The New Ricoh GR Announced and Available for Pre-Order ($797 at B&H)

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by Amin Sabet, Apr 17, 2013.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    Six short years ago, times were bleak for those of us who appreciated advanced, smaller cameras. So-called bridge cameras were a dying breed. The Canon Powershot G7 represented the treatment smaller cameras were getting. Gone were the fast lens and RAW capability of the G6. Those weren't needed in a smaller camera. Enthusiasts were expected to buy large, boxy DSLRs.

    It was out of those dark times that Ricoh emerged bearing the torch for serious compact cameras. The Ricoh GX100 was pretty tiny, had a fast, f/2.4 (at the wide end), 24-70mm equivalent wide zoom, RAW capability, and excellent controls. Beside it stood the flagship compact GR Digital (GRD), proud descendant of the Ricoh GR1 line of film cameras.

    In contrast to the GX100, the GRD was singular-minded. It was said that the GX100 was the Swiss army knife while the GRD was the razor. Anyone who has used a GRD will understand this analogy. Each GRD has featured an unusually sharp and well corrected, fast prime lens. Each GRD is immediately ready for use - no lens cap to remove, and no substantial delay waiting for the lens to extend. Lastly, each GRD has been very compact.

    Ricoh evolved the GRD over time. By the third iteration, many of us were wondering how it could possibly be improved. The obvious answer was to use a larger sensor, but some wondered whether a large-sensor GRD would have to have too large a body, or whether it would be redundant given the Ricoh GXR and 28mm (equivalent) lens-sensor unit. Then Sony introduced the RX100, and we wondered if that excellent 1" sensor might find its way into a GR Digital 5.

    The new Ricoh GR

    Today Pentax/Ricoh has announced the Ricoh GR. Taking a cue from Apple and Leica, Ricoh has eliminated the series number, and while they're at it, they've eliminated the descriptor "digital". Just as we have "the new iPad" and "the new Leica M", we now have
    the new GR". Here are the basic specifications:

    · 16.2MP APS-C Format CMOS Sensor
    · GR ENGINE V Image Processor
    · No Optical Low-pass Filter
    · 18.3mm f/2.8 Lens (28mm Equivalent)
    · 3.0" 1,230k-dot White Magic LCD Screen
    · Full HD 1080p Video Capture
    · ISO Range of 100-25600
    · High Speed AF and 4 fps Burst Shooting
    · Image Effects and Macro Mode
    · Compact Magnesium Alloy Body

    Times have sure changed since those six years ago when I started Serious Compacts. Unbelievably, we can now choose from amongst a wide array of compact digital cameras with large sensors and f/2.8 or faster fixed lenses. Including only the latest offerings, we have the Sony RX1 (full frame, 35mm f/2), Sigma DP1 Merrill cameras (APS-C, various focal lengths), Fuji X100s (APS-C, 35mm equivalent f/2), and Nikon Coolpix A (APS-C, 28mm equivalent f/2.8). Thus the new GR is being introduced with quite a bit of competition.

    How does the GR distinguish itself from the pack? To begin with, it's the smallest large sensor compact around. Here are some cameras many of us are familiar with, ranked according to volume (in cubic cm):

    · Sigma DP1M: 521
    · Sony RX1: 516
    · Fuji X100S: 507
    · Canon G15: 325
    · Nikon Coolpix A: 288
    · Ricoh GR: 248
    · Sony RX100: 212

    It's also the lightest large sensor compact. Here are those same cameras with weights indicated in grams:

    · Sigma DP1M: 388
    · Sony RX1: 482
    · Fuji X100S: 445
    · Canon G15: 352
    · Nikon Coolpix A: 299
    · Ricoh GR: 249
    · Sony RX100: 240

    Furthermore, it is being priced lower than it's closest competitor by a fair margin. While the Coolpix A is selling for ~$1100 street, the new GR is available for pre-order for $799.

    So we have smaller, lighter, and less expensive. Those of us who have used Ricoh GRD cameras in the past don't look to the Ricoh GR line for low pricing, however. We look for a small camera with an amazing lens, amazing controls, and a premium build.

    I haven't used the GR yet, but I can tell you the folks at Pentax-Ricoh are pretty excited about this camera. The new GR lens, an 18.3mm (28mm equivalent) f/2.8 lens was specifically designed for low distortion, flare resistance, low chromatic aberration, and beautiful bokeh. The design uses 7 elements in 5 groups with 2 aspherical elements and a 9-bladed iris.


