Built from a sturdy magnesium alloy, the Ricoh GR is billed as the world's smallest and lightest APS-C format camera. It's surprisingly close in size to the Ricoh GR IV and has a similarly understated design.
The front of the camera has a pronounced grip, which has a rubberised texture and gives good purchase, enabling the camera to be held one-handed. The layout of the buttons on the back of the camera also makes changing settings with a thumb quick and easy.
On the top of the Ricoh GR is a mode dial for speedily changing between automatic, semi-automatic and fully manual exposure modes. In a nod to Pentax, which is now owned by Ricoh, there's a TAv (Aperture and Time priority) option in which you set the shutter speed and aperture while the camera selects the sensitivity.
There are also three customisable groups of settings, labelled My1, My2 and My3, available via the mode dial. All you have to do is set up the camera to your preferences and then save that arrangement as a custom setting.
We found it especially useful for enabling a quick change in the Effect applied to the JPEG file. My1, for example, could set the camera to aperture priority mode with the High Contrast B&W Effect applied, while My2 might switch to Program mode with Bleach-Bypass mode activated. You can even save a name for the custom mode that will be displayed on the screen when it's selected.
These Effects modes are made all the more attractive because they can be used when shooting raw and JPEG files, with the JPEG file having the effect while the raw file stays clean.
Helpfully, Ricoh Pentax has opted for the DNG raw file format, which is compatible with a wide range of conversion software including Adobe Camera Raw that comes with Photoshop CS6, Photoshop Elements and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom without the need to update.
Just to the side of the mode dial is a lock button, which stops the dial from being knocked out of place. We found this relatively easy to depress with the finger of the right hand while rotating the dial.
A small dial on the front of the camera at the top of the grip is used for altering aperture or shutter speed, depending on the mode you're shooting in. When shooting in fully manual mode, this dial is used for aperture, while the rocker dial on the back of the camera controls shutter speed.
Exposure compensation is changed quickly using the plus and minus control, which doubles up as the zooming buttons during playback.
Meanwhile there's a lever just above the thumb rest that gives another means of navigating through some settings and provides a quick route to the sensitivity, image quality, aspect ratio, focusing and metering options by default. This list can be customised via the menu to give access to your most commonly used features.
Ricoh is aiming the GR at enthusiast photographers, and these users will appreciate that several of the buttons on the back and side of the camera are customisable, giving you quick access to key features.
Changing autofocus point is done by default by tapping the F1 Function button and using the arrow keys to scroll around the scene to the point you want to use. After pressing this button, you can use the zoom control to check critical focus.
There's also an option to enlarge a section of screen around the active AF point to check focus as it is achieved.
On the back of the camera is a high resolution, 1.2 million-dot 3-inch LCD screen. It's not articulating, or touch-sensitive, but it appears to cope reasonably well with direct light, not suffering too badly from glare or reflections. The menu layout is simple and uncomplicated.