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Ricoh unveils GR Digital IV 10MP enthusiast compact with 'Hybrid AF'

By dpreview staff on Sep 15, 2011 at 06:00 GMT

Ricoh has unveiled the Ricoh GR Digital IV - the latest in its series of high-end, fixed focal-length compacts. The GRD IV is still built around a 10MP 1/1.7" CCD sensor but gains sensor-shift image stabilization. It also adds 'Hybrid AF' that uses twin CMOS AF sensors allowing the camera to assess focus distance and bring focus times down to 0.2 sec (twice the speed of the GRD III). This, combined with the camera's distinctly photographer-focused interface and compact size, prompts the company to tout the GR Digital IV as a street-shooting tool. The camera also gains a high-resolution RGBW 1.23M dot LCD. There will also be a limited-edition white version for the first time.

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Press Release:

Ricoh announces the GR DIGITAL IV

A digital camera offering enhanced Quick Shooting capability and image quality with a Hybrid AF System and GR ENGINE IV

Tokyo, Japan, September 15, 2011—Ricoh Co., Ltd. (President and CEO: Shiro Kondo) today announces the development and release of the GR DIGITAL IV digital camera, the successor model to the GR DIGITAL III, which offers enhanced Quick Shooting capability and image quality. 

The GR DIGITAL III (released in August 2009) was a compact digital camera with high image quality that came with a 28mm/F1.9 GR Lens, the GR ENGINE III, and a high-sensitivity CCD that continued the evolution of the concepts originally introduced in the first GR DIGITAL model (released in October 2005). In the two years since its release, it has been enthusiastically received by a broad range of customers including professional and amateur photographers.

The new GR DIGITAL IV, featuring a new image engine and a refined optical filter, exceeds the GR DIGITAL III and achieves the highest level of image quality in the history of the GR series.

Additionally, for the advancement of the Quick Shooting capabilities required to make sure you never miss a shot when out shooting, Ricoh has introduced a Hybrid AF System and an Image-sensor-shift Image Stabilization Function, which makes use of Ricoh's independently developed external AF sensor, and a 3-inch, approximately 1.23 million-dot VGA LCD monitor for heightened outdoor visibility. The addition of an electronic level that can detect inclination in the tilt direction, as well as the conventional horizontal direction also improves operability. Moreover, the inclusion of Dynamic Range Compensation makes it possible to shoot subjects in backlit or high-contrast scenes in the way the eye sees them, and Interval Composite, which can combine images shot at a certain shooting interval, advances the camera's expressive capabilities.

Ricoh will also continue to provide the highly praised function-expansion firmware.

Main Features of the GR DIGITAL IV

  1. Improved AF speed and accuracy due to the introduction of the Hybrid AF system

    • The camera comes newly equipped with Ricoh's independently developed external AF sensor, which has a maximum of 190 AF points. Through the Hybrid AF System, which is used in parallel with the conventional CCD contrast AF, Ricoh has realized an AF focusing time as short as 0.2 seconds, as much as half that of the GR DIGITAL III.

      Also, algorithm refinements have led to improvements in the AF speed for macro shots that are taken using only the CCD contrast AF method for a maximum reduction of half the time of the previous model.

    • In shooting with a single press of the shutter-release button, the high focusing accuracy required for snapshot shooting has been added to the camera's Quick Shooting capabilities by performing the metering with only the external AF sensor. The metering information from the external AF sensor can be displayed on the LCD monitor as necessary.

  2. Even higher image quality achieved

    • Through refinements to the optical filter and optimization of the image processing from the previous model, the GR DIGITAL III, the SFR*1 characteristics have been improved.

    • With the new image processing engine, the GR ENGINE IV, color reproduction enhancement and color noise reductions are achieved when taking high-sensitivity photographs.

    • Ricoh's signature 28mm/F1.9 GR lens demonstrates its high resolution while suppressing chromatic aberration and distortion. The approximately 10 million-pixel, 1/1.7-inch CCD shows off its high-sensitivity characteristics. These are the elements through which the GR DIGITAL IV achieves the highest image quality in GR DIGITAL history.

