On first viewing, the GR Digital looks unremarkable. It is an inconspicuous matt black slab, very flat and square in shape, with the lens retracted almost flush with the body. It is a very slim camera, just 25mm thick, and can easily fit into a pocket. The various accessories in the Creative Set fit into a small bag (supplied) and are also pocketable. The camera is very solidly built and feels quite heavy for its size. It has a magnesium alloy body with a tough scratch-resistant finish that can easily survive a few knocks. The GR film cameras were very popular as travel cameras for this very reason.
As soon as you pick it up you can start to feel the quality. It has a nice rubberised finger grip on the right that wraps around the body of the camera to a raised thumb grip on the back, and feels exceptionally comfortable in the hand. The controls are very well laid out and fall neatly under the thumb and forefinger.
The big 2.5in LCD monitor has a resolution of 210,000 pixels, making it one of the sharpest around, and has a low-reflection coating and adjustable brightness setting, which would have been very helpful if it hadn’t been grey and cloudy all week.
A great deal of attention has been paid to the design of the control system, resulting in one of the nicest interfaces that I’ve ever used on a digital camera. It has most of the standard features, including macro mode, 10sec/2sec timer and five flash modes that are controlled via either separate buttons or the D-pad. It also has a very comprehensive multi-page menu system, but it is the brilliantly implemented quick shooting menu that provides the total photographic control and makes the GR Digital a real pleasure to use.
Like many top-end SLR cameras it uses a dual control wheel system. Pressing down on the Adjust wheel brings up and selects between four on-screen menus, which you then scroll through using the front wheel. Two choices on the menu can be pre-set by the user, with options including ISO, white balance, focus mode, metering mode, picture quality, drive mode, auto bracketing, and sound recording. With practice it is possible change most major settings in just a couple of seconds.
The two control wheels are also used to adjust exposure in the manual an aperture priority modes, which is a lot quicker and more intuitive than most of the D-Pad based adjustment systems found on other high-end compacts. The other useful control is the rocker switch which is in the place usually reserved for the zoom control. This adjusts exposure compensation, and is also used for manual focus duties.