Announcing the Ricoh GR (Digital V)

It seems that 28mm large sensor compacts are like buses. You wait ages and ages and ages…and suddenly we now have no less than three APS-C options: The Nikon Coolpix A, The Fuji X100s with wide converter, and (drumroll please): the brand-spanking-new Ricoh GR.

The Ricoh GR (no ‘Digital’, no number – but V would be logical – I’m going to refer to it as the GR V from here onwards to avoid confusion with any of the other GR versions, film or digital) looks as though it was built specifically to target the Coolpix A. I’m sure this probably wasn’t the case; given the extremely close release dates, development would have had to be ongoing in parallel. That said, they read almost the same from the spec sheet: 28mm equivalents, f2.8 maximum aperture, no stabilization, APS-C 16MP sensor based on the same Sony design with no anti-aliasing filter (though the Ricoh version is purportedly the same as the Pentax K5IIS, which is a slightly updated version of the sensor compared to the D7000/ Coolpix A), premium build, no optical finders (but built in flashes and hotshoes), accessory threads, and a slew of manual controls.

I can spot three very important differences in the spec sheet – in favor of Ricoh at this point – firstly, the GR V supposedly has a high speed AF mode taking just 0.2 seconds to lock; you can turn off the monitor when using an external finder, and it will almost certainly have the same manual focus implementation (it remembers the distance and has a depth of field scale that shows the distance for the selected aperture) as the existing GR Digital cameras. It’s also a bit smaller (117 x 61 x 35 mm including protrusions, vs 111 x 64 x 41 mm of the Coolpix A or 109 x 60 x 33 mm of the GR-Digital IV – in fact, it’s remarkable just how similar in size it is to its predecessor despite the enormous increase in sensor size). It’s also got a built-in two stop ND filter to facilitate use of the lens wide open even in bright conditions – something which I’d occasionally find useful for environmental portraiture.

The one elephant remaining in the room is the price: The Nikon weighs in a bit under $1,100; the Ricoh is launching at $796.95. That’s a significant chunk of change; enough to get you a very nice optical finder or perhaps the 21mm conversion lens, a spare battery and a card or two. Of course, image quality at this point is completely academic until I get a chance to shoot with one – and I intend to do a head to head against the Nikon – but from the comparison MTF charts, things are going to be close, with the edge going to the Ricoh. Practically, the Coolpix A has an outstanding lens-sensor combination – so much so I don’t really see a lot of room for improvement – I think things will be close enough that sample variation and rendering style is probably going to make more of a difference. In a perverse way, I’m actually hoping that the Nikon has at least one significant advantage over the Ricoh; this is not so I have an excuse to buy both, but because if Nikon has been so thoroughly bested after such a long wait for them to get in the game, I fear there’s a high risk the Coolpix A will be their first and last attempt – and that would be a real shame.

I’m not typically given over to news announcements, but this one has me very excited. 28mm is my preferred documentary and walk-around focal length; I’ve got countless 28mm lens options for my system cameras, and on top of that, I’ve owned every GR Digital except for the IV, and I also have a film GR1v (now wouldn’t that make an interesting – if confusing from a naming standpoint – comparison against the GR V?) Admittedly I’ve gotten used to having the flexibility of a zoom in my pocket (and this is something I’ll deal with in an upcoming article on pocket carry) but if I had to choose one field of view…this would probably be it. You can always compose for more context if you’re too wide, but you can’t do anything but stitch if you’re too long.

I’ve been promised a review unit from B&H as soon as they’re available – supposedly early May; I know I’ll be keeping either one of the Coolpix A or the GR V, but I have no idea which one until I get a chance to shoot them. Suffice to say that the bar has already been set very, very high…MT

The Ricoh GR V can be preordered from B&H here.

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Comments

  1. Very exciting, do you think it will have snap focus? Every announcement I’ve come across so far is uncertain of this.

    • Update, according to Dpreview it does indeed have snap focus and interval mode.

    • Unclear to me too. I don’t see why not, but it’s possible they may have omitted it because it isn’t possible to move the lens to the right position fast enough – physical focus travel has to be much longer because of the longer real focal length.

    • Tom Liles says:

      Hi Christopher,

      Sorry if this question is a doozy, but I’m a newbie and couldn’t find a simple explanation on Google (on the first few results anyway), but: what is “snap focus”?

      • Tom Liles says:

        Aha [under "Seize that shutter chance..."]. Is it some predetermined focus distance the lens will “snap” to if you fully depress the shutter button (full press, no half for AF lock) quickly? Unsure…

        • If you jab the shutter down without giving it sufficient time to find focus, it will lock the lens to a preset focus distance – in theory.

          • Tom Liles says:

            Thanks Ming m(. .)m

          • That’s sounds like an awesome feature. So when you half-press the shutter, the camera will hunt for focus – supposedly for those times when you have time to compose and focus. And for those spontaneous street shots, with the subject is 1.5 metres away, the pictures just takes when you fully press the shutter without giving the camera time to hunt for focus.
            Ming mentioned, “In theory.” Are there evolutions of this product where this feature hasn’t worked too well?

  2. How hard is it to make the lens a F2 or even to have image stabilization in?

    For a small size compact i would think IS would be of great help?

    • I would imagine pretty hard IF it also has to be retractable and compact. I don’t argue that it would be of great help though…

    • stanis riccadonna zolczynski says:

      Peter. With very good high ISO you`ll always opt for high enough action stopping shutter speed. In street picture taking IS is useless as it can stabilize your nervous hand but doesn`t stop moving subject.

    • The wider the lens is, the harder it is to create a lens with a faster aperture speed. I.e. Canon 50mm F/1.2. yet they don’t have an equivalent F/1.2 for a 28mm.
      IS wouldn’t really help on such wide lenses.
      To me it is just two more things that will likely get in the way rather than encourage me to take photographs.

