It is not always what it seems

2012, Photography
Not really Siberia

Not really Siberia

Things are not always what it seems. I wrote several times about the Ricoh cameras I used, like the GRD3 and the GX200. From a photographer’s point of view these cameras are made for photographers. Some of the best user interface, the customization, you name it. Now these cameras are hard to acquire in most of the world and even here in the Netherlands you won’t find many stores with these cameras. Most reviews are in favor of these cameras although Ricoh’s cameras do use outdated technology, like the older sensors. Ricoh engineers however push their available technology to the max. I love these cameras, not because they are named after a copier. No, they are meant to use as a tool, a good tool.

Unfortunately though I experienced myself that these cameras comes with flaws. Not immediately, but after a while. I bought a GX100 in 2007, had that camera for a year, but could only use it for 9 months. The other months that camera was at the repair service. Dust in the lens, three times. Its replacement, the GX200, seemed to be a good deal. In the 1.5 years I had that camera I never had a problem with it. Although it performed flawless I never grew into that camera. I didn’t like the output for my B&W photography. I briefly had a GRD1, liked that camera a lot, but the autofocus gave problems at some point. The lens was front focusing, even to the point that snap mode didn’t work anymore. The GRD1 was replaced by the GRD3 I liked so much. While I still consider the GRD3 a perfect photographer’s camera I had several problems with it. The camera once stopped functioning and was replaced by another sample. With that camera, which I still have, the LCD screen was replaced (scratched surface), the lens was replaced (AF problem, misalignment and dust), and now the autofocus isn’t working properly. These current problems remind me of the AF problems I had with the GRD1.

I am noticing that I become hesitating of recommending or personally buying a new Ricoh camera. I guess I have had enough problems in the last five years with my cameras. Enough camera stuff too. The above photograph was taken near my hometown in surprisingly cold weather. The beautiful light, the fog, and the snow gave me a brief moment of joy.

Photograph by Wouter Brandsma

Ricoh GX200

From the Left

2008, Flickr, Photography

I start liking the jpegs of the GX200. They look better and have more bite than the RAW files. Processing the jpegs is easier too. In Lightroom I increase the blacks for darker shadows, drag the exposure slider to the left, lighten the midtones with the brightness slider, and add a bit of clarity. But the best thing is, that it doesn’t increase the noise either. You could also do the same thing in Apple Aperture, quick and easy.

Just some rumbling about gear, but why the hell does a camera manufacturer with the intention to create cameras for a niche market (with photographers in mind) add options like multi AF, leveler, matrix metering, and image stabilization? If a camera was made with usability and photography in mind, it could still be a basic camera. Do you seriously need all those bells and whistles? I think it is not only about the handling of a camera, but also about the photographs. I don’t think image quality is the best name for that, but I would love to have a larger sensor in a simple camera with a good lens.

Ricoh GX200

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma