The GR-D has a comprehensive set of white balance controls. In addition to the default Auto mode there are four presets (daylight, overcast, tungsten and fluorescent), manual (measured) and an unusual 'detail' option. This brings up a sliding white balance 'scale' from tungsten to daylight - turning the ADJ dial moves up and down the scale in small increments, effectively allowing you to choose any white balance / color temperature you want (using the screen to assess the color). There is also a white balance bracketing option.
In normal shooting conditions we found the auto white balance to be fairly reliable, though there is a tendency in daylight conditions to produce images that are just a touch cool, and - as the examples below show - if you want neutral colors under artificial light you're better off switching to manual.
|Incandescent - Auto WB
Red 10.1%, Blue -12.1%
|Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red -1.0%, Blue 0.5%
|Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red 6.8%, Blue -12.8%
|Fluorescent - Fluorescent preset WB
Red 3.4%, Blue -4.7%
With only a 28mm (equiv.) lens, the GR-D is first and foremost a landscape camera, and perhaps not a camera you'll be using with flash that often, though it is excellent for groups and interiors. Either way, the flash is perfectly good, has an adequate 0.2-3.0 m (auto ISO) range, and seems to expose well (though as you're often closer than you would be with a normal camera there is a slight tendency to over expose). You can add an external flashgun - using the built-in hot shoe - if you need more power, meaning it's perfectly feasible to use the GR-D for large room shots.
Excellent color, very slight over exposure
|Color chart (cropped)
Very slight warm tone, good exposure
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
Specific Image Quality Issues
My overall impressions of the GR Digital's image quality are, to be honest, slightly mixed. On the one hand they have a natural, unprocessed look that is surprisingly 'film-like'. Color is excellent, and - occasional white balance issues aside - very accurate.
On the other hand the images are soft and lacking in critical detail, yet they are - even at low ISO settings - quite noisy, so don't bear sharpening that well unless you reduce them in size first. The GR-D may well produce slightly more film-like images, but it's still a digital camera with a tiny 8MP chip, and it still suffers from the lack of dynamic range and resultant clipping (usually of highlights) that we see with all such sensors. The problem is compounded by the wide angle lens, which means you're more likely to have extremes of brightness and darkness in a single frame. This means the metering can struggle to decide what to expose for, given that whatever it does is going to end up with either shadows or highlights being clipped. We found there was a very slight tendency to overexpose such scenes, and often ended up using exposure bracketing or AE compensation.
Other minor issues include (very mild) chromatic aberration and some purple fringing / blooming around overexposed areas and occasional flare if you don't use the optional hood.
Although it's not a huge issue, you will see blooming and purple fringes around any high contrast boundaries where the bright area is overexposed. This typically shows around the edges of foliage shot against a bright sky.
|100% crop||F2.4, +0.3 EV|
|Ricoh GR Pocket-Size Compact Digital Camera, 16.2MP, Full 1080p h.264 HD Video Recording, 3.0" Transparent LCD, USB, HDMI||$574.00|