Ricoh GR Digital IV

      Photo Review 8

      In summary

       An enhanced successor to the popular GR Digital III, featuring a new image engine and Hybrid AF System.The GR Digital IV arrives a little over two years since Ricoh released the GR Digital III, offering incremental improvements in features and performance. Most are internal, due to the introduction of an updated GR ENGINE IV processing chip. The body design is essentially unchanged. Because it’s small, light and inconspicuous, the GR Digital IV is well suited to candid and street photography.  . . [more]

      Full review



      The GR Digital IV arrives a little over two years since Ricoh released the GR Digital III, offering incremental improvements in features and performance. Most are internal, due to the introduction of an updated GR ENGINE IV processing chip. The body design is essentially unchanged. Because it’s small, light and inconspicuous, the GR Digital IV is well suited to candid and street photography.

      As with previous models, the GR Digital IV carries a high price tag for the features it offers. Its fixed focal length lens covers a fairly wide angle of view (equivalent to 28mm in 35mm format) but no viewfinder is provided, so the monitor must be used for navigating the menus (which are lengthy and in small type) and for composing shots.

      It also lacks many of the functions snapshooters have come to expect: face recognition, touch-screen controls and HD video recording. At 10 megapixels, its megapixel count is also relatively low, although appropriate for a camera of its type. Photographers who shoot raw files will find enough detail and dynamic range to print at A3 size.


      The white ‘limited edition’ version of the GR Digital IV. (Source: Ricoh.)

      While most cameras that go on sale will be black, Ricoh is simultaneously releasing a limited edition (10,000 units worldwide) version of the GRD IV in a white body with a metal lens cap and leather camera strap and $899 price tag. Fewer than 200 are likely to be available in Australia.

      Build and Ergonomics
      With so few changes to body and menu design, the GR Digital IV looks and handles like its predecessor. The front panel of the camera is very discrete, with the same retracting 6mm lens, finger grip moulding and AF-assist LED but includes a new external AF sensor for the Hybrid AF System (see below).


      Front view of the GR Digital IV. (Source: Ricoh.)

      The ‘up-down’ dial is still positioned just in front of the shutter button, with a complementary ‘ADJ.’ lever on the rear panel for horizontal adjustments. These dials can be used instead of the arrow pad buttons for navigating through menus and viewing shots as well as for selecting aperture and shutter speed settings in the P, A, S and M modes.

      Nothing much has changed on the top panel of the camera, either. The locking mode dial is located on the right rear corner, providing the same nine settings as the GR Digital III’s. An oval shutter button sits just to its left.

      Behind and left of the shutter button is a recessed power on/off switch. Further left is a hot shoe for external flash units or the GV-1/GV-2 external viewfinder, while at the left hand edge is a small pop-up flash.


      The top panel of the GR Digital IV with the lens extended. (Source: Ricoh.)

      Although the LCD monitor is the same size as the GR Digital III’s its resolution has been boosted from 920,000 dots to 1,230,000 dots. It claims to provide better outdoor visibility, which is particularly desirable when using the camera’s menu system as its small font size can be difficult to read in bright conditions


      The rear panel of the GR Digital IV. (Source: Ricoh.)

      As in previous models, the battery and card share a compartment in the base of the camera body. A lift-up hatch on the right hand side panel covers the USO and HDMI ports.

      The flash, which is popped up manually, is essentially unchanged and covers a range from 20 cm to 3.0 metres. It supports five modes, including slow synch. and red-eye reduction. The shutter also appears to be the same as before, covering a range of eight to 1/2000 seconds, with an expansion up to 180 seconds in Manual exposure mode.

      New Features
      Most of the enhancements provided in the new camera are installed under the hood. The menu design is unchanged, save for the addition of a few new functions. Pressing the menu button displays the same three sub-menus: Shooting, Key Custom Options and Setup. Icons for accessing them range vertically down the left side of the screen, as in the previous model.

      Ricoh has equipped the GR Digital IV with a new Hybrid AF System that claims to reduce autofocusing lag to 0.2 seconds (almost twice as fast as the previous model). An updated image processor underpins a new high speed, high accuracy snapshot function, which makes this camera well-suited for candid and street photography.

      Focusing options include Multi AF and Spot AF modes with a new Subject Tracking setting. Manual focusing is also provided, along with Snap and Infinity settings. The Snap mode allows users to pre-set a focusing distance so shots can be taken without requiring the camera to pause for focus. You can set the distance to 1, 1.5, 2.5, 5 metres or infinity on page 1 on the Shooting menu.

      The Full-Press Snap and Pre-AF mode settings carry over from the GR Digital III. Neither will work in MF and Snap focus modes or when focus is set at infinity and it consumes additional power when engaged.

