Ricoh Australia GR Digital II
- Good overall pictures, almost no chromatic aberration, stylish retro design, tons of functionality
- Expensive, no zoom, some noise issues
Due to the high price tag, Ricoh's GR Digital II will not be for everyone, but if you're an enthusiast after a backup camera for your SLR this model makes a stylish choice.
Price$ 999.00 (AUD)
One of the most interesting cameras of last year was Ricoh's GR Digital. Sporting a retro design and a fixed 28mm lens with no zoom capabilities, it was an advanced camera designed to appeal to photo enthusiasts. Little has changed with the GR Digital II. Some minor refinements have been made including a new processor and a higher resolution sensor, but the overall look and feel of this model remains the same.
From the moment you remove it from the box it is obvious this is a camera for old-school film enthusiasts. The design is very reminiscent of Ricoh's earlier ventures in the film market with a wide but slim black body and rubber grips. Even the controls have a classical feel to them. Experienced photographers will feel right at home with this unit, making it ideal as a lightweight backup for their SLRs.
Image quality is one area where the GR Digital II has been improved. Ricoh has increased the resolution to 10.1 megapixels and implemented their new GR engine II, both of which have a big impact. One key change we noticed was a big reduction in chromatic aberration; one of the problems that the previous model suffered from. There was almost no haloing visible in our chart shots and minimal purple fringing outdoors.
Our pictures were quite sharp and fell in line with our expectations of a 10-megapixel model. They could perhaps have been a little crisper at times and there was some minor corner softening, but they will be adequate for anything up to about 8x10in or slightly larger.
Image noise was a little higher than we'd like even at ISO 100. The grain was extremely fine and not noticeably blotchy, but it was still obvious in our shots when viewed at full size, particularly on block colours. It scaled relatively well until we reached ISO 800 where we found everything past this point to be unusable. In fact our shots at ISO 1600 were some of the worst we've ever seen.
Meanwhile colours were well rendered, with a softer, slightly more natural tone than many consumer models. They tended to come out darker and richer, which is a nice change from the typically bright oversaturated style you may be used to. The white balance presets were reasonably accurate without being perfect, but switching to the custom mode corrected this.
In our speed tests the GR Digital II performed above average. Its startup time was a fairly standard 2.5 seconds and the 0.09-second shutter lag was similar. However shot-to-shot time was a speedy 1.5 seconds and the burst mode operated just slightly above three frames per second which is a fairly handy result. We noticed no slow down during our picture taking and the camera responded instantly to basic navigation such as opening the menu and changing settings.
Its feature's list is fairly robust, offering all the usual manual shooting modes along with two "My" modes on the function wheel which will store your preset configurations for easy access. There are also bracketing options and a standard array of focus and metering options. One nifty new feature is the digital spirit level, which helps determine if the camera is perfectly straight or not. While it doesn't seem perfectly accurate, it does act as a good guide. Some users may lament the lack of image stabilisation, but with a fixed 28mm wide lens and no zoom capabilities its application would be fairly limited anyway.
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