Ricoh GR

Review initially created June 2013, latest update September 2014.

My rating: recommended for those who require the best possible image quality in a pocketable size and can live with a fixed 28 mm lens

Pros

  • The best camera is the one that's with you and this camera has the potential to be it.
  • Image quality is excellent - exceeding a DSLR with a prime lens!
  • Low noise and very pleasing noise pattern on high ISOs.
  • TAv mode allows a real use of Auto ISO with exposure correction.
  • Very compact size considering the image quality
  • The camera is designed to fast one-hand (right hand) operation - great for uses like street photography.

Cons

  • The fixed 28 mm equiv. focal length is limiting.
  • The contrast-based focusing has troubles to focus in low light.
  • JPG noise reduction algorithm is primitive and ruins the photos on high ISOs. Go to RAW.

Description

I purchased Ricoh GR mostly aimed as an replacement for Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3. The concept of Ricoh GR appeared to be very interesting: a DSLR (APS-C size) sensor and a quality prime lens squeezed in a compact pocket-size box. This was too tempting not to get tested. My personal impression on the camera is up to the hype: Ricoh GR is cool, fast and the images appears to be nice and sharp. It is nice to take photos for example of trees and just see how much detail the camera renders in the branches and leaves. I'd say the resolution exceeds the resolution you'd get with a DSLR with a quality prime lens.

The fixed focal length lens appears to be totally opposite for the lens of Fujifilm X-S1. The Fuji's stabilized lens offers an incredible zoom range from 24 mm to 624 mm (equiv). It's is very flexible but is lacking resolution, sharpness and punch. Ricoh GR's lens offers no stabilization and no zoom but is comparable to DSLR prime lenses in the terms of image quality. You may notice that the lens has a “zoom effect” related to focusing: the image the lens produces changes a bit when you change the focus from near to far or vice versa like you were changing the focal length a bit.

There are lots of configurability. I can't think of anything that is missing. The menu system is very different of other menu systems that I've seen: the options are just listed in long lists. I sometimes have hard time to find the thing I'm looking for.

The battery doesn't last very long. In Finland a genuine Ricoh BP-65 was hard to find so I purchased a set of non-Ricoh branded batteries and also a external charger since there is no external charger included with the camera.

The aesthetic results you get with Ricoh GR are not typical for a a compact camera due to large sensor size. If you prefer classic compact camera aesthetics this might not be the camera for you. You might then consider Panasonic Lumix LX7.