Yes, the hotly awaited update to the already brilliant Ricoh GR has been announced. It has been named the Ricoh GR II, which will not cause any confusion whatsoever in light of the previous Ricoh GR II, several generations back, going by what appears to be the same name. The Ricoh US page can be found here.
While most people who have been anywhere near the outgoing model praises the lens quality, the great snap shooting function and its intuitive functionality, there were a few issues that might have been expected in the new model. Top of the list for the much awaited Ricoh GR II would have been quicker AF (which could have been much more assertive in low-light), Image Stabilisation, a refresh of the APS-C sensor for better high ISO noise control (although I think its pretty decent as it is) and even a touch more resolution (though I don’t feel the need, personally), WiFi… and at this point my list is running out of steam. Anyway, the point being that AF and stabilisation are the only obvious shortcoming of this camera, if you are happy with the basic concept of what it is. So what did Ricoh deliver?
Spot the difference.
Well, I would love to cue to drum roll at this point, but the band of the Coldstream Guards has been sent home and replaced by a number of somewhat bored and disinterested people holding balloons by their necks, who will at this point gently release the air. Yes, sadly, this refresh is more of a mild update, in the way that Ford might re-skin a car mid way thought its design life; however, in this case, the skin is almost exactly the same (note the slight change to the top deck of the new model). There have been a couple of internal changes, however.
WiFi and NFC have been added, which will make things a bit more convenient for those wanting to move files to computers, tablets, phones etc, but that…. that is it as far as I can see. Freakish types like me tend to shoot photos, go home, upload them and take it from there. It does not occur to me to send them to my phone and work in LR mobile, or similar, but for those who do (you know, more sociable, less introverted up to date modern types) will find this useful. Perhaps. But it does not fundamentally change the camera, which is not going to be used much for location photo-shoots, or necessarily as the ‘go-to’ device for getting images up on social media. Instead it is a niche camera – a 28mm street photography ninja – that is likely to be used by people who are very intent on shooting top quality images within the limitations of what it does so brilliantly. It is not a Panasonic GM-1 or GM-5 competitor and is likely to be found in the hands of people wanting a lot from their images.
While it has been a disappointment, lets face it, the GR was already phenomenal. Lightning quick AF would have made it literally, IMHO, perfect (as a fixed lens 28mm compact).
Do I recommend the new Ricoh GR II? Absolutely! But only when stocks of discounted ye olde 2013/2015 GR models run out (unless you absolutely must have WiFi and NFC). As it stands now, the saving of about $250 makes the old one the stand out as a relative bargain. At its release price, the new model will still find many fans, but if you’ve been interested in the GR before, perhaps now is the time to grab one of the last old models.
Maybe the AF will be a touch better. Maybe the lens has been tweaked (although it certainly does not need it – look here and here) and maybe this update has forced a few stifled yawns, but it remains, in my personal opinion, the best general use 28mm street photography camera on the planet. If you need mega high ISO, or f1.4, look elsewhere…. but don’t expect those cameras to be able to do what the GR does so brilliantly, or to fit in your jacket pocket!