What to carry over, what to change
After the launch of the GR DIGITAL II as the successor to the GR DIGITAL on October 30, the immediate word on many blog sites was "I'd had been waiting!" That same day, at an event staged at the Yokohama Museum of Art (Kanagawa Prefecture) to mark the second anniversary of the GR DIGITAL's launch, the GR DIGITAL II was announced and a touch-and-try corner was packed with fans wanting to get their hands on it. Until now, it was rare that the popularity would continue for one particular model of compact digital camera. Two books have been published about the GR DIGITAL and SNS (web community) has been boiling nonstop for two years with GR DIGITAL features and expectations placed in a successor model.
"We worried endlessly while planning the successor model because of all the eagerness users showed in the GR DIGITAL," tells planning team member Hiroyuki Higuchi. "We looked at concepts again and again trying to decide what to carry over and what to change." Some days, they were hooked on the GR1 compact film camera. Higuchi says, "We looked back at the process of injecting user wishes without changing the GR1's form and evolving it into a GR1s or GR1v to enhance its completeness, and thought what GR meant in carrying over the GR DIGITAL."
Carrying over the camera as a "tool"
That turned out to be the "camera as a tool, which kept it popular for so long." "We felt we should enhance its completeness as a 'tool' for taking pictures without changing its concepts, by opting to inject desired user improvements over more novelty."
At a glance, the body looks the same as the GR DIGITAL. "Layout changes to accommodate a large LCD and a new flash open switch required a new mold for making the magnesium body. But, we did not dare change the exterior design," tells Higuchi. When we invest in a new mold, we normally have the option to change the design. Higuchi added, "Users didn't want those kind of changes. So, we realized that not changing it was a big feature."
Honoring user opinion
So, what gets changed? The planning team carefully analyzed opinions from thousands of professional cameramen and users. "Whatever amongst user demands could be addressed with the firmware was handled by updating the firmware, which we did several times. With the GR DIGITAL II, we added demands that firmware upgrades couldn't cover," said Higuchi. "The GR DIGITAL II offers mobility from the improved expressive power and snapshot performance from the GR DIGITAL."