The Ricoh GR Digital IV “Professional Compact Digital Street” camera is phenomenal in the amount of control it gives you in a compact size with superb macro abilities and sharpness that will blow your mind! Compact cameras like these are on the rise and are needed on the market. Why? Quality in low level light that even an i-phone can’t give you; I know, I own one! Special thanks to Cord Camera, Tim Hughes – Merchandising Manager, Bill Schwinn – Vice President, Stephanie Cordle et.al., Pentax, Ricoh, and Mark Sherengo – Director of Sales – PENTAX for the opportunity to share the images of this camera with you and for allowing us to add it to our digital imaging arsenal for years to come.
When I first saw the Pentax-Ricoh GR Digital IV camera, I didn’t know how it would fit into our arsenal of image capture devices. We have seen and used hundreds of compact digital cameras from nearly every manufacturer and we’ve had our share of Androids, I-phones (I-pad included here) so let’s be clear on the first separation – the phrase “Made by photographers… for photographers” is a highlight on the Pentaximaging website. It takes direct aim at the serious and professional photographer, so at once I knew we had to put this to the test. For those wondering who “we” are in this article, my wife and I have been in digital imaging for 18 years: together we work for an Ohio-Indiana regional camera company, Cord Camera. Currently, Melissa is in her 6th year as store manager at the Anderson location in Cincinnati. This is my 9th year as a professional photographer, 5 and-a-half years of which I worked as an Ohio certified adult teacher (digital photography). We have shot and continue to shoot nearly every opportunity that comes our way. We love imaging and enjoy working with people!
We found the Pentax-Ricoh GR Digital IV is a brilliant mix of quality, creativity, artistry, discretion (perfect for the photojournalist) and flexibility through customizable settings. It’s near perfect. The 28mm lens provides a great field of view with low distortion. (The workhorse lens on my D-SLR was a 28-75mm f/2.8) The f/1.9 aperture achieves success in low level lighting situations. The CCD sensor keeps the image crisp and sharp; an advantage over most CMOS sensors. The 10 Megapixel resolution makes for great large format reproductions with medium sized files that aren’t so big they inundate your hard drive; again, great for photojournalists working via laptop. Then there’s the 3” screen: brilliant, stunning, incredibly detailed, rich in color, very real due to Sony’s White Magic technology. It’s as simple as this; most LCD screens have red, green and blue cells that vary intensities to make up the other colors. Sony’s White Magic adds a white cell for added intensity to overcome bright sunlight, better power consumption, vivid colors and better color control in general. The Pentax-Ricoh GR Digital IV LCD screen features 1.23 Million dots for a resolution that is clearly above all others.
The fact the camera has a hot-shoe for a larger flash is a huge plus. The fact you can compensate the onboard flash is impressive. You can adjust a lot within this camera; from sharpness to hue, saturation, brightness and contrast. In some artistic modes you even have control over certain things such as vignette and depth of process.
The Pentax-Ricoh GR Digital IV is a beautiful camera that continues to amaze everyone we show. I ran a test print at 20×30 to which Dick Swaim, a former Cincinnati Enquirer Photographer, said, “If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it! That camera is amazing, this is an incredible shot!”
One outstanding feature of this camera is the interval shooting and its ability to use that mode for star trails. It’s absolutely mind-numbing how clean the night images are! A little advice here: do read the manual on how to set this properly and do the firmware upgrade, otherwise you’ll have wasted some time thinking you’ve captured something when indeed you may or may not have. There are some particulars to end the process correctly. The results are well worth it!
There are also some subtle, often overlooked conveniences this camera includes such as the ability to review the images without having the lens extend; just press the playback button and viola! I find this feature lacking in most cameras. The other convenience, maybe esoteric, is it can effectively trigger an external flash that uses an optical slave. Durability is a must for a camera on the go: this camera has a magnesium alloy shell – very unexpected and greatly appreciated. Last and certainly not least, it can shoot in a .DNG raw file format for greater flexibility and control in the development process.
In summary, the Pentax-Ricoh GR Digital IV is a professional photographer’s dream. I find myself using it more than my D-SLR when out and about. What we enjoyed most was the Bleach Bypass and High Contrast Black & White artistic modes. I also personally enjoyed the Cross Process and Star Trail mode. So is there room for this camera to grow? Better frame rate, higher quality video, and a slightly higher ISO range. For a camera that is near-perfect that would be even more icing on an already terrific cake!
I will take this time to let you know we are proud to be at Cord
Camera in an industry which is becoming increasingly specialized as we watch other camera stores close their doors and fold due to the advent of phonography and internet purchasing. This includes larger national based chains. So what keeps us in business? You – and your thirst for real answers from real people with professional experience; that’s the separation we have from larger retail-box stores and from the internet. It’s the personal experience in working with non-automated services and replies. In short, “Thank you” for taking time to read this article and for those stopping in to purchase your camera and allowing us to process your images thereafter.
What are camera manufacturers doing to overcome the obstacles? They are building cameras capable of capturing higher quality images and they are doing it in lower level light. Phones can be great for the mobility and for spontaneous activities in bright daylight. They can even capture them with stunning results, but bring them indoors and they suffer. Try to record sports action shots and you get blur. Print them out as an 8×10 and they fall apart with pixelization. For most people, just transferring them to computer can be an issue – at Cord Camera we have an app for that! Camera manufacturers are also getting test cameras into the hands of professionals who share their findings and we greatly appreciate that because ultimately it gets back to you, the Smart Consumer!
Zivan Mendez - Pro Camera Sales, Cord University One-on-One Class Instructor, Cord Camera, 7731 Beechmont Avenue, Cincinnati,OH45255
Owner/Director, Vortex InterActive, 821 York Street, Newport, KY 41071
Melissa Mendez - Store Manager, Cord Camera, Creative Director, Vortex InterActive
The first thing a photographer should have in mind is what type of look they’re trying to achieve. Should it be soft or should it be hard-edged? For portraits, it depends on the textures and colors involved; whether they’re high or low contrast. It depends on the background – is it a farm or is it a city? Is the background in tune with the clothing? Is the subject a male or female? In other words, there are guidelines, as to all kinds of subject matter, and guidelines are just that: they should be followed most of the time with the understanding they can also be bent.
In general, portraits generally take advantage of a shallow depth-of-field or DOF for short. A shallow depth of field is a narrow plane of focus where blurring can be found a short distance both in front of and behind the subject. A shallow DOF is obtained by using a fast lens and by that we mean the aperture value of the lens is either f/2.8 or lower. Setting a camera to this low aperture value is what allows us to achieve the look below:
For landscapes, or for high-contrast textures and colors, it is a general rule that a large DOF be used where the entire image appears to be sharp throughout. A large DOF is used by setting the aperture value of the lens to f/7.1 and above.
Getting the correct, or better handle, on DOF also depends on how close you are to your subject and whether the lens is zoomed in or at a wider angle. The final shot below could have been taken either way – a large or shallow DOF We choose a shallow DOF to seperate our subject from the background and to blur out some distracting telephone lines and some undesired city elements. We also used a touch of flash to further enhance our subject.