  3. Any chance of including Sigma DP1 Merrill into the comparison/review? :)

    • Unlikely. I think it’s far too slow and limited in high ISO performance to be a documentary camera; also, not very pocketable. It serves a different (still life/ landscape-oriented) niche from what I normally shoot.

  4. Ming, you must be excited if you are posting about a news release ;)

    Have to say dpreview do have a very good preview which has been a rarity for them lately. The lens looks a bit better than the Nikon but it will probably be close. If price ultimately proves to be the biggest distinction then it may force Nikon to discount which is only good for competition.

    Also agree on your sentiment on 28mm vs zoom convenience. To be honest I don’t even need zoom just 28/85mm….sod the focal lengths in between :)

    • Can’t help it. I’ve owned every GR-Digtial except the IV, plus a GR1v. They’re still the most intuitive/ customisable compacts available, plus they have great tactile quality.

  5. Ciao Pui says:

    This seriously takes me back to the best film days with Kodachrome and Velvia loaded on my little 28mm GR1, still remaining in memory as my favorite photographic experience of all time. Today the “GR” is reborn as a digital dream-come-true, I so look forward to recapturing those glory days, allbeit a consistent output can no longer rely on the distinctive “film-look” of transparencies, instead the mastery of digital editing tools.

  6. A very exciting Camera! Not much bigger than the SONY RX100 either. I agree with the previous poster about only the need for the 28mm and 85mm. These two 28mm cameras are too tempting. :-)

    • Now we just need an 85mm one…The DP3M looks fantastic, but a little large and a little slow.

      • Ming, if you havent tried the DP3M yet, I urge you to give it a go. For me and my shooting style, the DP2M was the best camera that came out in 2012. (and I also own a D800E) The 3 has an amazing lens, just like the 2 and for this focal length you don’t usually need the same speed as with the the new GR (this promises to be the ultimate street shooter compact so far)
        The Foveon sensor just blows me away time after time, and for such amazing IQ, the DP’s are truly very small camera’s. The write times are long, yes, but they are not slow in their handeling.
        Looking forward to your testing with the new GR Ming!

        • I’ve tried one but not seriously; no time, no access, and it’s a pretty specialized tool – I can’t see what I’d use it for, to be honest.

          • Iskabibble says:

            I dont understand. With the DP2M once you fire off a shot the camera is available IMMEDIATELY for the next shot. The DPxM series cameras have very deep buffers, able to hold 7 images before locking up.

  7. William jusuf says:

    dream come true

    i m on the edge of adding ricoh gr1v for my ricoh grd 4

    now its gonna ricoh grd 5 with ricoh gr1v

  8. Compact cameras start to look really promising. There’s still no such a camera for me – it’s either a f2.8 lens (GR, Nikon 1), lack of VF (RX1), issues with demosaicing of X100s sensor or extremely slow AF (Canon mirrorless with 22 f/2 pancake). I have a warm feeling that it’s going to change soon though!

    Nice article, as always. There’s basically nothing that I haven’t found elsewhere, but you have such a nice style that it’s a pleasure to read.

    • An announcement, not an article. I’m just excited that I finally have 28mm compact choices! Though faster is better, I don’t think there’s anything that limiting with f2.8 and a good sensor – at least I didn’t find that to be the case when I was shooting with the Coolpix A in New York (which incidentally turned out to be my most productive camera, by the way).

      • Peter Boender says:

        As I’ve seen the results from the Coolpix A New York shots (and was very pleasantly surprised by them: the lack of that AA filter makes a huge difference!), I’m really curious as to what the Ricoh can do. Going by the MTF charts it should indeed be a close call (at least optically, but MTF charts are just a single part part of the complete story). Despite the fact that I favor 24mm over 28mm, I’m excited too: slowly we’re getting high quality compacts! So hopefully B&H will send you that review sample ASAP. USD 300 is a big chunk of money at the given price points by the way. My guess: Nikon will have to respond…

        • MTF charts are a crapshoot at best – theoretically computed vs measured vs sample variation and all…at best, the MTF chart is an average of several measured samples and should be a good indicator of what you can expect; at worst, they’re some lofty ideal that doesn’t even come close due to shoddy QC. :)

          Agreed – B&H have promised me one as soon as they hit retail, and I may be able to get a prototype sample a bit sooner from Ricoh locally.

  9. Want!

  10. Anis Rahman says:

    Reblogged this on Anis Rahman.

  11. I’m tickled pink that Ricoh has a follow on to their famous GR series. I was afraid they were finished with cameras as we’d only heard product announcements from their Pentax partnership.

    The GRDIII got me interested again in photography as I purchased that model for its size to take on a 10 day hiking trip with no access to power. And then I had the opportunity to visit their Ringcube facility as a guest when the image I submitted to their 11th annual photography contest won an award. Plus it’s my first blog post: http://wp.me/p1RXdb-1

    Ming you don’t have to test the camera for me. I will buy one because I know from experience how the customization will be dealt with. The way snap focus and pre-setting manual focus along with button customization.

    And then there’s the pocket size carry any where factor!

    Ok, I guess we need to see how long the battery lasts (8>)

  12. This is indeed exciting news. Clearly there’s a trend though; APS-C size sensors are going the way of the compact and everything else gets FF in the near future. Its no wonder Nikon pulled out all of the stops on the D7100 including the AF of a $6K (D4) camera for $1200. I’d certainly buy the D7100 over the Coolpix A for $1200. The price point of the new Ricoh makes much more sense to me.

    • Cheaper is always better. But then again, we’ve always paid a premium for size and build, and the A trumps the D7100 in both respects. There’s also the small matter of the lens: I’m not aware of a lens for the D7100 that can match the performance of the Coolpix A’s optic.

