Review: The 2013 Ricoh GR (digital V)

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Not long after Nikon announced their 28/2.8, 16MP APS-C super-compact, Ricoh also decided it’d be a good time to launch an update to their cult GR Digital line. Version V has done a Leica and dropped the model number to confuse us (and Google searches for the new model), but gained a near-identical spec to the Nikon – also 28/2.8 equivalent, 16MP APS-C sensor without AA filter (it does have square and 35mm crop options, but you can always 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 time to report back here on how it actually fares in the metal.

*Meaning some things like image quality and focusing behaviour may undergo final tweaks before production versions ship, but apparently they’re pretty close to it. My camera is running firmware 1.11.

4 October update: Ricoh has released FW 2.03 which fixes a lot of issues I had with the initial camera such as program mode stopping at f4 – the update is downloadable here.

A continuously updated set of sample images on my Flickr is here.

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Readers will know I’m personally a huge fan of the 28mm focal length; it simply matches the way I instinctively happen to see, and it also is fairly close to the natural field of view of human eyes when not focused on anything in particular. It’s a wide enough focal length to require care in composition to avoid flat-looking images, but not so wide that you see the extreme perspective first, and the rest of the composition second. It’s good for general documentary and very versatile if you have no choice but to carry one focal length – for instance if your camera’s size is of paramount importance and it can’t fit an 85mm too (or nobody wants to make one other than Sigma). It’s probably not the best choice for beginners as amateur users tend to produce very flat-looking images with it, thinking that wide lenses are to ‘get more in’ – they’re not – I admit my first encounter with the GR left me lukewarm and cursing the fixed 28mm equivalent.

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Angled. All images in this review were shot with a pre-production GR (digital V). And before anybody complains of oversharpening, it’s Flickr’s downsizing algorithm. Click through the image to see the original (unsharpened) image. All EXIF data remains intact.

I’ve owned every GR Digital except the IV, and I still currently own a film GR1v. So perhaps you could say upfront that I’m biased towards liking this camera. To say it feels very familiar in the hand is true; it’s almost the same size and shape as its predecessors, to within a few millimetres (annoyingly though, it still won’t fit inside my leather GRD III belt holster, which has been seasoned over time and is probably my favourite compact camera pouch of all time). How Ricoh accomplished this whilst stuffing a significantly larger – APS-C vs 1/1.7″ – sensor inside is impressive. Of course, some things had to go to make room, so we lose PDAF sensors, image stabilization, and the f1.9 maximum aperture. Instead we have contrast detect only, no IS, and f2.8. In fact, it’s almost the same size as my GR1v – perhaps a couple of millimetres thicker. Except the GR1v has a full frame capture area, a real 28/2.8, a more powerful flash, a status LCD, PDAF and an optical finder with shooting information.

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Reflections on furniture.

Aside from the innards, a GRD IV (or III, or II, or even I, for that matter) could pick up the GR and not notice any difference until entering a menu. The handling feels almost exactly the same as its predecessors; the magnesium-alloy body is solid and inspires confidence that it could withstand hard professional use. It fits the hand perfectly; the grip shape and materials evolve ever so slightly with every generation, very much for the better. This is easily one of the best-handling and best-feeling compact cameras, bar none; you just want to pick it up, fondle it, and shoot with it. On a haptic scale, the GR pushes absolutely all the right buttons. I personally like the stealthy, all-matte black design very much, though I’m sure there will be some who want a chrome version.

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Untitled cinematic

Ergonomics have always been unquestionably the GR line’s strength; in my opinion, the control layout is currently the benchmark for compacts. You even get holes on every corner to place the wrist or neck strap wherever takes your fancy. It feels secure in the hand, and all of the controls fall under the fingers of the right hand. More impressively, for anybody who’s never shot with a GR Digital, those controls are almost all easily accessible with your hand in the shooting position. The one exception is the mechanical flash release, and a new DOF preview button on the left side that can also be programmed to do double duty if pressed briefly instead of held down. Needless to say, the camera doesn’t keep you waiting in any way – file handling and buffering, write speeds, menu navigation – everything feels effectively instant. I’m pleased to report the increasingly bloated and seemingly endless scrolling menus of its predecessors are gone; I don’t feel as though there are any fewer options on this camera, but it seems that the menus are now shorter and much easier to navigate. Power on is snappy, too. On the topic of power, I think the battery life is in the ~250-300 shot per charge range, but I’ll have to have more time with the camera to get a better feel. Note that unlike previous versions, the battery compartment will no longer also accommodate AAA batteries for emergency use. It was a nice to have, but in all my years of ownership, I can’t remember ever having used the feature.