    Lens performance is said to be superior to that of the GRD IV, and paired with the AA filter-less 16MP sensor, Ricoh feels that the new GR will deliver substantially better image quality than the competition. The GR includes a "Crop to 35mm" shooting mode for photography with a 35mm equivalent angle of view, an interesting new take on "digital zoom".

    Ricoh has specifically set its sights on the Coolpix A. Word is that compared to it's Nikon peer, the new GR will have significantly faster AF, somewhat better battery life, 1/4000s max shutter speed vs 1/2000s, a fully magnesium body (vs aluminum front/back cover and magnesium top), and the availability of a 21mm wide conversion lens.

    As with previous GR models, Ricoh is promising great quickness with an activation time of approximately 1 second, 4fps continuous shooting in RAW (up to 4 frames) or JPEG (up to 999 frames), and fast autofocus (approximately 0.2s at 3m).

    From what I could gather, the new GR retains the superb ergonomics and controls of the GRD IV.


    In case it isn't obvious, I've been a fan of the GRD line for years now, and I can't wait to check out the new Ricoh GR in person. I'm hoping Ray will do a hands on soon for SeriousCompacts. I know he liked the Coolpix A, and it'll be interesting to hear how he thinks the new GR compares.

    Ricoh GR pre-order link again for those interested: Ricoh GR Digital Camera 175743 B&H Photo Video

    For comprehensive coverage of the GR release including links to the press release parade, various previews, and reactions around the web, I recommend keeping your eye on our friends over at 1001 Noisy Cameras, also known by most of the popular camera news/rumors sites out there as "the main source".
  2. Archiver

    Archiver Top Veteran

    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Whack! That's the sound of my credit card hitting the table. :yahoo:
  3. I am pre-ordered. Sorry Amin did not see you post in time.. I went direct to b&h.

  4. retow

    retow All-Pro

    Jul 24, 2010
    Thanks for the post. I pre-ordered.
    The unreached user interface. The right Raw format. Ricoh quality 21mm equivalent wide angle converter. 1/4000. ND filter on board. It will be the jeans pocket camera as well as the wide angle lens solution in the bag when travelling, better (and cheaper) than buying 21 and 28mm primes for system cameras. I will sell the Nikon A which is an excellent camera, but he Ricoh ticks so many of the right boxes in my book.
  5. Yep my thoughts exactly. The 21 adapter and the 35 crop mode sealed the deal for me. Got to reward their aggressive pricing compared to Nikon..or stupid Canon M for that matter.

    I bought the rx100 as my take anywhere fit in the jean pocket camera.. The ricoh just replaced it.. But the rx100 is staying. I can't think of a better combo for a city type vacation then to have the Ricoh as the prime in one jean pocket and the rx100'as the backup and second focal length camera in the other jean pocket :D but that 21 adapter is big. BTW I already have the 21 fov on my Fuji xp1/xe1. I like 21 :D

  6. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    Any word on snap focus, perchance?

    Sent from another Galaxy
  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Snap focus is there. How you change the snap distance still isn't clear. That and low light IQ are the only questions I need answered - I know Ricoh's interface quite well by now. But yeah, I'll be getting hold of this one and comparing it to the Nikon. Unfortunately, the Nikon goes back next week so I won't have them at the same time, but hopefully my memory is good enough that I'll remember most details of the Nikon when the Ricoh arrives.

    Bottom line - I love the Nikon, but if the Ricoh gets snap-focus fixed from the way they did it in the GRD4 (total fail after getting it right in the previous versions and the GXR) and the low light is at least comparable to the Nikon, I'll end up buying the Ricoh.

  8. dcsang

    dcsang Rookie

    Apr 11, 2013
    I would concur with what Ray has said - Questions only are regarding Snap and the High ISO.

    I have looked over DPR's preview on the camera and in looking at their f2.8 comparison I wonder if there's an issue with their test target. They are showing the Nikon being "blurry" in the top left corner but if you move across to the right hand side and compare the image with the Ricoh, specifically the text on the far right edge of the "Kodak" gray scale and the playing cards; it would appear as though the Nikon is superior in resolution to the Ricoh. It appears, at 100% res, that the test target used for the Nikon seems to "bend away" from the center to the edges vs the Ricoh which "lays flat" across the frame - all you need to do is look at the margins that are showing up on the Nikon image to confirm this. Curious.

