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Ricoh GR II Review

Ricoh GR II Review - Read our full review of the new Ricoh GR II, the World's smallest compact camera with a large APS-C CMOS sensor.

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Ricoh GR II in Compact Cameras

Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Ricoh GR II (3)

The Ricoh GR II is an update to the Ricoh GR, and features a number of updates including built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, improved white balance, noise performance, effects modes, as well as the capability to wirelessly control external flash units. Features carried over from the GR include a 16 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, plus a 28mm equivalent f/2.8 GR lens. 

Ricoh GR II Features

Ricoh GR II (2)

The Ricoh GR II is the World's smallest digital camera with an APS-C CMOS sensor and offers not only a 16 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, but features a compact 18.3mm f/2.8 GR lens, which is the equivalent of a 28mm wide-angle lens. The camera is pocketable, being little larger than a compact camera with a normal sized sensor, making it an ideal camera to take everywhere with you, particularly with Street photography. The camera even has a snap focus mode to give instant focus speeds for quick snapshots, and is a digital version of the classic Ricoh GR film camera series. 

With a large 16megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, image quality should be massively improved in comparison to other compact cameras, giving better low light performance. There have also been improvements in the GR II in image quality processing that should also improve noise performance as well as white balance performance. 

Built in Wi-Fi and NFC has been added to the camera which can be used with Ricoh Image Sync available for iOS and Android apps. The camera also features effects built in, with the button doubling as a Wi-Fi button when held. Continuous shooting has been improved with a deeper buffer allowing more shots to be taken before slow-down. The camera records FullHD video at 30fps with stereo sound.

Optional accessories include an optical viewfinder (GV-1 21/28 OVF), as well as a wide-angle lens adapter, which will give you a 21mm equivalent. 

Ricoh GR II (4)

Key Features

  • 16.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 18.3mm f/2.8 GR lens (28mm equivalent)
  • No optical low-pass filter
  • 3inch 1,230,000 dots (RGBW) screen
  • Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity
  • FullHD video recording, stereo sound
  • ISO100 to ISO25600
  • 4fps continuous shooting
  • 10cm macro focus
  • Raw processing in camera
  • Magnesium body
  • ND filter built-in

Ricoh GR II Handling

Ricoh GR II (5)

The GR II feels well built with a tough magnesium alloy body, and a rough texture helps give the camera a premium feel. There is a large (for a compact camera) rubber hand grip that extends from the front of the camera to the rear for your thumb. On the back is a 3inch screen with a high resolution of 1230k dots (RGBW), and viewing angles are good.

The top of the camera features a flash hot-shoe, on/off switch, plus a locking mode dial. To turn the mode dial you need to hold the release button next to it, and there are three customisable "MY" modes on the dial. There are strap loop holes for attaching a neck strap in portrait or landscape orientation, and the camera has a flat edge on the left or right edges letting you shoot portrait photos with the camera resting on a flat surface.

A nice touch is the ability to turn off the green light that surrounds the on/off switch when the camera is on. The layout of controls and buttons are all neatly placed so they can be reached when the camera is being used with one hand, excluding the Filter button on the far left of the camera. Pressing in the ADJ (Adjust) button brings up a row of options that you can quickly change, such as ISO, Image quality, Aspect ratio, Focus and Metering, however you can customise this so that you have quick access to your favourite settings. The "Effect" button lets you quickly choose a digital effect to apply to the image, or a long press will activate Wi-Fi. You can also customise the function buttons, as well as what the Effect button does.

Spot focus lets you choose a specific spot from a wide area of the screen as the focus point, and you can enable an enlarged view to confirm focus. 

Ricoh GR II (1)

The menus are clear and easy to read, however the settings feel a little unorganised at times, as you can set the ISO setting and NR (Noise Reduction) options in the first shooting menus, but you'll also find additional ISO settings in the setup menu, including the ISO Auto-High settings. There isn't any built in help in the menus which means you may wish to keep the manual handy in case you get stuck on the meaning of menus items. 

Ricoh Image Sync Wifi Connection Remote Image Playback
Wi-Fi Connection Image Playback

 

Wi-Fi features - Connecting the camera to the Ricoh Image Sync app you can connect to the camera and view images on your smartphone. The app also supports remote shooting. The app works with the Pentax K-S2 and Ricoh GR II and is available for Android and iOS devices.

Ricoh GR II (7)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 320 shots according to Ricoh / CIPA test results, which is an improvement over the 290 shots of the previous version. Charging is via USB, and a USB adapter is included, although the USB cable is not the more standard MicroUSB cable found on smartphones and a number of other compact cameras.