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Saluting Superman

New for the GR V is a rear toggle switch to choose between AF-C (AF-ON) and AE/AFL functions for a switch that’s ostensibly both. Oddly, choosing AE/AFL causes the camera to cycle focus before locking – regardless of whether focus was achieved immediately beforehand or not. In my mind, one of the things that set the earlier GR Digitals apart from other compacts was the level of control the camera gave you over the focusing system. It’s also one of the two things that frustrates me the most about the new GR V.

All of the focusing options from its predecessors have made it into the GR V; which is to say we still have multi-target AF, single target AF, pinpoint, movable target and tracking AF; there’s a macro mode that focuses down to 10cm, and of course, manual focus. Unique to Ricoh is the snap focus mode, where the lens will default to a certain distance setting if the shutter is jabbed straight down past the intermediate position and the camera isn’t given time to find focus; I almost never used this on my GRD III, simply because most of the time it was fast enough – or I was using the excellent manual focus mode in hyperfocal. It’s worth noting that whilst the focusing scale implementation is probably the best in the business (distances marked with the set distance shown and depth of field scales for the selected aperture overlaid) – changing distance isn’t intuitive at all. The trouble is, unlike the previous cameras, I can’t help but feel the GR V actually needs its snap focus override.

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One cold, miserable night. Wet, too.

The reason is inconsistent AF performance. In bright light or high contrast situations, it’s extremely fast indeed; matching the Olympus OM-D – fast enough to make you half-press the shutter again because you weren’t quite sure it nailed focus the first time. The minute light falls to moderate indoor levels, focusing slows down to be merely average; if your target has little contrast, things become downright glacial. The camera will rack through the entire focus range, very slowly, and often either fail to find focus at all, or worse, lock on to the wrong thing. Here’s the problem: focusing speed is anywhere from blindingly fast to terrible, and the transition point varies. (The Coolpix A always focuses at the same speed, regardless of light levels: it’s somewhere in between the Ricoh’s extremes, but closer to the fast end.) However, it’s probably worth noting that the PDAF system of the GR1v (no CDAF off unexposed film, obviously) is noticeably slower and less accurate than the GR – to put things in perspective. As for continuous AF – don’t bother. Ricoh should implement a firmware option to have the switch work as AE/AFL (button works without refocusing) and MF (AF-ON on button if desired).

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Pie in the sky

The GR’s program mode is rather strange: it won’t ever choose to shoot wide open, even if light is low; it will prefer to go to very high ISOs (assuming auto-ISO – with customizable thresholds for ISO and shutter speed – is enabled) and open no wider than f4. Presumably this is a hold-over from the days when AF wasn’t that accurate and lenses weren’t at their best wide open; I can’t imagine why it’s needed now given we have subject-specific CDAF and optics that were designed to be used at maximum aperture. Even if you program-shift, what happens is that the camera won’t drop ISO – say we start at f4 1/60s AUTO ISO 3200; you’d expect it to shift to f2.8 1/60s AUTO ISO 1600; instead you get f2.8 1/125s AUTO ISO 3200 – even though you set your auto-ISO threshold to drop at 1/60s. It also won’t show you the chosen exposure until you half press the shutter. There’s also the interesting TAv mode, which is basically ISO priority – it will ignore your AUTO ISO settings, and just pick whatever ISO fits your chosen aperture and shutter speed – even if that’s 19,500.

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The anime invasion of Kuala Lumpur

Let’s talk a bit about image quality. The optics of the lens are as-claimed, for the most part: resolution is excellent across the frame at all apertures and geometric distortion appears to be relatively low, but there are caveats. Performance degrades slightly at minimum focusing distance (10cm); the center remains excellent, but you start to see coma and smearing towards the edges of the frame. What the MTF charts don’t show is that lateral CA is a bit of an issue, especially in the corners; though they’re sharp, they can occasionally appear smeary especially if there’s a high contrast subject there. Flare and coma are visible with bright point sources in frame, but not especially objectionable. Throughout the testing, I couldn’t help but feel that the lens retains something of the character of the original GR1v’s lens; moderate overall contrast, moderate microcontrast, fairly good resolution wide-open (but clearly better stopped down) and a tendency towards warm transmission. There’s a sort of ’rounded smoothness’ about the rendering rather than the modern contrast-plus biting sharpness of the Nikon Coolpix A.

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Closeup performance isn’t bad, but the lens doesn’t slice things crisply into planes like the Nikon Coolpix A’s does.

Ricoh goes to pains to point out that the camera is fitted with a 9-bladed diaphragm for better bokeh; however, given the real focal length of 18mm and modest f2.8 maximum aperture, you’re not really going to be seeing a lot of out of focus areas unless used a close range and wide open. Should that kind of photography take your fancy, the GR also includes a built in ND filter (that can also be automatically activated if shutter speeds exceed the maximum available) – probably also useful given that at f2.8, 1/2000s is the upper limit; you don’t get the full 1/4000s until f5.6.

