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Ricoh Caplio GX - The digital GR1, Epic... ?


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Thanks for the heads up on the review, Olivier. Seems like a fairly even handed review, and generally positive. The impression I get though is that the reviewers are obsessed with "nice to have" features, and ignore what I see as some well considered limitations in the feature set. Particularly their problem with the aperture choices.


"This way the function aperture priority is upgraded in a negative way to a function carrying the name: "aperture priority, depending on the position of the zoom lens in a maximum of 3 steps-priority". A total freedom at a function like aperture priority is required en in fact standard for the type of camera the GX belongs to in my opinion."


They also criticize the fact that the 3 apertures change with the focal length, totally ignoring the fact that this is the case with almost every zoom lens whether mounted on a digicam or DSLR, whether it offers continuous apertures choices or not. In practical application, at least for me, Ricoh has provided just what I need, a wide aperture, an optimum middle aperture, and a small aperture. To offer more on a digicam with a 1/1.8" sensor would have been nothing more than a marketing ploy, because, especially at wide angle, a shallow DOF, for instance "bokeh"/background blurring is impossible to any great degree with that small a sensor. I think these apertures offer more than adequate means to deal with the light and to force high, medium, or low shutter speeds, and that's got to be the main reason for having any aperture selection on this kind of camera. I think Ricoh's choices here are very well informed and tailored to the purpose of a compact digital camera, namely street, candid, and decisive moment shooting. In those circumstances one doesn't want too many decisions to make, just what will get the job done in the most timely way, IMO. I think that's where the priorities lay in the design of the GX, while it offers a lot of options in addition to those. The closest digital camera to a real "do anything any way you want" camera for me is my Canon 10D, but it and other DSLRs are too big, and so is the Leica D2, for discreet and candid carry along use.


After 1 day of almost constant experimenting with the camera, so far, I agree with the reviewer's assessment of the image quality, it's great. And better than the various concerns expressed, my own included, led me to expect. I've done a few prints of normal compression hi res images and I've found no visible artifacting, and happily the prints are quite similar in look to some of my compact film camera shots.


I do find that the quick shutter response varies more than I would like with the conditions of shooting, but it still is faster overall than any other small camera I've had, including the Olympus Stylus Epic, and LT Zoom 105 film compacts.


Also, I haven't tried it but I think perhaps shutter speed adjustment can be assigned to the adj button, and if so, that would lay to rest one of the other criticisms, having to go to the menu to adjust shutter speed in manual exp mode. OTH, I seldom leave aperture priority mode even on my 10D so that's not a big thing, and there again, I think Ricoh really did their homework in trying to design a purposeful camera based on the way it would normally be used.


Just my .02 on the review.


I really like this camera.

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Here is the reply I received from Ricoh:


"There is no difference using the AA or Li-ion battery, but the brand of SD media greatly influences the recording speed. During my

test I used two cards,


Sandisk: 40 seconds


RAM components: 15 seconds


both were 128Mb and the same image and settings.


2) The auxillary AF under low light for the GX is not a light which appears with the shutter release partially pressed. You can see a 'pre flash' appear before the main flash. It is like the

'red-eye' reduction but there is a much shorter lag time between the auxillary flash and the main flash. If you go to a dark area and take a picture you can readily see this auxillary flash. Of

course the flash on the camera must be enabled for it to work."

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The Dutch guy has it all wrong. You don't have to go to the menu to set shutter speed.


In A/M mode, you set the shutter speed by pressing the up arrow and turning the wheel simultaneously. A small indicator pops up on the screen to show correct exposure.


It's a little awkward, but much better than using the menu.

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I have written the following mail to Letsgodigital in the hope that they will correct their errors.


"Hi Nederlands


I have just read your review on the Caplio GX. It contains one major mistake, which is unfair to this camera:


You write that in order to set the shutter speed, you have to go the menu. This is not neccessary.


In A/M mode, press the up arrow and turn the dial simultaneously to set the shutter speed. You will se an indicator on the screen that shows over/underexposure.


Your comment about the aperture, indicates that you don't really know much about photography. The widest aperture is never the same on wide and tele. This applies to all zoom lens, with perhaps one exeption.


I hope you will correct it, in order to be fair.