      The user interface is highly customisable (which goes some way to overcoming the complexity of the menu system).There are two Function (Fn) buttons and you can assign up to five frequently-used functions to the Adj lever on the rear panel to make them quickly accessible in the Auto, P, A, S and M shooting modes.
      The sensor-shift image stabilisation function has been tweaked to support a claimed shutter speed advantage of up to 3.2 stops. A new Dynamic Range Compensation shooting function improves the rendition of highlight and shadow tones in backlit or high-contrast scenes. The popular Multi-Pattern Auto White Balance setting has been restored to the GR Digital IV, having been removed from its predecessor.

      Auto Bracketing has been enhanced with the addition of Contrast Bracket Setting and Dynamic Range Compensation bracketing. Users can also take advantage of an Image Setting Bracket option that records a sequence of three shots with two different image settings.

      In addition, Ricoh has brought the new camera up to date by adding a couple of multi-exposure functions: an Interval Composite mode that lets users overlay a series of exposures for recording star trails and a Multiple Exposure mode that can overlay up to five separate exposures and combine them in one single image.

      You can switch automatic exposure adjustment on and off in the Multiple Exposure mode and elect to save each image separately in addition to the composite shot.

      The former joins the Dynamic Range Double-Shot, Skew Correct and Movie modes in the Scene sub-menu, while the latter is on page one of the Shooting. Positive Film and Bleach Bypass have been added to the creative shooting mode selection which already includes High Contrast B&W and Cross Process.


      Examples of the ‘creative shooting modes’ in the GR Digital IV: top row: Standard, Vivid; second row: B&W, B&W TE with the default sepia toning effect; third row: High Contrast B&W, Cross Process; bottom row: Positive Film, Bleach Bypass.

      The new camera’s sensitivity range has been shifted slightly higher, with a minimum ISO setting of 80 and maximum of ISO 3200 (instead of 64 and 1600 respectively). Interestingly, you can’t select ISO 3200, although the camera purports to support this sensitivity level. And even when the Auto-Hi setting is set to include ISO 3200, when it’s selected the camera will set a much lower value (usually below ISO 1600).

      We were unable to locate an ISO 80 setting in the menu, although the camera set the sensitivity to ISO 80 in Auto mode when bright ambient lighting was detected. The lowest selectable ISO setting in P mode was ISO 200 if the menu was set to 1EV steps. Changing the intervals to 1/3EV steps made ISO 160 accessible, although nothing below that.

      Noise reduction processing is user-selectable in the auto, P, A and M shooting modes and you can select the sensitivity at which it kicks in from five options: All, Over ISO 201, Over ISO 401, Over ISO 801 and ISO 1600. As before, dark-frame subtraction appears to be the method used.

      Sensor and Image Processing
      With no change to the imager size or effective resolution since the GR Digital III model, the new camera provides essentially the same range of settings, although raw files can be recorded at all four aspect ratios. Smaller image sizes are now captured with Fine resolution, instead of Normal compression as in the previous model.
      Coupled with the sensor is the new GR Engine IV image processor, which boasts improved noise-reduction technology for better performance in low-light situations. Enhanced processing algorithms also reduce autofocusing times in dim conditions and give an overall boost to camera response times.

      Interestingly, correction for chromatic aberration appears to be applied by default as part of the JPEG processing, thereby reducing its effect. This processing is an option when converting raw files into editable formats and we didn’t apply any corrections before our Imatest evaluations.

      Image size and resolution options are essentially unchanged from the GRD III, as shown in the table below.

      File format


      Aspect ratio







      3648 x 2736





      3648 x 2432





      3648 x 2048





      2736 x 2736





      3648 x 2736





      3648 x 2432





      3648 x 2048





      2736 x 2736





      3264 x 2448





      2592 x 1944





      2048 x 1536





      1280 x 960





      640 x 480



      Video capabilities are also unchanged and well behind most other recently-released cameras. The highest resolution supported is VGA and both VGA and QVGA resolutions are available at frame rates of 30 and 15 fps. You can use the digital zoom while recording clips and white balance and focusing are adjustable.

      Movie clips are recorded as AVI files – with monaural sound. The maximum recording time is 90 minutes – or up to 4GB. Typical recording times for a 8GB card are shown in the table below.

      Video format

      Picture size

      Frame rate

      Recording time/8GB card

      Motion JPEG

      640 x 480

      30 fps

      72 minutes 8 seconds

      640 x 480

      15 fps.

      137 minutes 3 seconds

      320 x 240

      30 fps

      171 minutes 11 seconds

      320 x 240

      15 fps.

