The Original Ricoh GR Digital: A Look Back

The Original 8.1mp Ricoh GR Digital Review

The Ricoh GR Digital was an 8.1 megapixel point and shoot camera released by Ricoh in 2005 in Japan.

In subsequent years, Ricoh released the GR Digital II, III, IV, and in 2013 they released their current 16mp GR with an APS-C sensor. Because of the similar naming scheme, the original GR Digital (aka “GRD” for short) is often confused with the current model when doing an internet search.

All the GR Digital cameras are the offsprings of the GR1, a high end point and shoot film camera from 1996 that was made famous by the street work of legendary Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama who used the GR series extensively.


The original 8.1mp Ricoh GR Digital. My favorite point and shoot camera of all time.

Let’s be clear: I am only referring to the first version, which is the 8.1 megapixel GR Digital.

This camera is perhaps my favorite point and shoot of all time, film or digital. It is in its basic form, it is a small sensor point and shoot with a fast and sharp 28mm f/2.4 lens. But to cut to the chase, its powers lie in its ability to produce “film-like” black and white images with a grit and grain that some say is similar to a Kodak Tri-X look.

In color, it’s really quite unspectacular, especially at higher iso’s. In color, it’s almost like any other average everyday point and shoot. But in b&w, the camera shines.


“Dreamscape” 2006. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, ISO 64.

While nothing could ever emulate real film, the GRD produces black and white images that I really love. It’s gritty, it’s raw, it’s real.

I have used the new 16mp GR and I STILL prefer the original GRD for black and white work. I mainly used it for street photography, but have done portraits with it too.


“A Rainy Night In The City” 2007. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, ISO 800.


“The Lady In Black” 2006. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp, ISO 200.

The original GRD, and indeed, the whole GR Digital series have a cult following that began with their film siblings. If looking for one of these, from what I can see, the GRDIII and GRDIV are most plentiful on the used market. The GRDII can also be found quite easily. They are all great, but lack the b&w charm of the original.

The original can still be found, but it is the oldest on the market and becoming scarce. It’s not so much that people are snapping them up, though that may also be the case. I actually think a lot of these cameras are no longer working or not working properly.

“Waiting For Food” 2014. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp. The menu looked good, but the wait at this Filipino restaurant on Roosevelt Ave in Queens, NY, took forever.

I’ve had two of them. The first one I got in 2006. I used it almost every day and wore it out. It developed a well-known problem where the “ADJ” or adjust toggle fails to work and freezes the camera. You need to open the battery compartment for a few seconds and close it to restart the camera.

The second one I got developed the same problem. I got around the problem by keeping the camera in b&w mode and keeping it at ISO 800 and not messing with anything else.


“Repent” 2008. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, ISO 800.

Additional issues include dust on the sensor, and slow write times in RAW. I don’t know how it got in there, but I once had a large piece of fuzzy “something” on the sensor of my first GRD 🙂


“The Slowest” 2007. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp, ISO 800. In a city of fast moving vehicles, I think I may have found the slowest 🙂

Anyway, these are things to be aware of should you be looking for one of these. Remember these are quite old by digital standards, but if you get a good working one, you’ve got something special. Prices are trending at $80-200 USD so I wouldn’t pay any more than that.

The original Ricoh GR Digital is unique and produces b&w digital files in-camera that I believe are still unmatched today. In my book, it’s a Camera Legend. If you find a good working copy, keep it!

Below are some additional images from the camera. Thanks for stopping by 🙂


“Eagles Over Elmhurst” 2008. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp, ISO 64.


“Grey Poupon” 2011. GR Digital 8.1mp, ISO 800.


“Plant City” 2008. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp, ISO 100. Please click on photo for a larger and better view.


“The Cart Lady” 2009. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp, ISO 800.


“Black Rain” 2007. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp, ISO 800.


“The Royal Flush” 2011. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp, ISO 800.


This camera was introduced in 2006 so it is no longer available new. You may try the usual route, ie, eBay, KEH, Craigslist, B&H and I have also seen them on Amazon while searching for Ricoh GRD as well as Adorama’s USED section.


