Ricoh GRD4 and color 2

During my first years of blogging, I wrote a lot about the Ricoh GRD4. A little normal, I used this camera for almost three years continuously. Since then I switched to the Ricoh GR which is the camera that I now use on the street. But I have the impression that my blog is still associated with the Ricoh GRD4. Many people end up on my site after having researched on google for infos concerning Ricoh GRD4. These are 2 or 3 year old blogposts. Recently a person called me on YouTube asking me if it was relevant to buy a Ricoh GRD4 today and what about color photography with this camera?



It is true that most of the photos I took with the Ricoh GRD4 are in Black & White. I kept writing that the Ricoh GRD4 was poor at high ISO. When we talk about APS-C sensors, it is quite common to go up to ISO 1600 while keeping a fairly good Image Quality (IQ). We are starting to see degradations at 3200 and 6400. Here with the GRD4’s small sensor, ISO 400 seems to me the limit not to go beyond. I have already used the camera above at 800 or even 1600 ISO, but these are really extreme cases and the Image Quality degrades quickly. Besides, very often when I went up this high, the photos were post-processed in Black & White to deal with problems like chromatic aberrations in color.



I will talk exclusively about color in this blog. I have long said that I was making Black & White with the Ricoh GRD4 because this camera was not cut for color. I must confess that I was not honest with you. It had nothing to do with the capabilities of the camera but just my preference for monochrome. I will try to re-establish certain truths with this Blog. The GRD4 makes very beautiful color photos … Finally up to ISO 400. Above is another story, but let me tell you that most of the time you will not exceed ISO 400, even when you are in poorly lit alleys. The only times I had to use sensitivities above ISO 400 were at concerts, in the metro or inside buildings. For street use, ISO 400 will be more than enough.



As you know, the Ricoh GRD4 has a small sensor. This small sensor has the advantage of offering you, with equivalent aperture, a greater depth of field compared to an APS-C sensor or a Full Frame sensor. For example, if you are at f11 on a Full Frame, you will have the same depth of field while being at f8 on an APS-C and wait for it, to f2.8 (!!!) on the GRD4 sensor ! You understand a little better why this camera is made for the street ! The ultimate Point & Shoot. As your diaphragm will always be open with the GRD4, you will still be able to use low ISO values for work. You can even use the f1.9 aperture without sacrificing the depth of field too much !



I use the Ricoh GRD4 as I used my Nikon FM2 analog camera. I have everything at my fingertips, the aperture setting and also the ISO setting. The camera is in Aperture mode (A mode) and I’m just careful that my speed is correct. I correct the ISO or the aperture accordingly. After many hours of practice, I know which settings to use depending on the light conditions. I am constantly adapting these parameters when I am on the street to have the lowest values in ISO and also the smallest aperture to have more depth of field. Some people might find it constraining, but personally, it kept me focused on the street.

I will show you through a few examples the color results of the capabilities of the Ricoh GRD4. These examples are quite relevant because I selected photos taken at different apertures, different ISO.


  • ISO 80


How many cameras can you shoot at ISO 80 ??? Not much to my knowledge. Well the Ricoh GRD4 lowers it to ISO 80. This image was taken at f8 and everything is in focus in the frame. No chromatic aberration to note. Even when enlarging the photo, there is no grain.



This photo was also taken at ISO 80, but at f4. You see that even by sacrificing the aperture, you still keep an insane depth of field. Again the Ricoh GRD4 is very good in color.



In this last example at ISO 80, you can see that the sky was overcast and the light conditions were far from ideal. I had to open at f2.8 to take this photo to keep a reasonable speed (1/400 s). Nothing to say also there color side with no chromatic aberrations. You can see that even if I use a large aperture, I still have a great depth of field.


  • ISO 100/200


Here at ISO 200, I was at f8. I could very well have sacrificed a bit of my aperture to be at ISO 80 or even 100, but frankly even at ISO 200, the Ricoh GRD4 behaves very well in terms of color rendering. And there too, no chromatic aberration.



Here, the light starting to miss, I had to open at f4 to keep a speed which allows me to freeze scenes. Besides, for this photo, as I was moving 1/400 s was not enough. I should have opened at f2.8. Even if there are a lot of dark elements in this photo, the Ricoh GRD4 is doing well.


On this example, I had to open at f2.8 to have 1/320 s. Which is not such a good speed on the street. I try as far as possible to be not far from 1/500 s to avoid any blurring of camera shake. There too, no chromatic aberrations at f2.8 and always a good depth of field.



  • ISO 400


This photo was taken at f8. You can see on the magnification on the right that we are starting to have chromatic aberrations. We reach the limit here and if we have to make prints above 20×30 (cm), these defects will be seen. Passing this photo in Black & White will of course solve this problem. This is why I think that you should not go above ISO 400 with the Ricoh GRD4 if you want to make color.


Here at f4, the Ricoh GRD4 is doing pretty well. We see a slight chromatic aberration on the side of the girl’s face, but it remains discreet. Clearly, I could have gone down to ISO because I was at 1/1000 s.



Here too we are starting to see chromatic aberrations at f2.8, but it is quite discreet and the photos are still usable.


  • ISO 800


Here at ISO 800, I am quite surprised by the quality of the photos. They clearly show grain (normal being at ISO 800), but the chromatic aberration is fairly well contained. I even have the impression that there are fewer than ISO 400! By cons we lose a lot of details compared to lower sensitivities. Clearly, I do not recommend going up to ISO 800. You will have a lot of trash at this sensitivity and like I said, you will lose a lot of details in the photo.

The Ricoh GRD4 is an excellent camera in Black & White, but it is also very good in color if you do not push too much on ISO. Up to ISO 200, it is very good. It’s still good at ISO 400. From ISO 800, it’s random. All the photos presented have an organic feel that reminds me of analog cameras. In comparison, the Ricoh GR has a more digital rendering. This is surely due to the fact that the Ricoh GRD4’s sensor is a CCD unlike the CMOS that equips most recent cameras. I hope I have corrected some things that I wrote on the GRD4. The Ricoh GRD4 is also very good in color.

Here are the photos which were taken with the Ricoh GRD4


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2 thoughts on “Ricoh GRD4 and color

  • John Harper

    That depth of field is incredible Jeff. Not only that there’s the colours. Every time I look through your work my Leica moves ever closer to EBay. Of course we know it’s not the camera, nor the form, it’s the content that really matters and that’s what you consistently create.

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      Writing this blog made me want to dust off my GRD4… You’re right about the incredible DoF of this camera. I think that once I will have time to go to Saint Denis, I will take my GRD4.
      Don’t sell your Leica. When your will settle down in Aix-en-Provence, you will need it. Ricoh has already documented those streets. Time for Leica to do the same! 😊