      • Agreed, I’m shooting with Siggy 35/1,4 and while it crushes the A for sharpness and bokeh, I’m going to need to spend more time at the gym to lug this combo around. I have an A as well and believe me the D7100 has much much better color right out of the camera…best I’ve seen in a Nikon camera…EVER. AF is ridiculously fast too…

        • Well, that’s also not a 28mm equivalent. SOOC JPEGs are always lousy. RAW files on the other hand for the A are wonderful…I’d expect the D7100 to be a notch better still as it’s a newer sensor.

          • How does the Coolpix A compare to the 28mm f/1.8G? Not a 28mm equivalent on APS-C, of course, but I’d be interested to know.

            • Much better. Less distortion, better sharpness, and no CA. SLR wides are always an optical compromise because of the distance from the back element required to clear the mirror; it’s one of the reasons why RF designs tend to be better optically. As for the A…no mirror, no problem.

              • Interesting. I don’t know much about camera optics, but I appreciate good design and engineering over perceived quality (a carryover from an adolescence spent obsessing over cars, perhaps). It’s amazing what a difference the jump from ~12MP to 24MP+ has made; the f/1.4G lenses I got with my D700 have gone from delightful to meh, while the legacy stuff I use with film is now basically unusable. Technical perfection is often a completely different thing to pleasing, but “character” doesn’t seem to translate particularly well to digital; perhaps that’s just because the medium encourages pixel-peeping.

                • Pretty much. We had the same issue with the D800E – I had to switch to the 1.8Gs because the 1.4Gs were as you say, decidedly meh. And heavy, too. Character doesn’t translate well, because, well, it’s digital: part of the reason why film images look the way they do is because the medium itself supports nondiscrete edge rolloff – with digital, it’s either an edge or it’s smeared, and isn’t.

      • Tom Liles says:

        …size and build, and the A trumps the D7100 in both respects… I’m not aware of a lens for the D7100 that can match the performance of the Coolpix A’s optic

        Blimey… That stopped me in my tracks. Was considering a D7100…

        I’ve become frustrated with my wife’s D60 the last few months — not to mention she wants it back! — and think this is me ready for a move up. I’m very happy with DX. So it’s a toss up between used D7000 right now and live with constant lust for newer equipment [because you know yours isn't]; or save another month or three, or more like four, and just go for the D7100 and have done with it.

        I’m not asking anyone “what should I do?” I’m a grown man. I tie my own shoe laces in the morning, I fill in my tax returns, etc. I know what I’m doing. And that is trying to find out as much as I can to make an informed decision. Or, better put: explain it away to my wife convincingly.

        I have play about, bizarro cameras, and I love each one of them [will never sell]; but for the closest thing I have to serious [for me and my purposes] I used my wife’s Nikon. It’s the most boring camera I’ve used; and the most practical. By a country mile. The amazing back-compatibilty of the F-mount is a great source of confidence so I decided very early on that if I got more into photos [I have] and I was to have such a thing as a system, starting [within my means] around Nikon would be a good idea.
        So, it’s not “a system,” but as of today I have managed to complete my set of three F-mount prime lenses — scraped together second handers — an Ai 50mm f/2 from 1977 [80 USD], an Ai-S 24mm f/2.8 [150 USD, I got this today. It's brilliant!] and an AF-S 35mm f/1.8G [200 USD. My only autofocus lens, this is my sharp no messing about one]. Those give me 75mm/50mm/35mm, EFOV, of course.

        I was aiming at a used D7000, which have obviously dropped a bit in recent days. They’re proven. They’ll meter with the old Ai and Ai-S [I have to guesstimate right now, i.e., no metering for oldies on the D60; not the end of the world, but still] plus there’s a manual lens info input option to provide a modicum of data for the exif, useful for posterity. [Right now I get f/0 -- Super Nintendo! -- and zilcho lens info in my D60 exif as these are non-CPU lenses, pre Ai-P. So I just note what I used when. No I'm lying, I never do that. I'm an anorak, but not that far gone...] Used D7000s are circa 550 USD now for clean ones [used] in Tokyo.

        And then I stopped myself.

        I’ve had similar experience with computers [buying out of date or used ones at mark down] and have come to the conclusion that it’s not the best. The best strategy is often to get the newest, strongest spec. The newer the tech, the better. Stronger the spec, the better. Then you make that last the 3~4 year cycle until the next big leap [there's no requirement to make it when it comes!].
        I always found you were doing mini-upgrades all the time the other way [memory here, external drive there] and end up spending more or an equivalent amount of money band-aiding your way along. But the real difference is the sheer frustration of always being out of date. Particularly acute in computing where new software just leaves you behind if you’re not up to, or starting from, a decent spec… The analogy [though much less severe] with cameras would be lenses.
        All this in mind, considering the new sensor in the D7100 is a Toshiba [Nikon breaking from previous Sony architecture], is without the low pass filter [or is it some double filter-unfilter shabang like the 800E? Don't know. Either way, it has the photosite density necessary to make AA filter surplus to requirements = good] and the bonkers amount resolution it packs—it seems like this sensor is the terminus for someone like me. Just as in the days of film: lenses and me [much more me, but that's good: I know I'm not going to outgrow the machine any time soon] are going to be the determining factor with respect to sharpness and critical sharpness, i.e., as long as the body keeps going, it won’t need to be replaced [for spec reasons]. I know Ming is uncertain about the durability of these modern digital bodies; but Ming’s a pro. Sounds like a decent long to very long term proposition to [an amateur like] me.

