A couple of years ago I did a Ricoh GRD III hands-on review. I was excited when I was offered an opportunity to take the GRD IV for a spin on the 10 days trek from Besi Sahar to Manang in Nepal a couple of weeks ago. On inspection, the camera looks and feels the same, like the GRDIII. Nothing much has changed. The controls were where they were in the previous model. So what were the improvements?
Ricoh GRD IV compared to GRD III
- Larger LCD screen, 3” with higher resolution of 1.2million dot white magic LCD screen
- Image stabiliser
- Hybrid auto focusing that promises to be 2x faster than the previous model
- New HDMI port
- New image processing engine
- Better battery life
- Multiple exposure mode
- Dual axis electronic level (pitch and roll)
- Higher ISO up to 3200.
Nothing much has changed in the design department. If one looks at the 1st GRD introduce some time back in 2007 and the 4th generation, the first thing that struck was, “hey” they all looked the same. Some photographers maybe bored by the design, it does not inspire or tip the bar over for impulsive purchasers.
So has the design of Oskar Barrack’s Leica M. Nothing much has changed since the introduction of the 1st Leica M3 in 1953. In fact, Leica were going retro with their MP. Is this trend a good thing? Well, if you have a right formula, don’t change it. In fact, Fuji has successfully launched the Fuji X100 on similar design lines like the Leica M and the purchasers loved it.
The fact that Ricoh did not changed the design form much since the days of the Ricoh GR film cameras, meant that they were concentrating on the quality of the images rather than cosmetics.
As a consolation to answer some of their critiques, the Ricoh GRD IV came out with the “white” version of the GRD IV. I was told that this model was currently out of stock.
Now I wished that Rollei would come out with a digital compact that looked like their iconic Rollei 35. I think the market would rush for it.
Zen of Photography
Leica and now Ricoh have preached the “zen” of photography. It is minimalist and simple instruments that work with the soul. My Leica M3 only has 7 moveable adjustments on the camera and that included the lock on the bottom plate. It did not even have a light meter. It forced me to feel and get involved with the environment. Feel the light as it lit up the subject and predict the exposure value.
The current Nikon D4 by comparison has 27 buttons and that does not include the battery and CF card compartment.
Ricoh in its own way also followed the similar philosophy. It’s simple menu and dials are just intuitive. It featured a very sharp fixed 28mm (35mm equivalent) f1.9 lens. As a camera it is capable of producing very high quality images that is second to none in a compact camera. No wonder, Leica Owners would also own a GRD as their alternative fun camera.
For the hands-on experience and conclusion, please go to this for the writer's hands-on experience and conclusion on this small pocketable camera.