The last time Ricoh updated its GR-series of fixed focal length compact cameras, it made big improvements to the cult street shooter including the use of a large DSLR-like APS-C sensor and a slightly bigger body. The firm obviously thinks it got something right back then, because it's just announced its successor, the GR II, and other than the addition of built-in Wi-Fi and a bigger buffer, not a lot seems to have changed.

The core specs of the Ricoh GR II remain the same as its predecessor and the camera pairs a 16-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor (23.7 x 15.7 mm) with a 18.3-mm F2.8 lens which gives a 28-mm equivalent. This combination, combined with discrete styling, makes the camera a high-quality but budget alternative to something like the Leica Q. The GR II also matches the GR from 2013 by using a GR ENGINE V processor and having and ISO range of 100 to 25,600.

Indeed, the main difference between the two cameras is the addition of built-in Wi-Fi and NFC which make it easier to share images from the camera and control it remotely. GR Remote is a new browser application which allows the transfer and browsing of images, along with remote shooting with live-view function and manual control settings. Meanwhile Image Sync, like that on Pentax DSLRs makes it easy to share images or transfer them to another device.

More minor improvements include an updated white-balance algorithm which is said to improve the precision of AWB (Auto White Balance) control, and the addition of six new effect modes. The GR II's built-in flash can also wirelessly trigger an external flash to discharge based on a TTL-metered exposure value. The camera can still shoot Full HD 1080p video at 30/25/24/ fps and a burst of stills at 4 fps, but a bigger buffer means it can do this for 10 RAW files, up from four.

While there are some other updates to the initial specs of the original GR, many of these were subsequently added to that camera in firmware updates including better autofocus speeds and crop modes to offer 35-mm and 47-mm equivalent. If you need to go wider, the 21-mm conversion lens from the GR is still compatible.

Physically you'd be hard pushed to tell the difference between the GR II and its predecessor, other than the info sticker on the bottom. However, as anyone who has used one will tell you, that's by no means a bad thing. The GR series, which is noted for being used by street photographer Daido Moriyama, has not changed dramatically since its introduction in 1996.

The GR II uses a magnesium alloy design, has plenty of physical access to manual controls and is designed for single-handed use, with the core shooting buttons on one side of the camera. While there's still no built-in viewfinder, the 3-inch rear LCD with 1230k dots remains, and optional optical viewfinders are available.

The Ricoh GR II will be available in July, priced at US$800.

Product page: Ricoh GR II

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