        Then, Ming’s line that the D7100 isn’t matching the Coolpix A in terms of performance. Ouch! All depends what Ming intends with “performance,” but I’m quite sure he means optical [resolving power of the sensor-lens combo]. Ming knows a thing or two about ZF glass, gold stripe Nikon glass, etc. If he’d put the A ahead of the D7100, knowing about those, then that gives pause for thought…

        • I’m considering a D7100 too, for the simple reason that sometimes I need reach and pixel density. The A fills a different need – I’m never going to be able to pocket the D7100, nor am I ever going to use it as a casual-carry camera (much like how I don’t with the D800E). But I’d like to have the option to get the same image quality in a compact package, if I can. What I’m saying is, at least compared to my sample of the Coolpix A, I don’t know of any lens for the D7100 that can match performance aperture for aperture. I have no doubt the sensor is better, though. But if the lens isn’t delivering the information, then additional resolution is moot. So yes – I’m talking about overall system resolving power.

          As for long term durability…I use my D800E almost entirely in single-shot mode with controlled lighting for commercial work. In about a year, I’m over 35,000 frames. And I’ve got two of those, plus a D600, plus an OM-D, and a couple of other bodies. So my mileage is probably a lot higher than average. I’d expect to replace the D800E in three years or so; having the best and latest isn’t for bragging rights or personal satisfaction, but it keeps you at the top of the game in quality delivery and is also a form of insurance to make sure you have something that you know won’t crap out during a job due to wear…

          • Tom Liles says:

            Morning all.

            It’ll be interesting to read your take on the D7100 whenever you get to have a decent play with one Ming. I’m sure everyone would join me in hoping you’ll put pen to paper [not a given, we all know].

            Todd’s anecdote about his lenses and the images he was getting from them after the step up from 12 to 24 Mpix seems significant, to me. Particularly regarding character not translating well from legacy film lenses [of which I have two!]. Understood as regards the reasons for that [the capture media]; and so I think 1) more Mpix than I have now [in the D60] would be good, but 2) less than is the state-of-the-art would fit my purposes and equipment and still not be a barrier to protracted future use. I’ll just go back to the camera store more, play with both models more; come to my decision when I’m ready. But D7000 is probably the better decision [in my individual case]. I don’t have to rush: there’s LOADS of both cameras on the market — we even have used D7100s in Tokyo, can you believe — so the salesman are certainly in the weaker position when I’m shopping. The longer I wait, the better it gets. I like that.

            All this said, I’m a firm believer that you never know until you know. Knowing means owning and using, for a serious period of time. Like at least a year. A chicken and egg thing, so I freely admit that I’ll often just go on raw aesthetic prejudice, gut feeling, what have you…
            [And my rule thereafter is, "once you've made your bed..."]

            Re: durability. Yeah, among others, I recall some of your comments on the D600. Specifically as compared to an F-something “Titan” [sorry, not checking is sloppy, I know] that you picked up in Japan. But as we never know until we know, be interesting to see how your digital bodies last [at your high-impact pace]. I wonder what your opinion will be in five years time. I haven’t got many frames or brute man-hours of photography under my belt yet to comment in any useful way [on my amateur experience of durability]. I take about 100 shots a day; get between 10 and 40 keepers [depending on my mood, conditions, etc., etc.] Just to give you a giggle there :)
            I actually worry more about future proofing my data. Short of archiving copies of the RAW readers and the OS environments they operate in, I can only see that we are all trusting in Adobe, etc., to continue to the additive model of ACR support. There’s no way that can continue. Any rational person can see that either a) all camera companies will have to converge on an agreed RAW definition and document it, or b) Adobe will have to draw a line in future ACR versions and say “no more support pre-these formats [cameras].”

            It’s obvious which is more likely.

            My family photos [the data] are just as valuable to me as an artist’s images are to him or a professional’s to her.

            • I’m considering getting one for higher magnification macro work. So it might happen sooner than you think…

              As for longevity – usually not much more than 2-3 years before I need to upgrade due to commercial competitiveness. I didn’t kill a shutter until about after three years on my D2H, and not since on any of the previous cameras.

              As for backups…keep the original formats and a wide-use format like jpeg; multiple copies and different locations. Then prints help, too – you can always view those without a computer. Putting a year’s worth of work into a large Blurb book makes a lot of sense for ease of viewing, economy of printing and simply being able to keep everything together in the same physical location.

              • It seems there’s no one-size-fits-all solution at Nikon at the moment: the D4 is massive (and it seems odd that they didn’t at least do a version with the 36MP sensor, given that ostensibly it sits at the top of the range), the D800 has too much resolution (and is still too large) for general use, the D600 gets the DX models’ slightly less ergonomically sweet body and doesn’t really have enough AF points for full frame… I’m not sure why they feel the need to differentiate between their top-of-the-range bodies in these odd ways; D3X/D3/D700 made a lot more sense to me. With no AA filter and full-fat AF, the 7100 actually seems like the most well-rounded of the bunch, assuming one’s OK with DX.

                Tom: definitely worth playing with one. It may be that improved colour and dynamic range matter more to you than the savagely unforgiving resolution and sharpness! Can’t help but feel that the current generation of Nikon cameras aren’t an especially good match for the lenses available, though (and that’s current lenses, let alone legacy); that’s why I’m interested in the Coolpix. Perhaps the future with digital is optics specifically tailored to sensor?

                • Well, I’d be very, very surprised if we don’t see a high resolution sensor in that body at some point. The ergonomics are highly preferable to the D800; even if it had the same sensor, I’d probably buy one because these little things make a difference if you’re handling the camera all day long, every day.

                  Agree on the D7100: it’s looking like a more and more interesting option every day, especially for high magnification work – not to mention the bonus AF coverage over the D600 and D800.

                  Agree again on the lenses: finding a set of lenses that matches the latest bodies is not so easy. I can’t help shaking the feeling that everything except the latest designs don’t quite get along perfectly with the sensors – especially the D800E – which means some strange lens choices.

