Ricoh GR II Review
|Full model name:||Ricoh GR II|
(23.7mm x 15.6mm)
|Viewfinder:||No / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 25,600|
|Extended ISO:||100 - 25,600|
|Shutter:||1/4000 - 300 seconds|
4.6 x 2.5 x 1.4 in.
(117 x 63 x 35 mm)
|Full specs:||Ricoh GR II specifications|
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Ricoh GR II
- Amazon for $596.95
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GR II Summary
The Ricoh GR II updates its predecessor with Wi-Fi that works from most any device, a deeper raw buffer and wireless flash support, but keeps everything we loved in its predecessor. Are the tweaks enough to keep this large-sensored yet pocketable camera relevant in 2016? Find out now in our in-depth Ricoh GR II review!Pros
Shooting with a wide prime helps you see new shots; Good performance and fast autofocus; Excellent sharp, bright lens; Very customizable; In-camera Wi-Fi works with more than just Android and iOS; Supports Pentax wireless flash strobesCons
Fixed, wide prime lens isn't for everyone; Cramped controls; Burst capture is slower for JPEGs; Tends too warm under incandescent lighting; Wi-Fi app is poor, and web browser control has cluttered interfacePrice and availability
Available since July 2015, the Ricoh GR II was initially priced at around US$800, and now lists for US$700 in the US market.Imaging Resource rating
4.5 out of 5.0
Ricoh GR II Review
by Mike Tomkins
Preview posted: 06/17/2015
10/05/2015: First Shots added
10/26/2015: Performance test results posted
02/29/2016: Field Test posted
03/18/2016: Optics, Image Quality and Image Quality Comparison posted
03/30/2016: Conclusion posted
Way back in April 2013, the Ricoh GR took the company's GR-series of compact cameras -- long a cult favorite of enthusiasts -- in a brand new direction. Our understanding from talks with the company is that the Ricoh GR continued to deliver with strong sales, especially in Asian markets, but now it's time for a new camera to take over the reins.
One glance at the Ricoh GR II is enough to tell you that it's very closely-related to its predecessor, and indeed with a few exceptions, it shares almost exactly the same body, lens and imaging pipeline. But while it retains many of its predecessor's strengths, the Ricoh GR II builds on them with some very important features, key among them being a much closer integration with your smartphone, tablet and even your computers. And unlike most rivals, it does so pretty much regardless of which operating system(s) you favor.
Below is a list of the differences between the new model and its predecessor, as well as the high points of those features retained in the new model. If it's not on the list, take a look at our Ricoh GR review, because the feature will be the same as it was in that camera!
Let's take a look at how the Ricoh GR II compares to -- and differs from -- the Ricoh GR:
What's the same
The image sensor: A 16.2-effective megapixel, APS-C sized CMOS sensor with a total resolution of 16.93 megapixels, and a maximum resolution of 4,928 x 3,264 pixels. We believe it's the exact same sensor used in the GR, though it could have been tweaked along the way during its manufacturing life cycle.
The image processor: The Ricoh GR II uses the same Ricoh GR Engine V image processor as did its predecessor.
The lens: A street photography-friendly 18.3mm f/2.8 prime lens is retained in the Ricoh GR II, yielding a 35mm-equivalent focal length of approximately 28mm. The lens has seven elements in five groups, including two double-sided aspherics. It also has a nine-bladed aperture diaphragm, an aperture range of f/2.8 to f/16, and an on-demand two-stop neutral density filter.
The sensitivity range: Just as in its predecessor, the Ricoh GR II has a sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 25,600 equivalents.
The performance: Like the earlier GR, the Ricoh GR II shoots images at a maximum of four frames per second at full resolution, in JPEG format. (Oddly, both cameras actually shoot at over six frames per second with raw files.) It also has a manufacturer-rated startup or shutdown time of one second, and an autofocus time of 0.2 seconds.
The build: While the body design has changed just ever so slightly, the Ricoh GR II still has solid magnesium-alloy construction.
What's been changed
Wireless connectivity: The Ricoh GR II now sports in-camera Wi-Fi wireless networking capability, where its predecessor had to rely on the more limited third-party Eye-Fi cards if you wanted to transfer images to your smartphone or tablet. There's also an NFC antenna in the side of the handgrip, allowing for quick-and-easy pairing with Android devices.
The Ricoh GR II can communicate using the same Android / iOS-only Image Sync app used for the Pentax K-S2, which provides for image transfer, remote live view and basic settings changes. That's pretty handy, but here's the really, really good news. It can also be controlled remotely from a web browser, providing a feature akin to the FluCard remote control used in some of Ricoh's Pentax-branded cameras (but using the in-camera Wi-Fi, rather than the custom Pentax-branded FluCard accessory).
