Ricoh GR Digital IV - Prime on a Compact

Launch SRP: S$999

Introduction, Design and Handling Part I


Point-and-shoot cameras have always been popular with the casual-shooting crowd. They don't need the fancy functions of the more complicated cameras but merely want a small and light camera that is easy to use, a compact camera that they can bring to parties, holidays and other events.

While the compact camera market is saturated with Canons, Nikons and Panasonics, rarely do we hear about a Ricoh camera. Ricoh has, in fact, been in the camera business since 1937, it’s known mostly for producing premium compacts. The Japanese manufacturer has just updated of one its camera models, the GR Digital III, with the GR Digital IV. Join us as we find out what the GR Digital IV has to offer.

What else does the GR Digital IV offer besides its fast F1.9 lens and good build quality?

Understated Build, Great Handling

The first thing that will strike you about the GR Digital IV is its understated look. While other compacts strive to outshine one another in their flashy outfits, the GR Digital IV’s matte black magnesium alloy body exudes an understated machismo, both looking and feeling sturdy.

At a passing glance, the Digital IV looks just like any other compact. But upon closer inspection, we found minor details woven onto its body which set it apart from your normal compacts. When we handled the Digital IV, we felt that there was a lot of thought put into the ergonomics and controls.

The GR Digital IV has a matte, textured surface that feels rugged and doesn't attract fingerprints.

The Digital IV possesses a standard mode dial, but there’s a lock release button beside it that you have to depress in order to rotate the mode dial. While it may look awkward, in reality it isn’t that difficult to use when operating the camera. We guess Ricoh doesn’t want you switching the modes by mistake in your haste to capture that perfect shot.

The camera also sports an up-down dial on the front and an adjustment lever on the back. The buttons allow you to select shutter speed and aperture in the manual modes. There’s also a nice, empty spot on the back of the camera where your right thumb will be when you’re holding it. This helps you get a pretty good hold of the camera.

Where is the zoom dial/lever you ask? Well here’s the thing; the Digital IV features a fixed 28mm lens, so there's no optical zoom. There is the option of up to 4x digital zoom though if you really have to zoom into something to take a picture, but we can't recommend it since digital zooms is just the camera cropping and enlarging the original picture.

You can spot the lock release button right above the M in the mode dial.

There's a nice spot for you to place your right thumb as you hold the camera, right below the Adjust lever. The textured surface gives you a better grip.

The Good
Sturdy build quality
Fast and accurate autofocus system
Good macro mode
Lets you assign frequently-used settings to certain buttons and the Adjustment lever
The Bad
Fixed focal length may not appeal to some