Ricoh GR Digital II Review

Review Date: April 30th 2008
Author: Mark Goldstein

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Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Design
Page 5
Specifications
Page 6
Conclusion

Conclusion


Ratings (out of 5)
Design
5
Features
4.5
Ease-of-Use
5
Image Quality
4.5
Value for Money
4

The GR Digital II is another excellent addition to Ricoh's now extensive line-up of compact cameras for professional photographers. The 28mm lens with fast maximum aperture of f/2.4 and very little distortion is a winning combination for landscape and street photographers alike, especially as the GR Digital II continues the usual Ricoh tradition of being responsive to use, especially when shooting JPEGs. Although a significant improvement on the original GR Digital, switching to RAW mode does slow thing down considerably, with images taking 4 seconds to write to memory and no continuous shooting mode, but you can at least take 2 shots in quick succession without locking the camera up completely. The new electronic horizon leveler and depth-of-field indicator are just two of the many subtle features that really set this camera apart. The GR Digital II's already intuitive control system can be almost completely configured to suit your way of working, a commendable approach at a time when most compacts are being stuffed full of largely superfluous technologies.

There are a few downsides to consider, principally the level of noise at ISO 400 and faster, and the high price. Ricoh have always chosen the route of "less reduction, more noise", maintaining image detail but displaying more artifacts at slower ISO speeds than some of their competitors. Consequently images are noisy both onscreen and in prints at ISO 400 and faster, although you can turn on the in-camera noise reduction at the expense of fine detail. In all other respects the image quality is very good, with little sign of chromatic aberrations, good overall exposure, a fantastic 1.5cm macro mode, powerful built-in flash and up to 3 minute long exposure times. The other main issue is the price-tag. At 399 / $699, the GR Digital II is more expensive than many entry-level DSLRs with a kit lens, never-mind the 10 megapixel compact competition, so you'll need to be pretty keen on this camera's unique features and design approach for it to make any kind of financial sense.

If you're still interested in the Ricoh GR Digital II, then you'll also have to seriously consider the even more expensive Sigma DP1, which produces signficantly better image quality than the Ricoh thanks to its large APS-C sized sensor. Comparing images from both cameras side-by-side, onscreen and in print, is like comparing apples and oranges, with the DP1 clearly coming out on top. On the other hand, the Ricoh GR Digital II is smaller, lighter, much more responsive, feature-rich and customisable than the DP1, so much so that when using the two cameras together, I often reached for the Ricoh rather than the Sigma, especially if the main subject of the photo was moving. If only the two companies could join forces and merge the two cameras into one, with the DP1's image quality and the Ricoh's user interface and responsiveness, you'd almost have the perfect compact camera. It will be very interesting to see if Ricoh follow Sigma's lead and also release a compact with an APS-C sensor...

Back in the real world, we're left with a pocket camera that is a veritable pleasure to use and which delivers excellent photos at slower ISO speeds. If you want the ultimate image quality, then you should clearly choose the Sigma DP1, despite its short-comings. If you want a more well-rounded and versatile 28mm camera, then the Ricoh is still a fantastic choice for the serious photographer.

Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Design
Page 5
Specifications
Page 6
Conclusion

DIWAPhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Ricoh GR Digital II have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.

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