Dec 172013
 

An Autumn tour in Northern Xinjiang with my Leica M9P, Leica MP and Ricoh GR

by Wilson Chong

For the Han Chinese, Xinjiang used to be called the Western Frontier during the Han Dynasty. It was not until the Qing Dynasty (Manchu) renamed it as Xinjiang (the new frontier). Xinjiang has been and always will be a place where travellers is no stranger to it. One of the most famous traveller of course is Marco Polo.

Xinjiang is a muslim country, the chineswe called it Hujiang, which means Muslim Frontier. Although Uyghur is the majority nationality in the region, the second biggest ethinic group is Han, then Kazahj in the third place and to my surprise the Mongols is not even in the top five.

Northern Xinjiang are mostly populated by Kazakh and they are descendants of the Turkic tribes. Of course you will hear the occasional bombings and sometimes incidents happened, these are mostly concentrated in Southern Xinjiang in the Uighurs region. During my experience this September 2013, I see no troubles in Northern Xinjiang. Although in Urumqi, you will see highten security forces on the streets, there is no much signs of troubles. The security in the hotels are very strict and I would say I don’t feel I was in any danger while I was there even when I walk around in the city during the day. People are very friendly no matter what nationality. However, one word of warning, there are plenty of pickpockets and watch out your travel documents and money.

Urumqi City Skyline - Ricoh GR

PHOTO 1 - Ricoh GR

I joined a tour group which specialised in photo trips in Hong Kong for 13 days. One of the highlight of this tour was house riding 8 hours from Kanas Lake District to the infamous Hemu Village, where it was the old horse route to the village. Also, we got to go to Baihaba, but be warned again, since the village is next to the border of Kazakhstan (well, it is literally next to the border together with the Chinese Army barracks – of course we are not allowed to film or even pointing our camera towards it), foreigners are prohibited to visit. However, two of my friends were able to get it but again this was no guarantee as there were check points.

Horse riding into Hemu Village, Xinjiang - Ricoh GR

PHOTO 2 - Ricoh GR

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Kanas Lake District - Ricoh GR

PHOTO 3 - Ricoh GR

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Baihaba Village, Xinjiang - Ricoh GR

PHOTO 4 - Ricoh GR

Since there was no direct flight from Hong Kong, we went to Shenzhen airport and fly six hours to Urumqi. We only stayed for a day on arrival and one day before we return to Hong Kong. However, if you have more time, I would highly recommend you to explore this city more. This is also where we can stay in a five starts hotel. When we go up North, expect camp style accommodation but is clean and usable. However, the scenery is worth every money and your effort. I would say, it is a trip of a life time.

Lamb Skew – food is no problem while you are there.. - Ricoh GR

PHOTO 5 - Ricoh GR

During this trip, I had a hard time deciding what gear to bring. Should I bring my M Monochrom? However, thinking of the beautiful scenery, I decide to bring my Leica M9P, which I can always convert them into B&W after I return. Then I must bring second camera, The Ricoh GR was a strong candidate because it is compact, the 28mm is ideal for landscape as well as Street Photography, the APSC sensor would give a decent pixel to take quality image. More importantly, I would able to use the Ricoh GR in Urumqi or in situation where I need to be discreet. Bearing in mind it is a Muslim area and I don’t want to offend – However, I was proved wrong, people are nice and will to take photos but of course, the Ricoh GR is quick to use and fast that I won’t regret that I miss any photo opportunity. On an epic trip, I cannot hold back in bring my Leica MP. Why? I like films and during my father’s day, they do it with film and after such a trip, you skills will improve because of the pressure on you that there is no second chance. The film I choice was Fujifilm Fujichrome Velvia 100 taking into account I have to go through custom (ISO below 400?) and I will be shooting mostly in a bright daylight (keeping my figures cross that there will be no rain). So, I packed 40 rolls. Thanks to Japan Camera Hunter Film Case, I save a lot of trouble packing into my backpack.

There will be others trying to get the same shot… - Ricoh GR

PHOTO 6 - Ricoh GR

If you want more of the Xinjiang Photos, please visit my flickr page at:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wilson888/

Here are some of the amazing landscape in Northern Xinjiang:

 

Hemu Village

 

Sunset at Hemu Village - 135mm f2.8 Elmarit-M + M9P

PHOTO 7 - Leica M9P

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Hemu Village during the day - 21mm f/3.4 Super Elmar-M ASPH + M9P

PHOTO 8 - Leica M9P -

This is also where they filmed “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”. Leica-M Summilux 35mm f1.4 ASPH II + MP

Fujichrome Velvia 100

PHOTO 9 - Leica M9P

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WoLong Bay, Kanas Lake District - Ricoh GR

PHOTO 10 - Ricoh GR

People in Norther Xinjiang 

Lamb Skewers are more than 7 Eleven… - Leica-M Summilux 35mm f1.4 ASPH II + MP

Fujichrome Velvia 100

PHOTO 10 - Leica MP

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They used to ride horses… now the Iron Horses, what they say now. - Leica-M Summilux 35mm f1.4 ASPH II + MP

Fujichrome Velvia 100

PHOTO 11 - Leica MP

Anyway, I would thank you Steve for posting my submission and wish you all the best! Looking forward to your reviews, reports and thoughts on photography!

Best regards,

Wilson Chong

Nov 082013
 

The Three Amigos in the Streets of New York:

Ricoh GR, Sony Rx1, Nikon V1 and 32mm Lens

By Joe Marquez – His website can be seen HERE

On a recent trip to New York, I took the Ricoh GR, Sony Rx1 and Nikon V1 (and 32mm lens) to do a little street photography on the side. The Ricoh GR is the smallest aps-c camera, the Sony RX1 is the smallest full frame camera and the Nikon V1 is most likely the fastest focusing mirrorless camera in the world. Walked around New York in my spare time carrying these three little cameras in a very nice ONA Bowery bag.

Here are my brief thoughts working with each of the cameras and I’ve included a plethora of images for your review.

ricohGR

Ricoh GR

The diminutive Ricoh GR has the full frame equivalent of a 28mm f/2.8 lens and is widely touted as one of the best street cameras available. I consider its 16.2 MP aps-c sensor a sweet spot for street work. I’ve owned this camera for about a month and it took a few days to get comfortable with the menu system and features. I still have much to learn yet I was able to use the Ricoh effectively on the street.

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For the most part, I set the camera on TAv mode (manual setting of aperture and shutter speed and auto iso) and adjusted aperture and shutter speed as necessary. Very easy, intuitive and important because light in New York City changes often and significantly due to buildings, open avenues, cloud cover and more. I did blow out a couple of shots when I forgot to adjust shutter speed. However, other than my miscues, the camera seemed to consistently nail exposure.

Another feature I enjoyed was every time the camera turned on it would display the function buttons and the assigned customization. Such a small feature but so nice for a Ricoh novice such as myself. And of course the exposure compensation toggle was easily adjustable with my thumb and I used it with no problem.

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I really enjoyed the focusing options on the Ricoh – perhaps its strength. Primarily, I used snap focus between one to two meters but would often override by using the autofocus button. In general I stopped down as much as possible to maximize the DOF however there were situations when I had to shoot wide open at f/2.8.

Image quality from the Ricoh was outstanding. Colors looked accurate, black and white conversions were excellent and there’s plenty of detail in the 16.2 MP aps-c sensor.

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Oh and I really liked the small size of the Ricoh. One day while shooting the New York Halloween Parade (with a Nikon DSLR – my El Guapo) I carried the Ricoh in my pant pocket and used it for a few wide angle shots. Worked like a charm. Also, the camera is so small and discrete people pretty much ignored my picture taking. Thanks Ricoh for keeping the camera so nondescript. Well done.

Overall, the Ricoh was the smallest and most discrete of the three, but simply worked great – the Martin Short of the Three Amigos.

——-

sony-rx1-leak-1

Sony Rx1

The Sony Rx1 with the 35mm f/2 Zeiss lens is a superb camera and produces amazing images with its 24.3 MP full frame sensor. However, the Sony would be such a great street camera if it simply added a snap focus feature or would not revert to infinity every time the camera slept or was turned off. Of course shooting at f/8 or f/11 alleviates much of the focusing issues, but my intent was to shoot the Sony wide open to get that shallow DOF for a completely different street look than the Ricoh.

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To give me the focusing flexibility I assigned the C button to AF/MF Control Toggle and the AEL button to AF/MF Control Hold. This allowed me to alternate between autofocus and zone focusing. More often than not I would focus to a particular point by holding down the customized AEL button, then release to lock in the distance. This required some extra effort but worked reasonably well. I probably looked silly randomly aiming the camera at different things in different directions to get the zone focusing distance I wanted. And of course every time the RX1 went to sleep the distance would revert to infinity. Ugh.

Overall I was willing to sacrifice the percentage of keepers to get that shallow DOF and lovely out-of-focus rendering from the Sony – so most of my shots were taken at f/2. Occasionally a scene required a greater DOF and it was a treat to hear and feel those 1/3 incremental soft clicks when I turned the aperture ring. Sweet camera this RX1.

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I shot in manual mode (mostly f/2) and auto iso and adjusted shutter speed depending on light. The exposure compensation dial is readily accessible and allowed me to quickly tweak if needed.

Image quality was superb as one would expect from this camera and the shallow DOF shots were just what I wanted.

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If the Ricoh GR is Martin Short, the Sony Rx1 is Steve Martin – the most successful of the Three Amigos.

———-

 v1

Nikon V1 and 32mm Lens

That leaves Chevy Chase. I only took one lens with the Nikon V1 and that is the 32mm f/1.2. This gave me the equivalent of an 86mm super fast lens on a fast focusing camera – all in a package similar in size and weight to the RX1.

As you may be aware I am a fan of Nikon’s 1 System, primarily because it is the fastest focusing mirrorless system available. And despite the small CX sensor, the camera delivers more than adequate image quality for my street photography. Add the 32mm lens to the V1 and now I had a crazy quick rig and an entirely different look than the Ricoh and Sony.

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In many ways the Nikon is the easiest to shoot because it has the fewest bells and whistles. I set the camera to manual or aperture priority and auto iso. I love shooting at f/1.2 and the greater DOF with the small sensor hides many focusing errors. Focus is set to auto-area, face-priority AF is activated and I simply let the camera rip with its silent electronic shutter that reaches speeds of 1/16,000 sec. So different than the Ricoh and Sony.

Autofocusing is fast, accurate and tracks very well – although not perfectly. If someone walked toward me I raised the Nikon and pressed the shutter. Most of the time the camera found a focus point quickly, but occasionally it hunted before finding a subject or face. Sometimes it missed focus entirely, then latched on in the second or third shot of a continuous sequence.

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The Nikon was so fast I was able to get a considerable number of in-focus shots out the window of a fast moving New York taxi. It could see it trying to lock onto people’s faces standing or walking near an intersection. Incredible little camera and the 32 is just plain special IMHO.

Image quality may be the worse of the three cameras but is perfectly adequate. The metering system is top notch and the small 10 MP files convert beautifully to black and white. The out-of-focus rendering of the 32mm lens is a pleasant surprise and of the three cameras it produced subject isolation the best.

The Nikon with the 32 is larger than the Ricoh, but because of the longer focal length I was able to get some nice close-ups without being intrusive. People in the street generally ignored my shooting with the Nikon and 32 and I believe I was able to get the most natural looking candids of the three.

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Overall the Nikon did a great job on the street and I probably ended up with more keepers than with the Ricoh or Sony. I suspect this may change over time as I become more familiar with the Ricoh GR.

So the Nikon 1 system may not have the image quality of the Ricoh or Sony, but the one strength it has – incredible autofocusing – when coupled with the fast 32mm prime lens makes for a beautifully efficient street rig.

Final Thoughts

You may wonder why I took three cameras and didn’t just use the Nikon V1 and an all-in-one zoom lens (10-30mm) or a couple of primes (10/2.8 and 18.5/1.8). Well, the zoom lens is too slow and even with the 1 System primes, I really wanted a variety of looks and the image quality of the Ricoh GR and Sony Rx1.

I’m not a pixel peeper when it comes to image quality. In particular, street photography is less about image quality and much more about the moment and composition – and of course getting the subject in focus. But all else being equal it’s nice to have that little extra image quality or slightly different look if possible – and he Ricoh and Sony delivered.

Overall, the Ricoh GR is small, discrete and simply made for street photography. The Sony Rx1 is a bit temperamental as a street camera, but the images are so lovely and worth the extra effort. The Nikon V1 and 32mm lens kept producing surprisingly strong street images with the least amount of work.

Why else take all three? Kind of cool being on the streets of New York with the smallest aps-c, smallest full frame and fastest focusing mirrorless cameras in the world – and shooting like the wind. Cough.

 

Jul 292013
 

User Report – The Ricoh GR

By Marc Gabor

A Little History

The GRD is the latest version of Ricoh’s famed GR line of compact cameras. Ricoh first introduced the GR1 in 1996 followed by various revisions including an incredible super-wide angle version, the GR21. These 35mm point and shoot cameras sported fast, sharp 28mm lenses, a slim pocketable body, exposure compensation, selectable aperture and the unique ‘Snap Focus’ feature (more on this later), making them a popular choice for photographers requiring the convenience of a compact camera with the results of an SLR. Among street photographers and point and shoot enthusiasts they have a cult like status for being discreet, fast and producing excellent results

In 2005, Ricoh introduced the first GR digital followed by the GRdII, GRdIII and GRdIV. These cameras retained the key features that made their film counterparts so popular but with the convenience of the digital format. The minimalist styling, intuitive layout and manual controls set them apart from other digital compacts and made them appealing to more serious photographers.

While these were great compact cameras, they were not a substitute for the original 35mm film versions due to the large depth of field of a 1/1.7-inch CCD sensor and 3:4 aspect (instead of the 2:3 ratio of 35mm). The small sensors were capable of producing great images but could not match the resolution of larger sensor cameras.

2013 Ricoh GR

For the latest GR, Ricoh has kept up with the times fitting a large, 16.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor in a body that is only slightly larger than the previous versions. In my mind this brings the camera closer to the original concept because we now have a sensor with the performance of a DSLR in a compact body. Without going over all the specifications I will point out the biggest improvements over the GRd IV.