    Regardless, the GR should prove to be pretty sweet - I don't need two pocketable P&S cams and I do love what the Nikon has/can do so far - but as a previous long time user of the GR I can easily be convinced :)

  9. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    Can't find a UK supplier or price yet... :(

    Sent from another Galaxy
  10. dcsang

    dcsang Rookie

    Apr 11, 2013
  11. serhan

    serhan All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    Ricoh GR Hands-on Preview: Digital Photography Review
    Ricoh GR Review - First Impressions

    Yes, DPR sample comparison btw GR vs Nikon shows better corner sharpness for GR at f/2.8.

  12. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    Probably due to issues with the lenses (decentering, field curvature, etc) rather than the target.
  13. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Thanks Serhan, but its not a question whether it would HAVE snap focus - it wouldn't be a Ricoh if it didn't - but rather how you change the snap distance. In the GRD 3 and GXR you can change the distance on the fly by holding down one button (macro on the GXR, don't recall on the GRD3) and turning the front dial. Very quick, easy, and intuitive. On the GRD4, you have to menu dive to simply change the snap distance.

    There are workarounds. You can use manual focus and just change the distance that way or designate each of the "MY" custom settings on the mode dial for a different distance so three of them are easily accessible. But the earlier implementation was so quick, easy, and elegant. If the ISO 6400 is comparable with the Nikon, I may find a way to live with this regardless, but I'm really hoping they revert to the earlier and better implementation.

  14. dcsang

    dcsang Rookie

    Apr 11, 2013
    Amin, if that's the case how does one explain the playing cards and the "Kodak" text in the full res Ricoh image being blurry vs the Nikon?

  15. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    Dave, I think the Nikon copy is decentered to give it's best performance at the top versus bottom and has field curvature, which explains the weak right and left edges with a flat, near target. Meanwhile the Ricoh copy seems to have reasonable evenness across the field with a mildly weak area in the top center. I don't know why exactly some lenses have such a weak spot, but I've seen it plenty of times with different lenses.

    I can't imagine that DPR would use a curved target for one camera and a flat target for the other. Overall that test shows a big win for the Ricoh when it comes to near distance shooting of a flat target. How much that will apply with usual subjects remains to be seen, but from this test, the published MTFs, preliminary reports from Imaging Resource, and some other samples I saw in the Ricoh press kit, I'm convinced the Ricoh lens is superior to the Nikon.
  16. Boid

    Boid All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    The guys at Imaging Resource did a video on the camera and menu

  17. Biro

    Biro Super Moderator

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Too many fantastic cameras being introduced - one right after the other. I need time to catch my breath! That said, this Ricoh looks to be the ultimate refinement on the GX formula and could find its way into my kit.

    With an APS-C sensor and an f/2.8 prime, there's no reason to believe low-light performance won't be good. But I wonder how it'll stack up against two combinations that I use: The Olympus E-PM2 with the Zuiko 17mm f1.8 and the Panasonic GX1 with the Lumix 20mm f/1.7. Of course, the new Ricoh will certainly be more compact and pocketable than either of these combinations.
  18. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    In that IR video, snap focus distance is clearly one of the options that can be assigned to the "ADJ" toggle/dial up near the thumb position. I'd heard that Ricoh updated the firmware of the GRD4 to add that there as well, but I didn't keep the camera long enough to ever see it in action. While not quite as quick as the previous GRD3/GXR method, this is a good enough solution. Based on that and the couple of ISO 6400 shots that I've seen, I'm gonna pre-order this one - not just put in for a loaner. I like the Nikon a lot, but for $300 less, I only have to like this as much and I suspect I'll like it at least slightly more for the interface alone. I have to say that when I shoot with the GXR with all of the controls set exactly to my liking, I can get into a flow like with no other camera (the LX7 is close, but with a zoom lens, that's a whole other ball of wax). ISO available on one controller (with no arming - always ready, same with exposure comp, a toggle to switch between snap and auto focus instantly with the snap information remembered, a few other key adjustments one click away on the ADJ control. I'd love a manual focus ring but I can live without it for the size of the package. Jeez, the GXR 28 with a better sensor in a pocketable package with the same basic set of controls. What's not to like here?

  19. snkenai

    snkenai All-Pro

    Oct 5, 2010
    kenai, AK
    Stephen Noel
    This one rattles my comfort zone, and I have no resources to scratch the new itch!
  20. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    lest anyone be too distraught over the overwhelming flood of great new cameras being released that flirt with (and surpass) the 4 digit threshold, prepare to see a veritable flood of "gently used" serious compacts hitting the classifieds. There should be more than a few GRD III and GRD IV's for sale in the near future and those cameras have made a lot of photographs that I have marked as faves.