While I don’t think many cameras can duplicate the b&w charm of the original GRD, you can get very good black and white images from any of the GRD’s predecessors. Of course, a Leica Monochrom if you have that kind of cash 🙂

You may want to try the Nikon V series cameras, such as the Nikon V1 I reviewed, which does excellent film-like color images or the latest Canon G series cameras such as the G9X or the ultra-slim G5X camera, a very cool looking camera!

I was impressed with the b&w images using the Grainy B&W effect on the Canon EOS-M I reviewed HERE.

Good luck and have fun with whatever camera you get! 🙂

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62 thoughts on “The Original Ricoh GR Digital: A Look Back

      1. Thanks Guilhem! As I mentioned in the article, it’s easy to mistake the old GR Digital for the new GR because of the naming, so don’t worry about it. I love your work with the GR! Thanks for your comments, appreciate it! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there, sure…I have the GRD set to fine or “F” quality jpeg, have the camera set to “B&W” and use either ISO 400 or 800. For low light shots, I keep the lens at f/2.4 and for daylight, I usually stay at f/5 or f/5.6. Generally, the images come out fine this way, but there are times when I want to fine tune the images so I will do some extra work in post-processing. I hope this helps. Thanks for your comments and for checking out the article!


    1. No problem. I always keep the camera in “A” Aperture Priority mode because most of the time, I shoot it wide open at f/2.4. I never used the snap mode. It’s great if you want to get the shot quick and have a set distance you want to shoot at. For me, I’m looking for anything interesting, could be far, could be close. I want to know what I focused on. Plus with the small sensor on the GRD, chances are your shots will sharp to infinity anyway regardless of aperture, unless you get in close. I also use “Spot AF” where the camera uses only the center spot for focus. I then use the old fashioned method of focus via spot af and recompose. It seems to focus faster for me this way. Hope this helps and please post some results when you have them!


  1. Thanks a lot for your quick response. And all the great tips. I just posted my first GR D I photo on my Instagram account where you and I are already connected 🙂 It is called “sharing the umbrella” 😉


    1. Can you send me the link to your Instagram page? I can’t seem to find you looking though my connections list. Maybe it’s my eyes from a long night…Thanks 🙂


    1. Saw it, thanks. Fantastic! Everything I loved about the GRD is in your pic. That b&w “look” that’s hard to emulate with any other camera and you did it, Congrats man, you’re on your way to being a GRD I fantatic! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Steff, no problem, it makes me happy to know I helped someone to enjoy this digital classic as much as I do. Best thing is you can carry it with you all the time, and come back at the end of the day knowing you got some awesome shots with that unique GRD look! I’ll be looking out for your latest shots. See you on Instagram! Thanks again you made my day 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Theo, thanks for the kind words. As a camera geek, I have indeed used the GX100! I even had the add on viewfinder for it. It’s a nice little camera, but I have to say it does not produce images anywhere near as nice as the GRD or any of the GRD series.

      I was in fact quite disappointed with its performance. Primarily, the images were noisy and not anywhere as crisp as the GRD.

      I played with the settings to match the GRD and that helped a little. To get the best out of the GX100, you really need to shoot low iso and in good light. The highlights also clip quite easily, so be careful with exposure.

      I read a lot of good things about the GX100 before I got one, but as they say, first hand experience will tell you all you need to know. If you get one at a good price, it might be worth it as a camera to play around with. You have to work harder to get a good image out of it, as opposed to the GRD. Once in a blue moon, I get a real nice shot out of it and I say WOW, but it’s not consistent. I have NOT used the GX200 and I think it’s because of my disappointment with the GX100 that I never even considered that camera.

      I hope this helps. If you end up getting one, let us know! Who knows, your experience with the camera might be different from mine altogether and I would love to hear about it!

      Best Regards,


  3. Hi Sam ,Thanks for reply ,i had a chance to buy gx100 in good condition but i think i will buy current Gr camera it seems to get rave reviews ,its main use will be b&w street raw.
    Any advice on camera with best b&w jpegs for street with film look ,post work is sometimes a pain !