Increased resolution and dynamic range

Better low light performance

More control over depth of field

2:3 aspect ratio

1080p video

The GR In use

I’ll say this first: if you know what to expect (fixed 28mm, no viewfinder) then I can’t think of anything to dislike about this camera. Sure, if it had a f/1.9 lens, full frame 36mp sensor, a viewfinder, super long batter life, weather sealing, or whatever other features you might want that would be awesome but then it wouldn’t be affordable and it wouldn’t fit in your pocket. Product design is all about compromises and I feel that this camera makes all the right compromises. Image quality is great and it’s easy to use. Nuf said!

In more detail, here’s what I really like:

- Size

It fits in my front pocket. It may not be as compact as say a Canon S100 (my previous compact digital) but unless your wearing tight pants it does fit in your front pocket. That’s a big deal to me because I tend to think if a camera doesn’t fit in your front pocket, no matter how small, then it need a neck strap. If it fits in your pocket it get a wrist strap. Ultimately it’s a different approach. A pocket camera does not need to be worn, it can be concealed which makes you look more like someone without a camera – something I really appreciate when traveling.

- Weight

Although the camera is well built it does have a slightly hollow feel. I don’t mean this in a bad way, just that it’s a little lighter than I expected it to be. Walking around with it in your pocket or bag all day that is a good thing.

- Controls

The way the buttons are laid out, I can change all shooting parameters with my right thumb. The way I use the camera, I don’t ever have to go into the menu (which is well laid out as well) to change anything. Perfect. Literally, ISO, AF, snap focus distance, exposure compensation, WB, ISO, quality, can all be set with my right thumb and other useful settings such as 35mm crop and flash are set without going into the menu. I really like the little up/down +/- button for exposure compensation and find it much faster and easier to read than having it on a dedicated dial.

- Display

Really clear, sharp and bright. Even though I learned my trade on the film cameras with viewfinders, I don’t mind using a screen. I guess I’ve taken enough pictures with an iPhone to be used to it by now. Actually I really like it. I find that it’s easier to shoot from waist level (if your trying to be discreet) or above your head (in a crowd) with a screen. An articulated screen would be cool but I find them awkward sometimes and it would probably make the camera lest sturdy and pocketable.

I like that you can turn the screen off (again using the DISP button, no need to go through the menu) if you are using an external OVF.

The built in level is perfect. I usually keep a spirit level in the shoe of my cameras when using wide angle lenses to keep the horizon straight and the perspective looking natural when using wide lenses. This means that I can get the look of shooting on a tripod without a tripod. If anything I may be relying on it a little to much and need to remind myself that it’s good to have shots that aren’t “perfect”. But that’s me not the camera.

- Customization

Lots of programable buttons and 3 custom presets on the dial so you can really set this camera up to you liking

- Image quality

Not much to say here. The lens is sharp with minimal vignetting and the files are what you would expect from the latest generation of Sony APS-C sensors which is to say excellent dynamic range, low noise, excellent high ISO and great resolution. Images are sharp, with a pleasing look and nice colors. Coming from film I tend to prefer a more “natural” look. I know that’s a really subjective statement but to me that means that while images are sharp, and colors are rich, they are not super crisp and saturated. You can always turn it up in post but it’s good to start with a nice neutral image. I’d say the GR produces images that are very natural looking. I mainly shoot RAW but the JPEGS I’ve shot look good. To put it in perspective, the other cameras I’ve been using are a Leica M9 and Nikon D600 and the Ricoh holds up fine in all but the most extreme situations (for super high ISO the D600 has an edge and colors from the M9 are just different due to CCD sensor).

Other features

- Snap Focus

This is one of the most unique features of the GR and it dates back to the very first GR1. Basically you set the snap focus distance (1m, 1.5m, 2m, 2.5m, 5m, ∞) so that when you press all the way down (no half press to auto focus) the lens automatically focuses at that distance and takes the picture. The result is very little lag making it useful for fast moving scenes and street photography. I use the Fn1 button to set the snap focus which makes it easy to switch between distances depending on what situation I’m in.

I really like all the focus options – Multi AF, Spot AF, Pinpoint AF, Subject Tracking, MF, Snap, ∞. You can also set the meter to Multi, Center, or Spot. All with your left thumb! They really didn’t leave anything out. Auto focus can hunt a little in low light but it’s to be expected. In normall light it’s really snappy.

- Auto ISO and TAv

I usually keep the camera set to P and auto ISO. For some reason the camera won’t go open the lens past f/4 in program mode. If the light is low and I notice the shutter speed is slow I’ll switch to aperture priority and set it to 2.8 and let the camera choose the ISO.

TAv is useful as it allows you to lock the shutter/aperture combo you want with the ISO being the variable to achieve proper exposure. Very useful for street shooting when you know you want to shoot at f/5.6 and 1/250th or whatever your preference may be.

- ND filter

There’s a useful ND filter for shooting in bright light at whatever shutter/aperture setting you want. Don’t use it much but nice to have just in case.

- 35mm crop

One of the biggest limitations of the GR is the wide 28mm field of view. Generally 35mm is a more versatile focal length and is more common on fixed lens compacts. Although it’s no substitute for a 35mm lens I like that you can switch to a 35mm field of view. I didn’t think I’d use it that much, thinking I would rather crop in post but I actually really like this feature, especially for close up shots where I want a more natural perspective. I have programmed the “Effect” button on the left side of the camera to toggle back and forth between 28mm and 35mm so I don’t have to go into any menus to change. My other front pocket camera is my iPhone which has a 30mm field of view (iPhone 4 and 5) and I find this is great for snapshots which is kind of how I like to use the GR. You know when you take a picture with your phone and then you think “ooh I like that let me use a real camera”? Well with GR it works pretty well.

- Flash

To activate the flash you press a little button on the left side of the camera that pops the flash up. I haven’t used the flash much but I like that you have to open the flash for it to turn it on. Nothing worse than having the camera set to auto and the flash going off when you didn’t want it to.

- Macro

You can get pretty close which I find very useful. You are traveling and you want to take pictures of details, meals, etc… Being able to shoot close up is just part of being a good all purpose camera. The inability to shoot close up was probably the most frustrating thing for me about traveling with my M9 (or any rangefinder) so this is a big deal for me.

- Video

I think all cameras this day in age should have video so I’m glad that this one captures nice 1080p HD video. Since I’m not relying on this camera to do video work I don’t mind the limited controls or mono mic (really, who cares if the crappy on camera sound is mono or stereo?). The only thing I wish they had done differently was to offer 24fps. I don’t know how difficult it would have been but considering you can dial in just about everything else, it’s a shame you can’t change the frame rate? Why 24fps? Because it has a more filmic look and because when I shoot video with my DSLR I shoot at 24fps so in case I wanted to mix footage it would make editing easier. Most people shoot at either 30p or 24p so being able to choose would have been nice. In practice though it’s not a big deal at all. I’ve shot some video and it’s totally adequate and actually looks pretty good.

- RAW develop

Another feature I don’t really use but that’s nice to have. If you shoot RAW and you have some time to kill or you want to transfer some pics to your iPad or for whatever reason you want to be able to get JPEGs right off the card then you can develop the photos in camera with good results. You have a few filters and B&W to play with.

- Battery

Battery life is good. I don’t know how many shots or how many hours but for my normal use it works great and I can shoot all day. If I was shooting heavily or traveling I would bring a spare battery but that’s true of any camera. Yeah the charger is lame because you have to keep the battery in the camera. It’s not a big deal though – when you get the camera, just order a third party charger for like $15 on eBay. It works fine and comes with car and euro adapter.

Competition

Nikon Coolpix A is the main competition. That’s a really nice camera and if anything the images I’ve seen from it look just a tiny bit sharper and colors are different, better to some. I think this is probably just the image processor as they have the same sensor. If you shoot RAW this really doesn’t make a big difference. I don’t think the GR is way better than the Nikon but it is cheaper, has snap focus and I like the way it’s laid out. If the price difference is not a big deal for you then I would recommend trying both and seeing which one feels better to you.

The Sony RX100 has a zoom and a smaller sensor and I don’t think IQ is in the same league.

Sony RX1 is 35mm, full frame, not as compact and way more expensive

Fuji X-100 is probably the only other competition as they are priced similarly and IQ is comparable but it’s not a pocket camera and it has a 35mm lens. Still, if you are looking for a compact camera in this price range and are not sure about 35mm vs 28mm and it doesn’t have to go in your pocket then there is a lot to like about the X-100.

Interestingly enough, I don’t think the latest GR makes the GRIV obsolete. The GRIV has a much smaller CCD sensor which has a look of it’s own, which many people like. The cool thing about having a f/1.9 lens and a small sensor is that you can shoot wide open in low light and still have lots of depth of field. I know shooting with paper thin DOF is all the rage now but having a deeper DOF is really useful for street photography, snapshots and close up photography when you don’t want extremely shallow DOF.

Conclusion

I love this camera and it goes with me everywhere. Previously I was using a Leica M9 and while I loved this camera it had too many limitations for professional work (no video, poor low light, 3ft minimum shooting, slow buffer) and some limitations for travel (size, minimum focus distance, no flash, poor low light). If I were rich I’d have kept it. But I’m not so I sold it, got a Nikon D600 for work and the GR as my everyday bring with me everywhere camera. If it’s not in my pocket, then it’s in my back pack or in the center console of my car. I simply can’t think of a better camera to have with you at all times.

Marc Gabor lives in Los Angeles. You can see more of his work at www.marcgabor.com

The Ricoh GR is available at B&H Photo or Amazon

GR review-1

GR review-2

GR review-3

GR review-4

GR review-5

GR review-6

GR review-7

GR review-8

GR review-9

GR review-10

GR review-11

GR review-12

Oct 252012
 

My Camera

by Ofri Wolfus

Hi Steve, I thought I’d share with you the story of my cameras. It turned out quite long, so feel free to post it if you like (I’ll be honored :). Also, English is not my mother language, so sorry for any mistakes.

The Nikon D90

I started being interested in photography about 5 years ago. Having no experience at all, I started doing my homework before deciding which camera to buy. At this time my only experience has been with phone cameras and P&S, and I didn’t even know what a DSLR was. Scanning the universe of the internet taught me about DSLRs, lenses and so on, but it was all theoretical. I never used one, and had to base my decisions about what other people say, having no self preference. Finally, after a lot of hours reading reviews, I got my very own, brand new, Nikon D90 with the a 18-105mm kit lens, a nikon tripod and a small camera bag that fitted the kit.

I remember taking my first shot with the D90 – I was absolutely blown away! I never experienced shallow DOF before, and the quality compared to my old P&S was simply stunning. Soon I started to learn anything I can about this camera. I learned what the Shutter, Aperture and ISO are. I learned about different lenses, RAW, JPEG, saturation, contrast, etc, and the more I learned, the more I wanted a wide-angle lens. It turned out that my favourite subjects are landscapes, and so I bought myself a Tokina 11-16mm. Other lenses came in as well, but this Tokina has been (and still is) my favourite by far. It is sharp, really fast for its focal length (f/2.8), takes regular screw in filters, and most importantly – ultra wide. It’s also worth to note that I quickly found the joy of using primes rather than zooms, and didn’t touch the 18-105 ever since.

I had a lot of my best shots taken with the D90 and the Tokina. They served me well in almost any situation, from long trips to late night shooting (it’s amazing what you can shoot handheld with an f/2.8 ultra wide). The problem for me was that the more I used this combination, the more I suffered. I really liked the shots that came out, but the actual picture taking experience has been a pain. The D90′s interface has tons of features that I don’t use and don’t care about, and together with the Tokina it’s a pig. It’s heavy, big, and doesn’t fit in my bags (I became a hater of dedicated camera bags, and use only “regular”, unpadded, bags). Also the fact that I always carried an extra normal fast lens (either the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 D or the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX) with me didn’t help. And so my search for alternatives has began.

The Zeiss Ikon

IIRC, this search is what had led me to your site, Steve, and your passion about Leica made me spend many hours reading about rangefinders. Unable to afford a digital Leica, I realized I’ll had to use a film camera if I wanted the best possible combination of price, quality and compactness. This was not an easy choice. I never shot film in my life before. At some point, I finally made my mind and decided to give it a shot. I bought a new silver Zeiss Ikon together with three lenses: Voigtlander 15mm, Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.4 MC, and a Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f/2 (the last two thanks to your reviews! :).

I started by getting a bunch of films like Tri-X, Velvia 50, Provia and more. It was such an alien feeling after the D90, but every time I held this Zeiss with any of these lenses I simply had a huge smile smeared on my face. I can’t explain it. It’s such a unique feeling shooting a film rangefinder.

This part of my story sadly has a sad ending. Before I got a chance at being any good, the only store in my area that developed slides stopped doing it. This was a major problem but I hadn’t given up yet. I bought myself a Plustek OpticFilm 7600i from B&H together with a bunch of tools for home development. I also went to a local store, and got myself a kit of E6 and BW chemicals. Now all I was missing is actually knowing how to develop… :)

The more I learned about E6 (which was my main interest), I realized I’ll have to somehow control the temperature of the development tank, but I couldn’t find a reasonably priced solution. That also didn’t stop me, and I sorta built my own. I took a big polystyrene box and filled it with a mix of hot/cool water until I reached the desired temperature. Now in order to maintain that temperature, I took a big resistor and connected it to a variable transformer. I then threw the resistor into the water and varied the voltage in order to control the heat produced by the resistor. This was mostly a trial and error, but after playing with it for a while I was able to keep the temperature constant enough for about an hour or so.

As you can probably imagine, this setup is far from ideal. I had to keep an eye for too much stuff simultaneously, and more often than not I’d ruin the films. I even got electrocuted at some point. Since the voltage was low no harm has been done, but it’s not something I’d like to do for fun :) That said, what finally made me give up on film was the scanning. It took forever and it wasn’t easy (at least for me) to get good colors out of the scanned files. At some point I found myself finishing a bunch of rolls and simply avoiding developing them knowing it’d take me a full day to get everything done. And that’s for 3 rolls at best.

The Ricoh GXR

At this point I was again looking for alternatives. Lucky for me, I found about the wonderful Ricoh GXR. At that time the M mount module was not yet available, but it has already been announced. Again, following your reviews I decided to get myself the 50mm module and wait for the M mount to arrive. Shortly after receiving the 50mm module I went on a two weeks trip, and took the D90, Tokina 11-16 and the Ricoh with me. During that trip I found myself using the Ricoh much more than the D90 for two main reasons – color and portability. The GXR produced so much better colors and was so much easier to carry. Even though I’m a landscape addict I kept using the Ricoh for these two reasons. Honestly, I had about zero keepers from the 50mm, but it was so much more fun.

