Ricoh GR

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ricoh grDeveloped as a successor to the Ricoh GR Digital IV (released in October 2011), the new GR inherits the product concept of the series while incorporating upgrades in the basic specifications and functions of its predecessor.

It features a newly designed lens, a newly developed 16.2-megapixel APS-C-size CMOS image sensor, high-performance GR Engine V imaging engine, and no anti-aliasing filter. Put it all together says Pentax Ricoh and you’ve got high image resolution, gradation-rich colour reproduction and improved image quality, especially at high-sensitivity shooting.

In addition to improvements in quick shooting capability, an AF button and an aperture preview button have been added to enhance the operability during everyday on-the-street shooting.

It also offers a range of user-assisting features, including in-body RAW-data development and focus assist to facilitate manual focusing.

The GR comes equipped with a newly designed lens with the angle of view equivalent to 28 mm in the 35 mm format. This compact, high performance lens delivers high-resolution images with edge-to-edge sharpness and rich contrast, while minimizing distortion and chromatic aberration by incorporating two high-precision aspherical lens elements and a highly refractive low-dispersion glass element.

A manually adjustable ND (neutral density) filter allows the user to open the aperture up, even under bright sunshine.

The GR features a built-in lens barrier mechanism that automatically opens and closes the barrier as the power is switched on and off.

The GR comes equipped with a new APS-C-size CMOS image sensor approximately 16.2 effective megapixels to produce beautiful, high-resolution images, says the company. By coupling the large image sensor with the newly developed imaging engine, the GR offers high-sensitivity shooting at ISO 25600 with minimal high-sensitivity noise to produce high-resolution, rich-gradation images.

The image sensor apparently is optimized for the 18.3 mm f/2.8 GR lens.

The camera’s high-speed autofocus system can focus on the subject in a mere 0.2 seconds, thanks to the newly developed lens driving mechanism and optimized AF algorithm, as well as the ever-faster data readout speed from the image sensor.

Start-up time is approximately one second.

The AF Continuous Shooting function captures a series of photos at a maximum speed of approximately four images per second.

The camera’s casing is made of a magnesium alloy, all control buttons are laid out for easy access with the right hand, and a preview button has been added to the camera’s side panel for quick confirmation of the depth of field before shooting.

The company notes the focus-assist function comes in handy during manual-focus operation. Coupled with the image magnification and target shift functions, this function simplifies manual-focus shooting.

An AF function button/lever has been added to the camera’s back panel. When the lever is set to the Continuous AF (C-AF) mode, the user can capture a series of images of a moving subject – all in sharp focus – by pushing the shutter release button while depressing the AF button. The user can also choose an optional setting, in which the continuous shooting mode is automatically activated while the C-AF button is pressed.

The GR features the Pentax-original Shutter-speed/Aperture-Priority (TAv) exposure mode, featured only in Pentax DSLRs. This automatically sets the optimum ISO sensitivity based on the shutter speed and aperture selected by the photographer.

Aperture and shutter speed indicators have been added to the GR’s monitor screen. The layout of on-screen indicators has also been optimized to the 3:2 aspect ratio, with redesigned grid guide and electronic level.

Image Effect modes allow the user to add a variety of visual effects to create distinctive expressions without the need for a PC. For greater creativity, three new modes have been added: Retro for a nostalgic ambience with subdued saturation; High Key for a bright, lively finish while retaining subtle gradation in highlights; and Miniaturize for a diorama-like appearance. Selection of the nine Image Effect modes is pushbutton-easy, with the direct-access Effect button positioned on the camera’s side panel.

The precision of the AWB (auto white balance) function has been upgraded to automatically achieve more faithful colour reproduction by more clearly defining white balance to fit the light source of each segregated area of the image when there are mixed light sources.

The Dynamic Range Compensation function, which minimizes completely washed-out highlights and pitch-black shadows, now offers pixel-level compensation to nearly eliminate borders along the luminance threshold areas and achieve the smoother transition of gradation.

If the user fails to set the macro shooting mode, the GR’s Auto Macro function will set it automatically by monitoring the distance to the subject. In Auto shooting mode, the Face Detection AF & AE function automatically captures the subject’s face in sharp focus and with perfect exposure.

Interval Composite mode captures a series of images of the night sky at a fixed interval, then selects and combines only the high-luminance pixel data from each of those images to produce a single composite image. This mode comes in handy when the user wishes to combine the trails of the moon and the stars with a landscape.

The GR offers a variety of PC-free image processing functions, including in-body RAW-data development to output JPEG-format files.

Taking advantage of the H.264 video format, the GR’s Full HD movie recording function captures high-quality, extended movie clips (1920 x 1080 pixels, 16:9 aspect ratio) at a frame rate of 30 frames per second.

Image Effects such as Retro and Bleach Bypass are available during movie recording.

During recording, AF remains active and the camera continuously focuses subjects in the centre of its angle of view.

With this AF mechanism, the user is always assured of sharp focus, along with the high image quality delivered by the combination of the GR Lens and the large image sensor.

Other features include dual-axis electronic level for high-precision horizontal and vertical alignment; non-directional stereo microphone; and Crop mode for instant setting of a 35 mm angle of view in the 35 mm format.

The GR will be available in May at an anticipated retail price of $799.99.

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