  3. Comes with the first image-sensor shift image stabilization function in the GR DIGITAL series

    • With the image-sensor shift image stabilization function, the GR DIGITAL IV achieves a stabilization effect equivalent to a shutter speed increase of a maximum of 3.2 stops*2, which combined with the fast F1.9 GR lens further increases the camera's ability to capture dark scenes.

  4. Introduction of a new, high-brightness LCD monitor and the addition of an automatic brightness adjustment function

    • Through the introduction of the new 3-inch, approximately 1.23 million-dot VGA LCD monitor, which adds white pixels to the RGB ones, the GR DIGITAL IV secures a maximum brightness of approximately 1.7 times that of the GR DIGITAL III, improving its visibility when outdoors.

    • A function in which the camera automatically adjusts the luminance to match the brightness of the subject has been added, which minimizes decreases in visibility due to changes in the shooting environment.

  5. Shooting functions that heighten the photographer's expressive ability and enhanced scene modes

    • Comes with dynamic range compensation to minimize the effects of blown highlights in bright areas and crushed blacks in dark ones. For backlit or high-contrast scenes where exposure compensation alone is not enough, compensation is performed for each area, enabling the photographer to take pictures at a brightness that closely matches how the subject looked.

    • The Auto Bracket function has been enhanced. In addition to the conventional Exposure and White Balance, Contrast Bracket Setting and Dynamic Range Compensation bracketing have been newly added, of which any two can be selected for addition to the image settings to record a sequence of three shots with Image Setting Bracket.

    • Comes with an Interval Composite mode that will replace and combine only the high-brightness pixel data in images of the night sky taken at fixed intervals. This makes it possible to shoot distinctive landscape pictures that show the trails of light left by the stars.

    • Positive Film and Bleach Bypass, which lowers saturation and increases contrast, have been added to the image settings. Along with settings like the existing High Contrast B&W and Cross Process, these can be used in each of the shooting modes (Auto/P/A/S/M).

    • Multiple exposure shooting, which makes it possible to shoot up to five overlapping shots, and bulb exposure functions have also been included.

  6. Already high operability heightened even further

    • Included since the GR DIGITAL II, the electronic level function has been enhanced. Now it can detect inclination in not only the horizontal direction, but also the tilt direction as well.

    • The function combinations that can be used with the Fn1/Fn2 buttons have been expanded to four settings that can be registered with the Fn Button Pair Setting. Because the user can switch between functions registered in the Fn Button Pair Setting without going into the menu screens, they serve as an easy shortcut, making it possible to change functions in an instant to match the scene being shot.

    • The My Settings function, which enables the user to register their preferred camera settings, have been expanded from types to 12 types. Better still, because the settings can be registered on an SD card, users can share their favorite settings amongst themselves.

    • Includes a function for working with Eye-Fi cards. Images taken can be wirelessly transferred to a computer or uploaded to a photo-sharing site. When these functions are in use, the transmission information will be displayed on the shooting and playback screens.

  7. An even broader range of expandability with new options

    • A genuine leather hand strap for excellent portability and handling and a metal lens cap that works with the lock function of the power button will be available as new options.

  8. Implementation of function expansions through firmware

    • The provision of function-expansion firmware, which has been highly praised from the GR DIGITAL to the GR DIGITAL III models, will continue with the GR DIGITAL IV. By updating the firmware, the camera can always use the latest functions.

*1 Spatial Frequency Response (SFR): One of the indicators of a digital camera's resolution characteristics, including everything from the optical system to the image processing.
*2 Measured using RICOH measurement methods.

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Total comments: 26
By rtogog (Sep 17, 2011)

It should be good, If this camera have 35mm equivalent lens & adapter to 24mm or wider option. This 35mm more useful for general purpose lens.

By ChrisKramer1 (Sep 17, 2011)

This will sell for 550 Euros which is a lot of moolah for a fixed lens compact with an itsy-bitsy sensor. For only 250 Euros you can get the GXR with the A12 module. If you have money to burn, then burn it good.

By Somerichs (Sep 15, 2011)

Why does this thing remind me of a Pontiac Aztek?

Low Budget Dave
By Low Budget Dave (Sep 15, 2011)

I like Ricoh design and quality, but I was hoping for something more than incremental improvement. The GXR was (and still is) a whole new species. This is just a Ricoh version of the Olympus XZ-1.

