From film to digital, Ricoh’s GR series of cameras has been highly regarded by enthusiast photographers. We find out how the latest 10-million-pixel model and its AF system compares
The most talked about feature of the Ricoh GR Digital IV is its new phase-detection AF sensors, although these aren’t actually new because they were originally found on the Ricoh GR compact cameras and the first GR Digital model. However, the feature was lost in the GR Digital II and III, as apparently the phase-detection sensor was produced by a third party and production stopped.
Now, though, it has reappeared in the Ricoh GR Digital IV and CX5, presumably because the company has now been able to source the part elsewhere and successfully incorporate it into these models. The phase-detection sensors work in conjunction with the sensors’ contrast detection.
Between these two methods Ricoh claims a focusing time of just 0.2secs, with the phase-detection sensors working out a rough focus area before the contrast-detection mode takes over and fine-tunes the focusing even further.
With the two working together, I found that autofocus is fast, making the camera ideal for street photography, where split-second timing may be necessary.
If you have more time, a half-press of the shutter button will allow very accurate contrast-detection focusing. But there is so much more to the GR Digital IV’s AF settings, particularly for street photographers.
Pre-AF begins focusing before a button on the camera is even pressed, again helping to make sure that the lens is ready for action as soon as the shutter is fired.
Similarly, the snap-focus distance option allows a preset focus distance to be set. When the shutter is fully pressed, the lens focuses to the preset distance and takes a picture. For street photographers, setting the snap-focus distance to 2.5m and the aperture to f/4 should create a depth of field large enough for a photographer to keep snapping away.
However, the options don’t stop there. Single or multi-point AF modes, as well as a subject-focus tracking mode, are also available. The subject-focus tracking is among the best I have tested on a compact camera. Manual focus is also available, although, as is the case with most other compact cameras, it is a little fiddly to use. Finally, infinity focus is available as well, which just sets the focus to infinity with no override options.