Best regards"

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I wish they'd printed a little symbol next to the 'up' arrow for that shutter speed adjustment ... I'd already forgotten about that.


I took a string of shots yesterday at F2592 on ISO400 under a dim, cloudy sky. Colour was OK, but I wasn't too happy with the noise and may stick with ISO200 for poor conditions. Still, once though PS, I was quite happy with some of the shots.<div>008eM6-18511084.jpg.9e8366a07df209358188449e78767c28.jpg</div>

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The only dealer I'm aware of, how I got mine, is on ebay:




item # 3813434287


The cameras are new and shipped directly from Hong Kong. The seller's name is Dora Lau, she's in Canada and has a partner who works at the Hong Kong Ricoh distributor. That's how I understand it. The cameras are fully warrantied, but any warranty work will require shipping back to HK (about $15.00 postage). It's a grey market thing, they're not sold in North America, and that makes it a bit risky, but I went for it after cancelling my bid once, then saw some more encouraging information and decided to buy one after all (and I'm glad I did). Dora Lau's been very helpful and based on my experience so far,is running a very straight up business. The price is $499.00 I believe still, and with postage it's about $535.00, then of course there's the SD memory, and I ordered a lithium battery and charger, and that adds about $100.


Don't know if there are alternative grey market dealers, there might be, I think it's possible to find grey market GR1s around, so maybe the GX? I'm happy with the deal I got.

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My experience so far is good, I think the lens itself is quite sharp although it has a fair amount of distortion at wide angle. Not anything unique to this digicam however. Your mileage, as the say, may vary.


I'm most interested in prints so everything passes through ps whether it is from my 10D, or this, and they all get seasoned to taste. The in-camera adjustments are soft, normal, and sharp, and I generally set mine to soft and prefer to do my own sharpening in photoshop. The pictures taken that way respond well to USM sharpening. I've just started to experiment with the normal setting. I don't think there is any problem with sharpness. A lot of people think the Canon DSLRs are soft, but their defaults are just very conservative leaving it to the user to make their own adjustments.


That said I checked your portfolio because I was curious before answering what kinds of pictures you shoot, and I see your 2 photos (nice BTW), were done with a Leica, and are VERY sharp, the picture of grandma in particular. You probably are aware of this, but you won't get bokeh like that, if any, with this camera and I don't know that you can expect that kind of sharpness. The GX is no Leica with a prime, but still seems like a very capable camera. But you have to work with it.


I'm very happy with mine, but I've been exploring it for only about 4 days. Sandeha and some of the other folks here probably have a more experienced take on it.

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Thanks Dean. Yes I do love my Leicas. Trouble is sometimes I don't feel like doing the

film dance, shoot wait for the roll, develop, print scant he good ones.....I will hang onto a

little l glass.

I really want to use the Caplio for when I go trail running or traveling. A good macro and

28 eq would be sweet.

thank you again,


ps other photos at www.outdoorphotographers.net

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I'm liking the camera more and more, and now that I've installed panotools distortion correction plug-in in PS, and got the free demo of neatimage, pretty much any imaging concerns are resolved for me. But there are 2 things that my GX does that are rather annoying. First there are times it doesn't seem to get the message when I shut it off, and if I press again, it thinks it is starting up and then I have to push again and it will close down and turn off. I know that a couple times this seems to be happening because it isn't done writing to the card, but some other times there is no apparent reason.


no. 2: on mine if I switch to macro mode, and focus, and then switch back to normal mode it won't focus anymore. If I then turn it off, and then back on ie reboot, it is fine.


Luckily I'm not a macro shooter very often, but it is annoying as all heck.


Do any of you notice similar behavior? For some reason none of this bothers me much, but that may be because I'll have to ship it back to Hong Kong to address the problem and I'm just avoiding that.


Neither thing is a big problem, just irritating.

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Dean, with mine the only situation where it refuses to focus following a macro shot is if it's still pointed at something very close. If you've proofed for that one, then you may have a problem if it does it consistently. I haven't had the power-off problem either, though the battery compartment cover does tend to slide out sometimes! I still haven't used mine very much, and it's not my main camera by any means, but I'm pretty happy with how it does what it does.
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Leslie, if you mean the in-camera flash firing when you use a hotshoe/cable flash, like I said above I cover it up. I took an old 35mm viewfinder cover, trimmed off one side, and then just use a bit of black electrical tape to hold it over the flash. Nuisance, but it works a treat.
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Those are some nice shots. Shows off the capabilities of the camera (and the photographer, of course!) very well. I'm surprised at how little distortion is evident in the last picture of the 2 buildings. Thanks for posting those.
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Hi Olivier,


Just wondering, seeing as how you began this thread, what's your take on all this? Still interested in the GX, or have you moved on?