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Putting one’s foot down.

I’ve still not been able to determine if the sensor outputs 12 bit or 14 bit files; regardless, dynamic range is excellent (as-expected) on this Sony-derived unit; it’s not clear if it’s the same sensor as the K5IIs or D7000, but it does have exactly the same pixel dimensions – 4928×3264 – as the Coolpix A. It also lacks an anti-aliasing filter, which results in the expected crisply-rendered detail. Bearing in mind that the camera I had was a final pre-production prototype, I found the default color palette to be somewhat odd, though. Reds and oranges have a tendency to shift pink, WB temperatures are completely off (about 1000K cooler and 10-15 points more magenta than they should be, for daylight balance) exacerbated under incandescent light. I suppose this results in more pleasing skin tones, but not accurate colors overall – I felt the overall rendition to be biased a bit hot. It’s correctable by profiling the camera, but this is something I’d rather not have to do as playing around with one channel over another will inevitably affect image quality. It definitely doesn’t have the same tonal response as my GRDIII did. Hopefully this is something that will be fixed in the final firmware. Interestingly, the files make excellent B&W conversions with little tonal work required; I can’t help but wonder if this was a priority for the development team given the GR’s lineage and legacy.

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You know it’s wet when you can see this much rain in a still image.

High ISO performance is excellent through 1600, very good at 3200 and 6400 – and I personally wouldn’t go higher than this. It’s clear that you’re entering boost territory at 12800 and 25600; blue channel noise rises significantly, compromising dynamic range to the point that I probably wouldn’t even use these for B&W work – unless you particularly like having only black and white. Note that noise reduction appears to affect raw files too; the good news is that you can switch it off entirely, and select at precisely which ISO values high/medium/low/off NR settings kick in.

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Breakfast in progress

Before I start the conclusion, I’d like to note upfront that this article will evaluate the GR V based on its own merits; in part two (tomorrow) we’ll put it up against its natural rival – the Coolpix A. However, there are a mind-boggling number of customisations available, and some of them are a little cryptic. Oddly, its JPEG colors are much better than RAW, especially reds; it’s quite possible that it’s because my unit is pre-production, so I don’t want to draw any final conclusions about image quality just yet. RAW color is fairly easily fixable, though – it took me about ten minutes of tweaking before I had a set of ACR defaults I was happy with (and these were used for the images in this review). More concerning was inconsistent AF speed and program mode behaviour – I don’t feel it got in the way of any shots, but I didn’t feel fully confident of how the camera was going to behave under every situation. Frequently I found myself defaulting to MF mode and zone focusing.

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Heading to the end

The GR series has always been a very specific sort of tool, aimed at a narrow niche: it’s the serious photographer’s compact. The GR V doesn’t change that one single bit; if you’re prepared to invest a little time in learning and configuring the camera, it’s a very pleasant thing to shoot. Image quality doesn’t disappoint, either – though I think the marketing people and various popular fora were a bit optimistic in saying it would categorically destroy the Coolpix A. (As we’ll see tomorrow, it’s nowhere near as clear cut – even factoring in the $300 price differential.) The last thing to consider is the price point; at $799, this is new territory for a premium, large-sensor compact; though it’s still significantly more expensive than the compact M4/3 camera and pancake lens bundles; I can’t help the latter would make a more flexible and user-friendly choice for the average user. If you do want to take control of your camera, and value the build-feel, the Ricoh is definitely worthy of consideration; my time with it was all too short. I’m hoping to get an extended loan in the near future to complete part three of this review: does it finally inherit the GR1v’s position in every way? MT

Part two – Battle of the 28mm compacts: Ricoh GR vs Nikon Coolpix A – continues here.

A big thank you to Travel Photographer Malaysia and DSC World for the loan.

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


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  1. Ming, I hope you get to review the new (not released yet > Feb. 2019 ?) Ricoh GR camera. Unless it breaks every time one energizes it, I’m buying it. I’ve never had a better travel camera then my film version GR-21.
    Keep up the good work.
    P.S. Are you going to continue reviewing Hasselblad X1D camera lenses. I’d really like to see an comparison between the Fujifilm GF 23mm wide lens and the Hasselblad XCD 21mm wide lens. It will ultimately determine my purchase of which system.
    Thanks, David

    • As always, I have to buy most of the stuff I review – there are few local principals here who will loan. I will only do that if it makes sense. Still on the fence about the GR new’s control layout, which means it’s unlikely.

      As for Hasselblad – in short, no, because it’s even more expensive and I don’t work for them anymore. Even less likely I’m going to buy or have access to a Fuji system to compare two lenses in focal lengths I don’t use… 🙂

      • Sorry to hear that, Ming. Hasselblad lost an excellent resource with you leaving.

