Six short years ago, times were bleak for those of us who appreciated advanced, smaller cameras. So-called bridge cameras were a dying breed. The Canon Powershot G7 represented the treatment smaller cameras were getting. Gone were the fast lens and RAW capability of the G6. Those weren't needed in a smaller camera. Enthusiasts were expected to buy large, boxy DSLRs. It was out of those dark times that Ricoh emerged bearing the torch for serious compact cameras. The Ricoh GX100 was pretty tiny, had a fast, f/2.4 (at the wide end), 24-70mm equivalent wide zoom, RAW capability, and excellent controls. Beside it stood the flagship compact GR Digital (GRD), proud descendant of the Ricoh GR1 line of film cameras. In contrast to the GX100, the GRD was singular-minded. It was said that the GX100 was the Swiss army knife while the GRD was the razor. Anyone who has used a GRD will understand this analogy. Each GRD has featured an unusually sharp and well corrected, fast prime lens. Each GRD is immediately ready for use - no lens cap to remove, and no substantial delay waiting for the lens to extend. Lastly, each GRD has been very compact. Ricoh evolved the GRD over time. By the third iteration, many of us were wondering how it could possibly be improved. The obvious answer was to use a larger sensor, but some wondered whether a large-sensor GRD would have to have too large a body, or whether it would be redundant given the Ricoh GXR and 28mm (equivalent) lens-sensor unit. Then Sony introduced the RX100, and we wondered if that excellent 1" sensor might find its way into a GR Digital 5. The new Ricoh GR Today Pentax/Ricoh has announced the Ricoh GR. Taking a cue from Apple and Leica, Ricoh has eliminated the series number, and while they're at it, they've eliminated the descriptor "digital". Just as we have "the new iPad" and "the new Leica M", we now have the new GR". Here are the basic specifications: · 16.2MP APS-C Format CMOS Sensor · GR ENGINE V Image Processor · No Optical Low-pass Filter · 18.3mm f/2.8 Lens (28mm Equivalent) · 3.0" 1,230k-dot White Magic LCD Screen · Full HD 1080p Video Capture · ISO Range of 100-25600 · High Speed AF and 4 fps Burst Shooting · Image Effects and Macro Mode · Compact Magnesium Alloy Body Times have sure changed since those six years ago when I started Serious Compacts. Unbelievably, we can now choose from amongst a wide array of compact digital cameras with large sensors and f/2.8 or faster fixed lenses. Including only the latest offerings, we have the Sony RX1 (full frame, 35mm f/2), Sigma DP1 Merrill cameras (APS-C, various focal lengths), Fuji X100s (APS-C, 35mm equivalent f/2), and Nikon Coolpix A (APS-C, 28mm equivalent f/2.8). Thus the new GR is being introduced with quite a bit of competition. How does the GR distinguish itself from the pack? To begin with, it's the smallest large sensor compact around. Here are some cameras many of us are familiar with, ranked according to volume (in cubic cm): · Sigma DP1M: 521 · Sony RX1: 516 · Fuji X100S: 507 · Canon G15: 325 · Nikon Coolpix A: 288 · Ricoh GR: 248 · Sony RX100: 212 It's also the lightest large sensor compact. Here are those same cameras with weights indicated in grams: · Sigma DP1M: 388 · Sony RX1: 482 · Fuji X100S: 445 · Canon G15: 352 · Nikon Coolpix A: 299 · Ricoh GR: 249 · Sony RX100: 240 Furthermore, it is being priced lower than it's closest competitor by a fair margin. While the Coolpix A is selling for ~$1100 street, the new GR is available for pre-order for $799. So we have smaller, lighter, and less expensive. Those of us who have used Ricoh GRD cameras in the past don't look to the Ricoh GR line for low pricing, however. We look for a small camera with an amazing lens, amazing controls, and a premium build. I haven't used the GR yet, but I can tell you the folks at Pentax-Ricoh are pretty excited about this camera. The new GR lens, an 18.3mm (28mm equivalent) f/2.8 lens was specifically designed for low distortion, flare resistance, low chromatic aberration, and beautiful bokeh. The design uses 7 elements in 5 groups with 2 aspherical elements and a 9-bladed iris. Lens performance is said to be superior to that of the GRD IV, and paired with the AA filter-less 16MP sensor, Ricoh feels that the new GR will deliver substantially better image quality than the competition. The GR includes a "Crop to 35mm" shooting mode for photography with a 35mm equivalent angle of view, an interesting new take on "digital zoom". Ricoh has specifically set its sights on the Coolpix A. Word is that compared to it's Nikon peer, the new GR will have significantly faster AF, somewhat better battery life, 1/4000s max shutter speed vs 1/2000s, a fully magnesium body (vs aluminum front/back cover and magnesium top), and the availability of a 21mm wide conversion lens. As with previous GR models, Ricoh is promising great quickness with an activation time of approximately 1 second, 4fps continuous shooting in RAW (up to 4 frames) or JPEG (up to 999 frames), and fast autofocus (approximately 0.2s at 3m). From what I could gather, the new GR retains the superb ergonomics and controls of the GRD IV. In case it isn't obvious, I've been a fan of the GRD line for years now, and I can't wait to check out the new Ricoh GR in person. I'm hoping Ray will do a hands on soon for SeriousCompacts. I know he liked the Coolpix A, and it'll be interesting to hear how he thinks the new GR compares. Ricoh GR pre-order link again for those interested: Ricoh GR Digital Camera 175743 B&H Photo Video For comprehensive coverage of the GR release including links to the press release parade, various previews, and reactions around the web, I recommend keeping your eye on our friends over at 1001 Noisy Cameras, also known by most of the popular camera news/rumors sites out there as "the main source".