Ricoh GR Digital II review
I originally posted this review in the forum last December (07) and only just found the user reviews page and thought it would be useful.
Took receipt of my first Ricoh camera last week (Dec '07) – GRDII. This forum (and website) has finally put an end to an obsession with Canon compact digital cameras. I am still a novice in the digital world preferring to stick with my Olympus and Mamiya film systems (OM 4Tis and RZ76 both with fixed focal lenses, images then either worked in darkroom or scanned with Nikon scanner for archiving, printing and exhibiting – a long process I know but one that I know how to control!).
I would like to air some comments on the new Ricoh GRD2 generally I am very satisfied though a few negatives have come to light. Firstly however I wanted to thank all useful comments and levels of advice this forum has issued regarding the Ricoh GRD2. A good friend had tried to persuade me that the GRD was an excellent choice a few years ago, but I was not sufficiently persuaded. Until now I have only really used a digital compact as a sort of ‘sketchbook’. That said I am now beginning to realise that there are affordable full-frame DSLRs on the market that are almost as good as my current setup with traditional system – and of course the practicalities of post processing are becoming ever easier.
The choice to go for a GRD2 was therefore to act as a stepping-stone potentially onto a DSLR system when I felt confident in the postproduction process with RAW files. I took the camera on a trip to Rome earlier this week and happily shot 430 images so I have had a good chance to test most features.
I should note that this is a ‘front-end/ hands-on’ opinion of the GRD2 and quite personal. I have not started any postproduction work and so it is aimed at shooting and camera ‘feel’. Hopefully however I will touch on a number of points that I had not read in this forum - you will have to forgive me if a similar post has been made in the last week (as I said I have been in Rome testing this camera).
All images were shot in RAW mode at 100ASA, me preferring to add noise in a controlled postproduction environment.
The positives in this summary are not definitive, merely ones I particularly liked. I found the camera to be considerably better than expected so more positives could be added…
Compact and very easy to use; quite intuitive and slipped into my pocket with considerable comfort.
Solid build and I was confidant that it was not going to be easily scratched in my pocket – though the flash appears a little flimsy when popped-up.
I particularly like the ‘my setting’ features and function keystroke, allowing the user to pre-programme and save as a dial setting is a huge bonus to me.
The RAW saving time is acceptable, not once did I get frustrated waiting for the camera. In fact shooting a few JPEGs proved to be a bit slow to record though I did not venture to find out why.
I shot 430 images on one battery (purchased a spare just-in case) a remarkable achievement considering the temperature and the amount of on and off and reviewing of the images that I did, to top it all I also managed to download the images to two PCs before I had to recharge.
Images appear crisp and I like the fixed focal length, only twice did I think that I could have benefited from a zoom.
Exposure compensation on the zoom control is excellent feature and I liked that you can programme the same lever for other functions – though not all, see negatives.
I thought the level meter would be a gimmick but actually found it to be very useful, it works in both landscape and portrait.
No viewfinder was a concern but the LCD display was brilliant, clear and precise. Being able to completely switch off the display was a huge bonus as it allowed for a few subtle shots.
I found the buttons to be located well (except for the playback and adjust wheel buttons – refer negatives) and the rubber grip made it easy to hold the camera which is quite long and as such a little harder to control with one hand. Keeping the little finger under the body helps a lot with stability while flipping through the modes and settings.
The adjust dial is awkward to use particularly trying to get through all the shutter stops without accidentally pushing it in, which then accesses the menu settings. If anyone know of a way to setup the zoom control toggle to shutter speed setting in manual mode please let me know? Not found in manual.
How many shutter stops do you need? I would prefer the traditional stop nos. (1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, etc) and then use the exposure comp to adjust ± 0.3 stops. Getting between 1/2 to 1/125 requires 18 pushes of the adjust wheel (compared to 6 pushes in traditional setup). Refer previous note for concerns with using the adjust wheel. If anyone knows of a method to limit the stops to traditional settings I would like to know?
Shutter lag got some getting used to, I found it initially hard to ensure that the ‘correct’ image was taken. This is a question of getting used to the camera and eventually I got used to it. Trick is to hold shutter part way and allow it to focus, wait for the green square brackets to appear and shoot. How long you have to wait depends on the settings though I like the focus ‘snap’ function which locks the focus at 2.5m.
The playback button location was a little awkward, quite a few times when switching on the camera I accidentally pressed the playback button at the same time, which resulted in a bit of confusion, I was a lot more careful in holding the camera after a few missed opportunities.
The camera appears to have a few focusing issues in low light but eventually gets there, not as bad as my Canons as I never liked the IR focusing always made the camera too obvious.
Image quality tends to be fine but I became increasingly concerned when reviewing the highlights display that a number of my images were proving to be over saturated. I tried a number of setting changes and found that it had more to do with the spot-metering mode which I prefer to use.
I also took my lightmeter with me to ‘check’ the Ricoh’s onboard metering capabilities – tested against a Sekonic L-558 and one of my Olympus OM4Tis with 55mm lens. Both have spot meters, 1 degree on Sekonic and 2 degrees on Olympus. Generally in both the centre weight and spot metering comparisons I did, I found that the Ricoh was always 1/3 to 2/3 of a stop over exposing. I tested this in both the spot, centre or multi zone metering. I found this to be quite disappointing and it is probably this that is creating the saturation in the highlights. I would like to know if any other user is finding similar issues or if this is a one off problem, I am assuming there is also no method of compensating for this in the numerous settings?