        I almost bought the current Ricoh GR but I kept reading over the years about all the problems owners had with dust getting on to the sensor. (No way the owner can clean it himself, sense it is sealed in the body!)

        Since I haven’t had an digital GR yet, I don’t see myself missing controls I’ve never experienced. Mainly I wanted a more trouble-free GR, although I wish they had included even a very rudimentary view finder! Just an optical viewer built into the body would be OK. Adding a separate optical viewer to the top of the camera is never a good answer.

        Thanks again, david

        • Oh well, the new owners didn’t seem to see the value, and it seemed pointless to continue.

          GR: no dust problems but I’ve also heard the same (and also lens extension/ collapsing mechanism issues). 15k shots on mine without issue though. And you can get a mini optical finder to go in the hot shoe, but it’s of limited use because you have no idea what the camera focused on.

  2. I realize this is an old review, but I’ve searched and can’t quite find the info I’m looking for. People love this camera so much, yet it seems like there’s no way to focus and compose in a viewfinder (and I can’t stand doing that at arm’s length with the rear screen). I realize that there are attachable OVFs, but then there seems to be no way to focus through them. How do you resolve all this? If I want to focus and actually see what I’m focusing on, must I use the rear screen? I understand it has snap-focus settings, but say I want to focus on someone’s face, fairly close to camera, with the limited DOF of that situation. Is it possible to do this without using the rear screen? Thanks.

    • It isn’t possible to do what you’re asking via the OVF – at least not accurately. It’s possible to guess where the center point is going to be, but at near distances you have parallax issues. There’s also multipoint auto which might work, and you generally work a bit stopped down with one of these. But in short…it’s not really designed for that kind of thing. The popularity/ versatility comes from its compactness to price to image quality ratio, and general overall responsiveness.

  3. Hi Ming, I have and love this Ricoh Gr (2013)! I was recently gifted a Leica X Vario and thanks to your site, I learned how similar the two cameras are and though it was tough, I have since returned it. I would love to go with the M10, but the cost is just crazy for digital. In terms of Leica digital, would there be a digital model you would recommend over the Vario that I could look for used? Does another camera model come to mind from other brands? I hear good things about the Xpro2 but have no prior experience or draw to Fuji.

    About the Ricoh GR.. I wondered if you knew of a compatible off camera flash? I have seen an image of a Toshiba A-30L flash mounted on a GR but I cannot find any info online if this works..

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  4. The more I use this camera, the more I’m forgetting other systems out there. Such a jewel to say the least. 🙂 If only Ricoh can magically put the K1 sensor with 5-axis stabilization and pixel-shift on the same size body. Okay, I’m only dreaming…

  5. I prefer Ricoh GRD IV.

  6. Ming, any thoughts on the new Ricoh GR macro lens 0.35 x converter? It focuses between 4-7.5 cm. Would it be useful for scanning 35mm and 120 film negatives?

  7. Hi, how big can I print with this camera files, for offset (300dpi/a book) and digital prints (prints for an exhibition/300)? Thanks.

  8. Hi Ming, been enjoying your blog for a while now. I’m considering an upgrade from my nikon V1 to possibly a GR or a second hand RX1. I enjoy hiking and the GR would be ideal but the rx1 is tempting, but wondering how much better in terms of IQ is it to justify the extra size and expense?. regards, John

  9. seablister says:

    Subject: Raw converter used. When I use either Capture One or Lightroom, there is a definite reddishness to the skin tones. Yet the images shown in your article have none of that. Can you tell us which raw converter you have used on the GR images?

    • ACR/Photoshop, which has the same underlying engine as PS. I also profiled the camera.

    • Adobe profiles are not accurate at all. The default profile is only usable indoors around 3000K and even then it requires some tuning to get pleasing skin color. I highly recommend profiling your monitor and then profiling your camera using a color checker. Note that automated profile creation will only provide accurate hue, saturation and lightness need to be adjusted by hand. Believe me, it will make all the difference and save a ton of time moving forward.

  10. The 21mm wide angle converter is excellent.
    Is anyone aware of an equally good tele converter?


  11. Hey Ming! A lot of forums have referenced you about my questions on the GR. The GR fits me perfectly for my travel style(pocket, active, light gear) I mainly read that its the perfect “street camera” but how does it do at indoor parties with some movements and sugar crazed kids with no flash? with flash? I’m coming from a 24mm fixed so I hope the 28 is good enough for my landscape(with and without long exposure), street, indoor parties, outdoor with low lit globe lights, etc. Looking for good quality images. Mainly debating between this and the RX100 III.

    Thanks! Great posts by the way!

