My Ricoh GX100 impressions
Until the mid nineties I used SLR cameras for photography. But I felt that they weighted too much, and I wanted to have a camera I could take with me every time without feeling like a big poser. In 1996 I sold my Nikon SLR and three lenses and bought a Ricoh GR1. A high quality compact camera with a 28mm prime lens. The simplicity of making photographs with a single prime lens and the quality feel of the camera were a joy.
Ricoh Caplio GX100, f/4.3, 1/1000 sec, 35mm equivalent, ISO 100, 0.0 EV
With the arrival of the digital age, I bought an Olympus C4000z. It wasn’t a heavy camera, but it was still quite bulgy and very slow. So after three years I really wanted to replace that camera. It needed to be faster, smaller, shoot RAW files, well built, and have a wide angle lens. And it needed to be versatile, because it was the only camera I would be using. I personally preferred the Ricoh GRD but opted for the Ricoh GX100 instead. Most important reasons were the faster RAW writing and the 24mm lens.
Ricoh Caplio GX100, f6.0, 1/400 sec, ISO 80 -0.0 EV
I got the camera last June 2007 and took some 1,000 photos before I noticed I had a problem with my camera. It still worked perfectly, and there was no change in the operation. But there was something on every photo. Name it a “blob” or whatever. And while reading on forums like Ricohforum.com and dpreview.com, I sure wasn’t the only one. Probably some dust got in the camera, and it might have had to do with the “wobbly” lens.
When I came back from my vacation I contacted Ricoh, and the camera was sent to their service center. After a few weeks the camera was returned. The “blob” was gone; they replaced a lens assy, and the “wobbling” was gone. It has performed flawlessly ever since. I still feel confident with the camera, and I am not too worried about getting dust in the camera again. But I am still thinking about getting the hood and adapter (HA-2) to minimize the risk even further.
Ricoh Caplio GX100, f/5.7, 1/500 sec, 24mm equivalent ISO 80, -0.3 EV
I use the GX100 mostly for landscape and documentary photography. I take it in my pockets when I go on a stroll or commute to my work. I always shoot RAW (in Adobe DNG format by the way), and I can live with slightly longer writing times. It gives you time to think about a new composition (the film winding on my GR1 took almost as much time). There are three particular things I really appreciate about the GX100. First, the combination of shooting RAW and B&W setting. The LCD screen will show the live view in B&W. The additional jpeg will be recorded in B&W while the RAW will be unprocessed. Secondly, the step zoom. With the step zoom on, the zoom will act like a sort of Leica Tri-Elmar lens. You will only get the 24, 28, 35, 50, and 72mm focal lengths.
The third thing I like is the option to save two “preferred” settings for your camera. These saved settings work in combination with the MY1 and MY2 settings on the mode dial. I will give an example. If you like to start your camera with a focal length of 28mm, B&W setting (with enhanced contrast and sharpness for the full jpeg), RAW 3:2 writing, aperture mode and manual focus you can save that setting. This is absolutely great and works perfectly.
Ricoh Caplio GX100, f2.5, 1/15 sec, ISO 154 -0.3 EV
Now, I bought my camera without the electronic viewfinder and thus frame entirely on the LCD screen. For more than 90% that is adequate because the frame is very bright and clearly visible. Even so in very bright situations, but I would still like to have an optical viewfinder for street photography and holiday snapping. I also want to swap the wriststrap for a neckstrap. I constantly have the feeling the camera will drop out of my hand, and the strap won’t hold it. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t! I dropped the camera once some three feet and thankfully encountered no problems.
Ricoh Caplio GX100, f/3.8, 1/200 sec, 35mm equivalent, ISO 80, -0.3 EV
This camera fits me. I like the form and build quality, only keeping some doubts about the lens. Ricoh designed this camera with photographers in mind. The up-down dial, shutter release button, mode dial, adjustment lever, and menu button are easily accessible. You can adjust the exposure compensation, white balance and ISO setting without entering the menu. The grip is firm, not only for the hand/palm, but also for the thumb.
Some things are less usable or not that great, like the flash. It is a shame Ricoh didn’t add any flash compensation on a camera in 2007! I already mentioned the wobbling lens and the dust problems many users encountered. In very bright situations, the RAW files tend to get a bit pink in the brightest parts. Although it can be adjusted with a RAW converter I still think Ricoh should get this fixed.
Ricoh Caplio GX100, f3.7, 1/200 sec, ISO 80 -1.0 EV
There are some improvements I would like to see on the follow-up. I think with the new Sigma DP1 now in store we might hopefully see more compact cameras with a larger sensor. Because Ricoh doesn’t produce any DSLR camera, I hope they will develop their newer cameras (GR and GX-series) with larger sensors. Secondly, I hope Ricoh will also produce an optical view finder for the GX_00 with some frame lines for 24, 28 and 35 mm (that would be enough for me).
All in all an excellent camera that advances my creativity.
Ricoh Caplio GX100, f/5.1, 1/1250 sec, 24mm equivalent, ISO 80, -0.3 EV
Update! March 31, 2008
I discovered a dust spot again on my photos. So once again I got dust in the lens. There is a serious problem in my opinion with the lens assembly of the GX100. Thankfully Ricoh responded quickly, but I am not so amused. I still like the camera, but I would now prefer to have the GRDII instead. So I am without a Ricoh camera at the moment.
Ricoh Caplio GX100, f5/.4, 1/400 sec, ISO 80, -0.3 EV
Update! April 10, 2008
Ricoh responded quickly to my message. My camera was collected on April 3 and it returned on April 10. They replaced the lens assy and checked the camera thoroughly. I guess I am pleased again.
All photographs by Wouter Brandsma