                  • Indeed. I remember the outrage you caused when you pitted the Monochrom and 50/2 APO against the D800E and 45/2.8P! No one believed you, but the latter really is a brilliant little lens; easily the best of my “old” ones. Who knew?! I’ve also got the much-vaunted 50/1.2, and that’s rubbish with digital, even on the 12MP D700…

                • Tom Liles says:

                  Hey there Todd. Yes, I’m a DPM user so color and dynamic range do it for me and more than Mpix. [If we want to play Sigma's three card monte game -- well really, it's everyone else's :) -- then they have plenty of those too.] The DPMs are weird though, I get quite visible noise [Foveon's version of it, usually purple and green blotches in deep greys] in shadowed tarmac and concrete, even at base ISO [for an otherwise bright scene]. So it seems like you have to broach the subject of DR in quite a different way with them. And that makes sense: the Foveon sensor is completely different [and that's why I like them! Also as it happens, the Sigma HQ is down the road from where I live: I like supporting the local lads]…

                  …savagely unforgiving resolution and sharpness!

                  Haha. But, crikey, if the D7100 is at this point, it’s petrifying to think what a D800E, and whatever’s next, would be like [I imagine it to be like your first ever driving lesson was in a formula one car].
                  If full frame weren’t so intimidating, I’d consider a D700 [used, of course] which I you own(ed) right Todd? D700s are surprisingly dear, still, on the used market here [says a lot]—but the main deal-breaker for me is the size and weight. I tried one in the local camera store and, as you don’t need me to tell you, no way :) . Definitely too much—as you’d expect a pro-grade camera to be. Compared to the D700, the D600 is more like it in terms of size, weight, etc., but the D7Ks are better still. And this is why they’re so appealing: clearly a step up from the D60 in terms of handling / features, but not silly. I want something physically bigger than the D60, but smaller and less serious than pro-grade stuff. All the D3K / D5K, etc., gumpf doesn’t appeal. We call that the “mushy middle” in copywriting. And oh yes, I want sharper! So D7000 is probably right.

                  I hope this is the same with every one else — and I’m not losing my marbles — but sharpness seems like something you’re on an INSATIABLE and NEVER ENDING quest for more of once you’ve picked up a camera [with the serious intention of getting a good picture]. Just to have my cake and eat it too, I also feel like [the D60's] 10 Mpix is quite enough res for me in many ways. It’s just the quality of the pixels I suppose…
                  Tim Fisher will probably be on me like a flash to criticize my consumer ways and how impractical all the following gear would be when I’m scaling the north face of the Eiger or trekking through the Mongolian steppes or navigating the high seas like a modern day Captain Bligh with nothing but Polaris my wits and a Ricoh GRv, etc., but as an aside, I have an Epson R-D1s: I love it to bits. 3000 by 2000 pixels. It’s tons really, but there’s no denying it’s soft. I also have a 7.4 Mpix Panasonic DMC-L1 — I love this camera too, it’s perhaps my favorite [and my least favorite, all in one!] — which is clinically sharp compared to the Epson [aren't 4/3 lenses magnificent---I have two: the kit lens, a 14-50mm f/2.8-3.5 Vario Elmaritt, just a beauty, really, the best interchangeable glass I've got, and the D Summilux 25mm f/1.4 which is lovely nearly all the time and HEAVY...] Compare the DMC-L1 again to the DPMs: whew! Honestly, I’d put my DP2M up against anything if it were controlled conditions, and be confident he’d give them a good fight. In my thoroughly impractical collection, the Nikon D60 sits just below the DMC-L1. Shouldn’t be the case, but everything I get with the DMC-L1 comes out better. The Nikon thoroughly trounces the DMC-L1 in every other way, most of all usability: a practical ISO range [like the Merrills of 2012, the DMC-L1 of 2007 is useless after 800 and 800 is pushing it], wide range of lens support, lighter, feels tougher [even though the DMC is built like a tank and weighs about as much: to think they tried to sell these as the small and light alternative! Ha] and the D60 finder isn’t like looking out of a window at the end of a tunnel. The D7000 and D7100 finders? Wow, you can imagine how amazing they are to me :) With either one of these I should be getting sharpness more commensurate, or at least comparable without bursting into laughter, with what I’ve become accustomed to with the Sigma DPMs. I’m also beginning flash photography and the Nikon system seems a great one to buy into. D7Ks good again here, obviously [not to say I couldn't do this with a D60, but still...]

                  Right, I’m rambling again. I’m really a nuisance; I must reign it in. Just having too good a time on here :) Parting shot:

                  Yes, in my opinion [and that's all it is] there’re two future currents in digital

                  1) As you say, premium compacts: serious sensors tailored to even more serious fixed lenses, and…
                  2) 21st century answer to rangefinders. Not just “rangefinders,” something that will be to this generation and point in time what RFs were to theirs. Will center around mirrorless interchangeable bodies—all that’s missing is the physical connection with the machine [eye-camera interface]. I don’t think we’re there yet on the finders [back screens don't have the magic; EVF can be bettered]. But there’s a legion of street photographers and people who’d like to be street photographers. There’s also plenty of output media for their pictures. I think this is like a retail tinder box waiting for someone to set it off with the right product that at once creates this new category and serves it. The product’d be: i) cool [small, sleek, perhaps retro] but not affected, the hipsters need deniability: “oh this, it was my father’s I just found it lying around,” ii) have good affordable glass that photogs can’t sniff at & cross-compatibility ESPECIALLY with older lenses, and iii) give very good SOOC jpegs, maybe include more mannered versions of Instagram style filters, or just Instagram filters. Almost sounds like a Fuji [that's how close their MD department is getting]

                  (1) is for the anoraks. (2) is for the bright young things and most everyone else. You can guess which would sell more.

                  This is just one guy’s opinion though. How do you see it going Todd?