The web browser interface provides equivalents for every single control on the body and even allows remote menu system access, meaning that you can control every single camera feature remotely, and you'll get a live-view feed with the ability to touch or click on the preview image to indicate where you'd like the camera to focus.
And since you're using a web browser, you're not limited to just Android or iOS devices as you are with most cameras. You can also connect to your camera from a notebook or desktop PC, other smart device operating systems that are usually overlooked by camera manufacturers, and... well, anything with a Wi-Fi support, a reasonably capable web browser and a suitably generous display.
The body: While it looks near-identical to that of the earlier camera, the Ricoh GR II's body is just fractionally (2mm) taller, thanks to a new Wi-Fi antenna on its top deck. Overall dimensions are now 117mm wide, 63mm tall and 34.7mm deep with the lens retracted. Weight has also increased just slightly (5g), with the Ricoh GR II tipping the scales at 248g loaded and ready to shoot.
Wireless flash support: This is potentially huge news if you're a Pentaxian or a strobist who loves to play with remote flash setups. For the first time, the Ricoh GR II now supports wireless slave flash, triggering remote strobes such as the AF540FGZII, AF360FGZII and earlier compatible strobes, all using the internal flash strobe.
Raw file burst depth: With the original Ricoh GR, the company rated the camera as good for up to four raw frames in a single burst, and our lab test results confirmed that. Now, Ricoh tells us that the GR II is able to shoot as many as ten raw frames in a burst, and again, our GR II Performance test results have confirmed that. In JPEG mode, buffer depth is only limited by the card, the same as its predecessor.
White Balance: In addition to the comprehensive list of white balance modes provided in the earlier camera, the Ricoh GR II now offers one more mode which comes courtesy of its Pentax brand. Pentaxians have enjoyed the Color Temperature Enhancement mode since way back in 2009, when it made its debut on the Pentax K-7 DSLR. Now, it makes its Ricoh debut in the GR II, offering a way to emphasize the ambient light color, for example to boost the warmth of a sunset.
Autofocus during movie capture: This is, again, a pretty significant change. Where the Ricoh GR locked focus before movie capture began, the GR II now allows single autofocus operation using the AF button as well as continuous autofocus tracking during movie capture. If you're not a fan of focusing manually -- and many of us aren't, because it's a tough nut to crack well -- you'll now be able to let the camera do the job for you. It can be a little slow to respond to changes in subject distance, but otherwise seems to work fairly well.
Exposure compensation during movie capture: This is another handy addition for video fans, letting you get things back in the ballpark if scene brightness changes significantly during capture. If you use the on-camera controls, then you'll get objectionable noise in your videos, but if you're shooting remotely with the Ricoh GR Remote app, you can tweak exposure during video capture without shaking the camera or hearing the exposure rocker in action on your audio track.
Creative effects during movie capture: We think this is new, although it's been a while since we shot the original Ricoh GR, so we're not certain.
Top shutter speed wide-open: The Ricoh GR II now offers a maximum shutter speed of 1/2,500 second at f/2.8, up from the 1/2,000 second top shutter speed when wide-open for the original Ricoh GR when it hit the market. Also, while this shutter speed is new compared to the Ricoh GR at launch, note that the earlier camera gained the same maximum shutter speed in its firmware version 2.03 update, which arrived in October 2013. The top shutter speed at f/5.6 or smaller remains 1/4,000 second.
More effects modes: When it hit the market, the Ricoh GR offered a choice of nine effects modes, and subsequently two more were added in the version 3.00 and version 4.00 firmware updates. The Ricoh GR II includes both the Slight and Shift Crop modes that were added to the earlier camera, as well as six further modes that are entirely new. These include HDR Tone, Clarity, Brilliance, Vibrant, Bright and Portrait. All of these effects allow control of saturation and vignetting. In addition, contrast and sharpness controls are available for Brilliance, Vibrant, Bright and Portrait. Brilliance and Clarity provide an additional control over effect strength, while HDR Tone and Clarity allow additional toning controls.
Interval Composite shooting: The Ricoh GR provided this feature, but the Ricoh GR II extends it further. Previously, Interval Composite imagery was output only in JPEG mode, limiting your possibilities for post-processing. Now, you can also save in raw mode for the maximum versatility.
In-camera raw processing: While the original Ricoh GR allowed in-camera raw development, the Ricoh GR II adds a new twist. As well as the normal raw processing of the earlier camera, you can now opt for what the company is calling Original Ambient Brightness. This can't be used with Interval Composite imagery, but for standard raws, the company says that it will yield a mood more like that of a Ricoh GR film camera. (As far as we can tell, the only real difference is that more vignetting remains in images shot with this function.)
Better image review for raw files: If you want to review raw files post-capture, the Ricoh GR II now offers a more accurate representation of the image than did its predecessor, we're told. (Again, we don't have a Ricoh GR handy for a side-by-side comparison.) This will apparently be especially true if the image is viewed with playback zoom active.
