Author Topic: Ricoh GR Digital


Ricoh GR Digital
« on: September 28, 2008 »
First let's get something out of the way: you cannot make a phone call with this camera. If that's an important feature to you, look elsewhere.

Ricoh established a beachhead in the shirt pockets of connoisseurs with their GR series of compacts, which feature quality optics and more controls (such as ability to set the aperture; be still my beating heart) than you'd typically get in a package barely wider than a roll of film.

When the digital version came along I wasn't immediately bowled over, primarily because it didn't have a viewfinder. I later had an offer I couldn't refuse and acquired one, sourcing an auxiliary finder from Voigtländer, that nice company who do much of what Leica does at a fraction of the price and cachet. Although it hardly gives an exact accounting of pixels - that's what the screen is for - it's close enough for web work. It also feels like using an actual camera. If I'm not holding it up to one eye with the other squeezed shut I'm less than happy.

The lens equates to 28mm in the 35mm system. It's not a zoom. They've got another model for that fancy stuff. It does, however, zoom out when you turn the power on. With a maximum f/stop of 2.4 it's reasonably fast. Pictures can be saved as jpegs or "raw", which gives photoshoppers more to work with. Raw is slower. Image quality is fine, nothing to rhapsodise about.

There's a big screen. You can garnish the display with technical details or leave it plain, or turn it off to prolong battery life.

So much of photography these days involves scrolling. This has its fair share, though once you've done the preliminaries it's not so bad. The controls are OK, especially the ADJ button&dial, which you can set to give quick access to functions you often use such as exposure compensation. Mostly I enjoy pushing this just to activate it with no further goal in mind, lost in a multitasking reverie. My pleasures in life are simple.

Exposure options are Program, Aperture Priority, Manual, Movie, the green camera, and Scene. Some day I'll google those last two or turn the dial to find out what they do.

Manual is cool because you can play with shutter speed or aperture and watch the screen brighten and dim. It's not a bad way to learn the fundamentals.

The body feels good and solid, though the lens launching mechanism doesn't always inspire confidence. Occasionally the screen goes into "Synchronized monitor mode" (isn't it always? apparently not) and I don't remember how I got it into that mode or how to get it out again.

Macro is fun. One can focus almost as close as one can get to one's subject.

Nice touches which might help in a pinch include a small amount of built in memory should your SD card go on the blink or get swallowed by the Boots photo kiosk, and the ability to use AAA batteries instead of the normal rechargeable Li-on block, the price you pay being they live fast and die young.

Purely in terms of spec, other cameras may offer more, especially as technology races ahead. Nevertheless there's something about the Ricoh that's very likeable.