150315 GR WIWIAC - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

What I want in a camera: the Ricoh GR.

- Superb optical and sensor quality at base iso, for printed images at least 16” wide without fault.

Sixteen megapixels, with a good lens, is enough. But the wideness of the GR's 28mm-e lens means that I'm never tempted to stitch panoramas, and often want to crop in on the images, so there's not as much of a margin to go bigger as I would like. But still, enough is enough, and I have no complaints about the GR’s images.

- Straightforward and customizable controls, a clear design concept, and a transparent shooting experience.

Aces. The GR is the standard that all other digital cameras fail to measure up to. Seriously. Maybe Ricoh's next generation will be a bit better, in the same way that the GR is the only camera I've seen that beats the GRD-IV, but I'll need proof.

- Clear and accurate shooting information with reliable automation.

A good EVF would be nice to have, and the metering system could be improved a bit, but I judge every cameras' operation and feedback by how close it comes to matching the GR. The one exception is that in low light the autofocus will lock on something in the background rather than my intended subject, and that's not something I can discern on the LCD when it's working at high gain.

- Big enough to hold securely but small enough to carry constantly.

Perfect. It can be held in two hands, operated with one, and will fit in a jeans pocket when it needs to. Cameras that are just a bit bigger or have more protrusions – I'm looking at you, Coolpix A – fail to understand the point of this size of camera.

- Unthreatening and very quiet, both audibly and visually.

My highest aspiration for appearance is 'nondescript', and the GR scores it. If the camera was flashier it would just look like a cheap point-and-shoot, but instead its black metal body makes it look like a midrange model. Combined with its quiet leaf shutter and ability to shoot without flash it might as well not exist.

- A pleasure to use under diverse conditions.

A pleasure to use, yes, and remarkably capable, but not sealed against dust or water. I do have dust in mine, and the shutter button can stick occasionally, which probably reflects its occasional use in an environment with an abundance of incredibly fine silt. Still, I want better: this camera deserves to be unstoppable and indestructible. Now that Ricoh has taken over Pentax there's no excuse – they need to do better with the next generation.

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