Shortly after the GXR M Mount was available, and after seeing a bunch of reviews about it, I got myself one. It was probably the best camera purchase I’ve made. Using it is so much fun and the results are so rewarding that I always want to take it with me. I have three lens combinations that I use. My goto choice is only the 50mm Zeiss. Every time I use it I’m simply stunned by the IQ. However, 50mm f/2 on the crop sensor is sometimes too long for me. For these occasions, as well as when shooting at night or when feeling nostalgic, I pick the Voigtlander 35mm f/1.4. It’s qualities are nowhere near the Zeiss but it has its uses. It’s also the smallest of all my lenses and so if I’m not sure whether I’m going to use the camera or not it’s a nice fit. Finally, there’s my trip configuration. When going on a trip I take the Voigtlander 15mm together with the 50mm Zeiss, and leave the 35mm at home/the hotel. For me these are the ultimate combinations that fit everything I do.

Finally, I’d like to talk a bit about the GXR body. IMO it’s a spectacular camera. It’s incredibly compact and produces wonderful results. It’s by far, the most capable and fun camera I’ve ever seen. There are, however a few things I’d like Ricoh to fix:

1. Take away all the junk menus. When I first bought the GXR it had a few simple menus with all the needed functionality and then some. However it was still focused enough that I could take advantage of everything I needed. Sadly with every firmware update they’ve been cramming more and more stuff into the poor menus and now I can’t find anything. It takes forever to get to the right option.

2. Somewhat repeating the above, Ricoh please remember we really only need shutter, ISO, exposure control and color control. Actually even color control is usually done afterwards on the computer. Personally, I leave shutter and ISO on auto all the time and only touch the color presets. Fuji seems to get it with their X100 (so I heard), so why can’t you?

3. There are way too many buttons on the body that have useless functions. Really Ricoh, how often do you use the self timer that you need a dedicated button for it?

4. Why is magnification hard wired to a long press on the OK button? It drives me crazy if I do it by mistake and now have to circle through all magnification ratios in order to get back to the full frame.

5. Finally, please add a full frame sensor. It’s such a shame to waste half the area of the wonderful M lenses, but it’s also incredibly annoying to work with the crop factor. Want a fast 35mm equivalent? Have fun finding a 24mm with f/2 or faster. AFAIK the only option is the Leica SUMMILUX 24mm f/1.4 which is way above my budget.

To sum up, I think there are three groups of people: those that only care about the final photos, those that care only about their cameras and their technical abilities, and then there are people like me who care the most about the experience. I may not take the best photos or own the best cameras, but I try to have the best possible experience and simply have fun :)
Yours,
Ofri Wolfus

His Flickr is HERE and he has some gorgeous photos so check it out!

Sep 282012
 

Simple Review of the Ricoh GRDIV for Travel Photography by William Jusuf

Since January, Me and wife already planned to have a vacation.. we can’t go for too long.. so we plan 4 days getaway only 3 of us: Myself, wife and baby Daini (she’s now 8 months old).. If you remember , my first post in Steve website is about celebrating Daini’s birth.

The Mission is to enjoy the 4 days and bring baby Daini to meet her Great Grandmother in Bali.. The surprise is.. at my 34th birthday (August 12th), my wife gave me a surprise by giving me a pleasant birthday gift. Ricoh GR Digital IV… on August 14th.

Its a camera that I’ve been thinking (and hesitating) to buy for quite a long time..She knew since I keep looking at it on many site and blog, reasoning myself , yet I don’t have the nerve to pull the trigger. I know I will love it… Since I am more a street people candid shooter (definitely I am not in league of photographer) but since I had GF2 + the 25 and 45 also Nex5 + CZ35mm and Leitz R Summicron 50… I hesitate to add a street pocket cam in a fixed wide focal length.

So.. we left to vacation from 16-20 August.. only 3 of us.. me , wife and 8 months baby Daini… So I must choose wisely, which gear to bring.. Then I decide to pack Sony Nex5N + CZ 35mm and Leitz R50mm (stuffed on the baby stroller, for my baby portrait ).

I decided to force myself to use the Ricoh GRD IV most of the time for its size and simplicity. Imagine I must keep carrying baby Daini in front of my chest… 80 % of my time , I simply use Ricoh GRD IV with 1 hand only..

So here are my Traveling with Simple Pocket Camera…. The story begin. We had a 2 hours delayed airplane… while waiting at the Airport.. I shoot some pictures , all using Snap Focusing. It’s a training for me to measure distance  1 / 1,5/ 2.5/ 5 meter or infinity.

 

Soekarno Hatta Airport .. using infinity snap in high ISO 640

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Noodle lover .. I snap 2.5 meter of this old man really enjoying his noodle

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Buddies Chatting.. Snap 1,5 meter of this two old buddies enjoy waiting for the airplane

 

Then 3 of us waiting in the terminal gate.. for almost 1.5 hours delayed.. Baby Daini get restless , I took her for a walk arround while shoot some photos

 

Busy with themselves… Snap 2.5 meter of people bored waiting

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Up the terminal Gates.. Snap infinity

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Tired and Bored.. Snap 5 Meter.. of a man tired and leaning on his wife

Finally .. we take off to Bali. We stay in Pan Pacific Nirvana Tanah Lot and my Auntie Home (alternately). The hotel is one great place ! It is cozy.. very beautiful .. facing the Tanah Lot Beach and Pura Tanah Lot… and great 18 holes Golf. Unfortunately I never shoot any landscape before so I must admit this is my first time using wide-angle to cover landscape.

 

silhouette of the Lobby… facing the Ocean.. Snap Infinty at Sunset

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View from the Sunset Lounge.. Snap infinty

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Merica Restaurant .. Snap Infinity

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Dinner with sunset.. Snap infinity

 

Ok enough with the Hotel. We had a tight Schedule and my wife wants to take us and baby Daini to visit the Bali Safari Marine Park. It definitely a great place to takes kids.. takes photos .. with many animals. I keep snapping very fast with the GRD. Learning many ways to hold camera in conventional and unconventional ways. The camera works flawlessly. Just keep it on and sleep after 3 min non use and alway set it on snap mode. Spot focusing. Auto white balance.. Auto High ISO up to ISO 800. Easy.

The cons are the GRD will not wake up several times after going to sleep.  I cant figure out how to wake it  so I unplugged the battery and it backs online.

 

Roar.. Dine with me.. Snap 1.5 meter with the camera hold under my waist facing back.. So this shot taken without looking

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Watching Cenderawasih bird.. Snap 1.5 meter

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Look. White Tiger.. Snap from waist goes up of a kid surprise look at the white tiger

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Evi, the Orang Utan.. Snap 1.5 meter

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Eat and Eat.. Snap 1.5 meter

 

How about the high ISO ? It’s a pocket camera with small Sony Sensor (that also used in Canon S, G etc). I usually will limit my self to ISO 400.. but for fun.. I pump to auto high iso 800 with max 1/30 sec shutter time I dine in a Pool Grill. quite dark.. not total dark.. So I can try snap some high ISO shots.

 

in front of sushi bar

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watching the chef

 

Well. I can see noise at ISO > 400 and it get quite noisy at 800. I always turn of the noise reduction as well as the Dynamic Range turn off also.  Everything is simply RAW the way it is.  Like the old tricks.. For the high iso shot, I convert it to Black and white :p

The next day while having great lunch at Bebek Tepi Sawah (duck restaurant)… great food and affordable price. Glowing.. somehow the roof shine the sunlight to this 1 cashier.. I simply snap it. We had Sunset dinner at this incredible place called Kama Kandara… watching great sunset … you could swim if you like great food and perfect places to stay also at their private villa.

 

Pool… Snap at infinity

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Sunset at Kama .. Snap at Infinity

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Enjoying .. Snap at 1.5 meter

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My table view.. Snap at infinity

 

The next Day.. we have lunch at this great hotel called the Royal Pita Maha. It is highly recommended for the private villa and the best Spa in Bali. It is very harsh light and day.  I don’t shoot much since we must climb down to valley and carrying a baby is out of the question for me. We simply had beverages at the top restaurant.

We then went for real lunch at Potato Head Seminyak.. Great place Good food and drink..also great people. The lighting here is a challenge for the small GRD 4 since it’s midday with hot harsh lighting directly to the pool and beach.

 

Portraiture.. Snap 1.5 meter

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Ready To Swim

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Click..We’re In Love!

 I love this little camera in spite of the many limitation of the camera but also the pure photographic tool function so here’s my 4 days review list of the Ricoh GRD IV.

 

The cons go first..but I try to live with it

- Small Sensor.. that means.. cant pump it to high ISO .. iso 80 to 400 is very good.. ISO 400-800 is usable.. noise is visible but better if we use BW mode

- Lens is fixed in 28 mm.. So I must learn and reset my view coming from 50-100 mm shooter

- You can’t do crazy bokeh (although I do it with 1 cm macro).. but the results wont come close to DSLR

- the wont wake up problems.. I had this hang Ricoh few times after the camera goes to sleep.. It simply wont turn on again.. Must plug out battery

 

The Love of this Ricoh GRD …

- Simple straight forward operation with the front wheel and back wheel button.. allow me to use only 1 hand to do all

- Snap focusing, gosh this feature is so nice.. I almost shoot all my photos in snap focusing..

- Autofocus very fast (for a pocket).. almost get focus in blink of eye even in dark condition

- Auto white balance is the best in every camera I ever handle.. it spot on. From almost all the file, I never do anything to the white balance just right

- Skin tone.. gosh I am loving the skin tone … better than my funny color skin tone of Nex and GF2..

- the ergonomic and grip.. I am wearing it whole day.. not even a sore hand.. I could do many maneuver while shooting it

I get sore in my finger after using Nex5N + Leitz Cron 50 for 2 hours..

- Battery capacity.. well I can get +/- 430 shots per charge with all time stand by…

 

So will this Ricoh replace my Nex 5N + manual lenses or my Micro 4.3 with the great native lenses ??

Yes and No

Yes if I need to go discreetly, not attracting attention and can’t take anything but a Hand phone sized Camera. Yes if I need to go to the street, the unsafe not friendly environment..

No for Its small sensor just wont give the Shallow DOF , the high ISO and all the big sensor do. No for the look I want from the Zeiss and Leitz lenses. No if I were a pixel peeper and crop fanatic (fortunately I am not)

I know this GRD will taken in my pocket everywhere I go… Just take it out and snap and you are good. I am loving this simple pocket camera as it simply fills my needs for a wide-angle good result fast pocketable photographic tool.

If this looks like a camera you would enjoy you can purchase this camera at B&H Photo Here. 

Sincerely

William Jusuf

Feb 232012
 

First GR DIGITAL IV Firmware Update Released

Tokyo, Japan, February 23, 2012—Ricoh Company, Ltd. (CEO: Shiro Kondo) on February 27, 2012, will release the first function-expansion firmware update for the GR DIGITAL IV, a high-resolution digital camera launched in October 2011.

The firmware update incorporates ideas taken from the many opinions and requests we received from customers who filled out a survey when they registered their cameras. The update adds new functions and an increased number of settings that can be adjusted on the GR DIGITAL IV cameras that our customers already treasure, thus improving its performance and ease of use while also giving it the latest functions.

The firmware and user manual explaining its functions can be downloaded free of charge from the Ricoh website.

 

First GR DIGITAL IV Function-Expansion Firmware Update

Enhanced functions

1. Adds Function for Including Copyright Notice

Inputted copyright information is recorded to the image’s Exif data when a picture is taken. Up to 46 alphanumeric characters can be recorded, and the information can then be checked in the detailed file information on the camera’s playback screen.

 

2. Improves Auto Exposure Speed

The speed of auto exposure control has been improved, making selection of the proper exposure smoother.

 

3. Adds Function for Saving Snap Focus Distance at Time of Shutter Release to the ADJ lever and Fn button

The snap focus distance at the time of shutter release can now be saved to the ADJ. lever or the Fn button. The setting can be changed without having to go the menu screen.

 

4. Adds Function for Displaying Photo Information for Interval Composite Photos

For photos taken using the Interval Composite mode, this function enables a display of shooting times from start to finish, as well as the number of composite images in the detailed information displayed on the playback screen.

 

5. Adds Floating Black level adjustment function for Interval Composite Mode Shooting

The “Floating black level adjustment” function can be turned On or Off (default setting is on); if set to On, it can reduce noise at high sensitivities.

 

Aug 052011
 

News Release

August 5, 2011

Ricoh announces GXR MOUNT A12

A GXR lens mount unit featuring an APS-C size CMOS sensor

Tokyo, Japan, August 5, 2011—Ricoh Co., Ltd. (president and CEO: Shiro Kondo) announced today the development of the new GXR MOUNT A12, a lens mount unit exclusively for the GXR interchangeable unit camera system. With a scheduled release date of September 9, 2011, the unit will be produced only in black, and with a planned monthly production volume of 3,000 units.

The GXR is a revolutionary interchangeable unit camera system in which lenses can be changed by mounting different camera units each with an integrated lens, image sensor, and image processing engine in a single unit. With its unique ability to accommodate the interchangeable units of other camera units, the system can be expanded to include a variety of devices.

The new GXR MOUNT A12 is a lens mount unit made especially for the GXR. Featuring an APS-C size CMOS sensor and a newly developed focal plane shutter, this unit provides various types of compensation and correction functions and also makes it possible to mount lenses such as Leica M lenses..

<Main features of GXR MOUNT A12>

1.The newly adopted APS-C size CMOS sensor expands possibilities for high resolution and imaging power.

・The adoption of a CMOS sensor with an optimized micro lens layout makes it possible to secure sufficient brightness levels even in the peripheral areas of the image.

・The CMOS sensor used is 23.6mm × 15.7mm (APS-C size). It enables the shooting of high-quality images with smooth tone gradations as well as high definition and low noise.

2.Compatibility with a wide variety of lenses, including Leica M mount lenses.

・Compatible with the Leica M mount, GXR MOUNT A12 can, of course, handle M-mount lenses, and if a conversion adapter is used many more types of mounts can also be

accommodated.