Playback startup: With the original Ricoh GR, if you powered the camera on in Playback mode by holding down the playback button briefly, you could review images without first waiting for the lens to extend. However, if you wanted to switch to Record mode, you first had to press the power button in completely. (Assuming, that is, that you were running at least firmware version 2.03. Earlier versions, we believe, had to be powered down completely and then restarted.) Now, a half-press of the shutter button while powered on in Playback mode will bring the camera to life. It's a subtle change,
Control layout: While almost all controls are identical to those of the original Ricoh GR, the Ricoh GR II has made one control change. Previously, the button on the left of the body was used solely for effects selection, but it now serves double-duty as the Wi-Fi button. A long push on the button drives Wi-Fi mode, while a quick tap controls effects modes. If you use NFC pairing, this step is unnecessary, but it only works with the not-so-great Android and iOS apps.
Pixel mapping: Until now, Ricoh shooters who noticed hot pixels in their images were faced with a choice: Retouch them manually, or send the camera back to the manufacturer for service. That's no longer the case, a fact for which we're sure the company's fans will breathe a big sigh of relief. You can now map dead pixels in-camera, and they'll no longer show up in subsequent shots, with their contents simply being interpolated from surrounding pixels.
Improved battery life: The Ricoh GR II's battery life is CIPA-rated to 320 shots on a charge, up from 290 shots from its predecessor with the same DB-65 lithium-ion battery pack. That's about a 10% improvement, though we suspect that's without Wi-Fi enabled.
All things considered, it's a pretty impressive list of changes. The importance of Wi-Fi connectivity, especially, can't be understated in the smartphone age. And while the image pipeline is almost untouched, that's not necessarily a bad thing. We praised the earlier camera for its excellent lens and image quality (especially in raw mode), after all, and now the Ricoh GR II offers all of that and quite a bit more for the very same list price!
Want to compare the Ricoh GR II against the competition? Find side-by-side comparisons at the links below:
Ricoh GR II vs. Ricoh GR • Ricoh GR II vs. Nikon Coolpix A
Ricoh GR II vs. Fuji X100T • Ricoh GR II vs. Leica X (Typ 113)
Ricoh GR II vs. Sigma dp1 Quattro • Ricoh GR II vs. Sigma DP1 Merrill
Ricoh GR II Field Test
Big sensor, little camera: Ricoh's enthusiast compact is more connected than ever
Evolutionary rather than revolutionary
The Ricoh GR II is clearly very closely-related to its predecessor. In fact, the imaging pipeline is nearly untouched, with the same image sensor and processor used to shoot photos in the GR II as in the original GR.
It's so close that I'm only going to touch on handling, build and image quality very briefly in this field test, except as it pertains to the new features. You can read my Ricoh GR review for more detailed image quality analysis.
Ricoh GR II Image Quality Comparison
See how image quality stacks up to competing fixed-lens compacts
NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera.
Ricoh GR II Print Quality
But how does it look on paper?
The Ricoh GR II, like the original GR before it, lives up to its APS-C sensor in the print quality department, producing very nice prints at large sizes up to ISO 1600. Beyond this point, you'll need to sacrifice on print size for acceptable quality, but for a camera this compact, results are still very good as high as ISO 6400. ISO 12,800 is useful in a pinch, but we'd recommend giving the ISO 25,600 position a pass.
Ricoh GR II Conclusion
Final thoughts on the more-connected street shooter
A follow-up camera with few if any direct rivals
Two years later, the Ricoh GR II replaces one of the pair, while the other has exited stage left. Nikon's entry was discontinued about a year ago, and the company has yet to field a successor model. Until very recently, that left the Ricoh GR II with this particular niche to itself, at least among the mainstream brands. The nearest rivals -- Sigma's dp Merrill and Quattro-series -- were much bigger, heavier cameras.
In the Box
- Ricoh GR II camera
- Hot shoe cover
- DB-65 rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack
- AC-U1 USB power adapter
- Power plug
- USB cable
- Hand strap
- Software CD-ROM
- User Manual
- Warranty card
- Extra battery pack for extended outings
- Dedicated BJ-6 battery charger to avoid in-camera charging
- Large capacity, high-speed SDHC/SDXC memory card. 16GB or larger makes sense if you plan on shooting lots of HD video. UHS-I type cards are supported.
- GW-3 21mm wide-angle conversion lens with rubber hood
- GH-3 mount adapter
- GH-3 lens hood
- GV-1 or GV-2 optical viewfinder
- Camera case
Buy the Ricoh GR II
Your purchases support this site
Ricoh GR II
- Buy from Amazon for $596.95
- Buy from Adorama for $596.95
- Buy from B&H Photo for $596.95 Purchase from this link to enter a monthly drawing for a $500 B&H Gift Card