Officially that’s the Ricoh Caplio GX100, but a camera shouldn’t need a middle name. Mine arrived yesterday.

Ricoh Caplio GX100

Why? · You just gotta have a pocket camera, because the single greatest factor in taking good photos is being ready to shoot when opportunity knocks. I still regret my deceased Canon S70, and while I got some OK shots with the Canon A710, I never actually liked it that much; the ergonomics were so-so and it wouldn’t shoot RAW and the shutter lag was irritating.

On paper, the Ricohs scratch a few of those itches, then when I was in Tokyo last year, it became obvious that the Ricohs are the preferred camera flavor among the Japanese geek contingent; I got to fool with a couple of them and liked the feel.

If you look at DPReview’s take, it’s pretty negative, but the lines aren’t hard to read between: on the upside, the ergonomics are great, the wide-angle is huge, the thing reacts fast, and the lens is good. On the downside, the JPEG conversion is second-rate in anything but really excellent light; and the dynamic range is not that great, it’s easy to blow out the highlights.

Well, I’d normally shoot RAW rather than JPEG anyhow, so the really big downside isn’t that big an issue. There is another issue in that the RAW write speed is sluggish, so you can’t shoot a whole bunch in a row.

Another alternative would be the much-ballyhooed Ricoh GR Digital II, with all the same ergonomic goodness and a neato prime lens too; lately I’ve become a bit of a prime-lens junkie.

I spent some time poking around the Ricoh Forum, and it seems that the GX100 lens is not significantly behind the D2 where it matters, plus it’s a little more resistant to highlight burnout. And damn it, a pocket camera’s about convenience, so why not a zoom?

Impressions · I unpacked it, I charged it up, I turned it on... nothing. Talk about a mood-destroyer. Had to go out, when I came back an hour later it was fine. Go figure. So, late at night, the lights low, I jammed the ISO over to 800 and took the first shot at what I could see from where I was sitting.

Interior low-light test shot with Ricoh GX100

Hey, the image stabilization is pretty good, that’s at 1/13 of a second.

So I snuck up on the cat and balanced the camera on a stool: ¼-second shutter. Fortunately, the cat held still.

Cat in low light by Ricoh GX100

Yeah, there’s a lot of luminance noise in those, but... usable, I’d say.

Today I was pinned by the phone/chat/email torrent from the moment I got breakfast stuffed into the kids until like three PM, so after I got my shower I grabbed the Ricoh and went around the block.

The first crocuses are starting to think about showing their faces.

Young crocuses in dim light with Ricoh GX100

I shot that one with both RAW and JPEG, and there’s no doubt that Lightroom does a better job than the idiot software in the camera. Don’t know how visible it would be at screen resolutions. Also, they’re right about the sensitivity, I managed to blow out highlights even under the cloudy sky. There are EV compensation tricks that the Ricoh Forum experts recommend, have to learn them.

The ergonomics, even in the first 24 hours, are wonderful! It’s easier to switch ISO and resolution and so on than with my Pentax. And in decent light, the shutter lag is amazing, up there in SLR territory.

Hey, it even does bokeh! The macro setting is slow but slick.

Yellow early-spring flower with the Ricoh GX100

Obviously there’s quite a bit of learning that’ll need to happen. I’m in California and Geneva over the next two weeks, and I’ll leave the SLR at home; forced education.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Chris (Feb 15 2008, at 07:06)

I found the RAW write speed somewhat slow, until I replaced the SD card with an Extreme III. That brought the write times down to an accptable 4 seconds or so.

The other reason I love this camera is the hot shoe. Couple it with an ebay remote flash trigger and an off-camera flash and you have the ingredients for some awesome shots where you can overpower the sun, even at noon. Compact digital cameras can often sync their flashes at 1/1000th, you see.


From: Bert Lamb (Feb 15 2008, at 08:15)

Does the lack of a built in flash not bother you? I know the flash on compacts is pretty wimpy anyway, but I would think it would mean that all indoor photography would require everyone to stand statuesquely still :)


From: Tim (Feb 15 2008, at 10:13)

Bert - it's got a built-in flash, pop-up. If you look at my pic of the camera, there's a little slider-switch labeled "OPEN" on the top at the shooter's left side.


From: Bert Lamb (Feb 15 2008, at 13:55)

Ah gotcha, I saw the weird looking external flash in the available accessories and jumped to the conclusion the body didn't have one. Looks like a very nice featured camera for an ultra compact. Hmmm....I've got a trip to Peru coming up.....might come in handy :)


From: Devon (Feb 16 2008, at 07:01)

Some image editors have the ability to reduce image noise. I like to use Paint.NET on my Vista machine, which has it listed under effects. One click, and noise is cleared.


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