・A checking device is included for use in confirming whether or not your lenses are

physically compatible.

3.Diverse new functions maximize the potential of the lens itself

・In order to accommodate the photographer’s own preferences by adjusting for the

distinctive characteristics of many different lenses, GXR MOUNT A12 can independently

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correct coloring at the corners. Color shading correction is possible in a -4 to +4 range for

both R and B.

・Peripheral illumination correction is possible in a -3 to +3 range.

・A distortion correction function is provided to correct for the distortion that tends to occur in the lens periphery. The photographer can select barrel and pincushion distortion and specify ―strong,‖ ―medium,‖ or ―weak‖ for each.

・A glass optical filter was adopted and made as thin as possible. It increases periphery image quality and suppresses field curvature.

4.High-precision focusing

・A focus-assist function has been included in an effort to raise the accuracy of manual

focusing. The photographer can select from two modes and check the focus by

strengthening outlines and contrast.

・Magnifying the screen image while shooting is an effective technique for focusing. The magnification can be done not only in the center but throughout the image. In addition, the image quality for 4x and 8x magnification has been further enhanced. The area to be magnified can be moved using the directional pad.

5.Two shutter methods are featured: newly developed focal plane shutter and electronic shutter

・With the focal plane shutter, settings of 1/4000 sec. to 180 sec. are possible. ・With the electronic shutter, settings of 1/8000 sec. to 1 sec. are possible, and the

photographer can shoot without worrying about shutter noise and vibration. 6.The wide range of functionality that characterizes the GXR series

・My Settings enables a wide range of shooting functions to be specified in an instant. For the setting information storage, six patterns can now be stored in the body’s My Settings Box and six patterns can be stored in the SD card. This, along with the ability to change shooting conditions, further expands the photographer’s world of photo expression.

・In manual exposure mode, the shutter speeds B (bulb) and T (time) can be selected. With B, the exposure continues while the shutter release button is pressed, and with T, the shutter release button is pressed to start and end the exposure. For both B and T, the exposure is automatically ended when 180 seconds have elapsed.

・Information on the lens used can be put in the EXIF information. In the editing of My Settings information, lens name, focal length, and F value can be entered.

・New scene mode options have been added for the easy enjoyment of a wide range of photo expression. The five new options are soft focus, cross process, toy camera, miniaturize, and high contrast B&W. The photographer can create a unique image by just pressing the shutter release button.

・An electronic level utilizing an acceleration sensor.

・An image flag function to enable the quick display of specific images from among those in

the camera. Up to 20 images can be flagged.

・For the exterior, we utilized die cast magnesium, which has a strong track record in the

GR series, and we covered the surface with a corrosion-resistant “pear-skin” coating. The end result is a body with durability, light weight, and a superior feel in hand.

・It is possible to shoot 1280 × 720 pixel HD movies.

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* Note: When shooting movies of 1280×720 size, the use of an SD/SDHC memory card with an SD speed class of Class 6 or higher is recommended.

7.New options added

・ We have created the new soft cases SC-75B and SC-75T, which are easy to open and

close. With SC-75B, it is possible to shoot with the case attached to the GXR body. <GR MOUNT A12 options>

Product

Soft Case B (lower portion and strap) Soft Case T (upper portion only)

Model SC-75B SC-75T

*All of the focal lengths in this release are converted to the equivalent values for a 35 mm film camera. *SC-75T cannot be used as a case by itself. It must be used together with SC-75B.

*SC-75B and SC-75T are new options being introduced at this time.

*Functions when the GXR body is attached.

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Effective pixels:

Approximately 12.30 million

Image sensor:

<GXR MOUNT A12 Major Specifications>

23.6 mm × 15.7 mm CMOS sensor (total pixels: approx. 12.90 million pixels)

Zoom:

Digital zoom: 4.0x (3.6x for movies) Auto resize zoom: Approx. 5.9x (VGA)

Focus Mode:

Manual focus

Shutter speed:

Photographs: 1/4000 – 180 s, bulb, time (upper and lower limits vary according to shooting and flash modes)

Maximum flash sync shutter speed: 1/180 s

Movies: 1/2000 – 1/30 s

Exposure control:

Metering: TTL metering in multi (256-segment), center-weighted, and spot metering (TTL metering with auto exposure lock)

Mode: Aperture priority AE, manual exposure

Exposure compensation: Manual (+4.0 to -4.0 EV in increments of 1/3 EV or 1/2 EV), auto bracketing (-2 EV to +2 EV in increments of 1/3 EV or 1/2 EV)

Exposure range (auto mode, center-weighted metering):

Using standard lens (F2.5): 1.2 EV to 13.2 EV

(Exposure range for auto ISO calculated using values for ISO 100.)

ISO sensitivity (standard output sensitivity):

Auto, Auto-Hi, ISO-Lo, ISO 200, ISO 250, ISO 320, ISO 400, ISO 500, ISO 640, ISO 800, ISO 1000, ISO 1250, ISO 1600, ISO 2000, ISO 2500, ISO 3200

White balance:

Auto / Multi-P AUTO / Outdoors / Cloudy / Incandescent Lamp 1 / Incandescent Lamp 2 / Fluorescent Lamp / Manual Settings / Detail; white balance bracketing

Flash:

Method: TTL, manual, external auto (external flash GF-1 function)

Flash mode: Auto, Anti Red-eye, Flash On, Flash Synchro, Manual, Flash Off Guide number: 9.6 (ISO 200 equivalent), 6.8 (ISO 100 equivalent) Illumination angle: 24 mm (35 mm film camera equivalent)

Firing timing: 1st/2nd curtain sync

Other: External flash GF-1 compatibility

Shooting mode:

Auto / Program Shift / Aperture Priority / Shutter Priority / Manual / Scene (Movie, Portrait, Sports, Landscape, Nightscape, Skew Correction, Miniaturize, High Contrast B&W, Soft Focus, Cross Process, Toy Camera, Electronic Shutter) / My Settings

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Continuous mode:

Number of pictures shot in Continuous (Picture Size: RAW): Noise Reduction on weak or off: 4 pictures

Noise Reduction on strong: 3 pictures

Noise Reduction on MAX: 3 pictures

Number of pictures shot in M-Cont Plus (1 set): HI (1280 × 856): 30 pictures (24 frames/sec.) LO (4288 × 2848): 15 pictures (2.2 frames/sec.)

Compression ratio *1:

FINE, NORMAL, RAW (DNG) *2

Image size (pixels):

Photographs:

16:9 4288×2416, 3456×1944

4:3 3776×2832, 3072×2304, 2592×1944, 2048×1536, 1280×960, 640×480 3:2 4288×2848, 3456×2304

1:1 2848×2848, 2304×2304

Movies:

1280×720, 640×480, 320×240

File size (approx.):

RAW:

16:9 NORMAL: 17,800 KB/frame, FINE: 19,515 KB/frame, VGA: 15,587 KB/frame

4:3 NORMAL: 18,387 KB/frame, FINE: 20,157 KB/frame, VGA: 16,124 KB/frame 3:2 NORMAL: 20,946 KB/frame, FINE: 22,967 KB/frame, VGA: 18,337 KB/frame 1:1 NORMAL: 13,991 KB/frame, FINE: 15,333 KB/frame, VGA: 12,273 KB/frame

L:

16:9 NORMAL: 2,222 KB/frame, FINE: 3,816 KB/frame

4:3 NORMAL: 2,315 KB/frame, FINE: 3,960 KB/frame 3:2 NORMAL: 2,615 KB/frame, FINE: 4,493 KB/frame 1:1 NORMAL: 1,761 KB/frame, FINE: 3,009 KB/frame M:

16:9 NORMAL: 1,475 KB/frame, FINE: 2,509 KB/frame 4:3 NORMAL: 1,574 KB/frame, FINE: 2,662 KB/frame 3:2 NORMAL: 1,744 KB/frame, FINE: 2,968 KB/frame 1:1 NORMAL: 1,186 KB/frame, FINE: 2,003 KB/frame

5M:

4:3 FINE: 2,287 KB/frame

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3M:

4:3 FINE: 1,474 KB/frame

1M:

4:3 FINE: 812 KB/frame

VGA:

4:3 FINE: 197 KB/frame

Battery life:

Based on CIPA standard DB-90: approx. 330 shots*3

Dimensions (W × H × D):

Lens mount unit only: 79.1 mm × 60.9 mm × 40.5 mm

(according to CIPA guidelines)

When mounted on the GXR body: 120.0 mm × 70.2 mm × 45.7 mm (according to CIPA guidelines)

Flange back: 27.8 mm

Weight (approx.):

Lens mount unit only: Approx. 170 g

When mounted on camera body: Approx. 370 g (battery and SD memory card included)

Operating temperature:

0 °C to 40 °C

Operating humidity:

90% or less

Storage temperature:

–20 °C to 60 °C

*1 The compression ratios which can be set vary depending on the image size.

*2 A JPEG file is also recorded (the JPEG file may be a FINE- or NORMAL-quality file with the same dimensions as the RAW file or a VGA file 640 × 480 pixels in size). RAW files

use the standard DNG format promoted by Adobe Systems Incorporated.

*3 For reference only; actual number of shots varies greatly according to how camera is used.

We recommend that you carry spare batteries when in use for extended periods.

Jun 092011
 

 

The Leica M9 Hammertone Special Edition?

This has been a week of new cameras leaking out on to the internet and some new camera announcements. So what’s new? How about more Leica M9-P stuff? Well, the image above is a shot of a supposed M9 Hammertone special edition that will come with a 28 2.8 Elmarit in chrome with a hammertone lens hood. This is supposedly going on sale for $15,000 in a strict limited edition of  100 sets, in Japan. It will sell out no problem with that number. As for the M9-P…my guess is that it will look just like this, but in chrome and black paint finishes :) The M9-P of course would not be a limited edition and supposedly will come in $700 more expensive than the standard M9, sapphire glass included. :)

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The Sony NEX-C3 – It’s official!

It’s small, it’s cute and it does everything the NEX-3 did and more. The only problem is that Sony made it even smaller, and this may make it harder to hold comfortably. I have not seen or held one yet and I do like the silver top and black body combo but it’s starting to look more and more like a point and shoot. I really do not see anything in the C3 that would make me want it over the NEX-3 or 5 because there will be a new firmware update soon that will allow the 3 and 5 to use the same special effect filters as the new C3. Sony has a way of making a statement product like a NEX-5 and then sort of killing it with future releases. They did this in the Audio world years ago with their high end line (anyone remember the SCD-1)?

The NEX-C3 has higher megapixel count (which is not always a good thing) of 16.2 and Sony can once again claim they have the smallest interchangeable APS-C size sensor camera in the world. Maybe that was their goal.

“Building on the success of last year’s α NEX launch, the new NEX-C3 model takes the idea of ‘small camera body, SLR-quality photos’ to a whole new level,” said Kristen Elder, director of the alpha digital imaging business at Sony.  “This camera’s brand new, large CMOS sensor and user-friendly interface will allow all photographers, regardless of experience level, to produce unique, custom-styled photographs. The NEX-C3 is a perfect combination of design, performance and creativity that fits a wide range of activities and shooting styles.”

also seems like the NEX line is getting more consumer friendly…

“The intuitive new Photo Creativity interface on the NEX-C3 camera puts sophisticated controls within easy reach, whether users are shooting stills or HD Video.   Technical terms like ‘aperture’, ‘exposure value’ and ‘white balance’ are replaced with the friendlier and more intuitive ‘background defocus’, ‘brightness’ and ‘color’, allowing users to easily create custom-styled photographs. A traditional interface with Aperture/Shutter Priority, Manual and custom functions is always available for experienced users, along with highly customizable soft-keys for programming direct access to important controls.”

Again, the new firmware will basically give the same functionality to your 3 or 5, so I wouldn’t run out and sell your 3 or 5 to buy a 3C, unless the photo quality ends up being better, which is possible (but unlikely). Sony is also releasing a 30 3.5 macro lens around the same time as the camera.

-

A new Ricoh digital hits the Internets!

Ricoh Introduces the PX Series,
Water- and Dust-Resistant Digital Cameras
for Day-to-Day Photography, Outdoor Use, and Everything in Between

June 9, 2011?TOKYO, Japan?Ricoh Co., Ltd. (helmed by president and CEO
Shiro Kondo) today announced the release of the new PX compact digital
camera. The new design offers 5.0×, wide-angle (28 mm) and telephoto (140
mm) optical zoom in a water- and shock-resistant package that can safely be
used for hassle-free photography in a wide variety of locations and
situations.

Designed for hassle-free operation, the new RICOH PX lets users take
photographs anytime, anywhere with fast startup and settings that adapt to
subjects for optimal results. Its high-resolution, 16-million?pixel CCD
sensor and Smooth Imaging Engine IV image processing engine combine for
high-resolution, high-quality photographs.

The new, fully flat design give the new RICOH PX, ease-of-use and
portability, results in a camera that is easy to carry, while the optional
protective jacket appeals to users with a choice of color schemes that can
be matched to the camera body.

While it exhibits the traditional dedication to image quality that has been
the foundation of all RI-COH digital camera designs to date, the newly
released RICOH PX is also a compact digital camera that promises fun,
hassle-free photography. It is also dedicated to image quality that has
been the foundation of all RICOH digital camera designs to date.