    • Can’t say for sure as I’ve never shot that kind of thing (and hope not to). I’d suggest going for the 21mm converter though, and focus tends to be fast enough (plus you’ll have more DOF to cover potential subject motion and distance changes with the 21 converter). Flash should work fine though 1600 is plenty usable too.

  12. Ming,
    A hypothetical question: If you could get the GR for 550 Euro and the Coolpix A for 450 Euro, would you still choose the GR? Is the higher price of the GR justified? I’d really
    appreciate your feedback. J.

  13. Finally, scooped-up a GR today!!! I’m amazed what it could do and then some. I feel revived with its IQ and speed. It’s tiny that it will allow me to take pictures for hours. Can’t wait to get out tomorrow and shoot! Thanks again for the encouraging review!

  14. Hi Ming, thanks for this review. I own a Canon S95 compact camera and would like to replace it to get better image qualiy. I like the idea of a compact camera with fixed prime lens but friends of mine tell me 28mm will be too restrictive for my kind of photography. I do mainly landscape and architecture photography. Have you any ideas about using only 28mm? Is it more suitable for street photography?

    Kind regards, Jeroen

  15. Hello Ming. Just got a Ricoh GR Mark II, and call me crazy but I have the feeling the B&W aren’t as magical as GR from 2013…

    • I wonder why that is? Could it be ACR changing the default profile?

      • I saw below you said you do not intend to review the GR Mark II but if you change your mind it would be of great interest to me and I think many of your readers,. Thank you.

        • It would also be a waste of $700 and several days since I can’t get a loaner and would have to buy it, then would not use it afterwards. I only have time and capacity to review stuff I’m actually going to use, because unlike other sites I don’t make any money from ads or sponsorships. Time spent reviewing is time I can’t take commissioned work.

  16. I’m seriously thinking of adding a GR as a 28mm lens/camera to my Wedding setup. I’m i crazy with such a small camera? ;o) I shoot Leica Monochrome but for Color i use I now a Canon 5Dmk1 with 28mm 2.8 /40mm 2.8 and 50m 1.8 which is fine if no high iso is needed. The Gr would give a higher Iso and a killer 28mm lens as wel as a great reportage and walk around anywhere lens/camera.

    Do you see any reason (Quality wise or else) to not use the camera in a wedding setup?

    • Photographically, creatively, none whatsoever. I’ve used the GR for all sorts of things it would seem unsuited to until it was replaced by the Q a couple of months ago. The only problem I can forsee is that your clients may have other expectations.

  17. Hi Ming,

    the never ending story…;) one question with regard to the Ricoh GR…

    After several firmware upgrades (in comparison to the Coolpix A) is it now as good as the Nikon Coolpix A when shooting colors (is used for colors) and with regard to the AF speed/performance in low light??? And are the slightly better high iso files(better noise reduction) of the Coolpix A also matched/equaled???

    Thanks a bunch!


    • Sorry, I have no idea since I haven’t used an A since mid-2013, and certainly not with the updates. The GR is good enough for both color and B&W, and AF is fast enough.

  18. Melvin Neo says:

    Hey Ming Thein,

    Any chance of reviewing the new GR II soon? The sensor looks the same as the GR. Maybe only NFC and WiFi are new.

    • Looking at that spec sheet, almost certainly not.

      • Yep, looking at the specs it seems like it’s basically the same camera with WIFI and a few tweaks here and there. I was really looking forward to this release, but it was bit of a let down. I expected them to at least add a stabilizer in there, even a software one would be nice. Well, maybe next time.

        All is not bad though, just today I bought a second hand GR with two extra batteries and charger for 320 euros! 🙂 That’s a bargain right there, it shows almost no signs of use. The hotshoe cover is missing as is the ring around the lens bayonet, but otherwise it’s pretty much as good as new. Based on some early testing with it I can see why people like the GR so much. Very easy to setup and use, great controls, great IQ and dynamic range, nice out of camera JPEGs too. Looks like this camera will be with me for the long haul.

  19. Ming,

    Great review. A question for you…would you by the current GR V or wait for the GR VI which would be released this year.

    Thank you.

    • Impossible to make purchase decisions based on rumours and speculation. There will always be more and better if you’re willing to wait. The current version is good. If it fits your needs, buy it. If not, then don’t. Easy, right? 🙂

  20. Ming, If I understand correctly, you still recommend the GR, more than two years after its introduction (mirror And are the colors still an issue?
    Kind regards, Johannes

  21. manish says:


    i have a GR 2 and am facing a lot of blurring issue for the slightest of subject or hand movement. surprisingly the ones shot with flash on come out ok. please suggest if there is a way to fix this

    Many thanks

    • Your shutter speed is too low, or your are shaky. The effective flash duration is very short so you won’t see motion. Raise your shutter speed or ISO.

