Ricoh GR Digital II Review
By Movable Type Admin
The 10-megapixel GR Digital II is the first Ricoh model we have seen since the Caplio GX back in 2004. With a 5.9mm (28mm equivalent) fixed lens, this new model is not your standard digicam, lacking most of the user-friendly features that are found on most consumer level cameras (Face Detection AF, etc). Even though the GRD2 does feature a fully automatic shooting mode, it is aimed more towards enthusiast or creative users who have more photography experience.
The design of the GRD2 offers the look of a classic 35mm film camera from the front, but gives you all of the features of a modern day digital camera on the back. All of the controls are well placed and the camera is very easy to use with one or two hands, thanks to the enlarged hand grip on the right side. One feature that was unique to the GRD2, was the locking mechanism on the mode dial. You have to press a button in order to release the dial to be turned. This will ensure you don't accidently change the exposure mode. Also included on the back is a 2.7" LCD screen, which is used for framing your photographs, unless you purchase an optional optical viewfinder which attaches itself to the flash hot shoe on top of the camera. There is a pop-up flash with a range of 7.9 in. to 9.8 ft., however it feels a little flimsy. To help extend the versatility of this camera, Ricoh offers a load of optional accessories, from wide angle and telephoto conversion lenses to carrying cases, etc.
The shooting performance of the GRD2 was good. It was able to capture its first image after start up in 2.4 seconds. The shutter delay, was instantaneous when the camera was prefocused, and 6/10 of a second including auto focus. The shot to shot in single shot mode was very good, capturing 5 images in just 5.5 seconds and 5 in 6.9 seconds when using the flash. There are also 3 separate continuous shooting modes. First is the standard burst mode, Capturing 10 shots in only 3.8 seconds (2.6 fps). Then there are M & S cont. modes that record 16 smaller images in sequence. They will record 16 images in just 1.9 seconds. While M cont. will save the last 16 images and S cont. will only record 16 total. All of our timing tests were done using a ATP Pro Max 4GB SDHC memory card, ISO auto, Program mode, flash off and all other settings to the factory default unless noted otherwise. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
Image quality from the 10-megapixel GRD2 is outstanding. The exposure and saturation are excellent, and the color is very vivid. There is moderate barrel distortion from the 5.9mm lens that gets a little better when using the telephoto extension but much worse with the wide angle conversion lens. This model is great for shooting landscape and close up photography specifically, but not something you would want as your only camera. There is a small amount of noise in dark areas but no chromatic aberrations could be seen. Noise levels are also pleasing when using ISO 400 and below. Even ISO 800 looks usable for your average 4x6-inch print, however at 1600 our sample images looked terrible.
The indoor image quality was also very good. Colors and skin tones appear very natural and the image is very well exposed, even using the flash at a very close distance. The sample image was taken from roughly 2 feet away and the flash was suppressed pretty well, but there seems to be a slight over exposure in the white areas. The flash has a max range of around 9.8 feet, combined with the 5.9mm lens is more than enough for taking large group portraits. In order for individual portraits, however, you must get much closer than that, and the telephoto conversion lens can also help you fill the frame with your subject, without stepping on their toes.
Movie mode gives you the choice of shooting at either 640x480 or 320x240 at 15 or 30 fps. Our samples are very smooth and the sound was pretty good. The videos did appear noisy, even in well lit indoor shooting conditions, showing that the main objective for this camera is photography and not video recording. All of the camera's focus and white balance options are available to you while shooting in Movie mode.
Powering the GRD2 is a 3.7v 1150 mAh rechargeable battery pack that held more than enough power to complete all of our tests, including around 200 photographs and several movies. In case you ended up in a bind, the camera will also run off of 3 AAA sized batteries. This is not the recommended power source as they will only last for approx. 45 shots, while the battery pack is said to take approx. 370 shots.
Bottom Line - the Ricoh GR Digital II is not your typical digicam. With a fixed 28mm (5.9mm) equivalent lens, 10-megapixel imaging sensor and more tweaking options than you will typically find on other compact cameras, the GRD2 is geared for more advanced photographers that are looking for total control. Performance and image quality are excellent, but with a MSRP of US$699 this is an expensive camera. However, we feel it will please if the features of this model fit your needs.
Firmware Update Version 2.01 for the GR Digital II
Improvements from this update:
For more information or to download new firmware updates for the GR Digital II, please visit Ricoh's site
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