unobtrusive fixed lens camera that helps you think in 28mm, and produces great results.
    Thanks William for posting, and good luck for your future projects.

  6. That first photo of the crub of Soekarno Hatta- never seen the airport look that good 🙂 nice shots, nice review. Now in dying to go back to Bali. The shot against the wall of Potato Head did it for me. Good to know the Ricoh worked out. I’ve always wondered about that camera.

  7. Hey William,
    That is some lovely travel pics.
    I especialley like the one of the boy and the white tiger, nice timing for a candid shot.
    Also the last photo from the reception has some wery cool light around one of the girls, allmost magic.

    Looking foreward to see your photo project of baby Daini 🙂

    Kind regards

    • the light comes from the roof hole.. that shine directly to the girl behind the register desk..
      they are in Bebek Tepi Sawah (Duck specialty culinary in Bali)…

      actually the candid of the white tiger.. and a girl 🙂 shes wearing a hat so looks like a boy 🙂

      thanks a lot people
      I will keep learning and hopefully get better in capturing moments


    • 🙂 thanks for the advice, Joseph…

      maybe , you could teach me , what kind of photos that look beautiful and not horrible like mine ?
      can I see yours ? please teach me…

      or a pro and artist like you, are too snob to teach others ?

      well… for you, maybe I am just a not talented horrible photo taker

      as long as my family thought my hobbies are useful … I will keep shooting 🙂

      wow… I think Steve Huff must be a real stupid man to let me, such a not useful man touching a camera…

      Steve , if you think , these are so horrible… please just remove the post
      and replace it with mr Joseph, the artist and pro photographer postings…

      Thank you so much for the advice man..
      and please, do show me, how is being more useful … for mankind..

      I know you must be a great photographers
      I wish you are being useful for mankind …


      • I do agree with Norman, I think Ansel Adams will appreciate a picture taken with love like William’s. BTW, nice shoots William, I like the way you take the pictures and how you describe it. I have a plan to visit Jakarta and Bali this late November 😀

    • There is no need to be such a dick! Jeez indeed. William is taking all the criticism on the chin, and respectfully acknowledging his need to learn more about composition and less PP.
      Lets see some of your .master works of art . and see whether you can handle the criticisms as gracefully. From your attitude, I suspect not.

    • @Joseph: William Jusuf does enjoy his approach to photography AND it has left more than a few people happy (besides his family!) at having seen these images on this site, and therefore it is quite safe to assume he HAS achieved something good, or “useful”, as you put it – he’s communicated his joy and brightened the day for some folks. That’s 2 UP for him, and ZERO for you.

      Since you’re into telling Mr Jusuf what to do, how about just clicking away to some other site that is “more useful” to you, and trying hard not to communicate your dissatisfaction with whatever it is (self, photography, life, etc.?) that’s bothering you? Surely you could do something “useful” like that instead of passing disparaging remarks as your standard means of communication?


  8. William, thank you for this interesting article. With all the Fuji Olympus Sony Canon Nikon news going on these days, one would almost forget about this little Ricoh gem. Good to see it being discussed here. Thanks for the pictures too. Didn’t get all the processing choices, but worked out well in my opinion.

    Enjoy the camera and happy shooting!

  9. I always wonder (and never find the answer) why some people try to make images that are uninteresting (except as a holiday document) to begin with, more interesting by applying heavy post processing, HDR and such. Why not get back to the basics of photography, and think about what an image could mean. Change the framing, wait for more interesting lighting, etc etc. Use any camera you like.

    I’ve always found that an interesting image is much more important than the tool used to to make that image. It’s the photographer who decides when and how to snap.

    As “demonstration” pictures (this is a good camera) they are allright.

    • 🙂

      its not the camera .. the GRD is nice

      its simply my experimentation with PP

      🙂 thanks for the perspective


      • William, why not start experimenting with composition (subject off-centre, horizon indifferent places), distance (close, far), aperture/DoF, lighting, etc? Use post processing only to finetune exposure, colour and contrast. See where that brings you.



        • i will and already doing it

          have plan to do a Jakarta project with that concept in mind
          also have some photos taken also

          asking and learning from mqny friends in every aspects

          appreciate your advice so much , Michiel


          • Would love to see the results William; Jakarta must be a fascinating place to walk around with a camera!

  10. Sorry, I dont speak english!

    Le GRD IV a apporté la stabilisation de l’objectif, mais aucun progrés en haut iso!
    Le GRD V, s’il existe un jour, devra permettre de shooter à 800 iso sans difficulté!

    I love this GRD!

  11. Hey, is it just me or does that dramatic tone stuff make every persons skin in the photos look like they need a serious bath?

  12. Dear William,
    Don’t see the street as a unsafe and unfriendly place, in my opinion it is really important to get a connection to your surrounding to achieve interesting photos. If you are afraid of or feel uneasy in the surrounding you are photographing, it will be more difficult to be creative and have focus. Most of your energy will be used dealing with fear and/or uneasiness.

    For me talking to stranger and making portraits of them is a good way of getting more relax about the environment and myself. The quality of the photos is in this stage not important, first you get yourself in a good mood, then the sky is the limit.