  22. abouna2 says:


    I’m sending a plea on behalf of your US readers:

    As you probably know, the GR tends to lose that pesky lens ring on the front. You know, the one that Ricoh tells you to remove when you buy their lens hood,….

    Unfortunately the corporate offices at Ricoh USA have deemed this a “repair” part. A repair part? Oh that’s right, kind of like when I have to send my dSLR in to have the lens cap replaced! I get it now.

    So to sum up, Ricoh makes a great little camera, that loses it’s lens ring very easily. Instead of selling the rings (like, oh I dunno, the rest of the world) US customers have to pack up their perfectly functioning GRs, ship them off to an authorized repair center (not Ricoh mind you), so some repair person can take a plastic ring out of a box and put it back on the camera, the same way the manual instructs us to do when using the lens hood? Plus we get the privilege of being without our cameras during this period. Brilliant.

    How about a short post on our behalf?

  23. GR is a very good camera, but one must be cautious that it is not easy to take good photographs with it as it allows you to capture the scene without deliberation, resulting in plenty mediocre photos. Sharpness is excellent,tonal gradation is extremely silky, but lacks good rendering and micro-contrast. Better landscape lens than Nikon 28mm 1.8g, but not in other fields. Hoping for 85mm version of GR.

    • “GR is a very good camera, but one must be cautious that it is not easy to take good photographs with it as it allows you to capture the scene without deliberation, resulting in plenty mediocre photos.”

      That can be said for ANY piece of equipment.

      • yes, but i think many users have the tendency to take photos endlessly with GR, at least with dslr we tend to consider the scene more, but this can also be applied to any equipment, the users are important.

      • not only GR, but also includes compact/mirrorless cameras. i don’t feel the connection, that’s why i prefer dslr.

  24. Ming:
    Your review is spot on and this camera leads to the ‘sufficiency’ question. I find myself comparing pictures from this camera to DSLRs and B&W from my 500cm and wondering what the next gen of compacts will do?

    Give me another one of these in a fixed 85-100mm equiv (much easier to design than this 18mm) and you’ve got 95% of my camera needs solved in two small packages (for $1300).

    The only substantial issue for me is the menu system, a universal problem. I’ve read that this is actually one of the best, and that may be so, like contracting malaria is better than getting yellow fever. It took me about 6 hours to thoroughly cover all the details and setup it up for confident use (just as my Nikons and Canons did).

    (I don’t see how semi-standard, blindly interdependent software switches in long lists can be considered anything but indifferent design. All the large companies are guilty of it – with only Leica (T) doing anything about it. I’m surprised at how complacent photographers are regarding this.)

    Regardless, once you’ve fiddled the menus into submission, this is a truly wonderful camera.

    – Charlie

    • I agree the menus aren’t ideal. And yes, I did point out that the T was a bit of a watershed in UI design – too bad even then it’s not quite right because it doesn’t allow for the same degree of customization of camera behavior, only menu arrangement.

  25. Hi Ming,

    A quick question – how has your people shooting behavior changed from making photos with the GR and really the whole Ricoh line? Given there’s no viewfinder, do you find yourself changing your stance, changing your approach to taking people’s picture differently? I’m enamored by the GR’s form factor, but concerned of the shooting style it forces you to adopt (holding it like an iPhone in front of you).

  26. When you say the Ricoh would be preferred (over, for example, the Nikon Coolpix A) for B&W, are you saying B&W jpegs out of the Ricoh are better, or that B&Ws created from the Ricoh raw file are better? In fact, if one creates B&Ws from raw files, assuming equal glass and sensor size and resolution, would it make any difference what camera was used to generate the raw file?

    • B&Ws from the raw file. It still matters because there is proprietary processing between the sensor readout and file write – there’s a reason why all cameras from the same manufacturer have very similar color profiles and tonal response…

  27. Hi Ming. The Ricoh GR is pure magic when pix are turned to black and white. Color, so-so a lot of time. Do you have any video on post procesing the Ricoh Gr, both color and b n w? Thx.

    • No, other than the M Monochrom, it doesn’t make sense to make hardware specific videos since the cameras go out of date pretty quickly anyway…if you are havingcolor issues I suggest you try the latest version of ACR. That profile appears to be much better than earlier ones – it works fine for me.