Principal Features of the New RICOH PX Compact Digital Camera
1.    Designed for peace of mind and hassle-free use, anywhere, anytime;
fully dust-, water-, and shock-resistant
The RICOH PX has a JIS/IEC protection rating equivalent to IP68. It
can be used underwater for 60 minutes at a depth of 3 meters. Dirt
can be washed off, allowing users to safely take pictures anywhere
without worrying about rain, splashes from the kitchen, or dirt or
soil from the garden. Enjoy the peace of mind that comes with being
able to use your camera anytime, anywhere, including for shots of
water sports, hiking, and other outdoor scenes.
Thanks to its impact-resistant design, the camera can withstand
being dropped from heights of 1.5 meters.
The camera features a 2.7-inch, 230k-dot high-contrast LCD monitor
with a wide viewing an-gle. It also boasts an anti-fingerprint
protection coating that protects from scratches, and an
anti-reflective coating which ensures that the monitor can still be
viewed under bright outdoor lighting.
2.    Never miss another shot?whip out the RICOH PX and snap a photo
anytime, hassle-free
Whether it’s a spur-of-the-moment snapshot or a carefully framed
picture, the RICOH PX can automatically optimize settings to suit
the subject, allowing even users who are unfamiliar with the camera
to take photos quickly and easily.
A fast startup time of about 1.4 seconds ensures you’ll never miss
another shot.
Subject-tracking AF” is standard on all models for shots that are
always in focus even if the subject is in motion.
The fully-flat design eliminates projections to emphasize
portability for a camera that can be slipped into a pocket and used
almost anywhere. By placing the lens in the center of the camera
body, RICOH has ensured that shots won’t be blocked by stray
fingers even when the camera is held in both hands.
The intuitive controls include a lever-style flash dial that allows
user to determine whether the flash is on or off, and a movie
button that starts movie recording directly with a single press.
3.    A 16-million?pixel, high-resolution CCD sensor for high-resolution
images
The 16-million?pixel, high-resolution CCD sensor ensures
high-quality results not only when pictures are enlarged, but also
when they are cropped or resized for digital zoom.
The Smooth Imaging Engine IV image processing engine produces
noise-free images even in shots taken at high sensitivities under
low light.
Image-sensor?shift image stabilization reduces blur at high zoom
ratios and in pictures taken at night or indoors under low light.
4.    28?140 mm, 5× optical zoom with super resolution (SR) zoom equivalent
to 10× optical zoom
The RICOH PX offers 5× optical zoom for focal lengths of 28 mm
(wide) to 140 mm (tele-photo).
With super resolution technology, the camera supports SR zoom
equivalent to a focal length of 280 mm with almost no drop in image
quality. Telephoto photography at zoom ratios equivalent to up to
1,344 mm (280 mm × 4.8) are available with digital zoom.
5.    Premium shot modes enhance the photographic experience
Settings can be optimized for even the most difficult subjects
simply by choosing the scene with the premium button.
A display with easy-to-understand explanations guides users to the
scene they want.
Premium shot modes and custom modes are available for up to 28
scenes (including custom modes).
A wide selection of premium shot modes is available, including
“Cooking” and “Sweets” for delicious looking shots of food, an
“Auction” mode for shots of objects being sold at auction, “Beach”
and “Snow” modes that utilize the camera’s water resistance,
“Party”, “Hand-held night scene”, and “Miniaturize”, “Toy camera”,
and “Soft focus” filter effects.
Photographers can select up to five of their favorite premium modes
for easy recall.
6.    Playback options for easy viewing
By using the camera’s “Favorites” feature users can rate picture
with the camera’s choice of three rating levels.
The “privacy” option can be used to hide selected pictures during
playback.
Use “calendar playback” to find pictures by date.
7.    A full range of convenient options to enhance the user experience
The RICOH PX comes with a slip-proof protective jacket(available in
five colors to match the camera body ) to protect it from shocks
and scratches.
The “Two-way” straps that function as both hand- or neck-straps are
also available in five colors.
8.    Many other features add fun to your photos
The RICOH PX supports X2-series Eye-Fi SD memory cards with a
built-in wireless LAN feature that can be used to automatically
upload photos to a computer or photo-sharing ser-vice.
Users can shoot HD movies with a frame size of 1280 × 720 pixels.
An HDMI cable (avail-able separately) can be used to connect the
camera to an HDTV for high-quality display of movies and photos.
The RICOH PX comes with rechargeable battery that uses a USB
connection. The USB power adapter can be plugged into a household
power outlet or the battery can be recharged when the camera is
connected to a computer via the supplied USB cable.

May 192011
 

PRESS RELEASE

Ricoh Announces Special Collaboration with

The Foundry Photojournalism Workshop’s Scholarship Program

May 19, 2011 –Ricoh Company Ltd. will participate as a special collaborator in the Foundry Photo Workshop Scholarship Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina on July 17-23 2011.

Sponsored by the nonprofit organization the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop, the Foundry Photo Workshop Scholarship Program strives to “foster and support young, skilled photographers from developing countries.” The Foundry Photo Workshop RICOH Scholarships will cover expenses for ten students from Central and South America attending the workshops.

Ricoh hopes to reinforce its global brand and expand business by providing value that will inspire its customers. This special collaboration with the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop coincides with Ricoh’s goal of fostering connections among cultures and people through photography with the opening of this fully volunteer-run workshop.

Outline of the NPO Foundry Photojournalism Workshop

The Foundry Photojournalism Workshop is a nonprofit organization that holds workshops run by a group of volunteers made up of five main staff and 10 other part-time staff under the direction of Eric Beecroft, a high school teacher and photographer. Photographer Ron Haviv, a founding member of the global news photo agency “VII,” provides support as a volunteer and also teaches the workshops. With Haviv’s involvement, other famous photographers have offered to volunteer as teachers at the workshops. As a result, these workshops have grown in popularity and have received large numbers of student applications.

http://www.foundryphotoworkshop.org/

 

Workshop collaboration outline

Name of Program: Foundry Photo Workshop RICOH Scholarships

Host: Foundry Photojournalism Workshop

Workshop Dates: July 17 to July 23, 2011

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Conditions for participation: Resident of any country in Central or South America regardless of age or sex. Preferably, students will have less than two years experience working at a newspaper or less than three years experience working as a photojournalist.

Number . of participants: Expenses paid for 10 students

*Neither Ricoh nor RING CUBE will accept applications

Apr 282011
 

Ricoh Co., Ltd. will present the acclaimed photographic exhibit

~ “Kioku no Sakura – Reminiscence of Sakura” ~

as a Platinum Sponsor at the international New York Photo Festival 2011

 

Ricoh Co., Ltd. is proud to announce their participation as a Platinum Sponsor in the New York Photo Festival 2011 to be held in New York from May 11, 2011. In addition to this sponsorship, Ricoh’s photographic gallery RING CUBE will present the photo exhibition “Kioku no Sakura – Reminiscence of Sakura” at the festival.

Ricoh established the “Candid Photo culture” the essence of which is to “lightheartedly carry your camera and cherish and enjoy the photographs lightheartedly taken” and named the activities backing this concept the “Candid Photo Project.” RING CUBE was opened as a part of these activities to show and provide the camera as an enjoyable tool for taking pictures and to hold various photographic contests. RING CUBE also supports artistic and cultural programs in cooperation with art museums and educational facilities. The sponsorship and exhibition at this year’s New York Photo Festival 2011 will provide a chance to present Ricoh’s Candid Photo concept to the whole world.

The New York Photo Festival 2011 is an international event that gathers photographic works from around the world. This year’s event, which is the fourth, will be held under the shared rubric of “PHOTOGRAPHY NOW: engaged, personal, and vital.”

Ricoh is proud to announce their participation as the platinum sponsor of the New York Photo Award 2011 to be held during the New York Photo Festival 2011.

Ricoh will provide prizes of GXR+S10 kits (GXR Body with RICOH LENS S10) for six winners in the General category and GR DIGITAL III cameras for six winners in the Student category for a total of twelve prizes.

 

http://www.nyphotofestival.com/newsletters/110418/

 

The Photo Gallery RING CUBE will present works from the popular photo exhibition “Kioku no Sakura – Reminiscence of Sakura” from March 23 to April 10 at the gallery. “Kioku no Sakura – Reminiscence of Sakura” is a collection of photographs from nine famous Japanese photographers including Daido Moriyama. Mr. Moriyama described the exhibit with these words: “Photographs express the emotions of the photographer, yet the bright colors of cherry blossoms can be seen as shocking or the beautiful by some viewers. I hope that the visitors seeing these works from various artists can feel the emotions of the photographs in their own way.”

For RICOH, RING CUBE is more than just a “place to show and appreciate photographs.” RING CUBE aims to be a spot that opens up all the possibilities of photography, a place where people who contemplate self-expression through photographs can congregate and enjoy photographs. RING CUBE will continue to hold events that showcase a wide variety of Japanese and international photographers and their works.

 

[About Ricoh]

Ricoh Co. Ltd. is an international company established for nearly 70 years and is engaged in the manufacture and sale of electronic office equipment. Its products include multifunctional and dedicated printers, document and device management solutions, optical storage devices and digital cameras. It operates in five regions around the world – Japan, the Americas, Europe, China and the Asia-Pacific region.

 

[About RING CUBE]

Ricoh Co. Ltd. opened the RING CUBE photo gallery on the 8th and 9th floors of the Sanai Dream Center in Tokyo’s Ginza during the GR Digital launch in October 21, 2008 as a place to foster the “Candid Photo culture” of lightheartedly enjoying photography.

RING CUBE is more than just a “place to show and appreciate photographs,” RING CUBE aims to be a spot where people who contemplate self-expression through photographs can congregate and enjoy photographs. RING CUBE’s goal is to become a center for spreading the possibilities of photography where visitors can enjoy looking at photographs and also experience the joy of taking pictures to become more familiar with photography and nurture a strong connection with Ricoh and with other visitors. Besides the round exhibition space “Gallery Zone” that can accommodate many types of exhibits, RING CUBE also offers a “Creative Zone” where visitors can explore new photographic expression and enjoyment, and the “Camera Zone” where visitors can experience new products and see the generations of Ricoh cameras.

 

[Exhibition Outline]

Exhibit: New York Photo Festival 2011

Organizer: New York Photo Festival Office

Dates: May 11 (Wed) to 15 (Sun), 2011

Locations:

Photographic exhibits: 55 Washington Street – Ground Floor, Brooklyn, NY, 11201

Booth: 1 Main Street Storefront, Brooklyn, NY, 11201

Title: Kioku no Sakura – Reminiscence of Sakura

 

[About “Kioku no Sakura - Reminiscence of Sakura”]

Cherry blossoms somehow have a special place in the hearts of the Japanese people, and everyone treasures their own unique images and memories. These photos of cherry blossoms by the artists bring the scenes from deep inside those memories to life and maybe even imprint future ones.

Attendees can enjoy a wide variety of images under the theme of “memory” and experience a new way of looking at cherry blossoms.

[Participating photographers]

RYO OHWADA / KENJI GOSHIMA / SHINGO TAKEI / YASUTAKA TANJI / MASATO TERAUCHI / ASAKO NARAHASHI / MOTOHIKO HASUI / KOZO MIYOSHI / DAIDO MORIYAMA

 

[New York Photo Festival Outline]

The New York Photo Festival is one of the most well-known photo festivals in the United States with over 14,000 attendees from all over the world and participation from photographic magazines such as PDN, zoom, and foam, and leading photography media such as the publisher, Aperture Foundation. The Guest Curators of this year’s festival will be the Colors Magazine Editorial Director Enrico Bossan, and The New Yorker Visual Editor Elisabeth Biondi.

Apr 062011
 

I was just informed that B&H Photo is now an authorized Ricoh Dealer and they carry and have full stock on the GXR camera, lenses and accessories! The GXR is one of my fave systems and with the 28 and 50 lenses, it makes for one of the best, of not THE best compact/high quality camera system. The body is $349 and I would highl;y recommend the 28 Lens module as well as the 50 lens module. With those two you would have a highly capable set and it would cost you less than a Leica X1 by itself!

Also, there has been new firmware released for the GXR that enhances it even further with new in camera filters that look really really good IMO. I own this camera and the two lens modules mentioned, and you can see my full review of it HERE in case you missed it.

Just wanted to pass on the news that you can now get Ricoh gear at B&H Photo!

Jan 262011
 

PRESS RELEASE – NEW RICOH CX5

26 January 2011

Offering High-speed Focus with a Hybrid AF System Compact digital camera with 10.7optical zoom (28-300 mm)

Introducing the new CX5

RICOH COMPANY, LTD. (helmed by president and CEO Shiro Kondo) will be releasing its newly developed CX5 digital camera model with its wide-angle, high magnification 10.7 optical

zoom (28–300 mm) lens, which has a higher autofocus speed due to the use of Ricoh’s new hybrid AF system.

With the new CX5 model, AF focusing times are decreased to as low as 0.2 sec. for both wide-angle 28 mm and telephoto 300 mm, up to half as short compared to the CX4, using Ricoh’s unique new hybrid AF system. This ensures that you reliably capture the image you were waiting for, never to miss another good shot again.

Using super-resolution technology, the CX5 also allows (1) recording of images with improved resolution using the “Super-resolution” setting and (2) telephoto shooting at up to 600 mm equivalent with minimal degradation in image quality using “Super-resolution Zoom.”

Furthermore, in addition to the new Cooking, Fireworks, and Continuous Golf Swing scene modes, the CX5 has improved features that make shooting photographs even more fun through the use of super-resolution zoom during Zoom Macro mode shooting and other functions. The CX5 is an even more enhanced compact digital camera that was designed based on t he concept of it being “a tool that you will find yourself wanting to use every day.”

Available in three colors: Black, Silver, and Pink.

1<Main Features of the New CX5 Model>

1. High-speed autofocus using the unique hybrid AF system developed by Ricoh

• Equipped with Ricoh’s unique new hybrid AF system in combination with a passive AF sensor that continuously measures the distance between the camera and subject using an area sensor together with Contrast AF (a system in which the imaging elements search for the peak location for contrast on the subject and focus on that location).

• Enables AF focusing times to be shortened to as low as 0.2 sec. for both wide-angle 28 mm and telephoto 300 mm, up to half as short compared to the CX4 model. Ensures that you capture the image you were waiting for over the entire zoom range so that you never miss another good shot again.

2. Improved image resolution through use of super-resolution technology

• Enables amazing photographs with high resolution to be produced using the CX5′s new super-resolution technology, which discerns outlines, details, and gradations in the image automatically and processes the image based on the optimal settings for each. The level of super-resolution can be set to OFF, Weak, or Strong.

3. Super-resolution zoom equivalent to up to 600 mm in addition to the 10.728–300 mm optical zoom

• Allows a wide-angle, high-magnification 10.7 optical zoom lens to fit into a compact body with a thickness of 29.4 mm using Ricoh’s unique retracting lens system.

• Equipped with super-resolution zoom that enables magnification of up to 2.0. Enables telephoto shooting at up to 600 mm equivalent with minimal degradation in image quality. • Enables even greater magnification of the subject from super -resolution zoom with use of

digital zoom. Allows photographs to be taken with ultra-telephoto zoom at up to 2880 mm.