    Kind Regards


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Theo, thanks for the update. Good idea to pass up on the GX100 and get the GR!

      The GR is a phenomenal camera, arguably the best of the whole series.

      I am currently using one, but much prefer it for color work where it is superb.

      Out of camera black and whites are a bit too “clean” for my liking, but that is a matter of personal tastes.

      I still prefer the original 8.1mp GRD’s out of camera b&w’s. The new GR is less “gritty” due to a sensor many generations ahead of the old GRD. However, for me, sometimes newer isn’t always better.

      The newer GR has some built in b&w effects such as “high-contrast b&w” that produces a dramatic look, but the look seems a bit overdone compared to the old GRD which does it “naturally” due to an old, gritty sensor.

      All that said, I think the 16mp GR is a much better camera in so many ways. I am still experimenting with the best settings to get a b&w conversion out of it that will be similar to the original GRD. I haven’t found that combination yet, but soon as I do, I will post it, perhaps in a review of the 16mp GR.

      Thanks very kindly for your comments and continuing to visit the blog, I appreciate it!

      Best Regards,


      1. Hi Sam ,
        Have you ever tried the ricoh gxr ? I know its not really a compact but good reviews for this now old system ,i was interested to find out how the s10 zoom 24-72 with ccd 1.7 sensor would do for b&w ! I cant seem to find much info on that lens as regards to noise/grit for mono .This is the only lens in the gxr series of lenses that has a small sensor but im not sure of in camera noise reduction at higher iso ,any thoughts appreciated .




      2. Hi Theo, I have used the GXR and I loved it! However, I used it mostly with the A12 Leica M module, where I used legacy Leica and Voigtlander lenses with it. The only AF lens I used with the GXR was the P10, which is a 28-300mm sensor, also 1/1.7 as the S10.

        The GXR produced excellent to superb results with the Leica/Voigtlander lenses once I got the focus down.

        With the P10, it also produced excellent results, especially if you consider that the P10 essentially turns the camera into a point and shoot.

        I think the black and whites were good though I don’t remember being “WOW’d” by them. I’m going to see my friend who has this camera now. Perhaps I can pop off a few shots in b&w and I’ll report back to you in a reply here.

        The GXR is quite a unique system and incredibly cheap right now. If you find one at a good price, I would seriously consider it if I were you. It is a much better alternative to the GX100!

        Best Regards,


      3. Hi Sam ,

        Thanks a lot for all great info ,I suppose what I would like to know is if the small sensor in the s10 gxr zoom would give me grainy film like b& w , I understand it just makes the gxr a ps camera but it is the grainy look I’m trying to get ,or any other camera you’d recommend not necessarily Ricoh ….?
        I also have dp2x and dp1x sigmas which give super res but film like shots in a different way any thoughts on those sigma dp1/2 x not the merrils .



        Liked by 1 person

      4. Hi Theo, I have used the DP1 and DP2 as well. Just like you, I do think these cameras can produce film-like black and whites as well, but with smoother tonality and not quite as gritty as the GRD.

        My main issues with the Sigmas are…Slow focus, and slow processing. You probably know what I’m talking about since you have those cameras.

        The black and whites at low iso’s are impressive though, and I’d use the Sigmas if I were to make some kind of ‘artistic’ b&w or ‘exhibition quality’ b&w portraits.

        The kind of shots where you can take your time to make everything right.

        The GRD is purely for ‘grit’ which works well for street and documentary work, plus it snaps into focus much faster than the Sigmas.

        All excellent cameras, but horses for different courses 🙂

        While not a point and shoot, I always loved the Epson R-D1 and the Leica M8, both shoot wonderful b&w images.

        I’m playing with the GXR and P10 tomorrow and will see if I can recreate the grit of the original GRD. Will report back when I get the results!

        Thanks again for stopping by Theo, and have a good day.