      316 minutes 16 seconds

      Playback and Software
      Playback options are the same as the GR Digital III and include the usual single, index and slideshow modes plus auto rotation and DPOF tagging for automated printing. You can resize images in-camera for emailing or web posting and copy files between the camera’s internal memory and a memory card.

      In-camera skew and level correction (for adjusting brightness levels) are also provided in playback mode, using the functions provided for image capture. In each case, the adjusted images are saved as separate files. Post-capture white balance correction is also provided.
      The software bundle has been changed and now comes loaded in the camera’s internal memory. It’s Windows-only and compatible with XP, Vista and Windows 7 – but not the 64-bit versions.

      Two applications are provided: DL-10 for uploading images to a computer and MediaBrowser for viewing, managing and editing images. Since the GR Digital IV uses the ‘universal’ DNG format for its raw files, conversion can be done with virtually any capable editing application.
      Shots taken with the test camera were similar to those from the GR Digital III. Images were slightly soft straight out of the camera and benefited from post-capture sharpening.

      Fortunately, plenty of detail was recorded and although colours were slightly cool, the balance appeared relatively natural-looking. As with the previous model, Imatest showed some boosting in reds and blues, although saturation was modest. Colour shifts were noted in both JPEGs and converted raw files, particularly in cooler hues.

      Imatest also showed the test camera to be capable of meeting the expected resolution for its megapixel count with DNG.RAW files, which we converted in Photoshop with Adobe Camera Raw. No corrections to any image parameter during file conversion.

      JPEG files also met expectations at wide lens apertures, although slight edge and corner softening was evident. The effects of diffraction became evident around f/4.5 with resolution decreasing gradually thereafter, as shown in the graph below.


      The decline in resolution as sensitivity was increased was quite similar to the results we obtained from the GR Digital III and less steep than we’ve found in many competing cameras. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.


      Low-light shots were generally handled well and the autofocus system was capable of handling quite dim lighting. Traces of image noise could be seen at ISO 1600 in both long exposures and flash shots and images were also slightly softened.

      Flash close-ups were evenly exposed across the camera’s ISO range and only slight softening could be seen at the highest ISO settings. However, the flash was only able to illuminate an average-sized room with the ISO 800 and ISO 1600 settings.

      Lateral chromatic aberration remained within the ‘negligible’ category (left of the red line in the graph) due to in-camera processing. For DNG.RAW files, measurements placed CA at the low end of the ‘low’ category (just right of the red line in the graph). The graph below is based on Imatest analysis of JPEG files.


      As in the previous model, close-up performance was excellent but digital zoom shots were slightly soft with the Normal setting (which uses interpolation). Shots taken with Auto Resize Zoom were slightly sharper. The lens suffered from very slight barrel distortion.
      Auto white balance performance was similar to the GR Digital III. The test camera came close to neutral colours with fluorescent lighting. However, the inherent warm cast of incandescent lighting was not fully corrected and the pre-sets tended to introduce colour casts under both lighting types. Manual measurement produced a neutral colour balance.

      Video performance was similar to the GR Digital III’s and typical of most VGA-only digicams. Image quality was acceptable but unspectacular and audio quality matched the visuals.

      Overall response times were similar to the GR Digital III, despite the re-jigged AF system. However, in normal usage, the camera was quick to focus in normal light levels. We noticed some hesitation after dark, although it couldn’t be classed as ‘hunting’.

      The test camera powered up in just under a second and shot-to-shot times averaged 1.9 seconds without flash. Use of the flash slowed capture rates to one shot every 3.4 seconds. We measured an average capture lag of 0.2 seconds, which reduced to less than 0.1 seconds with pre-focusing. Each JPEG file was processed within 1.2 seconds.

      In the continuous shooting mode, the review camera recorded 11 high-resolution JPEGs in five seconds. Shots were processed on-the-fly, with processing being completed within 0.9 seconds of the last frame recorded.
      Lag times were the same when shooting RAW+JPEG files, but processing took approximately five seconds for each image pair. A burst of five RAW+JPEG files was recorded in 2.4 seconds and took 17.1 seconds to process.

      Buy this camera if:
      – You’re looking for a well-built, pocketable camera with P, A, S and M shooting modes that is inconspicuous to use and ideal for street and candid photography and don’t mind paying a premium price.
      – You require the ability to shoot raw files.
      – You’re happy to use the monitor for shot composition and shoot with a prime lens.
      Don’t buy this camera if:
      – You require zoom functionality and an optical viewfinder.
      – You want to shoot widescreen high-definition video clips.

      JPEG files




      DNG.RAW files converted with Adobe Camera Raw.




      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      120-second exposure at ISO 200; f/3.5.