                  • Why can’t 1 and 2 be the same? Surely somebody will do a premium bodied, high-tactility camera with EVF and interchangeable lenses…

                    • Tom Liles says:

                      I meant fixed as in affixed to the body — monocock? :) — for (1). There’d be no interchanging there, by definition. Haha, were you having a joke on me there in the second line Ming, i.e., sounds like the Olympus OM-D E5? :)

                      But yes, surely someone will do a high tactility, premium, interchangeable, etc… just a matter of time before they strike gold. I’m really not sure that EVF is a selling point to the people camera companies would want. We’re all stuck with what psychologists call Status Quo Bias [not a predilection for the band] so getting people to adopt new stuff, even if it’s demonstrably better for them, is difficult. EVF has got a foot in the perceptual door, if it gets a bit more traction it might take off… But the fundamentals [of selling it big] just seem wrong to me [not physically looking at the thing you are photographing. I know I know, this is very disputable in scientific terms; but you know what I mean, what customers would mean]. This could simply be my status quo bias [along with not wanting to have made the wrong retail choices; I didn't choose an OM-D, though I considered one a while back]. I’m genuinely interested to see how EVF pans out. I think the optical MF aspect of RF is where the magic of RF and its allure comes in… trying to capture that, in a new 21st century way, is what I was talking about.

                      A nice little story: the first version of instant cake mix failed. The reason it failed was counterintuitive, it was too easy. Housewives [this was the 50s] — who’d resoundingly asked for this kind of product — felt guilty. Marketers cottoned on; they had the client slightly alter the recipe and require the cook to break an egg into the pre-made mix and beat it in. That’s all. Instant cake mix is a huge money maker to this day. You still have to break an egg into it.

                      I think these high-spec cameras are going to be similar. Just needs something — a meaningful, tactile manual input somewhere along the exposure making chain, I’d say focusing — to make people feel capable, easily.

                    • No, I wasn’t joking. The OM-D fills that hole on paper, but it doesn’t have the same build-feel and user experience as say a Contax T3, or XPan. There’s still room for that product. Hasselblad could have done it with the Lunar, but they sadly chose to go for a rebody instead of a real change. That said, the rebody does have excellent tactile feel.

                    • Actually, the D700 is a very forgiving camera. ~12MP is perfectly sufficient for most uses, and probably about the practical limit for getting decent photos without worrying too much about perfect technique or brilliant lenses. Size is the main drawback: ergonomically, the pro-grade Nikons are a pleasure to use, and I’d happily do so all day if that was my job, but for personal use they’re just too big. I’ve had a full frame setup for three years (first with a zoom, then a couple of primes), but increasingly find that I’ll only reach for the DSLR if I’m close to home or make a concerted effort to do so; as a result, more often than not my favourite photos are taken with smaller and lighter film gear, just because that’s what I could be bothered to take with me (or what my girlfriend would allow!). I don’t think APS-C has a huge advantage in that respect, because the lenses are as cumbersome as the bodies.

                      I think the “21st century answer to rangefinders” you’re getting at is perhaps best symbolised by the Sony RX1 at the moment: getting there, but needs work.

                    • Interesting cake mix anecdote!

                      (Never thought I’d hear myself say that…)

                    • Tom Liles says:

                      Thanks again for talking with me Todd. Yeah, as mentioned the only digital FF camera I’d consider, ignoring size, etc., would be the D700—for those big, bright, buckets of pixels. If they put D700 innards into a D7000 sized body: instant sale here. They wouldn’t, but if they did!
                      The biggest draw of full frame, personally, wouldn’t be about Mpix count and resolution; it’d be about the relief of lenses that do what they say on the tin, that and having a little more latitude on the wides [I like wides the most, from 35mm on down; all the way to the 10.5mm f/2.8 Nikkor ED G fisheye (DX)---I don't own one, but a very kind photographer I know through work has given me an open-ended loan of one. I'm mostly too scared to take it out because of this! The lens is worth more second hand than the D7000 body I'm thinking about; even a brand new D7000 body, now. Yikes]. The reason I don’t think I have latitude on the wides with the DX format is purely for the crop factor. Nothing more complex than that. I daren’t buy anything (that I can afford) less than the 24mm focal length [got my first 24mm yesterday!] as I think all the stuff lens makers have to correct for, sub about 24, is perhaps just a step too far and has a disproportionate affect on the price, i.e., if I want an EFOV of 28mm, I need an 18mm or 20mm focal length—with all the baggage, and price, that will bring with it. Seems like a recipe for dissatisfaction. So I daren’t mess with anything under 24mm (~35mm EFOV) while I’m on DX. I bet this is all a distant memory for you ;)

                      Ah yeah, the RX1 is lovely. My boss — unmarried, executive pay-grade, a bit yuppie-ish — has one [and a Fuji X-E1 and a brand new Leica M-E that he bought last month; I've never seen him take a picture with any of them in anger, but that's just fine: it keeps people at Sony, Fuji and Leica in a job either way :) ] The unit reminds me of an upmarket Audi. Sleek, modern, middle-class; but hard to get passionate about. I can’t see people having heated debates over RX1s the way they do about M9s and “the Leica look,” for example.

                      It sounds like you’re pretty much shooting film then Todd? There’s a healthy film scene here in Tokyo. I’d say about half art oriented photographers and half old codgers who never saw sense in going digital in the first place. Forget the chap’s name, but a poster below the line here mentioned this the other day: he’d seen exactly the same arc and fallout in his other interest, Vinyl. You get all sorts, but when technology moves on, a hardcore always remains and keeps the flame burning.
                      I think film is interesting; but for some reason we don’t sit about talking about how many Angstroms across or apart the molecules in the emulsion are :) Better in a way [though I don't see any thing inherently wrong in understanding your equipment; talking about specs is useful. You and Ming have helped me today tons in that respect!]

