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  #1  
Old 01-02-2006, 07:09 AM
Furachan Furachan is offline
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Default RICOH GR DIGITAL HANDS ON REPORT

RICOH GR DIGITAL USER REPORT

Disclaimer (of sorts): I am a Ricoh man and have been for the best part of 10 years. I want you to understand that from the outset. And because I work for the company that made this peculiar little beast, I will make a special effort to be “fair” and share with you the complete picture, warts and all.

1. Background
In the 1990’s Ricoh released a highly specified fixed 28mm f2.8 compact called the GR1. It soon became the “go anywhere” camera of many pros around the world who loved it’s slick, functional black design and superb Leica-like lens. This was followed by a more daring model the GR21 which sported a 21mm lens!!!
Well the GR Digital came about as a result of many requests from GR analog lovers for a digital version. It is not perfect as you will see but I think it is a genuine “chip off the old GR block”.

2. The GOOD
Build quality:
In a word it is superb: the black magnesium alloy body has just the right weight and feels VERY solid in the hand, enhanced by a large rubberized grip area.

The lens:
Believe it or not this little 28mm f2.4 equivalent lens is sharp from edge to edge – it is as good a lens as you will find on a digital compact. Color resolution is also excellent with that special glow to it that Leicaphiles will appreciate. I hear the lens was optimized for bokeh but that is a little hard to prove though I desperately want to believe it…
Flash:
The on board flash pops up through what looks like a Porsche headlight arrangement on the left hand side of the body. It performs well for its size and can be adjusted like virtually everything else on the GR.
Standard settings are a little on the strong side – but the Flash Syncro (rear curtain) setting does the job.

LCD screen/optional viewfinder:
Ricoh purposefully left out a built-in optical viewfinder so as not to compromise on quality – most such finders in small cameras are crap, excuse my French… An optional high quality “brightline” viewfinder is available that fits into the external flash shoe on the top of the camera. It features frames for both 28mm and the optional 21mm lens, just like in an M series Leica. I would recommend getting the cheaper Black “plastic” 28mm Voiglander finder made by Cosina, especially if you don’t intend to use the optional 21mm lens. One caveat thugh: that particular finder blocks the flash, whereas the Ricoh one is built so as not to get in the way of the little on board flash. I don’t use flash much so it does not bother me.
You can of course frame and shoot using the excellent, high res 2.5 inch LCD at the back of the camera.

Menus:
Take a little getting used to but by and large well designed and easy to use.

Controls:
Besides Program, you have a choice of Aperture Priority, Manual and a couple of weird Scene modes (Clear Text for recording text – typical Ricoh touch as we always keep the business customer in mind, as well as a Sound Recording mode). No crazy Sports, Party, Portrait, Landscape jobs here! This machine is designed for sports and semi pros, or TE member for that matter….:D)

THE BAD

8 Megapixel CCD
Cramming 8 megapixels into a tiny 1/8 CCD (even a nice one made by Sony) is a recipe for high ISO disaster and the GR Digital is not exception. Although the GR D can go as high as 1600 IS, I wouldn’t recommend going there. 400 is as far as you will probably be able to bear, noise-wise, though funnily enough 800 ISO in B/W mode is quite retty as the GR D noise in B/W is more film-like and grainy than that of other digicams. Good news for available light B/W aficionados…
All this means that if you consistently shoot at night or in low available light, the Fujifilm F10 is the camera for you. You really have to keep the GR steady in low light since you will want to shot at ISO 200 or less. That is a ittle sad frankly.

Shooting/focusing speed:
It’s not terrible, more middle of the road for digicams these days, but certainly not as fast as some (including Canon’s DIGIC II equipped cams). I wish it was a bit more responsive.

Price:
At around $500 without a case or optional viewfinder (an extra $180 or so), it is not cheap. Then again it is a high quality camera. Still…

THE UNIQUE:
Well I think it took a lot of guts for Ricoh to come out with a fixed 28mm digicam, and I think it was the right choice….for some photographers.
Quite simply, with an optional viewfinder on top this little beast will force you to think about composition every time. No zooming possible, you have to move with your feet.

