Ricoh finally got around to updating the GR, but the changes are pretty minimal. Although there have been tweaks, the main enhancement is the addition of Wi-Fi for remote shooting and file transfer with phones and tablets . And while the camera does feel a little dated, with slow autofocus in low light and mediocre video and options, it still remains a standout if all you want is great photos for less than $800/£630 -- as long as you're willing to work a little for them. (Thus far, I haven't been able to find it for sale in Australia.)
As a reminder, larger sensor sizes not only tend to have lower noise than smaller ones, but they allow for more control over depth of field, which allows them to produce better looking out-of-focus areas when combined with a large-aperture lens. The GR II pairs the 16-megapixel sensor with a relatively large aperture 28mm f2.8 lens (35mm equivalent).
While the camera produces high-quality images, if you're looking for a camera that delivers the best straight-from-the-camera JPEGs, this may not be it. They're not bad, it's just that frequently high-contrast shots tend to look a little washed out, as if they're intended to be post-processed. Its raw files (it uses DNG format), though, are more neutral and have a decent amount of dynamic range for bringing out detail in shadows and highlights.
It does some image processing, but doesn't seem to produce optimal results when it comes to highlight and shadow areas, and its default noise-reduction (NR) settings blur too much at ISO 6400 and above. You can fiddle with them -- the camera lets you customize the ISO sensitivity ranges at which it applies weak, medium, or strong NR, which is a really nice feature -- but I found the defaults still deliver the best results. Also, the automatic white balance, as with many of these compacts, also skews a little blue/purple in our tests.
The fixed 28mm lens is pretty good. There's a little fringing on especially high-contrast edges, but it's otherwise sharp with no obvious vignetting (darkening around the edges) or sharpness falloff at its widest or narrowest apertures.
Its age shows when it comes to video, however. Although it shoots 1080/30p, the results are pretty soft; you can see a lot of color jitter even in good light, and there's no image stabilization. The camera lacks any manual movie controls, so it's not really for anyone interested in shooting more than a casual clip every now and then, anyway.
The GR II is sufficiently speedy, though I wouldn't paint a racing stripe on it. At 1.2 seconds, it starts up quickly compared to competitors thanks to the fixed focal-length lens that doesn't need to extend. And its 0.2 second to focus and shoot in good light is right up there with the best of them. However, in dim light it's really slow at 0.7 second. Time for two sequential shots takes about 0.4 to 0.5 second, depending upon whether it's JPEG or raw, which isn't as fast as the fastest models, but it's competitive. And it rises to a slow 2.1 seconds when you enable flash.