4. High-quality photography that widens the range of image expression

• Offering reduced loss of detail in highlights using an output pixel interpolation algorithm residing in dedicated logic circuits in the Smooth Imaging Engine IV imaging engine to allow high-contrast scenes to be reproduced more faithfully, exactly as they appear to the naked eye.

• Reduces noise without affecting resolution, tone characteristics, or color using a noise reduction algorithm to process the image signal as it is output from the CMOS image sensor. Enables sophisticated variance-estimation type noise reduction processing in which the sensor image data’s noise variance is analyzed and the optimum processing is done for each region when the noise reduction level is set to MAX.

• Equipped with a back-illuminated 10.00 million-pixel CMOS sensor. Ensures that beautiful images can be captured even in dark scenes.

5. 14 different types of Scene Modes providing easy access to whole suites of photographic techniques specifically adapted to the subject

• Comes with a new Cooking mode that is perfect for shooting photographs of food. The new Cooking mode setting enables the brightness and color tone of the scene to be adjusted while the subject is checked.

• Includes a new Fireworks mode that works great for taking shots of fireworks as they flash across the sky.

• Comes with a new Golf Swing Continuous mode that displays grid lines during shooting and playback. Perfect to use for checking your golf swing.

• Enables super-resolution zoom to be used in Zoom Macro mode, which optimizes the zoom position automatically to allow the subject to be shot even larger than with normal macro shooting. Allows the subject to be shot even larger without any degradation of image quality as with normal zoom.

6. Creative shooting modes that allow you to enjoy shooting creative images

• Comes with six different types including Soft Focus, Cross Process, Toy Camera, and Miniaturize that can be selected to fit the subject and type of scene. Allows you to enjoy shooting images with a variety of effects.

7. High-definition 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor

• Equipped with a large, high-definition LCD monitor that has a wide viewing angle and high contrast. With a fluorine coat to prevent soiling, a hard coat to prevent scratches, and an anti-reflection (AR) coat designed to protect the screen against dirt and damage and guarantee excellent visibility even outdoors in direct sunlight.

• Reproduces image colors vividly with sRGB comparison of 100% for the color re production range.

8. Awide variety of functions based on the concept of the CX5 being “a tool that you will find yourself wanting to use every day” • Equipped with new HDMI terminals. Allows high-definition (HD) movies with a frame size of 1280720 pixels to be viewed on an HD TV using an HDMI cable (sold separately).

• Comes equipped with macro shooting functions that allow you to get as close to the subject as 1 cm for wide-angle (*) and 28 cm for telephoto. (*) Equivalent to 31 mm for 35-mm film equivalents.

• Enables high-speed continuous shooting at speeds of up to approx. 5 frames/sec. • Equipped with Scene Auto Mode, which automatically switches to the optimal shooting

settings for the scene when the camera is merely pointed at a scene. • Comes with Subject-tracking AF, which continuously tracks and focuses on the subject

automatically. • The CX5 is compatible with Eye-Fi cards (X2 Series), SD memory cards with built-in

wireless LAN functionality, which enables captured images to be transferred wirelessly to a computer or online image sharing service automatically. An icon will appear while an Eye-Fi card is being used to display the communications status.

*Focal lengths indicated in this news release are 35mm film camera equivalents. *MP files listed in this news release are Extended MP files that are compliant with the CIPA-standard

Multi-Picture format. (The file extension is MPO.) With MP file images recorded by the CX5, a selected frame can be extracted and saved as an individual JPEG image within the camera.

*AF focusing times were measured under Ricoh measurement conditions. * This product is not guaranteed to work with all Eye-Fi card features (including wireless data

transmission capability). * For more information on Eye-Fi cards, visit the Eye-Fi webpage http://www.eyefi.co.jp). * Eye-Fi cards are approved for use in the country of purchase only.

<CX5 Main Specifications>

No. of Effective Pixels (Camera):

Approximately 10.00 million pixels

Image Sensor:

1/2.3-inch CMOS (total pixels: approx. 10.60 million pixels)

Lens:

Focal length: f=4.9–52.5 mm (Equivalent to 28–300 mm for 35 mm film cameras. With Step Zoom set, option of any of eight fixed lengths: 28 mm, 35 mm, 50 mm, 85 mm, 105 mm, 135 mm, 200 mm, and 300 mm)

F-aperture: F3.5 (Wide)–F5.6 (Telephoto) Shooting Distance: Normal shooting: Approx. 30 cm–infinity (Wide), approx. 1.5 m–infinity (Telephoto) (from the front of the lens) Macro: Approx. 1 cm–infinity (Wide), approx. 28 cm–infinity (Telephoto), approx. 1 cm–infinity (Zoom Macro) (from the front of the lens) Lens Construction: 10 elements in 7 groups (Aspheric lens: 4 elements and 5 surfaces)

Zoom Magnification:

Optical zoom:10.7 (Equivalent to 28–300 mm for 35-mm film cameras) Super-resolution zoom: 2.0, up to 21.4 (Equivalent to 600 mm) when used with optical zoom Digital zoom: 4.8, up to 103 (Equivalent to 2,880 mm) when used with optical zoom and super-resolution zoom Auto resize zoom: 5.7*1, up to 61.0*1 (Equivalent to 1,710 mm) when used with optical zoom Focus Modes: Multi AF / Spot AF / Face-priority Multi AF (Contrast AF method with AF auxiliary light) /

Subject-tracking AF / Multi-target AF (Contrast AF method) / Manual Focus / Snap / ∞ (Fixed focus method)

Image Stabilizer

Image sensor shift method image stabilizer

Shutter Speed: *2 Still Image: 1/2000–1, 2, 4, 8 sec. / Movie: 1/2000 sec.–1/30 sec.

Continuous Shooting:

Continuous Shooting Speed: *3 Approx. 5 frames/sec. (10M 4:3F; continuous shooting speed is approx. 3 frames/sec. for the 12th picture on) Continuous Shooting Capacity: 999 pictures

Exposure Control:

Metering Mode: Multi (256 segments) / Center-weighted light metering / Spot metering Exposure Mode: Program AE

Exposure Compensation: Manual compensation (-2.0 EV–+2.0 EV, 1/3EV steps), Auto bracket function (−0.5EV, ±0, +0.5EV)

ISO Sensitivity (Standard Output Sensitivity):

AUTO / ISO100 / ISO200 / ISO400 / ISO800 / ISO1600 / ISO3200

White Balance Mode:

Auto / Multi-pattern Auto / Outdoors / Cloudy / Incandescent 1 / Incandescent 2 / Fluorescent / Manual / White balance bracket function

Flash:

Built-in Flash Mode: Auto (During low light and when the subject is backlit) / Anti Red -eye / Flash on / Slow Synchro / Flash off Built-in Flash range: Approx. 20 cm–4.0 m (Wide), approx. 28 cm–3.0 m (Telephoto) (ISO AUTO, auto ISO with up to ISO1600, measured from the front of the lens)

Flash Compensation: +/−2.0EV (1/3EV Steps)

Monitor:

3.0-inch Transparent LCD (approx. 920,000 dots)

Shooting Mode:

Auto shooting mode / Movie mode / Scene auto mode / Scene mode (Portrait / Discreet Mode / Night. Portrait / Night Landscape Multi-shot / Sports / Landscape / Zoom Macro / Pets / Skew Correct Mode / High Sensitivity / Text / Fireworks / Cooking / Golf Swing Continuous Mode / My Settings mode / Continuous mode / Creative shooting modes (Dynamic Range Double Shot / Miniaturize / High Contrast B&W / Soft Focus / Cross Process / Toy Camera

Picture Quality Mode: *4 Fine (F) / Normal (N)

No. of Pixels Recorded:

Still image / Multi-picture: 3648×2736, 3648×2432, 2736×2736, 3648×2048, 2592×1944, 2048×1536, 1728×1296 (Multi-Picture only), 1280×960, 640×480 Movie: 1280 x 720, 640 x 480, 320 x 240 Text: 3648 x 2736, 2048 x 1536

Recording Media:

SD memory cards, SDHC memory cards (up to 32 GB), Internal memory (Approx. 40MB) Compatible with Eye-Fi cards (X2 Series)

Storage Capacity (Pictures/Time): *5 (Internal Memory Approx. 40 MB): Still Image / Multi-picture: 36482736, F: 10 images, N: 17 images; 36482432, F: 11 images;

27362736, F: 13 images; 36482048, F: 13 images; 25921944, F: 15 images; 20481536, F: 24 images; 17281296, N: 58 images (M-Cont Plus); 1280960, F: 43 images; 640480, F: 169 images; 640480, N: 283 images (Ultra-high-speed Continuous)

Movie:*6 1280720, 7 sec.; 640480, 22 sec.; 320240, 54 sec. Image File Format:

Still Image: JPEG (Exif ver. 2.3) *7 Multi-Picture: CIPA DC-007-2009 Multi-Picture Format Movie: AVI (Open DML Motion JPEG Format compliant) Compression Method: JPEG Baseline Format compliant

Other Major Shooting Functions:

Continuous, Self-Timer (Operation time: Approx. 10 sec. / Approx. 2 sec. / Custom self-timer), Interval Timer (Shooting time: 5 sec.–1 hr., in 5 sec. increments), Color Bracket function, Focus Bracket function, AE/AF Target Shift, Histogram, Grid Guide, Electronic Level

Other Major Playback Functions:

Grid View, Enlarged Display (maximum 16×), Resize, Level Compensation, White Balance Compensation, Trim, Flag, Slideshow, DPOF Setting

External Interface:

USB 2.0 (High-speed USB) / Audio-Visual (AV) terminals(Mass storage compatible*8 AV Out 1.0 Vp-p (75)), HDMI Micro Output terminals (Type D)

Video Signal Format:

NTSC, PAL switchable

Power Supply:

Rechargeable Battery (DB-100) 1 Battery Consumption: *9

Based on CIPA Standard: Using the DB-100, Approx. 280 pictures When Sleep is OFF*10) External Dimensions:

101.5 mm (W)  58.6 mm (H)  29.4 mm (D) (24.4 mm at thinnest part)

Weight:

Approx. 197 g (including the supplied battery and SD memory card) Approx. 176 g (Camera body only)

Operating Temperature Range:

0oC–40oC

*1: VGA image size. *2: Shutter speed upper and lower limits vary depending on Shooting Mode and Flash Mode. *3: Values measured under Ricoh measurement conditions using a Panasonic PRO HIGH

SPEED 8-GB SDHC memory card. The continuous shooting speed and number of pictures will vary depending on the shooting conditions, the type of recording media used, the condition of the recording media, etc.

*4: The picture quality modes that can be set vary depending on the image size. *5: This is the estimated number of shots that can be recorded at one time. *6: Up to 4 GB of data can be recorded per shooting for movies. When shooting movies of 1280720 size, up to approx. 12 min. can be shot, for 640480 and 320420, up to approx. 29 min. can be shot.

*7: Compatible with DCF and DPOF. DCF is an abbreviation for the JEITA standard “Design rule for Camera File system.” (Full compatibility with other devices is not guaranteed.)

*8: The mass storage driver is compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Max OSX 10.1.2–10.6.4. *9: Shooting capacity was measured using CIPA-standard parameters. This is only an estimate. Actual performance may vary according to usage conditions.

*10: Approx. 300 pictures when Sleep is set to [10 sec.].

CX5 (Black/Silver/Pink) Windows and Windows Vista are registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United

States and other countries. *Mac OS is a trademark ofApple, Inc. registered in the United States and other countries. Eye-Fi, Eye-Fi connected, and the Eye-Fi logo are registered trademarks of Eye-Fi Japan, Inc.

Jan 222011
 

The Ricoh GR Digital III Review

By Steve Huff

After my Ricoh GXR review (you can see it here) I became a huge fan of Ricoh. The GXR was the first time I have ever shot with a Ricoh digital camera and I was so enamored by it that I bought one for myself. I found its build, feel, and image quality to be stellar when used with the larger sensor modules like the 28 and 50mm. The fact that its size was small and had all of these qualities is what really got me to buy it. Imagine my surprise when I get an e-mail from Ricoh asking me if I wanted to review their GRD III. I have heard nothing but WONDERFUL things about the GRD III but I also knew it was a fixed lens small sensor camera. To me, shooting again with a small sensor camera was not exactly exciting but I was willing to give it a shot. Besides, with all of the raving by Ricoh fans on this series of camera I knew it was not going to be a dog. I love the Leica D-Lux 5 and Panasonic LX-5 so much (they also have small sensors) so I was curious to see if the GRD III could beat them or at least equal them in IQ and use.

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But before I get to this review I wanted to talk a bit about what makes me tick as a photographer and why a camera does and does not matter when it comes to getting nice photos. While everyone argues wether camera gear can make any difference in your final output, let me break it down into FACTS right now:

  • Larger sensor cameras WILL give you better IQ than a small sensor camera, especially if printing LARGE
  • NO CAMERA, no matter HOW expensive will make you a better photographer. Time, passion, and practice will.
  • If you know what you are doing and take one shot with a small sensor camera and one with something like a Leica S2, you will get a much better file from the Leica S2. No question on that AT ALL. BUT the photograph will be the same, just with a different rendering.
  • Larger sensor cameras have better ISO performance, more dynamic range and better color. They also have the capability of shooting with limited Depth of Field.
  • The images you create with whatever you shoot will somehow always look like YOUR Images. It’s your style that will get you noticed more than the camera you shoot. Small sensor cameras can even help give you a certain style.

So now that that is cleared up we know that a camera like the Ricoh GRD III can provide you with GREAT photos if you are a decent photographer. Me, I consider myself an average photographer who is always learning more and always getting better. The photos I shoot for a review are basically stories of my life at that time. Some are snapshots and some are more than that. What makes me want to get out there and shoot is by using a camera that I enjoy shooting. If I go out with a huge brick of a camera and huge lenses then I am not having fun and I shoot less. Smaller cameras with good quality is where it’s at for me these days.

For the past year I have been on a mission to find the smallest cameras that not only give the best output but are also enjoyable to use! If a camera is small but is a pain to shoot then it’s no fun. Kind of like playing guitar. If you have a guitar that is not comfortable for you or not set up correctly then you have to fight the damn thing to play it. A camera is no different.

When you own a camera that you can actually bond with (yes, you can bond with your camera) then the sky is the limit. All that is required after that is your passion, your knowledge and your eye. Once these three things are developed you can perfect your photography skills over time. For me it is a lifelong journey and I feel blessed to be able to sit here every day and write about it for all of you who read what I write!

