Is there still room for the premium compact camera. I haven’t had a compact camera for years, so the question I asked myself while unpacking the Ricoh GR was, “is there still room for premium compact cameras in a market where also everyone has a camera on them these days?”.
So compact cameras have been hit pretty hard, you don’t need market figures to work that out, all you have to do is head out to your local tourist hot spot and see what people are using. Smart phones, tablets, mirrorless and dSLR’s are what people are using. Yes there are the few out there still walking around with their compact cameras but nowhere near as many as there used to be. So is there any advantages of having a premium compact camera like the Ricoh GR? YES
I can’t remember my last compact camera, these days if I don’t want to carry my Canon dSLR, or X Pro 1 I resort to just using my iPhone. The iPhone camera is great, it works well in most instances and some of the camera apps make it that little bit more creative. When I say iPhone I also mean your Android or Windows Phone.
Don’t get me wrong you can do a lot with a phone camera however you can do a lot more with the Ricoh, and it’s pretty fun to use.
Specs from the brochure
|MSRP||$799 / £599|
|Max resolution||4928 x 3264|
|Other resolutions||4352 x 3264, 3264 x 3264, 3936 x 2608, 3488 x 2608, 2608 x 2608, 2912 x 1936, 2592 x 1936, 1936×1936, 1280 x 864, 1152 x 864, 864 x 864|
|Image ratio w:h||1:1, 4:3, 3:2|
|Effective pixels||16 megapixels|
|Sensor size||APS-C (23.7 x 15.7 mm)|
|ISO||Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, 16000, 25600|
|White balance presets||9|
|Custom white balance||Yes|
|Optics & Focus|
|Focal length (equiv.)||28 mm|
|Screen / viewfinder|
|Screen type||TFT LCD|
|Viewfinder type||Optical (optional)|
|Minimum shutter speed||300 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/4000 sec|
|Built-in flash||Yes (Pop-up)|
|Flash range||5.40 m (at ISO 100)|
|External flash||Yes (via hot-shoe)|
|Flash X sync speed||1/2000 sec|
|Continuous drive||Yes (4 fps)|
|Exposure compensation||±4 (at 1/3 EV steps)|
|AE Bracketing||±2 (3 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)|
|WB Bracketing||Yes (+/- 8 steps B-A axis or G-M axis)|
|Resolutions||1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 ( 60, 50, 30, 25, 24 fps), 640 x 480 (30, 25, 24 fps)|
|Storage types||SD, SDHC, SDXC|
|Storage included||54 MB|
|USB||USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)|
|Battery description||Lithium-Ion DB65 rechargeable battery|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||290|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||245 g (0.54 lb / 8.64 oz)|
|Dimensions||117 x 61 x 35 mm (4.61 x 2.40 x 1.38″)|
Ergonomics and Build Quality
The first thing that springs to mind when you pick the Ricoh GR up, is that it feels strange. It’s the power coated finish that in different, there is no smooth plastic but instead a slightly rough finish that takes a little getting used to.
Moving on from that strange finish, it feels incredibly solid thanks to its magnesium allow shell.
It’s great to see that this camera has physical buttons and dials and it’s obvious that Ricoh have spent a little time thinking about how you hold the camera. There is a sizeable rubber grip that lets you hand hold on without fear of it sliding out of your hand. The button and dial layout is set out in a way that the main shooting controls are easily accessible with one hand operation.
Pleasurable. The Ricoh user interface is pretty straight forward, it doesn’t take long to work out where everything is and the most important functions are already setup on the physical buttons.
I’m not one for reading the manuals of cameras straight away, and with in no time at all I was able to easily change the settings I needed to. For those out there that like to customise everything, well the Ricoh has you covered. There are a huge amount of customisation options for the dials and buttons, allowing you to get it just right. There is also 3 custom shooting modes where you can set up up entire shooting configurations for easy access on the fly.
It doesn’t stop there you can delve into the depths of Noise Reduction and ISO customising the thresholds at which the different levels of noise reduction are introduced.
Customising doesn’t just stop at the setup, if you’re in manual or auto focus the GR has a variety of options for you to confirm focus. Instead of just picking a focus point the GR lets you position your focus, and perhaps something taken from the smart phone camera apps you can also move the exposure point. Using the +/- button the GR increases or decrease the magnification (0x, 4x, 8x or 16x) allowing you to see just where the focus is. Oh and you can customise the size of the magnification window.
For the street photographers out there, the GR has a focus mode called Snap Focus. Think of it like zone focusing, you can select a distance as to where it should be focused with a choice of 1m, 1.5m, 2m, 2.5m, 5m and infinity.
When your done customising the camera, you are rewarded with a simple to use camera with great image quality. The APS-C sensor really delivers outstanding results, and coupled with the fast 18.3mm (28mm equiv) f/2.8 lens you are assured of some super sharp images.
I just want to point this out, there is no zoom on this camera, the lens is what we would call a prime or fixed lens, so if you want to zoom you need to use your feet.
A Few Bonus Tricks
The Ricoh is not all that it seems, under its simple minimalist looks there are a few bonus tricks that I’ve come across while writing this review.
- The GR offers a 35mm crop mode which crops into the 16 megapixel sensor and produces a classic 35mm focal length reducing the megapixel count to 10.2 megapixels.
- There is also an optional Wide Conversion lens that can be fitted to provide a 21mm focal length.
- There is no anti-aliasing filter which producers sharper images
- There is an Interval Composite shooting mode that takes a series of images and combines the high-luminance pixel data from each image creating a single composite. Think Star Trails!
There photos are RAW images straight out of the camera, imported into lightroom with very little Lightroom Processing. A little bit of cropping, and very few adjustments.
The Final Word
Originally when I picked this camera up, I thought it would be pretty tough to review. I thought that being a compact camera I wouldn’t be able to find any use for it and the quality really wouldn’t be there to make it a worthy investment. I’m happy to report that I was wrong. The Ricoh GR is outstanding for the traveler, street photographer and the pro who just wants something fun and pocket-able that still delivers the high quality images in almost all situations.
The customisation options available allow you to set it up just how you want, so there is no reason to have to learn a new way of shooting that doesn’t seem natural to you. There are a decent amount of creative effects for those that shy away from post processing and of course there are so many neat functions that will keep your creative side happy.
If you’re looking for something easy to use, small and light, amazing image quality and the creative options to keep you busy for a very long time I think it’s hard to go past the Ricoh GR.