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response <0.05secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.3secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.3secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.3secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.0secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
4fps (100+ shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash N/A
Continuous Shooting - RAW 6.6fps (10 shots)


The camera has very fast shutter response, and good focus speeds. Continuous shooting is good with the camera able to shoot at 4fps when shooting JPEG images, and 6.6fps when shooting raw. The number of shots possible before any kind of slow down or the camera stopping shooting is improved over the previous version, with the camera able to take 10 raw shots before stopping. 

Ricoh GR II (8)

Ricoh GR II Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Ricoh GR II Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Colour is quite muted (slightly under saturated) on default settings, with fairly low contrast, being reminiscent of some film, and colour settings can be customised to your liking. Exposure is reliable, with good dynamic range, and there are options to expand dynamic range recorded by the camera including: Off, Auto, Low, Medium and Strong. You can alter the noise reduction settings in camera, or alternatively process the raw files (AdobeDNG) to keep high levels of detail in images, as well as tone the image to your liking recovering highlight and shadow detail if required. 

Ricoh GR II Lens test images

Lens Performance - Detail is good into the corners of the frame, with very sharp details in the centre of the frame, and occasionally moire was visible. There are raw development options in playback, as well as the option to correct for colour moire (weak, medium and strong). The camera has a 10cm macro focus distance, although using manual focus can help get closer focus, as the auto focus can struggle when the subject is this close. Distortion is minimal, and the camera automatically corrects for this in-camera. Purple fringing and chromatic aberrations were rarely noticed, except when shooting areas of high contrast such as trees against a bright sky. The camera also has a 35mm equivalent crop mode.

Ricoh GR II ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - For the lowest noise and best detail possible we would recommend using ISO100 to ISO1600, as images have low levels of noise and good levels of detail. For lower light situations ISO3200 to ISO6400 still provides good results, although noise increases and detail is reduced. At ISO12800 noise levels become strong and we would recommend avoiding this setting if possible, although results may still be useful if resized and used on the web. ISO25600 is best avoided as noise is extremely high, and detail is very low.

The camera has advanced noise reduction options that can be customised based on the ISO setting, for example on default settings: Weak noise reduction is applied to images taken between ISO100 and ISO800; Medium noise reduction is applied to images taken at ISO1600 to ISO3200, and Strong noise reduction is applied when shooting at ISO6400 and above. 

Ricoh GR II White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) gives a warm colour cast, whether using the normal auto white balance setting, or the Multi-area WB. Using the incandescent / tungsten preset you get a more accurate result. AWB gives a slightly warm result under fluorescent lights, with the fluorescent preset giving a more accurate result.

Ricoh GR II Digital filters

Digital Filters - There are a number of digital effects available, as shown above, and you can also adjust saturation, contrast, sharpness and vignetting. The camera records both raw and JPEG images when shooting with effects or colour options, meaning you can always go back to the raw file if you don't like the settings applied to the JPEG image. The camera does not feature an automatic panoramic mode.

Video - The camera records FullHD video with stereo sound at 30, 25 or 24 frames per second. In our video, the camera picked up a lot of wind noise. With continuous AF switched on, the noise of the lens focusing is picked up by the camera's microphones. Video recording quality isn't as good as we expected, due to the sound issues we encountered, and a tripod is recommended as there is no built-in stabilisation.

Value For Money

The Ricoh GR II is available for £599 which makes it quite good value for money, although if you want to add the optical viewfinder, this will add to the price of the camera. Alternatives to consider with a prime lens are shown below:

Fujifilm X100T, 23mm f/2.0, 35mm equivalent, 16mp APS-C CMOS sensor, £845
Sigma dp1 Quattro, 28mm equivalent, f/2.8, 29mp APS-C Foveon sensor, £667
Nikon Coolpix A, 28mm equivalent, f/2.8, 16mp APS-C CMOS sensor, £330
Leica X (Typ 113), 23mm, f/1.7, 35mm equivalent, 16mp APS-C CMOS sensor, £1550
Sony Cyber-shot RX1, 35mm f/2.0, 24mp full-frame CMOS sensor, £1849
Leica Q, 28mm f/1.7, 24mp full-frame CMOS sensor, £2900

For more alternatives, have a look at the Top 10 Best Serious Compact Cameras reviewed by ePHOTOzine. You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Ricoh GR II Verdict

The Ricoh GR II may seem like a subtle update to the previous camera, however, the camera offers built in Wi-Fi and NFC, bringing the camera more up to date. Improvements have been made in continuous shooting and the camera feels very rapid in use. The camera gives quick access to settings, and once you're familiar with the layout of controls and options, particularly the menu system, then you can rapidly change settings. The Ricoh GR 28mm f/2.8 lens performs extremely well producing images that are very sharp and detailed, and the compact size of the camera combined with a large APS-C CMOS sensor means that you get extremely high image quality (akin to a DSLR) for a compact camera.

