It’s been a while since we saw a new Ricoh camera–but something like what we saw recently had to be coming. For those of you not familiar, the Ricoh GR series of film point and shoots were legendary amongst street photographers for their excellent quality, ease of use, and small size combined with low profile looks. The previous generations of Ricoh GR compacts had small sensors, but manufacturers have been figuring out how to put larger sensors into smaller camera bodies. With that said, consider Ricoh’s latest camera–branded as the Ricoh GR (due to the total revamp of the camera) this point and shoot should instead be called a fixed lens camera. With a 28mm (equivalent) f2.8 lens (f3.5 in full frame) and an APS-C sensor with no low pass filter, Ricoh is coming back, fighting tooth and claw with Fujifilm, Nikon, and Sony in the large sensor compact market.
And for $799.95, it looks like quite the temptress.
- 16MP APS-C sized sensor with no low pass filter
- 28mm equivalent field of view due to the fixed prime lens
- f2.8 aperture to f16
- 1/4000th to 300 seconds
- ISO 100-25,600 native
- SD card storage
- 4fps shooting
- 1080p HD video
Ricoh’s GR camera is small, solid feeling, and will probably need just a little sliver of gaffer’s tape to cover up the GR logo in order to totally make it street ready in terms of looks. The front is very simple in terms of layout with nearly nothing there except for an AF assist bulb–which glows green instead of the normal red that most companies use.
The top of the camera has a couple of other controls as well–these are the shutter release, on/off, and the mode dial. The dial is locked into place with a little button that needs to be depressed in order to switch it. Many manufacturers have been doing this with their higher end cameras and it simply makes sense in real world use. But to be honest, we’re not sure why they bothered putting an Auto mode on the camera.
There is also the hot shoe and the pop-up flash.
The back of the camera is where all of the controls are. There is a large LCD screen with an AEL/AFL switch with C-AF on the other end of the layout. The button on this switch lets a user autofocus if they wish.
There is also an ISO adjust button and +/- buttons to the right of this which lets the user control exposure compensation. Below this is the playback button. In real life use, we found this layout a bit awkward and we often pressed the exposure comp buttons more than we’d like to.
Then there is the four way control button feature that controls various settings. Below this are the drive button and the display button.
On the left of the camera are two other controls: the pop-up flash and the effects button. Yes, an effects button–which gives you things like a miniature effect (tilt-shift) and more.
Lastly is the Hot Shoe itself. Ricoh and Pentax merged a while back, but guess what–this isn’t a Pentax hot shoe. Instead, Ricoh is using its own flashes.
Don’t ask us why…
The Ricoh GR is built exceptionally solid–upon first holding we thought that it was nearly on par with the X100s in terms of ruggedness. The camera does not feel heavy and it conforms to the hand quite well. I can personally imagine shooting around in the streets of NYC with this camera using a Diana Flash in the shoe to capture street scenes.
Ease of Use
The Ricoh GR is, for the most part, very straight forward. We found it easiest to operate in aperture priority because of the fact that there is only one exposure dial on the camera. The camera has lots of menus in the same way and fashion that previous Ricoh cameras have had. However, they’re extremely simple to navigate despite there being lots of them.
We saw this camera in an extremely dimly lit bar in midtown Manhattan. The autofocus wasn’t the strongest in this lighting, but I’ve surely seen better. However, this was a prototype that was nearly fine–and Ricoh stated that the firmware wasn’t the final version.
We spent our time with a prototype of the camera, and so we couldn’t put a card in the camera to bring images home. However, the image quality that we saw wasn’t too bad on the back of the LCD screen. Due to there being no low pass filter, lots of detail was clearly visible in areas with specular highlights (like when capturing an image of candles.)
Wow–that’s all I had to say when I got out of the meeting. Ricoh’s cameras have always had a small following of respect and this should significantly increase that level of followers. The older film cameras are still spoken about in some street photography circles, and this new refresh should satisfy a lot of shooters.
However, even though we were floored by the camera in our one hour long meeting, we’ll have to put it through its paces. Stay tuned!
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