      15-second exposure at ISO 800; f/3.5.


      8-second exposure at ISO 1600; f/3.5.


      Flash exposure at ISO 200; 1/30 second at f/1.9.


      Flash exposure at ISO 800; 1/30 second at f/1.9.


      Flash exposure at ISO 1600; 1/40 second at f/1.9.


      P mode, 6mm focal length with no zoom; ISO 80, 1/400 second at f/4.5.


      Digital zoom; ISO 80, 1/710 second at f/4.5.


      Auto resize zoom with image size at 1M; ISO 80, 1/400 second at f/4.5.


      Auto mode with macro focus; ISO 80, 1/400 second at f/4.


      Distortion: ISO 200, 1/100 second at f/3.5


      A mode, 6mm focal length with no zoom; ISO 200, 1/250 second at f/5.


      A mode, 6mm focal length with no zoom; ISO 160, 1/500 second at f/4.5.


      A mode, 6mm focal length plus auto resize zoom with image size at 8M; ISO 160, 1/200 second at f/4.5.


      A mode, 6mm focal length with no zoom; ISO 200, 1/100 second at f/4.


      A mode, 6mm focal length with no zoom; ISO 400, 1/320 second at f/5.6.


      A mode, 6mm focal length with no zoom; ISO 200, 1/320 second at f/4.


      P mode, 6mm focal length with no zoom; ISO 200, 1/320 second at f/1.9.


      Still frame from VGA video clip.




      Image sensor: 7.6 x 5.7 mm CCD sensor with 10.4 million photosites (10 megapixels effective)
      Image processor:
      Lens: 6mm f/1.9 lens (equivalent to 28mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 1x optical, up to 4x digital (Auto Resize Zoom: approx. 5.7x producesVGA images)
      Image formats: Stills – JPEG (Exif V 2.3), DNG.RAW; Movies – AVI (Open DML Motion JPEG Format compliant)
      Image Sizes: Stills – 3648 x 2736, 3648 x 2432, 2736 x 2736, 3648 x 2048, 3264 x 2448, 2592 x 1944, 2048 x 1536, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480; Movies – VGA and QVGA at 30 frames/second
      Shutter speed range: Bulb, Time, 180, 120, 60, 30, 15, 13, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3.2, 2.5, 2, 1.6, 1.3, 1 – 1/2000 sec.
      Self-timer: 2 seconds delay plus customisable settings of up to 10 frames with delays between 5 and 10 seconds
      Image Stabilisation: Image sensor shift-type
      Exposure Compensation: +/-2.0EV in 1/3EV Steps
      Auto bracketing: -0.5EV, ±0, +0.5EV / -0.3EV, ±0, +0.3EV
      Focus system/range: Hybrid plus contrast-based TTL AF; range 30 cm to infinity; macro to 1 cm
      Focus modes: Multi AF (Hybrid AF), Spot AF (Hybrid AF),Subj. Tracking, Manual Focus, Snap, Infinity (Focus lock and AF auxiliary light available. )
      Exposure metering/control: TTL-CCD metering method; 256-segment multi, centre weighted and spot patterns
      Shooting modes: P, A, S and M shooting modes plus Scene Modes (Dynamic Range, Movie, Skew Correction, Interval Composite) and My Settings Mode
      Picture modes: Vivid, Standard, Setting1 / Setting2, B&W, B&W(TE), High Contrast B&W, Cross Process, Positive Film, Bleach Bypass
      ISO range: Auto, Auto-Hi, ISO 80 to 3200 in 1EV or 1/3EV selectable steps
      White balance: Auto, Multi-P Auto, Outdoors, Cloudy, Incandescent (x2), Fluorescent, Manual, Detail, White Balance Bracket Function
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Flash On, Auto, Red-eye-Reduction, Slow Synchro, Manual Flash, Flash Off; range approx. 20 cm – 3.0 m (ISO Auto)
      Sequence shooting: Approximately 1.54 frames/second for up to 999 frames
      Storage Media: 40MB internal memory plus expansion slot for SD/SDHC or Eye-Fi cards (X2 series)
      Viewfinder: No
      LCD monitor: 3.0-inch Transparent LCD with approx. 1,230,000 dots
      Power supply: DB-65 rechargeable battery; CIPA rated for approx 380 shots/charge; can also use 2x AAA batteries
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 108.6 x 59.8 x 32.5 mm
      Weight: Approx. 190 grams (without battery, card and strap)


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      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 9.0
      • Ease of use: 8.0
      • Autofocusing: 8.5
      • Image quality JPEG: 8.5
      • Image quality DNG.RAW: 8.5
      • Video quality: 7.0
      • OVERALL: 8.0