New Ricoh GR User Impressions
Hands-on user comments after unboxing
This is not meant as any kind of in-depth review of the new Ricoh GR; there are many other sources for that who could do a much better job of that than I could (see the PentaxForums GR Review). This is just a first impression after a few hours out of the box. For that matter I am totally new to Ricoh, having previously never had contact with the brand or even any experiences with the rest of the GR series cameras, either film or digital. I only really came across the GR while looking through all the alternatives for a great small camera with high resolution and IQ. So, like many, I read and compared everything I could devour from the Internet. After I tried my friend's Fuji X100, however, the final decision became easy. The Fuji was a great little camera, but somehow it didn’t feel right in my hands, and the colors it produced ‘out of the box’ just never appealed to me, as well as the controls, which were very good, but for some reason did not feel intuitive for me as a user.
So I bought a GR and during the last weeks as a new user I have been deeply impressed with this amazing camera.
Although I have been shooting digital medium format for some years now, and Leica M with film, I was never very enamored of controls with too many menus to go through in order to get things done. The Sony NEX menus in particular used to drive me nuts and I ended up I giving away my NEX for that reason. Thus controls and their uses was the first thing on my agenda. And that's where the GR shines!
Sure it has menus also, with loads of choices. But the main controls for ISO, Metering, File format, AF, Display on the rocker button ADJ. ISO, which you depress to select your choice needs no explanation.
A small detail like the lock on the mode dial, to avoid inadvertently switching modes is a brilliant, well thought-out detail. The ability to turn on playback mode without the lens coming out just by depressing the playback button for a second also comes in handy. The exposure adjustment rocker near your thumb also doubles as an alternate zoom function during playback, and can be used to control macro mode, set focus and a dozen other things. All these things can be found with ease and (most importantly) used during shooting to quickly change and manipulate settings in order to get a great shot. The GR is the first camera I've found where I can really use the functions at hand intuitively, without needing to study the user guide first. When you do finally take out the manual for more in-depth possibilities, the menu layout is clear and the choices are quickly made in a logical process. I can find what I need easily; however this is of course a purely subjective feeling and others might feel differently about that.
If you are also shooting film, the regular function layout makes it feel almost like a film camera, and I for one really appreciate that analogue feeling of the GR because it makes sense for your fingers. You can then go into the menu system and discover lots more and make all kinds of adjustments – more than you likely ever need. I am merely just touching the surface on that, as whole other post could be dedicated to it. The ability to reallocate certain controls and store favorite parameters, as you see in the My1, My2, My3 positions on the mode dial and the programmable buttons, make it a snap to be ready for those shots and settings you use the most under specific conditions. Lastly, the colors out of the box are amazing; I have not had time to work on them yet but a simple daylight scene says a lot:
The GR for me is more than just a great point and shoot; it is simply a really great, really small camera that has professional potential in it, with a big sensor that gets the job done effortlessly. And it inspires me to experiment and get the most out it…Almost like my M4 and a roll of Scala…..I am looking forward to getting to know this camera inside and out soon.