Ricoh GR Digital IV

Designed for serious photographers, the Ricoh GR Digital IV will appeal, thanks to its fixed-focal-length lens and its fast maximum aperture.


8.0
CNET Rating

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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


Design and features

Ricoh has updated its rangefinder-esque camera, the GR Digital III, with this new model. External elements are all but identical to its predecessor, providing a reassuring upgrade to those photographers who are used to the Ricoh ecosystem.

With little to no badging identifying its brand on the front, and just a small sliver of silver underneath the 3-inch LCD screen at the back touting the brand name, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this camera wants to be a bit incognito. It's an all-black box (apart from the limited edition white colour), with a rubberised grip on the right-hand side, protruding from the diminutive frame, which adds a reasonable amount of bulk, weighing it down accordingly for one-handed shooters. It's a touch lighter than the older camera at 190 grams, rather than 208, with battery.

Elsewhere, there's a small flash nestled at the top corner that pops out only when needed via a dedicated switch on the side. The hotshoe is covered with a small plastic piece that can be removed to attach a viewfinder or external flash, and a standard shutter and power button can be found nearby.

The fixed-focal-length lens is the most interesting part of this camera, offering a great basis for anyone interested in street or situational photography. It's fast, too, with a maximum aperture of f/1.9. Behind it sits a new 10-megapixel 1/1.7-inch CCD sensor (the same size as the Canon PowerShot S100). The mode dial at the top houses all of the controls (full PASM as well as automatic, custom presets and scene options), and there's a small button that needs to be pressed slightly to turn the dial — useful for making sure that you don't accidentally switch between modes. At the rear is a four-way directional pad and a small smattering of other functional buttons.

Not only is the lens sharp for regular photography, it also excels at macro photos, too.
(Credit: CBSi)

New features also appear in the form of the image stabiliser, which Ricoh claims can achieve an effect equivalent to increasing the shutter speed by 3.2 stops. Like the earlier Digital III, the IV has multi-pattern white balance, which makes for better colour-balanced images.

Filters include the addition of positive film and bleach bypass to the existing settings, including vivid, black-and-white and cross-process effects. Scene modes also include a new interval composite mode, which combines images of the night sky to capture star trails. There's also a multiple exposure setting that can combine up to five images in one.

Fortunately, the Digital IV carries over the high-resolution, 3-inch, 1.23 million dot screen, and it can capture JPEG and RAW images (though not simultaneously). Video capture is a measly VGA only, though.

Compared to

XZ-1 vs
Canon PowerShot S100 Ricoh GR Digital IV Olympus XZ-1 Panasonic LX5
12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor (1/1.7-inch) 10-megapixel CCD sensor (1/1.7-inch) 10-megapixel CCD sensor (1/1.63-inch) 10-megapixel CCD sensor (1/1.63-inch)
3-inch, 461,000-dot LCD 3-inch, 1,230,000-dot LCD 3-inch, 610,000-dot OLED 3-inch, 460,000-dot LCD
5x optical zoom, 24mm wide-angle No optical zoom, 24mm wide-angle 4x optical zoom, 28mm wide-angle 3.8x optical zoom, 24mm wide-angle
Full HD video (H.264, 1080p, 24fps) VGA video (AVI, 30fps) HD video (Motion JPEG, 720p, 30fps) HD video (AVCHD Lite, 720p, 30fps)
Pop-up flash Pop-up flash Pop-up flash Pop-up flash

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • RAW shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • 1.41.11.90.3
    Olympus XZ-1
  • 2.21.42.60.3
    Panasonic Lumix LX5
  • 2.33.13.70.4
    Canon PowerShot S100
  • 2.51.340.1
    Ricoh GR Digital IV

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Continuous shooting speed

  • 2.6
    Panasonic Lumix LX5
  • 2.5
    Canon PowerShot S100
  • 2.3
    Ricoh GR Digital IV
  • 2.1
    Olympus XZ-1

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Autofocus is the real winner on the GR Digital IV. Ricoh claims that it can achieve focus within 0.2 seconds, but we managed to clock just 0.18 seconds in our shutter-lag test, which is a real feat for a camera of this class. Certainly, in real-world situations this becomes incredibly useful for low-light and fast-moving subjects.

Image quality

Given the excellent image performance of the GR Digital III, it is no surprise that the IV follows in its footsteps. In particular, the lens is very sharp, and JPEG images straight from the camera are exposed excellently. Colours are punchy without being over-saturated, plus the camera shows off its dynamic range well when challenging situations of light and shadow are in the frame.

There is a small amount of digital artefacting visible on shots at ISO 400 and above, but this would only be discernible on very large prints. Noise starts to creep in on images as the ISO climbs, naturally, but even ISO 1600 gives a usable shot at lower magnifications.

Video quality is unremarkable at best, with very average image quality thanks to the low VGA-recording resolution. Sound from the built-in microphone is fine, but again, you definitely won't want to be capturing important memories with the GR Digital IV's video feature.

Image samples

Exposure: 1/930, f/11, ISO 400

Exposure: 1/710, f/2.5, ISO 400

Exposure: 1/1230, f/5.6, ISO 400

Exposure: 1/176, f/1.9, ISO 400

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

Designed for serious photographers, the Ricoh GR Digital IV will appeal, thanks to its fixed-focal-length lens and its fast maximum aperture. There's also a range of artistic filters to keep point-and-shooters happy, but the real achievement is the responsive autofocus, which sets the pace for all other compacts on the market.



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NicholasA1 posted a comment   

Hi Lexi,
I am considering a GR IV,
Should I wait a bit?
Will the GR V be out soon?
Also, I have noticed that Teds do not sell it,
Where would I be able to buy it?
Thank you.
Nicholas.

 

RogerC posted a comment   

the super mario photo.. you guys focused on the mushrooms left foot. noticeable. which means the camera aperture is awesome. and the photographer is lazy

 

Lexy Savvides posted a reply   
Australia

If the only fault you can find is that it was focused on the foot (rather than where else, I might add?), then I think I'm doing pretty well!




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User Reviews / Comments  Ricoh GR Digital IV

  • NicholasA1

    NicholasA1

    "Hi Lexi,
    I am considering a GR IV,
    Should I wait a bit?
    Will the GR V be out soon?
    Also, I have noticed that Teds do not sell it,
    Where would I be able to buy it?

  • RogerC

    RogerC

    "the super mario photo.. you guys focused on the mushrooms left foot. noticeable. which means the camera aperture is awesome. and the photographer is lazy"

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