I've concluded for myself that the GX does indeed answer your initial question in a positive way. I'm satisfied that it provides a reasonable digital alternative to a GR1 (or Epic Stylus or T4..closer to GR1 I think). There are some tradeoffs, most obviously the zoom lens vs the single purpose prime lenses of the film compacts, but I think the key is that it is digital and not film, and to the extent that one can accept the inherent pros and cons of each, it is a winner. I think it is fair to say that it is to the GR1, at least as much as what the Leica D2 is to a Leica M series, and the parallels seem to hold in pricing also. Ricoh took a good run at the GR1 here, they could have used, I assume, the lens from the RX but instead designed a new lens that exploits the higher resolution of the 5 meg sensor. I think they've done a good job, it will be interesting to see what subsequent versions offer.

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If I was to buy a digital camera now, it would be the GX.<br>

But I am really not in a hurry and can wait happily, using my current film equipment (I have a Canon SLR system + Epic + Minolta 5400 Scanner), which is fine for my low quantity of photos (about 1000 pics a year).<p>


The GX is not very far from being excellent for my own needs, but I am not quite sure about image quality yet (<a href="http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1000&message=8909486">Purple Fringing</a>, maybe some <a href="http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1000&message=8933527">visible lines at high ISO</a>, poor in-camera processing (artefacts), poor dynamic range of digital, etc...) and I must say that I would prefer cheaper CompactFlash cards (a 4Gb in camera + external-Drive for backup).<p>


I haven't made my mind yet, but I will probably wait to see what happen for Photokina at the end of September (why not a 30-120mm f/2.0-3.0 faster Canon G6 + more competition with upgrades of Nikon 5400, Olympus 5060w ?).<br>

I am also strongly considering the '4/3' system, as an Olympus E-300 + 8-18mm + 35-105mm - <i>beware: rumours only</i> - would make a lot of sense for me (wide angle, light, reasonable cost & quality) => I would prefer to switch to digital in one-shot (SLR + P&S) in order to mutualize accessories (memory cards, external-drive, etc...).<p>


So september could be an interesting time for photo equipment. If not... I still can wait (as long as I can buy film and get them processed without prints).<p>


Dean: I am not quite sure that this is the answer you expected... :)<p>



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No problem at all, I was just curious what your thoughts were as the originator of the thread. I can completely understand what you are saying. From what I'm hearing, I get the impression however, that a lot of your caution is more in regard to digital in general than to the GX in particular. I think as current digital cameras go, the GX lives up to my expectations. Things will only get better with the technology moving at the rate it is, it all depends on whether the current cameras meet our individual needs.
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Just thought I'd report that I got the DB43 battery, and the Tiff write time appears to have dropped from about 14-15 secs to right around 11 seconds. Nothing scientific but that's how it appears. Pretty quick for saving a NC Tiff file. Both times used the same SD card, just changed from the AA nimh to the DB43 lithium.
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There is no question that the GX is a fast digicam, but so far in my experience it is it's manual adjustment capability that makes it so, not its AF performance as Ricoh claims, unless it is in daylight. In room level light I have yet to see it lock focus in less than approx 1 sec. This is not a big deal because of course it is faster anyway than manually focussing an SLR or Rangefinder manual camera, but still a far cry from Ricoh's .12sec total shutter lag including AF. A significant part of the time is due to calculating exposure also. Take AE and AF out of the equation and it's super quick. Luckily it allows the fixed snap focus, and presetting the shutter speed and aperture exposure (especially easily done due to the live histogram) and retains those settings (my ELPH can lock both independently, but will not save those when powered down). With that done, the shutter is instantaneous and on par with a manual film RF and it is the same prefocus and fixed exposure technique I would use with my old FED2.


But the AF is no better than average in less than optimum lighting. Does this seem to be the experience of other GX owners here?

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