  1. […] a big fan of large sensor compacts for their versatility and image quality. I liked the original APS-C GR, the Coolpix A and to a lesser degree, the original RX100; the RX0II is in my bag. You see, I had […]

  2. […] general forms: zooms in utility (‘Swiss army knife’) cameras and high quality primes (GR, Coolpix A, X2 etc). There are also some good zooms – the RX10 and X Vario come to mind. The […]

  3. […] duplication (a pair of D800Es), to where the compact has a bigger envelope than the primary (GR and M4/3), to near identical pairs (D810/D800E, H5/H6) to enormous differences in shooting envelope […]

  4. […] sempre un po’ snobbata. Pur essendo una macchina molto ben valutata non solo da Ming Thein e da Lloyd Chambers ma, soprattutto, utilizzata da Daido Moriyama, mi era sempre sembrata un […]

  5. […] enthusiast options are very, very limited. You’ll probably recall I was very fond of the 2013 APSC Ricoh GR (V) and Nikon Coolpix A, and subsequently, the Leica Q. The D Lux 109/ LX100 weren’t bad, either. […]

  6. […] Review: The 2013 Ricoh GR (digital V) – Ming Thein long after Nikon announced their 28/2.8, 16MP APS-C super-compact, Ricoh also decided it’d be a good time to launch an update to their cult GR Digital line. Version V has done a Leica and… […]

  7. […] mention: The Ricoh 18/2.8 in the GR (V)* and GR II (VI) cameras (review B&H Amazon) Yes, it’s a small format, yes, it’s a fixed prime – but for a […]

  8. […] is faster than expected, but not Q-fast. It’s closer to GR-fast. You can’t move the point yet, but that’s coming […]

  9. […] than say M4/3. (I actually found the E-M5II to be a fairly good camera for this purpose). The GR was also handy because it’s always ready to go; less handy because it isn’t so stable […]

  10. […] and workshop tour was one of those occasions for me. I went with my usual small digitals (OM-D, Ricoh GR) for teaching, and the Hasselblad 501C with one magazine, a few boxes of Acros 100, and the […]

  11. […] there’s bound to be something for everybody. We have everything from the extremely compact Ricoh GR to the larger (but supremely versatile) Leica Q, and other niche cameras like the Fuji X100 series, […]

  12. […] honourable mention goes to the 2013 Ricoh GR Digital (V): this may be an odd choice considering it is a 2013 camera, but the 2015 mark II model added […]

  13. […] series was shot during the Venice Masterclass with a Ricoh GR, Pentax 645Z, 55/2.8 and 150/3.5 lenses, and post processed mostly using the low key and balanced […]

  14. […] 24-120/4 VR, 80-400/4.5-5.6 VR, Zeiss 2.8/21 Distagon, Zeiss 1.4/55 Otus, Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus, and Ricoh GR. Postprocessing was completed using the Monochrome Masterclass […]

  15. […] a Nikon D810, D800E, 24-120/4 VR, 80-400/4.5-5.6 VR, Zeiss 2.8/21 Distagon, Zeiss 1.4/55 Otus, and Ricoh GR. Postprocessing was completed using the Monochrome Masterclass […]

  16. […] software correction to moderate distortion; on top of that, there’s some focus shift. The Ricoh GR and GRII is good out to the corners, but tops out at f2.8 and is fixed to one camera body (with […]

  17. […] As such, the weapon of choice at the time was a Nikon D4, AFS 24-120/4 VR and AFS 50/1.8 G, with a Ricoh GR and 21mm GW-3 converter for tighter quarters and backup. At the last minute, I added the AFS […]

  18. […] series was shot with a Ricoh GR, 21mm converter, 645Z and 55/2.8 SDM and processed with a mixture of PS workflow II and the […]

  19. […] 24-120/4 VR, with additional contributions from the 24 PCE, 85 Otus and Voigtlander 180 APO and a Ricoh GR. I post processed using PS Workflow II and The Monochrome Masterclass. I also cover street […]

  20. […] shot almost entirely with a Nikon D810 and the 24-120/4 VR, with the exception of one image with a Ricoh GR. I post processed using PS Workflow II and The Monochrome Masterclass. I also cover street […]

  21. […] series was shot with a Nikon D810, 24-120/4 VR, Ricoh GR and Zeiss Otus 1.4/55 and processed with Photoshop Workflow […]

  22. […] readers will be familiar with my preference for this focal length, and my devotion to the Ricoh GR because of its blend of pocketability, performance and that focal length. Though 35mm has always […]

  23. […] sempre un po’ snobbata. Pur essendo una macchina molto ben valutata non solo da Ming Thein e da Lloyd Chambers ma, soprattutto, utilizzata da Daido Moriyama, mi era sempre sembrata un […]

  24. […] kind of thing that adds depth, complexity and texture to a scene. These were shot in Chicago with a GR, 645Z, D810 and Otus 85 and processed with PS Workflow II. Enjoy! […]

  25. […] GR (review | B&H | Amazon) I actually had second thoughts about putting this camera in simply because the […]

  26. […] This series shot with a Nikon D750, AFS 50/1.8 G, AI 45/2.8 P, and Ricoh GR. […]

  27. […] This series was shot with a Pentax 645Z and Ricoh GR. […]