                      Glad you liked the cake-mix story :). It was a long time ago I learnt that one; it might have been from <a href="http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-century-of-the-self/"Century of the Self. An Adam Curtis documentary, if you’re not familiar I’d recommend him—one of the serious documentary film makers out there. Thank god they still manage to find their way through! If it wasn’t Century of the Self it was surely some other psychology related thing. Psychology and politics—these taught me, continue to teach me, useful things about my job [advertising]. Organized religion is also relevant. So I read and read and read as much as I can on these. There’s no substitute for what actually works in the real world, rather than in theory, though…

                      Hey! that sounds familiar :)

                      See you around the way Todd. Cheers

                    • Tom Liles says:

                      Century of the Self. Sorry about that Todd.

                  • A pleasure, Tom. I’m shooting film almost resentfully, as I really think someone should have built a digital camera that I prefer using by now!

                    • I’m still thinking that the only reason why we had so much choice of form factor with film was that they’d run out of options to sell us and had to get creative. We’ve still got a physical size to sensor size relationship that also indirectly dictates image quality, so we’re some way off that point for digital yet…

                    • Yes, I think so too. Increasingly capable cell phone cameras and increasingly cheap full frame seem to be shaking up everything in between now though, which is good; suddenly, things like build quality and ergonomics are back on the radar. It’s crazy how slow the big camera companies are to catch on.

  13. Hey Ming,

    I’m in a bit of a pickle, I thought that the GR was going to be released in Sept, so I bought the OMD 3 weeks ago, and now the GR is here. So my question is, which would you prefer as a street shooter? OMD with a 14mm pancake (I’m also thinking of getting the Schneider 14mm) or the GR?

    I’m a fan of the GR, and I do like the silent shutter it has. My only concern is the low light AF, and does this have focus peaking?

    And would you keep both cameras or sell one over the other, I don’t really use the other lenses much with the OMD since I like the 28mm FOV, and I have a full frame camera for commercial work already. I’m trying to get my gear more streamlined so I don’t have double the equipment. But to be honest I really like both cameras, and I would probably end up keeping both.

    • Different purpose cameras. I’ll probably land up carrying the GR or A for wide work, then the OMD for tele or with a short zoom. It’s what I did in New York, and worked very well.

  14. John Joyce says:

    Looks as if Macro is pushed out from 1 cm on the GRD III and IV to 10 cm on the GR. Unavoidable probably. But a loss.

    • A consequence of a longer real focal length – that would need more extension, and thus a bigger body. 10cm isn’t so bad. The X2 is 30, and RFs are 70…

  15. Sounds awesome, Ming! I might pick one up if it stacks well against the Coolpix A. On an unrelated note: I don’t have a physics background as yourself, and am thus baffled by MTF charts (even though I’ve a M.Sc. in Engineering). Would you consider a post about this in the future, considering you might be the most qualified photographer to write about it?

    • Tom Liles says:

      Hi Thiago,

      An MT article on MTF charts would be great; in the meantime this Zeiss PDF was pretty helpful to me [I'm a recent learner]. I went to Kinkos and had them print one off, bind it—best thousand yen I’ve spent in a while. And since picking up photography, I’ve spent a few (a few hundreds, in fact)! Anyway, my hard copy of that document is covered in notes and annotations now; and I have a pretty good idea about the charts. Hope it helps you too. Cheers.

      • GeoDesigner says:

        Thanks Tom!

        • Tom Liles says:

          Not at all. Real thanks should go to Zeiss and Mr. H. H. Nasse. It’s amazing how much resource is available on the internet; and for free too. Bravo!

          Not MTF, but if you’re curious about the more scientific side of how our equipment works, I found this Charles Pointon Gamma PDF a while back; it’s very interesting reading. It has a straight forward and scientific explanation, for example, of why 18% grey is 50% grey to us; not just the usual, “it’s a Gamma curve!” pat answer, but an explanation of where that comes from and the actual physical quantities involved and their [quantitative] relationships with each other, which make 18% grey 50% to us. Mr. Poynton’s writing on color is also excellent.

          And my favorite so far, a Kodak PDF workbook on Sensitometry. This writing and format is so familiar and comfortable to me. I think it will be to any one who’s had a scientific education. Especially to any engineers reading, the Kodak workbook reads just like K.A. Stroud’s Engineering Mathematics series. It’s the “frame” format, where they tell you something, check it, do a few walk through problems, ask “did you get that,” then test you on it. Then move on to the next frame; but a few frames later will ask you about that one thing again. And so on, and so on. Bite size, very approachable and if you take the time to sit and do it, the stuff sticks. Best way for learning I’ve yet found. Could completely just be me. But there it is. For those that haven’t had a scientific education, the style won’t be familiar, but it will certainly be comfortable. All you need is curiosity, the rest is easy.

          Sensitometry [you probably know, but just in case] concerns film; don’t let that disaude you. In fact, I learnt more about my digital camera and taking digital photos from that Kodak PDF than all the luminous-landscape/cambridge-in-color/Ming Thein/you name it sites out there—sites that I still enjoy and check regularly, by the way!

          OK then GeoDesigner: enjoy :)

          • Peter Boender says:

            Thanks Tom! Some really helpful links to interesting reads.

            • Tom Liles says:

              My pleasure Peter. I always feel happy with the World when I come across these things: it’s as it should be. Knowledge should be free. And should be freely available.
              [the internet is not free or freely available, but there you go! :)]

              Nothing like being able to answer you own questions!

    • Yes and no. MTF charts are a bit of a marketing gimmick – we have no idea if they’re calculated theoretical maximums in an ideal world (usually, as this looks best), measured off a good sample, or averaged across a reasonably realistic run…basically, the idea is that they should give us a reasonable idea of what to expect, but you can never really be sure.

  16. Mark Olwick says:

    If you look at that DP Review preview linked above, they include direct image comparisons with the Nikon Coolpix A. The Ricoh blows it away quite handily – no pixel peeping necessary.