CONCLUSION:
It does have that Leica feel in miniature and is a pleasure to use. It is an excellent street tool, silent, unobtrusive and sure of aim, and is capable (in the right circumstance and in the right hands) of yielding stunning pictures.
I will upload a few trial shots taken with the GR Digital in the UK over the next few days.
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  #2  
Old 01-02-2006, 07:37 AM
markgong markgong is offline
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Default Re: RICOH GR DIGITAL HANDS ON REPORT

Thanks for the report Francis! I was just considering what to get for a travel camera since it's not always ideal to carry around a DSLR. Too bad the noise is poor.

Happy New Year!
Mark
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  #3  
Old 01-02-2006, 09:19 AM
Furachan Furachan is offline
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Default Re: RICOH GR DIGITAL HANDS ON REPORT

Hi Mark:
Take a look at my uploads over the next couple of weeks. The camera can handle a heck of a lot of situations from ISO 64 thru 200, 400...at a stretch. Black and White at ISO 800 is really useable because of that filmic grain texture ( color...is anther matter).
It is a very small, very well built, sort of pro-specified camera you can take anywhere and it is FUN to use - you actually want to shot with it al the time.
For other pints of view, check urt dpreview.com and their "other cameras" forum - lots of stuff about the GR D, als photonet.
Cheers and Happy New Year,
Francis
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  #4  
Old 01-02-2006, 01:21 PM
PixelTerror PixelTerror is offline
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Default Re: RICOH GR DIGITAL HANDS ON REPORT

Arigato Francis-san,
A compact camera offering a wide angle such as 28mm is always a good thing, the latest january edition of "Chasseur d'images" has a small report about it that matches pretty well your statements if I remember well, pros are good build and wide angle, with special mention to the 21mm extra, cons is mostly the noise, something only Fuji so far seems to keep more or less under control on compact cameras.
BTW, I'm thinking of buying a F10 or F11 for my wife, do you know how much they cost in Japan ?
Happy New Year to you,
Jean-Yves
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  #5  
Old 01-02-2006, 02:54 PM
Furachan Furachan is offline
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Default Re: RICOH GR DIGITAL HANDS ON REPORT

Konnichiwa Jean-Yves,
You can find the F10 for 31,000 Yen and the F11 for 35,000 (cheapest prices according to kakaku.com)
Hope this helps,
Francis
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  #6  
Old 11-20-2007, 07:38 AM
rushfan2112 rushfan2112 is offline
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Default Re: RICOH GR DIGITAL HANDS ON REPORT

Hi Jean-Yves.

My wife has an F10 and it's a great little camera - but now obsolete. However, I recently bought an F40fd and it's got 2 extra MP and several other specification improvements. You can get them for £150 in the UK (so MUST be cheaper elsewhere) and definitely a better camera than the F10/F11.

Paul.
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  #7  
Old 01-03-2006, 11:02 PM
markoci markoci is offline
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Default Re: RICOH GR DIGITAL HANDS ON REPORT

great review!

I hear the lens was optimized for bokeh but that is a little hard to prove though I desperately want to believe it…

:-)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))
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  #8  
Old 11-19-2007, 12:41 PM
maciekda maciekda is offline
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Default GRD II ?

Francis, is the GRD II available in Japan already? have you had a chance to play with it?
I want to buy a small digital camera and I am considering the GX100 or the new GRD. the only thing stopping me from buying the gx100 is its slow RAW writing time
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  #9  
Old 11-19-2007, 09:42 PM
Furachan Furachan is offline
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Default Re: GRD II ?

Yes of course I played with one at work... My personal view is the original GR D is a genuine bargain now and even there 8 megapixels was the limit I reckon - slappping 10 in the same sized chip sounds like really pushing it. I just recently bought an orginal GR D for about $400! and I'm very happy with it. One advantage of the new version is somewhat faster RAW times. Hope this helps ;o) -F
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  #10  
Old 11-20-2007, 08:33 AM
maciekda maciekda is offline
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Default Re: GRD II ?

I don't want the GRD because its painfully slow RAW writing time, i am definitely not getting this camera - I want to shoot RAW.
GX100 is still slow, it takes at least 5 secs to save a RAW file, but maybe I could live with that.
in GRD2 RAW saving is faster and the buffer is larger, so you can still use the camera while the photo is being saved, while GRD and GX100 are locked for that time, that is annoying.
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