Gadgetslab: Pentax Ricoh GR

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GadgetsLab .inddSPECIFICATIONS:
Sensor: 16.2MP APS-C CMOS
Image Processor: GR Engine V with no
anti-aliasing filter
Optics: 28mm F/2.8 GR Lens (18.33mm equivalent on 35mm format)
ISO Sensitivity: 100-25600
Max. Shutter Speed: 1/4000
Continuous FPS: Approx. 4 fps (RAW or JPEG)
Dimensions: 4.6in (W) x 2.4in (H) x 1.4in (D)
Weight: 24Sg (with battery)
Estimated battery life: Approx. 290 frames (CIPA standard)
Memory used/internal capacity: SD/SDHC/SDXC/Eye-Fi (X2 Series)
WHAT’S HOT:
·Excellent image quality
• Dedicated effects button
• Good macro focus
·Hot shoe for external flash unit of EVF
WHAT’S NOT:
• Price too high for a compact camera
·No digital zoom
BOTTOM LINE:
The premium imaging features keptinside the Pentax Ricoh GR’s compact body and its ability to produce excellent-quality images comes with a price, and a steep one at that.

GadgetsLab .indd

 

Here’s the flow: Photography enthusiasts purchase snazzy DSLRs that work tremendously, but they can’t carry them around because they’re too big and heavy. They resort to purchasing a second body-a camera that’s far lighter and smaller, but isn’t as powerful. After time, they get frustrated with the quality of the images that the second body produces because they’re so accustomed to the output of their main cameras. They see interchangeable lens cameras as a remedial option, but when they actually try their luck with these cameras, they turn out to be nearly as bulky as DSLRs, only slightly smaller and weaker. This draws them to the conclusion that it’s impossible to forgo weight and size without sacrificing image quality. In the hope of explaining this cyclical hitch, they end up re-telling this story countless times. Enter the combo-breaker: Armed with a 16-megapixel APS-C sensor and a filterless GR engine, the Pentax Ricoh GR intends to solve this predicament by offering premium features and imaging abilities in a small body. The catch? Something else is sacrificedyour money.

The surface of the GR’s magnesium alloy body is rough, but the good kind of rough. Cameras with smooth, shiny surfaces look smart, but they tend to be so slippery that it makes it difficult for users-especially those with sweaty hands-to hold. With the kind oftexture it has, though, it is prone to scratches, particularly on the front face. Nevertheless, it looks and feels solid and durable, yet it doesn’t weigh a lot and won’t take up too much space in your bag. To put things in perspective, the GR is neither wider nor thicker than a deck of playing cards and only slightly larger than a single pack of Sky Flakes.

Right next to the shutter release button on the top plate is the mode dial. PASM modes are all present on the GR. as well as a Shutter Speed/ Aperture Priority (TAv) mode that automatically adjusts the ISO value according to the user’s desired shutter speed and aperture values. Also on board are three usercustomizable modes. There’s also a dedicated movie mode, which is a bit disappointing because video recording is enabled only when the camera is in this mode. This means that switching from shooting stills to videos takes an extra step, which may cause you to miss your video-worthy moment by seconds.

The layout of the buttons deserves some credit as it places all the important controls within reach of the hand that’s manipulating the camera. This makes one-handed operation of the device more than manageable, and that’s something manufacturers should keep in mind when making a compact cameraparticularly one that enables manual exposure control.

Controlling exposure values manually is as easy as it should be. The main dial, which is accessible to your right index finger, is used to control the aperture value. The secondary dial on the rear-doubling as a button that launches a quick menu for changing ISO values, file size, aspect ratio, focusing method, and metering mode-controls shutter speed value.

One of the things that give the GR plus points in the awesome department is the dedicated effects button located on its left flank. When pressed, you will be able to choose from nine different picture effects. What’s more is that each effect is customizable: you can tweak different variables, like vividness, contrast, and sharpness, giving you total control over the intensity of the effect on your photo. To top it all off, you can apply these effects even when shooting videos, allowing you to use the camera with as much creativity as you can manage..

Metering is accurate for the most part. The AF system is quick enough for locking in on fast action. Macro focus yields equally amazing results. Perhaps the sole technical problem of the GR is its lack of digital zoom. It uses a GR 18.3mm (28mm equivalent on a 35mm format) F/2.8 prime lens, so optical zoom is automatically out of the question. It’s important for the camera to have at least some level of digital zoom to make it easier for the user to shoot a subject from afar.

The GR makes up for it, though, by being able to produce top-quality photos. Even relatively small sections of images come out crisply and vividly with punchy colors and noise. There’s very smooth detail in almost all images taken using this camera-even in those shot at higher ISO values (the GR can go up to ISO 25600).1ts superb image quality may still not be at par with a currentgeneration Pentax DSLR like the company claims, but for the size of its sensor, it’s an impressive feat.

The GR has an integrated flash, but it also features a hot shoe, enabling users to mount an external flash for better-lit pictures or an external electronic viewfinder (EVF) for better composition of shots. There’s an optional adapter that allows you to attach a lens hood or a compatible wide-angle lens.

Its battery, on paper, enables users to take up to 290 frames. Practically speaking, it can last for a day of heavy use, which includes both stills- and video-shooting, on a single charge.

One thing that distinguishes compact cameras from bridge cameras is price, right? The GR shreds this notion, being valued at a bank-breaking, pocket-ripping, wallet-busting PHP 44,990. What probably makes the GR expensive is the design of its imaging engine. Like the Pentax K-5 lis that we reviewed back in April, the GR doesn’t have an anti-aliasing filter on its engine, which theoretically (and actually, as observed) results in sharper, more detailed images.

With premium features and excellent performance that you will find in no other camera in its class, the Pentax Ricoh GR is definitely a champ in its turf. However, because of its high price, expect that it might be difficult to convince even the most fervent of enthusiasts to purchase the GRas a second-body companion.

4.0

 

First published in Gadgets Magazine, July 2013

Words by Racine Anne Castro