    • I’m reserving judgement to until I shoot one in person. Either I have an extraordinarily good sample of the Coolpix A, or DPR has a bad one, but I’m not seeing the same things they are – I really find it difficult to see how to improve image quality on a 16MP sensor over the existing A’s output. It’s also possible they’re shooting JPEG, I suppose.

  17. I’m sure your head-to-head comparison will be interesting and I’m looking forward to it.
    Fwiw it looks like the lower two MTF charts should be labeled f5.6.
    Best regards to you. I appreciate your thougts and images here, very much.

  18. Nice thoughts on the new GR- thinking of even getting one myself and testing it out. Might be good for some future gopro videos :) Very keen to see your thoughts on the camera Ming

    • Thanks Eric. My guess is if you enjoyed the GR1v (I know I do) but wanted a larger sensor than the GRDIII or IV (ditto), then this should be right up your alley.

  19. Wow, this looks really good! But as every upside has its downside; this makes my next choice even harder….
    My main kit now consists of the Oly EPM1 with 14mm Panny and the great 45mm Oly. Was looking for an upgrade, the body has been used heavily and I’m just starting to dislike the limits of the sensor in terms of dynamic range and color noise at higher iso’s. I was looking at the OMD or EPM2, but this new Ricoh makes the choice even harder if I want to stay at all at m43!
    90% of my photos are with the Panny 14mm, while the lens isn’t perfect, I just really like the size ability of this combo. I don’t know if I would miss the 45mm, while being a very good lens I don’t like taking more than 1 lens with me, and the 14mm wins most of the time by being a pancake.
    Looking forward to your review!

  20. Max Smith says:

    Hey Ming Thein, awesome job with this post. I’m mainly a street/documentary photographer planning on a half-month trip to Brazil. Will be bringing a D7000 with a superzoom and a wideangle. Was wondering, in a toss-up between the Ricoh GR and the X100s, which would you pick? Regards.

  21. Steve Jones says:

    Nice to see Ricoh have kept that clean and simple design that is a hallmark of the GRV series. Very nice. That does look like an illuminated ring around the on/off button though. I could do without that.And if i get one I’ll have black tape on that RICOH logo under the display panel in short order. Distracting. Except for these details this looks promising. Very promising. Time to think about accessory finders I’m thinking.

    • The white paint should come off its a little acetone, or you could just fill it in with a black sharpie. More amazing is the size isn’t much larger than the precious small sensor GRD IV…

      As for accessory finders, I think the Voigtlander mini 28/35 would be perfect; too bad it’s discontinued. I really regret selling mine.

    • On the GRD II, III & IV there is a custom function to disable the power light. Yet another Ricoh design feature that all the other manufacturers could usefully copy.

  22. Hi Ming, Will you be reviewing the x100s with wide angle converter in order to fully round-out your assessment of the 28mm large sensor compact offerings? if not, am wondering why you’d exclude one of the three “buses”. In any case, thanks for sharing your thoughts and providing the trustworthy reviews. .

    • That was the plan, but it’s subject to me being able to get a review unit. The reason why I had the X20 in NYC instead of the X100s was the issue of stock…

  23. Ming great news and great thoughts too!
    I’m waiting your review of the Ricoh GR vs Coolpix A so I can have with me all the time my lovely E-M5 with PL 25/1.4 or ZD 45/1.8 and the Ricoh GR combo.
    Ming I was wandering what is your preferred viewfinder for the GR?
    The Ricoh GV-2 Mini External or the Voigtlander Metal Brightline 28mm (the 2nd I think is to bulky for the little GR)?

    Best-Dimitris

  24. Dai Furuta says:

    Why do you own GR IV? or is there some specific reason that you do’t own it? I am trying to buy GRIV or GR1 series in Tokyo this summer.

  25. John Prosper says:

    I’ll be looking forward to your review on the new GR and the CoolPix-A. I miss having a take-anywhere camera with great optics. I could see myself adding 21mm conversion adapter too.

  26. I’ve had the GRD 3 & 4 and really love them. I’m waiting for the GR now to be paired with my Leica X2.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Cnet, Techradar, LeMondeDeLaPhoto (french), Amateur Photographer, Pentax Japan (Japanese), Ming Thein. Presentation video (that has been leaked before) on youtube. Ricoh GR Vs Nikon Coolpix A [...]

  2. [...] of want one already! Damn you Ricoh! Other interesting reading can be found with on MT's website – Announcing the Ricoh GR (Digital V) And DPR Ricoh GR Hands-on Preview: Digital Photography Review Sony RX100, Nikon D800, Nikon [...]

  3. [...] Source: http://blog.mingthein.com/2013/04/17/announcing-the-ricoh-gr-digital-v/ [...]

  4. [...] Announcing the Ricoh GRD V – Ming Thein (nice thoughts by Ming on the camera) [...]

  5. [...] has changed: Ricoh GRD V – Fstopeight Street Photography Camera Game-Changer: The Ricoh GRD V Announcing the Ricoh GR (Digital V) The new Pentax/Ricoh GR Camera is ready to stomp on the Coolpix A | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS I've got [...]

  6. [...] easily apply those in post). Neither one has IS. I covered most of the spec sheet in the preview, here. Now I’ve had some (albeit very brief) time with a final production prototype*, it’s [...]

  7. […] Announcing the Ricoh GRD V – Ming Thein (nice thoughts by Ming on the camera) […]

  8. […] It seems that 28mm large sensor compacts are like buses. You wait ages and ages and ages…and suddenly we now have no less than three APS-C options: The Nikon Coolpix A, The Fuji X100s with wide c…  […]

  9. […] Added on 4/17/2013: http://blog.mingthein.com/2013/04/17/announcing-the-ricoh-gr-digital-v/ […]

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