It seems like there are thousands of small cameras for sale. Sometimes I get tired of all the new model announcements, but the Ricoh GR 16.2 MP Digital Camera intrigued me because it – like a long line of current compact cameras, is a point-and-shoot with DSLR quality.
The Ricoh uses a 16.2 MP, APS-C CMOS sensor. Most point and shoots use smaller sensors. The combination of this larger sensor with a high-quality, fixed focal length lens (in this case an 18.3mm F/2.8 GR lens with an equivalent focal length (EFL) of 28mm, provides high quality, nearly noiseless images at an affordable price. What’s more, it’s a camera that unlike the OMD-EM5 or the Fuji X100s will actually fit in your pocket.
Like the D800, the Fuji X100s and a host of other recent cameras, the GR has no anti-alias filter. This means sharper pictures, but more moir.
The camera is small and lightweight. Ricoh says it is made of magnesium alloy and I believe them, but the camera feels TOO light, as if it were made of cheap plastic. I did some bump tests and while it may not feel like it, sure enough the camera has good build-quality and is very sturdy. It’s just very light.
I made several test shots and found the camera to be fun to use. I like that it shoots both JPG and DNG RAW images. Saves time waiting for the latest version of ACR.
The manual focus works very well, but I prefer the X100s focus peaking approach. There is also a hot-shoe along with a built-in pop-up flash which offers a nice catch light in the eyes if you are close to the subject.
The battery life is poor (like all these recent sorts of cameras.) Consider at least one if not two extra batteries and note that charging is done via USB cable in the camera. (Odd.)
I generally liked the control layout and the highly configurable menus. The camera was surprisingly responsive. For the money, I think it may lead the category in this regard.
No matter how you get there, the image quality from the Ricoh is very good. The built-in lens is very sharp. Of course it’s also very limiting. You have to want to shoot VERY wide to select this camera. I think Fuji made a better choice by offering the X100s with a fixed 35mm (EFL) lens and allowing you to go wider with an adapter but giving you a 35mm field of view which is close enough to “normal” to be more generally useful. If the limited lens focal length doesn’t scare you – you will like shooting this camera. The jpegs, they were very good but When shooting JPEGS the White Balance was a tad off here and there. Stills were almost as good as the X100s. That’s saying something.
The Ricoh GR shoots 1080p movies at 24, 25 or 30 frames per second. It offers you the MOV format with H.264 compression. There’s no external mic. With the lack of a mic and no anti-alias filter, I would not buy this camera if you are heavy into video.
At $799 this camera is probably best compared with the Nikon Coolpix A, which is similar, but costs more money. I merely make reference to the X100s because that is the closest camera I own to the GR. If you don’t want to spend the money on the higher-quality X100s, the GR will do a great job for you, as long as you can get close. Real close to your subject.
Personally, I think the choice of a 28mm lens is pretty limiting, but it may be perfect for architecture, landscapes and street shooting. Ricoh offers an even wider angle of view via a 21mm screw on lens adapter (additional cost) and at 21 mm it is probably a better choice. 28mm is too close to 35mm and 21 is extreme wide angle. If you’re going this wide, why not go all the way?