  28. […] merken we graag op dat de camera van de iPhone 6 de kwaliteit van bijvoorbeeld een Ricoh GR, Fuji X100, Nikon CoolPix A of Sony RX100 nog niet heeft weten te evenaren maar wel de gemiddelde […]

  29. […] lens-sensor pairing is really the way to go when it comes to optimizing performance and size; the GR and Coolpix A are great examples of this; as is the fact that all normal lenses of similar […]

  30. […] Shot with a Pentax 645Z, 55 and 150mm lenses, Nikon D810, 24 PCE, Zeiss Otus 1.4/85 and Ricoh GR. […]

  31. […] series was shot with a Ricoh GR, Pentax 645Z, and Nikon D810 with Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus APO-Planar. Files were processed with the […]

  32. Quora says:

    What is a good digital camera for street photography?

    Like a number of others, I recommend the Ricoh GR. Its combination of ‘size and stealth’, fixed 28mm lens and the quality of RAW files stands out. A monochrome photographer, I edit my files in Photoshop relying on Curves and Dodge/Burn. Filtration is…

  33. […] I haven’t even gotten to the really interesting speciality stuff like the fixed-lens wides (Ricoh GR and Coolpix A – now dirt cheap) or the curveballs (Sigma Merrills and […]

  34. […] This series was shot with a Nikon D800E, 70-200/4 VR, Zeiss Otus 1.4/55 and Ricoh GR. […]

  35. […] series shot with a Ricoh GR, Pentax 645Z, 55/2.8 SDM and 200/4 FA lenses, Nikon D810 and Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus […]

  36. […] series was shot with a Ricoh GR, Nikon D800E, 70-200/4 VR and Zeiss 1.4/55 […]

  37. […] what I could ski with. I shot this series with a great mix of equipment – everything from the Ricoh GR, to D810 and Zeiss 85 Otus, and Pentax 645Z with 25, 55 and 200mm […]

  38. […] shot with a Ricoh GR, Nikon D810 and Zeiss 1.4/85 […]

  39. […] has an EVF? I’ll address the latter question first. Firstly, I don’t think it’s a Ricoh GR replacement: that camera punches at a much higher level of image quality, and is actually […]

  40. […] series was shot with a Pentax 645Z, 25, 55 and 90mm lenses and a Ricoh GR. You might also find the Monochrome Masterclass workshop video handy for the postprocessing and […]

  41. […] This set was shot with a Pentax 645Z, 25/4, 55/2.8 and 90/2.8 lenses as well as a Ricoh GR. […]

  42. […] of course shot these with a Ricoh GR, which for many reasons – image quality, ergonomics, size, stealth – is my street […]

  43. […] notice it’s there; a couple of small primes or a 50mm and a paired compact like the GR covers pretty much everything at high quality and isn’t at all obtrusive. It’s not the […]

  44. […] using it mostly in two modes – either AF with centre point and spot meter, like I use my GR, or fully manual with zone focus, similar to how I used my M […]

  45. […] emotion rather than getting up close and getting a pose. The D800E and 70-200/4 VR accompanied a Ricoh GR, both of which performed admirably. Enjoy! […]

  46. […] personally have been travelling with the following of late: for street work and fast response, a Ricoh GR; for wide angle work, including some architecture and landscape, a Nikon D810 with 24/3.5 PCE; that […]

  47. […] pitches of these things – the Zeiss Otuses and Sigma Arts come to mind. Niches are filling in – Ricoh’s GR, the Fuji X100s, Leica M240, and the Sigma Quattros and Merrils. Even medium format has become […]

  48. […] a mixture of equipment over the last few months – everything from an old Olympus E-1, to the Ricoh GR, D800E and Zeiss […]

  49. […] series was shot with a Ricoh GR, Nikon D800E and 70-200/4 […]

  50. […] goes without saying that the Ricoh GR rode shotgun (pistol?) in a belt holster, and bag space was shared with a whole bunch of other […]

  51. […] This photoessay is an exploration of building styles in Melbourne – I believe there’s a little bit of something for everybody here. Enjoy! MT Shot with a Nikon D800E, D4, Zeiss 1.4/55 Otus, Voigtlander 90/3.5 APO-Lanthar and a Ricoh GR. […]

  52. […] I’m usually equipped with a 28mm lens when I do this kind of work; usually in the form of the Ricoh GR. 45 (Hassy V/80mm) and 55 (D800E/Otus) combinations have also been tried recently. But only since […]

  53. […] set was shot with a Nikon D800E, Nikon 70-200/4 VR, Zeiss 1.4/55 Otus and Ricoh GR. […]

  54. […] is, so EASY to just allow user to select 60 or 90 or whatever: Ricoh GR goes to 5 minutes piece of cake built […]

  55. […] set shot with a Ricoh GR, Nikon D800E and the 70-200/4 […]

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