    • Thanks Thomas…

      I ussually use 2 approaches.. either its full candid shot…
      or I really get to know those person in the street

      both works well and enjoyable for me

      unfortunately the connection technique, most of times.. wont be happening in unfriendly places like my town…
      even security of marketplace or mall, will stop you from take pictures, drag you out even try to take ur camera with force.. We have many uncertain regulation about taking photos in public places

      but I try both approaches..
      I make many new friends
      but I also been dragged out like a criminal many times

      so in my town, for local people like me (exc. for foreign tourist)… I must be very adaptive to the condition ..
      Like I said… GRD can do both approaches
      while my Nex and manual lenses more to the connection friendly approaches


  13. I have been a fan of the GRD series for many years, and presently use the GRD 4 – a well built and discreet little camera, with the advantage that people take little notice of you when you point the camera at them. The small sensor, snap focus mode, and 28mm lens (pin sharp) is a winning combination, and as Eliot Lewis said earlier I hope Ricoh carries on with the GRD series.

    Enjoyed your photographs of Bali using the camera in snap focus mode, although the colour was a bit over-processed in some – loved the B/W (great camera for monochrome).

    Glad to see that your baby daughter and wife are doing well, as I remember your previous posting on her birth, and that the holiday in Bali has left you all refreshed (a beautiful part of the world indeed).

    Best wishes,


    • thank you Andrew 🙂

      I am arranging a 1 year project photo of the month for 12 month for Daini

      you are so thougtful


    • hello Huey

      already upgrade

      still bump into the freezing problems sometimes
      but its ok… i still love the camera

  14. I have the GRD4 and the Sony RX100. Although the GRD4 is very fast, customisable, feels “big” yet is so small and has a very sharp lens. But, IMO the output from the RX100 is a lot better overall. The “look” of the RX100 pics is simply better, sexier and less clinical… in most cases.

    • Amen, the reviewer took a lot of great photos; but many had the highly mudded appearance of a small sensor. The RX100 files look like APS-C output next to it. Either way the GRD4 is still a great little camera and has the one key thing that Ricoh (Fuji and Leica for that matter) gets but Sony fails miserably at (even if not using the NEX horror) MENUS!!!!! Usable workable lag free and simply ergonomic menus!!!

      • Imagine, the RX100 sensor in a GRDV with a f1.4 28mm lens, or maybe in a GX 300 with a fast 21-60mm equivalent zoom. Lens, handling and user interface from Ricoh, sensor and electronics from Sony.

    • Indeed. I loved my GRD II for all the reasons mentioned here, and I still have the amazing GR1 – FF compact and you don’t have to pay $2700 for it ! – but the sensor in this latest model is in desperate need of an upgrade.

    • Hi

      Lots of nice pics, but it would be much cooler to see some unprocessed pics if you want to judge the camera. Now I can only judge your post processing abilities.

  15. DOF, hyperfocus. This looks like a good 28mm. Sometimes pure manual can be faster then auto. Just set very thing to the general light and distance. Just push the button. Years ago that is what one would do. Nice pics, good info.!

  16. There are a lot of shots that could look so nice, but there is a whole bunch of very weird postprocessing going on… I see halos, pseudo-HDR, etc… way overcooked.

  17. ……….nice reportage photos………….but I can´t get the point?
    BTW Steve got a new center photo… LEICA with EVF….got the same …..But it´s from Olympus 🙂 🙂

    • the point is..
      I love the little camera and the working system.. so simple

      i know this is not the newest most hype camera in the market.. with all the limited capability..
      but I learn a lot from this camera

      it open up many perspective for me
      and until now, I really enjoying it , even making a little project
      Life of urban people in Jakarta (process ongoing) with Ricoh

      I even compare this one with a good friend owning RX100 in 1 event
      I use RX100 for the whole event and he use GRD for the whole event
      and we compare the results

      IMHO.. from user point of view..
      its a useful unique good camera… not new, not big sensor, very intuitive with 1 hand and simple operation

      thank you

  18. Great article, nice work William. Your photos have nice depth and composition.
    I also use this fantastic little camera touring all over the world as the keyboardist with
    Daryl Hall & John Oates. My DSLR usually stays at home now.
    I can’t say enough about the performance of this camera for what it is.
    I really hope that Ricoh carries on the GRD line.
    The quality is stellar shooting in raw and like you said keeping the iso below 800. Although even 1600 is usable. I have even exhibited many photos shot with this camera at several galleries. I think one of the key advantages to this camera is a sharp piece of glass and its many ways of customizing it.
    Also I just want to say Steve what a fantastic site this is, I spend a fair amount of time here.

    • its me over processing some of the photos
      simply because I like the way it become

      my bad ..
      thanks for the good advice MM

      • They are your photos and you should do with them what pleases you. It won’t please everyone no matter what you do. Some of these don’t work for me as compositions because they include too much or the backgrounds are distracting. But those were your decisions, and my tastes are not the same as yours. Many of the pictures I enjoyed for their humor and life. It looks like a great vacation. Maybe I will go there some time.

  19. By the way, there is also a white version of the GRD IV available. You can buy it at B&H and it sells for 150 dollars less than the black version. I have it and it takes the same quality of images as the black version…

  20. Like the GRD3, the GRD4 is a little jewel for documenting and serious photography as well. I loved the infinity snaps. When I shoot my GRD3 I usually set it 1.5 meters and go town on the streets. Also try using “P” mode and shifting back and forth as needed, it really works quite well. Actually read that tip from Ming Thein a little while ago. Great series.

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