        Best Regards,


      5. Hi Theo, as an update I tried the GXR with the P10 module again over the weekend. It does a great job in good light and in color. Black and whites are ok, I’m not sure I would call them “film-like” though. The main problem…that zoom is nowhere near as good as the prime on the GRD. The magic of the original GRD’s b&w comes from the grainy sensor plus a sharp prime lens. So I would not say the GXR with a 1/1.7 sensor could match the GRD, but it is a much more flexible system. Hope this helps. Best Regards, Sam


  4. Hi Sam, Yes i agree on the gr with large sensor being to clean for b&w ,I will look for ccd sensor camera usually better for film/grainy look .I have an old fuji f810 but want to get something more reliable as its getting old and cranky !!

    Kind Regards


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sam ,thanks for your observations on the gxr ,yes primes are the way to go with this camera it seems ,i m still considering gxr or maybe sony a6000 ,friend has nex 7 and its nice ……too many cameras to choose from ,seems a new one every day huh 🙂 the search continues ! keep up great work !



      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Theo
    be patient if I use the comment space for a personal message… I only want to tell you: I wronte time ago, cause I have a Ricoh GR 8.1 (before I hade a film Ricoh GRv – very beautiful…). I don’t like this GR 8.1 mp because it is impossible having raw files (too slow system) and, I agree with you, for b&w it is interesting, but I like shooting in colour and it is bad. I know that this is not a marketplace! but if you want to put me in concact with Theo maybe I can sell my GR to him and buy something different… Best, Lorenza

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lorenza, thanks for your comments. I agree with you. As mentioned in the article, the GRD 8.1mp is not great at color. The RAW writing speed is horrible and I never use it. I only use this camera for “gritty” b&w images and use jpeg for that. I’ll leave your comment up, maybe Theo will see it and contact you himself should he want to buy your camera. Best Regards, Sam


    2. hi Lorenza,
      Yes I know its bad for colour sure but I want a camera for just b&w and probally only jpeg most of the time .Yes I would be interested in buying yours if condition and price is right ,let me have your email address and i will get back thx


      1. Hi Theo, ok, I’ve got your mail and’ll send you photos of the camera and the accessories and price – I get in touch in the evening or at least tomorrow
        that’s ok


  6. Hi Sam,

    I just bought the Ricoh GR digital (and yes your article did play a part in my decision). I hope you are still using yours and maybe you can give me some suggestions/tips for the following 2 questions.

    1/ i like to buy 2/3 extra batteries which battery would you recommend

    2/ planning to buy “wifi” enabled sd card, which one does the trick (just from the Ricoh to my iphone or android phone.

    Hope you can help out,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Barry, thank you for checking out the article and I’m glad it helped you pick up one of these gems! I still love the GRD and use it all the time. I’m planning another posting of recent shots with the camera.

      The original GRD uses a DB-60 battery. Original ones might be hard to find now, and may not have a good charge. Fortunately you can find third party clones of this battery very easily. I will leave a link at the end of this message.

      As for the SD card, I am not sure a WIFI card will work on this camera. Please keep in mind the original GRD can only take 2gb SD cards. Any card larger than that, it will reject.

      I believe there is a 2gb WIFI card but it cost more than the camera is worth. If you buy it and it doesn’t work then you’ll be out $75. I do understand what you want to do with it and the phones, it would make life easier.

      However, I would just stick with a cheap 2gb card if I were you, even if you have to deal with the hassles of downloading the pics the ‘normal’ way through a card reader.

      Here’s the link for the batteries. I hope this helps and if you got some pics, please update us! Thanks again and I hope you enjoy the GRD as I do!


    2. By the way, Barry, I love to see images from the original GRD so if we post them somewhere, please link us so our readers can see them too. Thanks!


  7. Hi Sam,

    Thanks for your quick reply, i bought the Ricoh grd yesterday for $110 (incl. GH-1 + hood + GW-3? lens). Got a bit of GAS fever last month, i guess 😉

    Didn’t realise the max. 2gb sdcard restriction, thanks for pointing that out.

    Stories about “3rd party batteries exploding” scare me a bit. I found some for $7 here in the netherlands. But i think i opt voor the original DB-60. Just heard about a cam store selling them for 20euro, hope the batteries are the original oem version.