“Puppy Love” – GRD III – f/1.9 – iso 64

“At the barn” – Ricoh GRD III – f/1.9 – iso 64

So with that out of the way let me start talking about this little GRD III by Ricoh. I received the package from Ricoh after it traveled from Hong Kong to Sunny AZ get to my door. I opened up the box to find a relatively small little camera that had the same build as the GXR body I loved so much. It felt better in my hand than the Panasonic LX5 I had on hand and from memory, the D-Lux 5 as well. It was lighter and smoother…it felt really good.

This is a 10MP camera and 10mp is plenty for just about anything these days, especially in a camera like this. I am glad Ricoh did not choose a sensor with higher megapixels as that usually degrades the image quality in these small sensor cams. Notice how most small sensor cameras have settled on 10MP? There is a reason for that.

The lens on this camera is a fixed 28mm, so its pretty wide. It will not be everyones cup of tea that is for sure. Me, I usually find 28 a bit too wide for an everyday focal length (though after shooting this camera, I am getting used to it more and more) but others feel right at home with a 28, especially Ricoh fans who have shot with the previous GR film camera and the GRI and GRII. Again, this camera does NOT have a zoom but a fixed 28mm f 1.9 lens. Yep, I said a 1.9 aperture lens! That is one cool thing about it…the speed. Previous versions of this camera had slower lenses so I applaud Ricoh for having the fastest lens on any compact camera to date.

There is one good thing about having a fixed focal length on a camera. It makes you work harder to get good shots. Using a 28mm focal length for ALL of your images can be a challenge but it can also help you grow as a photographer by forcing you to think outside the box and think in a wider kind of way :)

With the sensor being so small on this camera do not expect to get any shallow depth of field effects with the GRDIII (though you can if shooting up close in macro mode). Instead, as I shot with the GRD III I realized this camera was all about something else. Lots of shooters who use this camera like it for its size and its ability to be a TAKE ANYWHERE camera. The GRD series in general has a great rep for being a great B&W camera as well. I think the 1st GRD I had a gritty look t o its higher ISO images but the GRDIII has better high ISO performance than the earlier versions of the camera. In my use, this camera performed wonderfully in almost all aspects. It fit into my front pants pocket nicely and was able to go with me anywhere I went. I decided to take it with me for a while as my only camera to see what I could capture. I told myself I would shoot it whenever I saw a good or interesting shot to take. It was my one and only photographic companion so the photos here are all just snaps from my daily life while I had the GRDIII with me.

As always, this review is based more on “real world” use instead of charts, graphs, and all of the techie stuff. When I review a camera I take it out, shoot it for a couple of weeks and judge it by how it performed for me during my time with it. I test for overall build, feel, IQ, ease of use, high ISO, color, etc. If I like it I say so. If I do not like a camera I usually don’t even shoot with it for more than a day or two and I send it back saying “No thanks”. Usually, if you see a review here for a certain camera it means I really enjoyed it.

“Reflection” – GRD III – B&W JPEG – f/1.9 – iso 154

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“Boots” – GRD III -From RAW – f/1.9 – ISO 64

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THE GRD III SPECS

The feature list is long but notice the camera is not filled with gimmicks. Instead the GRDIII is loaded with usable features that any photographer would enjoy! These specs and descriptions are straight from Ricoh.

Superior backlight performance
Ghosting is one of the causes of image quality deterioration. To eliminate the problem, all of the individual lenses that are part of the GR lens have been covered with the multi-coating optimum for each. To minimize the small residual reflection striking the CCD, we also ran original simulations repeatedly to determine optimum conditions for lens curvature, etc. As a result, we successfully suppressed ghosting, particularly that caused by off-screen light sources such as the sun.

GR ENGINE III for low-noise, high-resolution images
Newly developed image processing engine GR ENGINE III enables precise noise reduction by processing the signal close to its CCD-output state. Various types of noise are effectively reduced while maintaining resolution and color saturation. Color reproduction and tonal gradation performance has also been significantly improved.

10-megapixel high-sensitivity CCD and AFE
With the new CCD, rather than increasing the number of pixels, we have about doubled sensitivity compared to the previous model (GR DIGITAL II). Even at ISO 200, imaging performance is at or above the old ISO 100 level. This higher ISO sensitivity makes a clear difference in image quality.

Suppressing whiteout to create “high-reality” images: Pixel output interpolation algorithm
Control whiteout with the pixel output interpolation algorithm, Ricoh’s original image processing technique. Comparing the output of each pixel, the algorithm interpolates image data in whiteout areas. This expands dynamic range by up to +1 EV equivalent. Using this extensive data to generate the JPEG, even for 8-bit (256-tone) images, it is possible to create a more “real” look with less whiteout than in the past.

Effective solution for mixed light sources: Multi-pattern auto white balance
In scenes mixing multiple light sources–such as sunlight and shadow, ambient light and flash–the optimum white balance of each is determined by segmenting the image. For both subject and background, you get well-balanced coloration closer to what you saw while shooting.

Fast AF is strong in low-light situations
Smooth, quick AF is possible even in low-light scenes where contrast detection is necessary and focusing is generally slow. The excellent focusing response enhances shooting.

Full Press Snap to grab that shutter chance
With this quick-shooting function, AF operates when the shutter release button is pressed half way, but for a one-push full-press, the photo is taken at a set focal distance. (1m/2.5m/5m/8). This distance setting can be easily changed. Since the AF does not operate for a one-push full press, you will not miss the moment.

Don’t let that shutter chance get away: Pre-AF function
Even if the shutter release button is not pressed half way, focusing follows the subject’s movement. The pre-AF action accelerates focusing time.

RAW evolution: Continuous shooting and high write speed
With the expansion of buffer memory, continuous shooting of up to five images is possible even for RAW. This facilitates bracketing as well as the shooting of quickly moving subjects. The RAW card write speed has also been accelerated (under 3 seconds per image). These specs will help reduce your “shooting stress.”

Freedom of expression with framing and light: AE/AF target shift
Focus and exposure settings can be done at designated points on the screen. These AE and AF targets can be shifted either alone or together in order to do Spot AE and Spot AF. This increases framing and light-expression freedom in situations such as tripod shooting where the camera cannot be moved for AE or AF lock and macro shooting where precise focusing is demanded due to shallow subject depth of field.

Shutter speed priority AE newly added: Extensive exposure modes
Shutter speed priority has been added to the existing modes (program shift, aperture priority, etc.). It is useful when you want to manipulate motion, such as when stopping subject movement or creating a feeling of energy in a panning shot.

New macro mode system controls field curvature
Minimum shooting distance is approx. 1 cm. A new system was adopted in which one part of a lens group which does not move during normal focusing is shifted into a special position for close-up photography. This corrects the field curvature that tends to be a problem in close-up shooting with retro-focus wide-angle lenses. The result is superb imaging power across the entire photo.

Images with a naked-eye impression: Dynamic range double shot
This function prevents overexposure and underexposure in high-contrast scenes. For reproduction of both light and dark areas, two images with different exposures are shot in succession, and the properly exposed portions of each are automatically combined. This expands dynamic range to a maximum equivalent to 12EV, creating an image with a close to naked-eye impression.

Aspect ratio 1:1 square format mode
Shooting aspect ratio 1:1 photographs, the square format will expand your creative enjoyment with the fresh feel of the framing and the strong subject presence produced by limiting the image field. This format is also convenient for blog use.

Image quality parameters
Individual color settings have been added to the image settings. For each color (orange, green, sky blue, red, and magenta), hue and saturation can be set at five levels so you get the coloration you want. In addition, with the “vivid” setting, you can easily shoot intense high-saturation images.

Flash synchro setting
The expressiveness of a photograph can change greatly depending on flash timing. If you want to be sure to catch a fleeting portrait expression, select “1st Curtain,” and if you want to create a natural light trail in a dark scene, select “2nd Curtain.” Even in bright scenes, this can help you record natural-feeling movement for moving subjects.

Manual flash amount setting
Flash amount can be set at 12 levels from full flash to 1/64, enabling you to balance flash intensity for both subject and background brightness. The subject’s expression and presence can be emphasized while the background is obscured. Fine tune the settings to fit the ambient light conditions and your creative intentions

Level compensation
Image brightness and contrast can be corrected in the camera itself after shooting. With AUTO, you leave the subtle adjustments up to the camera. With MANUAL, you can freely and intuitively adjust brightness and contrast using the histogram. The corrected image is saved as a new file so the original is still available, and the two can be compared.

Three types of bracketing
Three automatic bracketing functions are provided. With auto bracketing, you can select exposure intervals from 0.3EV to 0.5EV. White balance bracketing is convenient when precise coloration is important and when shooting with a distinctive light source. Color bracketing enables you to obtain color and black-and-white images for two very different impressions of the same scene. In all cases, the multiple images are generated from a single shot so you can get the feeling you are after without missing any shutter chances.

3.0-inch VGA LCD for beautiful display
LCD panel visibility was further improved with VGA high resolution and an expansive 3.0-inch size. The sRGB comparison for color reproduction range is 100%. This has significantly improved the visual reality of the image during framing, the ability to search images and check shooting data, and the ease of making function settings.

Electronic level
When shooting landscapes and night scenes, visual clues for finding the level position can be missing or hard to see. The electronic level is very effective at such times. You can quickly find the precise level position, which will give a feeling of stability to the image. When the external viewfinder is attached, the level sound can be used to determine if the camera is tilted.

My Settings
By just turning the mode dial, you can use My Settings to instantaneously switch to many different shooting functions. The number of sets which can be assigned has been increased to three so you can handle a wider range of shooting situations and creative intentions.

My Settings Box
Up to six My Settings sets can be stored in the My Settings Box. Then you can just choose the set you need and quickly assign it to MY1, MY2, or MY3. You can also name each set yourself to make it easy to choose the correct one.

Direct operation enhanced with two Fn buttons
There are now two Fn (function) buttons for one-push access to necessary functions. Assign frequently used functions to each to increase direct operability.

Operation function customization
To give the individual photographer the most natural operation feel, functions can be assigned to the up-down dial and the ADJ. lever. Increase shooting/playback flexibility by creating intuitive operations that minimize finger movement.

One-push playback enlarged view
In playback mode, you can display images at a previously defined magnification by just pushing the ADJ. lever once. This eliminates the inconvenience of having to change magnification level by level. Setting a magnification suitable to recorded image size and intended print size will speed up your image checking.

Three grid guides
In addition to the 3 x 3 grid, a 4 x 4 grid with diagonal lines and 2 x 2 grid with central visual field have been added. Choose the best grid for your subject: diagonal lines will clearly show the image center for building/product photography and a 2 x 2 grid can be helpful for capturing a moving subject.

GR Design: Excellent portability and grip feel
The GR DIGITAL III inherits a traditional design born to carry out the camera’s true mission of always being ready for the next shutter chance and reliably recording the result. Keeping the same pocketable form and hand-clinging grip, careful attention was given to enhancing operability and quality.

Magnesium body for superior reliability
A light and highly rigid magnesium alloy is used for a body that has strong shock resistance and durability. It also has excellent heat radiation and magnetic shielding characteristics, important features for a digital camera. This is a camera that can stand up to a photographer’s “hard use,” providing both reliability and high operation precision.

“Angela and Reno” – GRD III – f/1.9 – ISO 64

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“Sniff Sniff” – Ricoh GRD III – f/1.9 – ISO 64

The Lens on the GRD III

One thing I noticed is that even though I was constantly shooting with the lens wide open at f/1.9 that I was getting nice sharp images. If a lens is good wide open then you can bet on it being wonderful stopped down as well. I always shoot lenses wide open and if the camera or lens can handle it and provide me with superb IQ while doing so then I know the lens quality is really good. The GRD III may have the finest lens I have come across on a small sensor type of camera. It’s fast, it’s sharp and provides a nice rendering with minimal distortion (I have yet to notice any in the photos I took).

The lens is an effective 28mm f/1.9 lens. In reality it is a 6mm lens but after the crop factor of the small sensor it becomes a 28mm effective focal length. The quality is wonderful. Below you can click on the image to download the full size out of camera image.

FULL SIZE 10MP IMAGES

When viewing the images below at full size you can see the limitations of a small sensor camera. The photos will have a bit of noise at 100% which you usually do not see when using a larger sensor camera. Still, the GR Digital III puts out a nice sharp image.

CLICK THE IMAGES BELOW FOR THE FULL SIZE OUT OF CAMERA 10MP VERSIONS – ALL SHOT AT f/1.9 TO TEST PERFORMANCE OF THE LENS WIDE OPEN

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Compared to the Panasonic LX-5

I did not get a chance to really compare the two side by side for to long but I did manage to get two shots with each to see how they stood up to each other. The LX-5 is the Panasonic version of the Leica D-Lux 5 and these two cameras have always been considered by me to be the top in the compact small sensor camera world. I like them better than the Canon S95, Canon G12, etc. They are all 10MP cameras and are all somewhat compact with the smallest prize going to the S95 but for overall bang for the buck you cant beat the Panasonic LX-5. You can see my D-Lux 5 review HERE which is basically the same exact camera made in the same factory.

As for the shots between the LX-5 and GRDIII? The first one, the GRDIII was set at ISO 64 and f/1.9 and the LX5 ISO 80 at f/2. I prefer the slightly warmer color of the GRDIII which is evident when you look at the larger image. Also take note that the GRD III is thinner than the LX-5/D-Lux 5 due to the lens sliding into the camera.

crops

and how about a full size download from each – both were shot RAW and processed with default settings. I prefer the GRD III rendering and color here…

first the GRD III image – f/4 – ISO 100 (thought I was at 5.6 when I shot, later found out was f/4)

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now the Panasonic LX-5 image – f5.6 – iso 100 (again, this was stopped down a bit more at f5.6 so should have the advantage)

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Black & White with the GRD III

The GR Digital series from Ricoh have always had a great rep for being really good black and white cameras. I remember seeing some street stuff shot with a GRD II and the images were raw, gritty, and very real. I guess “haunting” would be a word to describe the images that I remember seeing. I was excited to shoot the GRDIII in black and white to see if this gritty look could still be achieved. After shooting at low and high ISO with the in camera B&W modes I found that this newest generation of GRD is much better in the high ISO noise department so I did not get much grit at all :)

BUT with that said, even at ISO 1600 this camera could deliver some decent out of camera B&W results. I did not go out street shooting with the GRD while I had it but did go “bar shooting” at ISO 400 with the in camera B&W mode LOL. I find it interesting to sit down at the bar at Applebees restaurant, order up some food and a beer and shoot the people around me. I may even start a new series out of it. What is cool is that everyone there knows I review cameras so they have no problem with me shooting :)

The next three images were shot with in camera B&W at ISO 400 with the lens wide open at 1.9

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and a couple more B&W but these I did some Photoshop tweaks to with the vignetting, contrast and sharpness enhancements. This always adds more drama to a photo IMO.

