Digital Cameras Guide
Ricoh has been talking about the Digital IV's hybrid auto-focus system which combines an external auto-focus with a conventional contrast auto-focus system. Ricoh boasts that the auto-focus speeds are nearly twice as fast as the GR Digital III, and while we can’t say for sure the speed improvements are exactly like Ricoh says, we did find the auto-focus on the Digital IV to be fast and accurate.
The AF system really shines in macro mode. We were astonished that the camera could focus at a distance of about 2 centimeters from the subject and that it managed to lock on to the subject quickly. The shallow depth-of-field that we got with an F-stop of 1.9 was impressive and we found ourselves taking more macro shots than we bargained for, some of which can be viewed in the sample pictures section.
Ricoh has included a Snap mode, which lets you focus at a preset distance so you can take pictures quickly without the camera constantly hunting for focus. You could set the preset distance at 1 meter and the camera will just focus at that distance, so it makes taking snapshots fast and easy. Manual photographers used to setting focus distances on their lenses will appreciate this digital equivalent.
In terms of resolution, the Digital IV gets a 1800 x 2000LPH (vertical and horizontal) on our charts, which is excellent. For noise control, unless you intend to pixel-peep, the Digital IV's noise performance is good. Noise starts appearing at ISO800 and while you could make do with ISO1600 when in a pinch, we're not sure why the option for ISO3200 is even there when it's very grainy and noisy. If you view the sample pictures in the next section, you will notice that the real world application of ISO1600 is still very much usable. The Digital IV shoots in RAW as well, something any serious photographer will appreciate.