    A 3rd/4th question i have about the image settings, so i am avoiding raw. But what is the difference when using jpeg:
    f 3:2 f 3264 vs n3:2 n 3264

    and i like to print from the jpeg ( i know raw would be better) which jpeg setting should i choose?

    Looking forward to your latest shoots taken with the GRD

    And yes as soon as i have photos to share i will definitly keep you informed


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Barry, cool you were able to get the battery. But the coolest thing you got…the GW-3!! I have it too and I love the results from the wide angle. It’s like having a digital GR-21, the 21mm expensive film camera from Ricoh. You’re going to have a blast with that setup!

      I never use RAW either on this camera, it’s too slow for that. Besides the charm of this camera is the ‘grit’ from the jpegs.

      The settings basically mean 3:2 aspect ratio, which has impact on composition. Here’s a good link

      The F stands for “Fine” which is highest quality and N for “Normal” which can be used when you need more space on the card. I generally use F, but have used N as well. Sometimes you see a difference and sometimes you don’t so if storage space is an issue, I wouldn’t feel bad if I had to use N.

      I have printed up to 13×19 from the GRD and that have a wonderful film-like look to the image that’s quite impressive. 8×10 black and whites look perfect.

      Once you master this camera, it is a joy to use and a unique addition to your camera arsenal. Enjoy it! Hope this helps.


      Liked by 1 person

  8. I doubled checked and i got the GW-1 not the newer GW-3 😉

    Last question (………for this week)…….how can i quick switch between presets? Walked around with the cam yesterday and when the power goes off the setting are set to the default. And notice i can preset a setting 1 and setting 2, but how can i quickly switch between the two?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe there should be an option for the camera not to reset itself. I haven’t used the GRD in a few weeks with all the other stuff I’m testing, so I will take some time and look into this and come back with some answers for you. Hang tight! You may get the answers before I do, but that can only be a good thing 🙂


    2. By the way, the GW-1 should be the right one of you got the GRD 8.1mp. I think the GW-3 is for the newer 16mp GR. I don’t think these add on lenses will be swappable, i.e., GW-1 only for GRD I & II, GW-3 only for new GR. Hope that helps.


    3. Hi Keitai, back as promised. To make sure your settings don’t reset when the camera powers down, you need to make sure you “register” them (On the camera setup menu it should be “1. REG. MY SETTINGS”). Next scroll down to “2. START SETTINGS” and choose the one you want to use at the moment. Also make sure you’re not in a green “program” mode. To quickly change between setting 1 and setting 2, press the menu/ok button and go to “Setup.” Scroll down (you have to go down a long list) until you get to “ADJ BTN. SET. 1” you have six options for “ADJ BTN. SET.” Choose any one and scroll down to “IMG SET.” Once you do this, you can access the “Settings” from the ADJ button. Push the ADJ button, then go to your far right using the right arrow near the “MENU/OK” button. Scroll down until you see “Settings 1” and “Settings 2.” Hope this helps. Best Regards, Sam


  9. Really appreciate it, going to play around with the setting 1 and 2. Didn’t see the
    . “To quickly change between setting 1 and setting 2” going to try your suggestion

    I am getting in love with this camera 😉

    Happy shooting

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No problem Keitai, hard not to fall in love with this little charmer! Thank you for checking out the site, and welcome to the “exclusive” Ricoh original GRD Club. Years from now, it’s people like us who will make the GRD a Camera Legend! Best Regards, Sam


      1. Hello Sam,

        Hope your fine and still shooting. I follow you on instagram and your camera addiction isn’t over ;).
        Anyway, I like to pick your brain about the Ricoh grd’s. I am quit happy with my 8.1mb one, but I notice the last 3 months the original Ricoh gr digital isn’t being offered anymore on the secondhand market here in the Netherlands.
        So I am looking at some other options (only Ricoh GRD’s so far, as I like the simple one hand control/snapshot/compact). Planning to use the Ricoh only in B/W mode. The only Ricoh GRD I would use in color mode would be the last one, I think.

        My questions:
        How do you rank the Ricoh GRD’s when using only in B/W mode?