“ASHLEY THE BLACK PUG” – GRD III – f/4

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“Lucky” – GRD III – From RAW – PP with added vignetting and B&W conversion – f/1.9 – ISO 64

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and one ISO 1600 shot at F9 – click image for larger version

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one more ISO 1600 image and crop – click image for full size out of camera ISO 1600 image

So all in all the B&W and high ISO performance of the GRD III was up there with the best small sensor cameras. Not mind blowing or a new experience, but it was about equal to what we see in the LX-5, S95, etc (though a bit different at the same time). I found that when using the out of camera B&W JEPGS the contrast had to be turned up a bit to get that dynamic look. When I processed the color file from the camera and converted to B&W using Alien Skin Exposure 3 I found even better results. Depending on what you shoot you may want to experiment with Alien Skin as I find it gives awesome B&W conversions and tones. One thing is for sure, even at ISO 1600 the details remain crisp and sharp as is evident in the crop above.

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Cross Process, HDR and High Contrast B&W Modes

The GRDIII has a few cool features included so it is not as bare bones as some think. One cool mode I liked was the cross process color mode which is accessible in the scene mode.

Just a quick test of the cross process mode. My room was dark so at ISO 800 you can see the noise here but the CP effect is interesting. It also adds vignetting (this is customizable) if you want it. See, I even work while laying in my bed :)

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High Contrast B&W Mode, also accessible from the Scene mode on the dial. This mode can be VERY contrasty…very deep if you set it to the MAX contrast setting.

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For the next two I dialed in -2 contrast to soften it up a bit.

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HDR mode in the GR is actually the 1st time I found an in camera setting like this useful. Here is a shot with the three settings of HDR turned on. I like how it is not overdone.

I think if I owned this camera I would actually use these modes in my daily snaps. They can be fun and in the case of the B&W, be very dramatic if need be.

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SOME FUN WITH 1X1!

I love the 1X1 mode, especially combined with the cross process mode. This adds some vignetting and gives unique colors to the images. Here is a set of pics I snapped just before and after my morning shave :) These were all at ISO 800 at f1.9 with Noise Reduction turned off.

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The things I liked about the Ricoh GRD III

There are MANY  things I like about the Ricoh GRD III and very few that I do not. I love its design and its feel. I enjoy its build quality but at the same time love how light it is. It’s sleek, it’s all black, and it feels like a photographers camera. What I mean by that is this camera has all of the features one would need if they were serious about photography. It has a great menu/user interface. Very clean, very detailed, and most important very customizable. It has the AF snap and pre AF features. If you want to use this camera for street shooting you can set your focus distance at 1m, 1.5m, 2.5m, 5m or infinity. Since it is all preset there is no waiting for the camera to focus. Just aim, and fire! Just be sure to be at the correct distance for in focus shots. This is easy due to the huge depth of field you can get with this camera. I also love its leveler that can even be set to send out an audio signal when you are level.

The GRD III gives image quality that is up there with the best small sensor/compact cameras. Head to head against the D-Lux 5 or LX-5 the GRD may fall a teeny bit short in Dynamic Range and color depth BUT the image also look less “digital” from the GRDIII. The LX-5/D-Lux 5 images seem to have a sheen about them that tells you these were shot with digital. The GRD renders images in a more flatter but more realistic way. It’s hard to describe but I see it because I shoot so many cameras I can easily distinguish the qualities and ways that cameras render images. The GR Digital III puts out decent JPEGS but with this camera RAW is even better, so if you buy or own this camera I would shoot in RAW.

I seem to be on a roll lately. I loved the Ricoh GXR system and bought one for myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the Pentax K5 and have decided it is now my favorite APS-C DSLR to date, and the GRDIII with its simplicity, its size, its menus and all of its qualities has now become tied for my favorite small sensor camera ever! I still love the Leica D-Lux/Panny LX-5 for their huge amounts of features for  the $$ like the HD video, the macro, the AF speed and the image quality but I also love the GRDIII for the lack of gimmicks and over the top features. Sometimes going back to basics can help to open up your mind…free your creative eye.

Having a camera that can literally fit in your front pocket is also a huge plus. I wear Jeans and this little guy slipped easily into my front pants pocket, ready for any moment that came along. The AF was fast and snappy and always accurate. The GRD is easy to customize to your liking and all buttons are where they should be. There is a wheel in the front and a jog dial in the back, there are dedicated buttons for the most important things, and the menu system is as easy as any camera I have shot with.

For those shooting a compact and for those that want a no nonsense camera that delivers the goods for what a camera is supposed to do best, the GRD III is an all out winner. Ricoh does not get as much attention in the USA as they should. I’d like to see that change because their cameras are true photographic tools that deserve to be shot with. I will be happy to review any future Ricoh cameras or lens modules as I have had nothing but great results with them.

I know I will get asked if this is a better camera than the Leica, The Panasonic, The Canons, etc. All I can say is that the GRDIII is a camera for those who want something a bit different, a bit unique, and something that has been well designed and well thought out. It delivers on its promises and is small enough to take anywhere, especially with its retractable lens. Will it give you better image quality than a Leica X1? No, it will not. How about Ricohs own GXR with a 28 module? Nope, the GXR will beat the GRDIII when it comes to overall IQ and ISO performance but you also lose the small size of the GRDIII. Will it give you better than a Leica D-Lux 5? It can certainly equal it and give you a different “feel” to your photos. As much fun as I had shooting with the Leica D-Lux 5 I had just as much shooting with the little GRD III, mainly due to its slim size and awesome usability factor. It’s a winner and makes me curious about what Ricoh will do for a GR Digital IV down the road.

All in all I kind of liked shooting a small sensor camera like this. I felt like I was using a serious camera and the “look” of the images somehow grabbed me. Like I said earlier, they look less digital than those from the LX-5/D-Lux 5 and the lens on this camera is the best yet for a serious compact.

This camera has been out for a while but since there are so many passionate photographers that come to my site I felt I needed to write this review. Ricoh Rocks!

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THE PROS AND CONS OF THE GRDIII

Pros

  • Superb size and build (Magnesium Alloy) but light! A true take anywhere high quality compact.
  • High ISO is up there with the best of the small sensor cameras though limited to ISO 1600 max.
  • Great LCD on the back, clear and crisp.
  • Very good AF speed, and accurate as well.
  • Button placements are near perfect.
  • Lens is fast at 1.9 and has superb optical quality.
  • Built in lens cover that closes when camera is turned off so no cap to lose.
  • Battery life is VERY GOOD. Never had to recharge for this review.
  • Macro mode lets you get up close, just press the macro button to engage it.
  • Built in flash if you need it!
  • Ability to use an external viewfinder.
  • Three metering modes that all work as they should.
  • Cross process and high contrast B&W modes are cool to have.
  • 1:1 format is also an option. Great for portraits.
  • Ability to turn off Noise Reduction is a plus.
  • Auto leveler is also fantastic to help keep your horizon level.
  • AF confirm lamp on the back for when you use the external VF.

Cons

  • It’s more expensive than the Panasonic LX-5 at $529-$599 vs $399
  • Not loaded with features like HD movie mode, smile detectors and fancy AF tracking (but some may see this as a plus)
  • Fixed 28mm lens may be too wide for some.
  • Dynamic range is limited due to small sensor size.
  • Out of camera images can be a little “flat” at times.
  • The Video is not that great and not as good as other compacts which have fantastic HD video modes.
  • No image stabilization. Some say we wont need it with a 28mm but it does help.
  • JPEG output seems a little on the soft side, so shoot RAW for best results, or crank up sharpening in camera.

Where to buy?

Amazon sells the GRD III and even with viewfinder as a package. Adorama also sells this camera and you can go direct to their page HERE (they have it for $529). These are the shops I use and trust myself along with B&H Photo but B&H does not carry Ricoh. The GRD III sells for $599 and is an all in one, pocketable compact camera that will deliver the good if your main priority is taking photographs. You can take it anywhere due to the size so it is yet another camera I can

easily recommend. What you choose to buy should be based on your needs and what you shoot. If small and compact is your thing but you still want high quality images the GRDIII gets an A+!

Extra Stuff

To read more about the GRD III you can visit Ricohs page for it HERE. If you want to really see what this little guy can do in the hands of a great photographer who owns this camera you can visit this blog and see some great real world shots. Seeing what he did with the camera makes me want to buy this review sample for myself so I can get some quality shooting in with it. I hope you have enjoyed this review of the Ricoh GR Digital III! As always, thanks for reading!

Steve

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Dec 132010
 

Happy Monday to all! Today I decided to post a quick comparison between the much loved Leica X1 and the misunderstood Ricoh GXR (tested here with the 28mm Lens Module). I was curious as to which camera put out a better file, which camera had better high ISO and which camera was faster in operation. Here are my findings and I hope you guys find them useful.

We all know the Leica X1 is a gorgeous compact camera that packs a whallop in the image quality department. The main issue with the X1 is it’s cost ($1995) and its slow AF speed (which will be improved with firmware that is being worked on now). Other than that it has proven to be a remarkable little camera. The GXR has had a tough time in the market due to the fact that it takes “lens modules” that have a sensor built in to the lens. You can see my full GXR review HERE but I myself really enjoy the camera and find its build, feel and operation are really really good. The 28mm lens module is really a great lens but the GXR and X1 do have some differences in the way they render an image.

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BUILD:

The GXR wins in the build quality department. It’s sturdier feeling and just feels solid. The X1 is very very nice here as well but has a sort of lighter more hollow feel to it. Still, both cameras are great in the build department. No complaints. The X1 is a prettier camera no doubt but that is all personal preference. Some will enjoy the industrial looking GXR and many will drool over the sexy looks of the X1. I love the style of the X1 and think it’s a better looking camera than the GXR.

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AF SPEED:

Between the GXR with the 28mm and the Leica X1 the GXR is a bit faster with focusing. When the new firmware comes out for the X1 in the next 2-3 months then they may be equal or the X1 may even be faster because I have been hearing good things about the speed enhancements. As it is now, the Ricoh locks on a bit quicker than the X1 but truth be told, neither are speed demons but both are VERY accurate and rarely miss focus.

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IMAGE QUALITY:

This is the big one. Both cameras use a larger APS-C sensor and they do so while keeping the body sizes small. Both cameras go up to ISO 3200 and the X1 has a 24 Elmarit which ends up being a 36mm equivalent while the 18mm on the GXR happens to be a 28mm equivalent. So the focal lengths are a bit different in these tests but it was as close as I could get with the GXR. All tests were done at the same aperture and a few were with the same exact setting while some I let the cameras choose their own exposure in A mode.

**YOU MUST CLICK ON THE IMAGES BELOW TO SEE THE FULL SIZE FILES – THEY ARE STRAIGHT FROM CAMERA (RAW) WITH NO ENHANCEMENTS OR ALTERATIONS**

BELOW – GXR WITH 28MM – F/8 – Base iso of 200

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BELOW – X1 at f/8 – Base ISO of 100

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100% crops – no enhancements – no sharpening – no tweaks – straight from camera (RAW)

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and more…This shot was ay ISO 1600 with each but I let the camera pick the shutter speed to see how each camera would expose the scene.

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and the 100% crops…

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More at ISO 200 – f/2.8 – remember, click on each image for the full size out of camera untouched files!

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and the 100% crops…

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Some high ISO testing – I used a tripod here and set each camera to the same ISO, same aperture and same shutter speed..

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and the 100% crops…

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one more – testing ISO 1600 and Auto White Balance in semi low light (indoor daytime) – The GXR does have better AWB IMO over the X1 and its shows here. The X1 has the yellow cast that shows up in lower light.

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and the 100% crops…

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So there you go. Comparisons at low ISO, the highest ISO and a AWB test. Both cameras seem pretty similar with the X1 seeming brighter (and maybe more livelier) in most situations. In some of the shots it appears the GXR is a little sharper than the X1 but it also has a bit of a different signature. The GXR has better AWB in low light IMO. The X1 is $1995 and the GXR with 28mm lens is about $1050, almost half the cost. The GXR has the capabilities to change lenses/sensors and the X1 does not.

The X1 is a Leica and has the red dot and is a gorgeous looking camera. It’s simple, has easy controls and is highly a highly capable camera with a fixed focal length of 36mm. The GXR is more industrial looking and sturdier. While the controls are not as elegant as the X1, they are there.

I’ve had people ask me which camera I would buy if I was starting from scratch and wanted a compact big sensor camera – The X1 or the GXR system. That would be tough because I would have to see what the new firmware does for the X1 but with that being said, I think my heart would want the X1 but my brain would tell me to go with the GXR. Then again, the Fuji X100 which should be available within 3 months will throw a wrench into this whole thing. If the Fuji is as good as it appears to be (and it may not be) then it will be the one to beat. BUT the Fuji is much bigger than the X1 or the GXR so it is not really a compact.

For a compact big sensor you have three choices that are good – The Leica X1 at $2k, the GXR and Module at about $1k and the Sony NEX-5 with kit lens at $700. Those are my three favorite in the small size/big sensor market.

Thanks for reading this and I hope it was useful to some of you! The X1 is currently out of stock almost everywhere but it seems that Dale Photo has at least one in stock here and they are a site sponsor that is 100% trustworthy. The GXR is available through Amazon for $349 for the body only, and they have a few in stock HERE. The 28mm module is available to order at Amazon as well. Enjoy!

Steve

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Dec 052010
 

Just a quick Sunday post with some more images from the Ricoh GXR with the 28mm. These images have all had some PP in Photoshop but the files were very rich to begin with. As always, you can click on the images for a larger view. Enjoy! I’ll have some great articles on the way this week so be sure and check back often!

Steve

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