Today, Pentax-Ricoh announced a new high-end compact camera. Not someone you’d call a conventional camera manufacturer (neither Ricoh nor Pentax, for that matter), the new camera seems extremely tempting, especially considering its price. Ricoh GR features a 16.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and a fixed 18.3mm f/2.8 lens (equivalent to 28mm on a full-frame camera), and will set you back around $800. At least on paper, it seems to be targeting potential Fujifilm X100s buyers, only with a couple of features missing and at a considerably lower price. Another (even more) direct competitor is the Nikon Coolpix A, which is also much more expensive.
Specifications and Commentary
As I have already mentioned, a 16.2 megapixel APS-C sensor is at the heart of this new compact camera, which is in line with its closest competition, the Fujifilm X100s and Nikon Coolpix A. Following the same decision made by several other manufacturers so far, the camera does not have an AA filter. While I strongly believe 35mm (full-frame equivalent) focal length to be the most flexible when it comes to prime lenses, 28mm (full-frame equivalent) focal length in the case of Ricoh GR is likely to be appreciated by street photographers just as much. You may find f/2.8 to be somewhat slow for a fixed lens, but the Ricoh GR compensates by being very small and potentially capable in low light thanks to the ISO range of 100-25600. Even though you should take “paper” specs with a grain of salt, modern sensors, even smaller ones, seem to do rather well up to very high sensitivities in noise department. There’s no reason to think Ricoh GR will be sub-par in this regard or, at least, one can’t be blamed for hoping.
You will notice that the Ricoh GR lacks a viewfinder – arguably the biggest selling point of Fujifilm’s X100s. However, you can forgive Ricoh for such an omission once you take the price and size into consideration. You can purchase an external optical viewfinder for around $250. It may seem steep, but still nowhere near the $450 price of Nikon Coolpix A’s external OVF. Two optical viewfinders will be available: GV-1, which is a 21/28mm full-frame equivalent that can be used with wide-angle converter; and GV-2, which is tiny and meant for standard 28mm full-frame equivalent angle of view.
Ricoh GR may be an alternative to X100s, but several key features are completely different (like the mentioned viewfinder omission and a wider lens). As it happens, though, the Coolpix A has almost exactly the same specifications and also puts a lot of emphasis on its tiny size. The thing is, Ricoh manages to beat most, if not all, Coolpix A specs on paper and is much, much cheaper. Nikon compact will set you back around $1100, which means GR is cheaper even with the external OVF. We have said it before and will say it again – Nikon needs to reconsider its pricing policy for the Coolpix A. On paper, I see no reason why someone would buy it over the GR, which seems to be just as good and is just as small. Time will tell, of course, as features don’t tell the whole story. One thing is clear – Pentax-Ricoh wants the new GR to be a success.
Other specs include 4 frames per second continuous shooting, built-in ND filter, shutter speed of up to 1/4000s and the now almost class-standard hybrid AF system. There’s also a sharp 3″ LCD screen with 1.23 million dots and the usual Full HD 1080p/30 video mode. Pocket-friendly size and tough build quality is probably GR’s biggest strengths, though.
Here is the (official) main highlights list:
- 16 Megapixel APS-C size CMOS Image Sensor
- GR ENGINE V & Anti-Aliasing filterless Design
- Newly designed, 9 blade diaphragm, 28mm F2.8 lens
- High Speed Auto Focus System with Continuous shooting
- Designated AF (auto focus) & Aperture Preview buttons
- Pocket-sized compact with portable design
- Large 3-inch, 1.23 Million Dot LCD Screen
- Capture Standard JPG or DNG RAW
- ISO up to 25600
- Flexible Shooting Modes
- Full 1080p h.264 HD video recording
- Eye-Fi Card Compatible
- Dual-axis electronic level
- Image Effects & Macro Mode
- 35mm Crop Mode
- It’s tiny!
The short comparison between Ricoh GR, Fujifilm X100s and Nikon Coolpix A is based purely on specifications. We hope to get these cameras for thorough reviews in the coming months.
Official Press Release
Here is the official press release:
Denver, CO (April 16, 2013) — PENTAX RICOH IMAGING AMERICAS CORPORATION today announced the RICOH GR, an ideal blend of image quality, camera size and price; setting a new benchmark for the advanced compact camera category. The new RICOH GR camera features an APS-C-sized CMOS image sensor delivering shallow depth of field, exceptional low-light performance and a wide dynamic range for remarkable images across a wide variety of shooting styles.
Remaining true to the heritage of the multi- award-winning RICOH GR Digital series the new Ricoh GR camera combines compact size with outstanding performance. Featuring a 16 megapixel, APS-C-sized CMOS sensor, no low-pass filter and a completely redesigned optical path the GR is built for superb image performance. The newly developed and optimized 18.3mm (28mm in 35mm format) F2.8 lens compactly provides high-resolution, wide-angle images with stunning edge-to-edge sharpness all while minimizing chromatic aberration and distortion. The camera’s category-leading, nine-blade aperture diaphragm produces a rounded bokeh effect across a wide range of apertures.
Advanced capabilities of the sensor and lens are supported by a newly developed GR ENGINE V imaging processor which optimizes high-sensitivity shooting to ISO 25600 minimizing noise, producing accurate, color-rich images. Finally, a newly designed lens driving mechanism and optimized AF algorithm combined with faster data readout speeds from the image sensor provide a high-speed auto focus system that can focus on a subject in a mere two-tenths (0.2) of a second. A super quick start-up time of approximately one second ensures photographers are guaranteed a speedy capture ready camera in even the most fleeting scenarios; making the RICOH GR the ideal companion camera at a fraction of the size of a DSLR.
“The introduction of the RICOH GR marks a new standard of confidence in the compact camera segment,” said Jim Malcolm, Executive Vice President, PENTAX RICOH IMAGING AMERICA. “The RICOH GR camera’s unparalleled set of robust features and hardware completely redefines what can be expected from a compact camera.”
In keeping with its advanced functionality the GR also offers a range of helpful features common to DSLRs like in-body RAW-data development and a dedicated depth of field preview button to aid in accurate image framing and quick inspection of focus prior to capturing an image. Additionally, the GR boasts full 1080p HD video recording capabilities replete with continual AF during video capture creating sharply-focused, high-quality video output.
Instantaneous photo and video sharing is now a breeze with the GR’s optimized Eye-Fi SD card compatibility. Built-in menus allow the user to easily enable automatic transmission of images and video to a smartphone for rapid sharing. Users can even select favorite images and resize them before transmission.
For consumers seeking additional creative expression, RICOH offers an optional wide-angle conversion lens extending coverage to 21mm. The new GR is also compatible with the full range of accessories already offered for the preceding GR Digital line of cameras including viewfinders, flashes, lens hoods and adapters and more.
Pricing and Availability
The new GR advanced digital compact camera provides incredible value with a category-low cost of $799.95 and will be available at retail outlets nationwide and online in May 2013.
As always, we trust B&H more than any other reseller when it comes to photographic gear purchases. If you find Ricoh GR a suitable camera for you, please use our pre-order links for your purchase. It won’t cost you any more, but will help us keep Photography Life website running at its best. Thank you!
- Click here to buy the new Ricoh GR compact camera for $796.95