Summary: The Ricoh GR is an impressively spec'd camera that we couldn't help but put through our testing. A fairly new brand to the Indian camera scene, Ricoh has on its hands a camera that really could be a winner.
Pros: Very well built, Fast focusing, 35mm crop mode is great, Very low noise even at ISO 3200
Cons: Manual focus is cumbersome, Macro mode doesn't get you very close
Conclusion: As much as we like to save money, the Coolpix A is a better overall camera than the Ricoh GR. The Nikon’s images are sharper and colors more accurate. The fact the Coolpix has built-in image stabilization while the GR does not is definitely a factor. Also the lack of a focus ring takes away half the fun of shooting with an enthusiast camera. The Ricoh can take solid photos with enough light but in dim settings it doesn’t have the ISO chops of the Nikon.
Pros: Compact size, large APS-C sensor, 28mm prime lens, Solid photos with enough light, Extensive controls and customization
Cons: No focus ring on lens, Dual mics are mono, No built-in image stabilization, Noisier than main competitor
Conclusion: When we first picked up the GR, we didn't think its tiny, plastic body would hold a candle to its beefy competition, such as the leather and metal X100s or the large bodied super zooms. But boy, we were wrong. The GR is an incredibly well thought out camera, with simple operation, and a no-frills construction that has great image quality and great ease of use. The prime f/2.8 28mm lens provides good sharpness and contrast to the 16.2 effective megapixel sensor.
Conclusion: If you're a fan of large sensors and fixed prime lenses, things are really starting to look up for you. For years, your selection of cameras has been fairly limited. This year, that's finally changed, with the debuts in quick succession of the Nikon Coolpix A and Ricoh GR. Both companies have clearly had the same photographer in mind with their creations, and on paper the two cameras are incredibly hard to separate.
Pros: Good ergonomics, Light and compact for its lens and sensor size, Well-suited to single-handed shooting, Extremely (!!) customizable, Sharp, detailed images, Very good high ISO performance, Excellent dynamic range in RAW files, Excellent f/2.8 lens, with built-in ND filter, Low lens distortion (with no correction performed by processor), Fast autofocus, Very good low-light focusing (though can be slow), Very fast prefocused shutter lag, Bright, vivid RGBW LCD monitor, ...
Cons: Good ergonomics, Light and compact for its lens and sensor size, Well-suited to single-handed shooting, Extremely (!!) customizable, Sharp, detailed images, Very good high ISO performance, Excellent dynamic range in RAW files, Excellent f/2.8 lens, with built-in ND filter, Low lens distortion (with no correction performed by processor), Fast autofocus, Very good low-light focusing (though can be slow), Very fast prefocused shutter lag, Bright, vivid RGBW LCD monitor, ...
Conclusion: There are a lot of arguments against buying a camera like the Ricoh GR. Its fixed, wide-angle focal length means you can't really use it for sports or action. Abysmal video quality means it's an abject failure as a multimedia device. And at $800... well, you could get a DSLR and a couple lenses for the same price. The GR is also one of the best-handling pocketable cameras we've ever used.
Conclusion: Ricoh isn't a widely recognised camera brand in the way that Nikon, Canon, Pentax and Olympus are, but its compact cameras have found favour with enthusiasts and professionals in the past. The new Ricoh GR is an excellent addition to the Ricoh Pentax camera lineup, and given its considerably lower price than the Nikon Coolpix A and Fuji X100S, we think it could be a hit - it deserves to be.
Conclusion: If you've been stroking your chin about buying a fixed focal length compact camera with a large sensor then we're not surprised: the choices in this niche market are limited, while each available option has its limitations. Fortunately the Ricoh GR sits up there among the best of them in - for us it's better than the Nikon Coolpix A on account of its price tag alone.
Pros: Image quality is exceptional, super-sharp lens, well priced considering the competition, plenty of customisation options, f/2.8 aperture, built-in ND filter (also works in auto), converter lenses and hotshoe for optical finder/accessories
Cons: Autofocus can be hit and miss, autofocus in low-light hunts to excess, battery life isn't good enough, no tilt-angle screen rules out waist-level work, limited buffer capacity for burst shooting, clunky manual focus