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Ricoh GR Digital II review: Ricoh GR Digital II

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Images from the GR Digital II are nice, but not nearly as nice as they should be for a camera of this price. According to our color accuracy lab test, the colors aren't quite as accurate as most compact cameras, though they still look natural, so most users should still be pleased with the results. More pressing is that the images aren't all that sharp. I've seen sharper results from cameras that cost half as much as this one. Given that the lens is a fixed focal length and that it extends from the camera body, which gives more leeway for the designers to include a nicer lens, the GR Digital II just doesn't deliver what it should in this case. They really should've gone with a completely internal lens, which would've made the camera faster at start-up.

The camera's noise performance isn't very pretty either. Even at its lowest sensitivity setting, the GR Digital II has some minor noise, though you likely won't notice it in prints. It doesn't become very noticeable until ISO 200, though that's still not stellar performance in today's compact camera market. However, there isn't much sharpness or shadow detail lost to noise at ISO 200. By ISO 400 noise detracts noticeably from the images, a large amount of sharpness is lost and shadow detail begins its precipitous demise. At ISO 800 noise is quite heavy and most of the sharpness and shadow detail is gone. Conditions only get worse at the camera's top sensitivity of ISO 1,600. I suggest staying below ISO 400 if possible on this camera and wouldn't suggest using ISO 800 or ISO 1,600 at all.

Sony's top T-series models and Canon's most expensive compact models tend to deliver sharper images and don't nearly cost as much as this Ricoh. Of course, they don't have manual exposure controls, and the ones on this Ricoh are quite nice. They also don't have hot shoes, though I can't imagine how unwieldy the Ricoh would be with a hot-shoe flash on top of it. Given its price, I'd have to point someone toward the Fujifilm FinePix F50fd before telling them to buy this Ricoh. The Fuji is just as small and pocketable, has similarly high-level manual exposure controls, sensor-shift image stabilization, a 3x optical zoom lens, and costs hundreds less than the GR Digital II.

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Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Smaller bars indicate better performance)
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Time to first shot  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Canon PowerShot SD870 IS
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T300
Ricoh GR Digital II

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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