        Which film camera would you recommend, based on simple control/compact/affordable (<$200 so no contax, leica) only for b/w??

        Thank you and kind regards,

        btw: my insta @verhalenaandeamstel

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Keitai, thanks for following me on Instagram, and indeed, I’m not done with my gear addiction yet 🙂

        The GRD 8.1mps B&W are tops in my book, but it needs to be taken into context. For example, the Leica MM is supposedly the BEST b&w digital camera there is. However, when I look at the files, while lovely, I would say “expensive grit.” On the GRD you have what I can “true grit” from an “everyday man’s” camera that doesn’t cost thousands of dollars 🙂

        If seeking digital alternatives, the GRD III or IV puts out very nice b&w as well, sharp, contrasty detailed, but as I said, the still lack the grit of the original GRD. But they are not bad at all, you just have to realize they will not put out the same GRD files you know from the 8.1mp version. They do put out very good black and whites, but different.

        For film, short of a GR-1 film camera which would be your best bet, then I would check if you could find a Ricoh GR10 which has the same lens as GR1 but lacks user input. It’s a straight up auto matic camera. Unless you’re shooting portraits, you should have images almost indistinguishable from the GR-1.

        As for film, I use Tri-X for the classical look, plus it’s very easy to develop in almost all developers. Ilford FP4 is also a very nice film, deep blacks and great tones. Only problem may be that it’s ISO 125 so if you’re shooting in daylight it’s fine.

        One last option, would be the Minolta AF-C compact from the 1980s. It’s very cheap on eBay, portable, and has a great lens. Let me know what you end up with, and thanks always for visiting these pages.

        Unlike other bloggers, I don’t make a ton of money from this so I blog from the heart, try to give people useful and interesting things, which is why I do not blog every day. Thanks again and have a good day my friend!

        Best Regards,


  10. Great article – I still have my original GR DIgital . I’ve dropped/broken it twice and it ‘stuck’ once, but Ricoh repaired it at minimal cost. Best street camera I’ve ever had. I use it in snap mode for close-up portraits. Most people don’t even realise they’ve had their picture take.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Anindam, I generally shoot jpegs on the old GRD not only because it’s very slow to process RAW files, but also because I am using higher iso’s like 800 or 1600 and I want the “grain” and grit in b&w files. That said, if you have the time, the GRD produces superb RAW files at low iso settings, especially iso 64. Hope this helps.


  11. I bought one in 2006 and used an abused it as my only camera until it got lots of dust on the sensor and the rear control wheel stopped working reliably. in 2010 I sent it to the Ricoh repair facility in Germany and they basically rebuilt it for me (cleaned sensor, new lens, new control wheels cost €100). I don’t suppose they have the parts to do that anymore 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As fr as I know Rioch will no longer service these cameras. Ten years seems to be the limit on which companies may pledge repair and parts availability, so your best bet is to try and find another working copy. They are still around, but the reliability might be an issue. Glad to see another Ricoh GRD 8.1mp shooter, and thanks for your comments! 🙂


    1. I totally agree with you! I was a little bit hard on the color images on the GRD1 in my review, but that’s only because the b&w is so striking that I felt people would not notice the magic in its color images if they compare it to the b&w. But you’re right, the GRD1 has some really deep rich colors, especially at low ISO’s and I probably should have played up its color strength a little more in the review. Thanks for your comments, appreciate it!


      1. Awesome shot and collection of images! I checked your Flickr stream. Great work my friend, your talent brings out the best from the GRD and I mean that! Thanks for your kind words on the blog, appreciate it!


  12. Excellent blog and review of this classic camera. I picked mine up around eight years ago from eBay for around £50. I was still focused on shooting film (compact cameras with fast prime lenses such as the Leica Mini II and Olympus’s MJU II and Trip 35) so it was unused until fairly recently. Now I have rekindled my photography passion and the GRD 1 produces those incredible B&W film-esque images I desire. An incredible camera and one I am reluctant to replace. I am keeping my eye out for a GR II but I will never sell the GRD 1.


    Liked by 1 person

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