The camera features numerous focus options, including snap focus for instant photography and this makes the GR II an ideal street camera, with a subtle and compact design. A 21 / 28mm equivalent optical viewfinder is available and the rear LCD screen can be switched off completely giving the camera the feel of using an old film camera, which the original Ricoh GR series was. 

For those that want a pocketable camera that can deliver high image quality, without the need for optical zoom, then the Ricoh GR II would make an ideal solution. Highly Recommended.

Ricoh GR II Pros

Smallest camera with an APS-C CMOS sensor
High quality f/2.8 28mm equivalent lens
Pocketable with a compact metal body
Excellent noise performance
Quick performance 
DNG raw files
Improved battery life
Wi-Fi / NFC built in 

Ricoh GR II Cons

Does not feature a standardised MicroUSB cable for charging
Some moire visible in images and video
Auto white balance settings leave a strong colour cast 
No panoramic mode

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

The Ricoh GR II updates the GR with built in Wi-Fi and a number of other updates that make the camera a more complete street photography camera.

 

Ricoh GR II Specifications

ManufacturerRicoh
Lens
Max Aperturef/2.8 - f/16
35mm equivalent28mm
Optical Zoom0x
Image Sensor
Pixels16.2Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4928
Pixels (H)3264
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeAPS-C
Sensor Size (width)23.6mm
Sensor Size (height)15.7mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution1230k dots
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Min Focus10cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
  • Snap
  • Infinity
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest300sec
Bulb modeYes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Program Variable
Metering
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 25600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Bracket
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
Exposure Comp+/-4
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting4fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
Video FPS30/25/24
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoNo
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 2
Wi-FiYes
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium-Ion
Battery Life (CIPA rating)320shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsRicoh GR II, Rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery, USB power adapter, Power plug, USB cable, Cd, Hand strap, Hot shoe cover
Dimensions
Weight215g
Width117mm
Height61mm
Depth34.7mm

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Comments


banehawi Plus
13 1.7k 3779 Canada
7 Aug 2015 1:51AM
Highly recommended. Outperforms anything close to its price. Easily fits in a small pocket, fast, and shoots in very low light. Perfect for street shots at night, excellent native mono. Uses the same Sony 16Mp sensor from the Nikon D5200, and the Fuji Xtrans, so its a know great performer.

It does have an odd colour balance, easily corrected. It does however seem to favour b&w shooting as it is. Shoots RAW and JPEG simultaneously if selected. Will NOT shoot a jpeg with RAW unless its selected, so the preview shot is a very small file simply for previewing, and wont perform well zoomed in.

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dannyr 8 46 United Kingdom
7 Aug 2015 9:47AM
I know its a good camera, but its too similar to the last one to warrant the massive price hike. 90% of the upgrades seem firmware updates and I have not seen any mention of them being applied to the original GR.

So does that mean all the original GR owners are missing out on new features because Ricoh want to sell the same camera again?

Considering Ricoh's good history of firmware updates I hope not.

Almost as bad as Microsoft charging for solitaire.........almost.....
14 Aug 2015 1:03PM

Quote:Highly recommended. Outperforms anything close to its price. Easily fits in a small pocket, fast, and shoots in very low light. Perfect for street shots at night, excellent native mono. Uses the same Sony 16Mp sensor from the Nikon D5200, and the Fuji Xtrans, so its a know great performer.

It does have an odd colour balance, easily corrected. It does however seem to favour b&amp;w shooting as it is. Shoots RAW and JPEG simultaneously if selected. Will NOT shoot a jpeg with RAW unless its selected, so the preview shot is a very small file simply for previewing, and wont perform well zoomed in.



its not the same as the fuji xtrans sensor, but your correct as far as the nikon sensor goes.
banehawi Plus
13 1.7k 3779 Canada
18 Jul 2016 8:46PM
The Fuji X-Trans sensor is a Sony manufactured 16 Mp sensor, called a different name due to the non bayer pattern array. Its precisely the same sensor otherwise.

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