Zvonimir Tosic
By Zvonimir Tosic (Sep 15, 2011)

Sensor stabilisation, white colour .. it seems Ricoh has already cherishing some fresh ideas and solutions from Pentax.

1 upvote
By Iamprasanth (Sep 15, 2011)

Lol, great observation :)

By tkbslc (Sep 15, 2011)

Do people love the 28mm equiv prime? It seems really wide for a camera like this. Maybe it is just me, but I think something around 35-45mm would have wider appeal, especially considering how many compacts already zooms AND a fast 28mm end.

By EvanZ (Sep 15, 2011)

28 mm is not wide enough, as far as I'm concerned. 24 mm is much more useful.

By roblarosa (Sep 15, 2011)

"...prompts the company to tout the GR Digital IV as a street-shooting tool."

"here will also be a limited-edition white version for the first time."

Right - because there is no need to be inconspicuous when shooting street photography.

By marike6 (Sep 15, 2011)

Why the optional lens cap? The lens on the III automatically closes.

By sphexx (Sep 15, 2011)

Lens cap locks the on/off switch so the lens cannot open up in your pocket avoiding giving unfortunate impression you are pleased to see someone when maybe you are not. Avoids damage to lens mechanism and protects the blades covering the lens whilst in pocket.

1 upvote
By marike6 (Sep 15, 2011)

Ouch. I just bought a GR Digital III 2 weeks ago, and by the time B&H get the IV, my 30 days will be up. Don't really care about the IS, but the increased focussing speed, and talk of improved image processing have me curious. I had read the Sept 15 release rumors, but many on the Ricoh forum said it would NOT happen. Shouldn't have listened.

By Vadimka (Sep 16, 2011)

You are right, IS is not that important for 28mm.
Regarding faster AF, I have to say its not important either, because GRD's best feature is shooting at preset focusing. Its a street photographer's dream, no lag time, excellent.

By tulo (Sep 15, 2011)

i dont care much for GRD, but this must bode well for the GXR II...

Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Sep 15, 2011)

I love the way Ricoh has gradually and carefully refined the design over the years, keeping the style unchanged.

Kevin Coppalotti
By Kevin Coppalotti (Sep 15, 2011)

Emma chisit?

By avotius (Sep 15, 2011)

Oh come one Ricoh....where the hell is the viewfinder? You put it in the old GRV but you cant figure out how to do it anymore? That camera was even smaller than this one....whats the problem?

Pavel Kudrys
By Pavel Kudrys (Sep 15, 2011)

Nope, the GR1 was larger than the GRD! And even more, there was much less electronic inside and the lens was smaller. All in all, there is just no room for integrated VF in GRD body. Not without making the body noticeably larger.

1 upvote
By Archiver (Sep 15, 2011)

The GR1 didn't have an LCD that covered the entire height of the camera. Putting a VF in the GRD would either mean a smaller screen or taller body, neither of which are very desirable.

1 upvote
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Sep 15, 2011)

Where? In the box that says "GV-1", like always. Talk about clueless...

1 upvote
By feinschmecker (Sep 15, 2011)

"and bring focus times down to 0.2 sec (twice the speed of the GRD III)" --> Should this be "half the speed"?!?

By noss (Sep 15, 2011)

half the time, twice the speed

By Archiver (Sep 15, 2011)

I once said that it would take significant improvements in AF speed and dynamic range for me to upgrade from the GRD III. They seem to have the AF handled; now let's see about the dynamic range.

By jpr2 (Sep 15, 2011)

yes, DR too, but what hobbles it down is the lack of VF :(

Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (Sep 15, 2011)

There is an optical viewfinder for the GRD. Always has been. Sensibly it is sold as an extra as not everyone wants one.

I had one for a while. For what I used the GRD for I found it was more convenient to use the rear LCD. YMMV.

By Archiver (Sep 16, 2011)

If I'm in the mood for a viewfinder, I use the Voigtlander compact 28/35 VF. Very small but brighter than most OVF's, even in film cameras. Like Richard, I find it more convenient to use the LCD, anyway.

Total comments: 26