Ricoh GXR

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Any members with a Ricoh? These seem a great pocket camera with a choice of 28mm and 50mm interchangable lenses.
 
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I'll bump this thread. I was talking with a friend who's a Leica and Canon shooter about tinkering with rangefinders. The problem is that digital rangefinding is a very expensive pool to dip one's toes into. There are many affordable film options, but then you have to acquaint yourself with an entirely different workflow, let alone the shooting process. He mentioned that he plans to pick up a Ricoh GXR and the new unit that can mount M-mount lenses natively. Apparently the unit has been designed to accomodate most of the widest lenses that have been problematic for other mounts. It uses some sort of microlenses on the sensor that help the digital sensor gather light at the edges of the frame to accomodate the short flange distance. The unit has an APS-C size sensor in it, so I'd expect it to have performance as good or better than the M8 from an IQ standpoint. Of course you don't get the range-finder focusing experience, but you can slap an optical finder on it for that and zone-focus the lens, or they have some other very handy focusing aids similar to the Sony NEX and the zoomed area focus. Any takers on the forum?
 
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I've been following people's opinions of a few test/review copies of the GXR mount module on other forums, but it's hard to sift through the chaff. I did see one review with photos posted from Leica 28mm and 50mm lenses and they looked good, but were not full-sized uploads. My plan would be to get the GXR camera, the larger sensor point-and-shoot module, and the APS-C mount module. I like the idea of the module as it was designed (hopefully well) specifically around usage with rangefinder lenses that have been excellent on film but less than optimal on most digital sensors at the edges.

There are probably more well-designed M-mount lenses than any other mount out there. The new lens selection alone is astounding. The NEX cameras spec well and can be used with M-mount lenses with adapters, but they are designed with E-mount lenses in mind which have been optimized to that sensor. The Fuji camera looks awesome, but I don't want to commit that kind of cash to a camera when I can't take the lens with me down the road. If I do go this GXR route, I'd probably get the 35mm and 25mm Zeiss compact Biogon lenses. I don't trust Sony as far as I can throw them and would never buy one of their native high-end lenses, but there will always be M-mount cameras available, and cheaply if you're willing to shoot film.
 
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I had a Ricoh GR-D III a short while back, and while it is different than the GXR, the UI and build quality are very similar. It was probably the best low-bs interface I'd used ever and was very easy to work with when shooting. You could tell it was designed for knowledgeable photogs from the start and the GXR seems to share that trait. I think you would enjoy the camera, even as unconventional as it seems initially.
 
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Follow-up to my last post, I picked up a gently used Ricoh GXR and the S10 module in a package. I'll be bringing it on a trip as the little buddy to my D700 for the times I'd like to travel lightly. For those not familiar with the camera, it is unique in that the body carries the LCD, hot shoe, and all controls, as well as the processing (I believe) and memory card. You then buy separate lens-sensor or mount-sensor modules that slide into the body. The available units are a tiny sensor travel zoom based on their CX cameras (28-200mm equiv), a "larger" small sensor zoom based on the GX cameras (24-70 equiv), a 28mm f/2.5 prime lens with APS-C sensor, a 50mm prime macro and APS-C sensor, and now an APS-C sensor with an M-mount for all of those rangefinder lenses. The idea behind the "lensors" is similar to the Fuji x100, in that you can optimize a lens around a sensor to keep the size down, the speed up, and maximize the performance of it's paired sensor.

The body is very well designed, as is typical of Ricoh. It feels like a mini D700, it's closest build relative being the Canon G-series point and shoots, but better. All magnesium, awesome rubber grip on the front and thumb-rest. There is a control wheel just in front of the shutter release that adjusts with your index finger, and a second control toggle next to your thumb. It's more comfortable to hold than the Panasonic GH1, which I thought was a pretty well designed camera other than the awkward positioning of the control dial. You could easily be missing an arm and shoot with this camera while taking advantage of most of the controls. The mode dial has a lock similar to the D700, which is awesome. No more turning on the camera and finding myself in "sporting animal night portrait" mode like on my Panasonic LX-3. Finally, each dial, toggle, and button is highly customizable, and there are 3 custom settings on the mode dial with no scene modes to deal with.

The bad news, the LCD is long in the tooth and does not tilt or swivel. I wouldn't mind an extra 5mm to have this capability. The AF, at least on the 24-70mm zoom module I got, is slow. Can't comment on the accuracy yet. There is an add-on hotshoe LCD, but it's pricy at over $200 and definitely not at the level of something like the new NEX EVF.

Good news is that there is a function called snap focus. You can set it up to always default to a certain focus distance for the module when powered on, say 10 feet, and with a full press of the shutter release, there is an instant exposure bypassing the AF. Half-press still activates AF. There is also a handy depth of field display on the LCD. If you fashion yourself a street photographer, you can set it to 3 meters, walk around, and fire away to capture the moment. If you're shooting all landscapes, just set it to hyperfocal for your favored focal length. With 3 custom settings banks and a small sensor, you almost don't need AF.

IQ remains to be seen. I'm not expecting a lot out of this module above base ISO, but plan to shoot in RAW to make the most out of it. If it performs as well as my LX-3, I'll be happy, though I'll miss the faster lens. I'm looking forward to the M-mount module and acquiring a rangefinder lens to go up against the D700-Zeiss combo I've recently taken a liking to. The M-module is promising in that it has offset microlenses to deal with edge/corner issues related to the short flange distance, and does not have an AA filter. Almost like a clip-on Leica M8 :)
 
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Availability

With all this talk of mirrorless cameras, I thought I'd post that there are still a few available A12 M-mount modules available at Popflash (no affilitation) for those who wish to try the system. I've been trying to get a hold of one of these for a couple of weeks now. Supposedly they will receive a shipment on Monday or Tuesday.

I purchased a Fotodiox adapter to mount my F-mount lenses to the module for now. My kit will be the 3 CV lenses giving me 30mm, 60mm, and 135mm fields of view on this sensor. I also have my Nikon AI-S lenses that will give me 42mm, 75mm, and 115-225mm fields of view. Finally I have my Zeiss lenses for 50mm and 150mm fields of view. Definitely not ideal for the way I shoot, but I build my collection around FX. I'm sure the CV's will see the most use since they'll balance the best, and no more smeary corners from the 20mm lens. Someone on DPR recently posted some Zeiss 100mm photos using the module, we'll see how that goes. It's like using a NEX with that zoom video lens, but you have to MF it!

I've decided that I'm only going to buy M-mount glass that I plan to keep for a long time, and would prefer to save for the best rather than upgrading down the road. It's going to be awhile, but hopefully the household CFO clears me for a lens for the holidays! If so, the plan is for the Zeiss ZM 25mm f/2.8, one of the highest resolving lenses ever made. Fast enough, small enough, sharp enough, and most importantly will act like a 37mm lens, close to my favorite 35mm field of view.
 
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With all this talk of mirrorless cameras, I thought I'd post that there are still a few available A12 M-mount modules available at Popflash (no affilitation) for those who wish to try the system. I've been trying to get a hold of one of these for a couple of weeks now. Supposedly they will receive a shipment on Monday or Tuesday.

I purchased a Fotodiox adapter to mount my F-mount lenses to the module for now. My kit will be the 3 CV lenses giving me 30mm, 60mm, and 135mm fields of view on this sensor. I also have my Nikon AI-S lenses that will give me 42mm, 75mm, and 115-225mm fields of view. Finally I have my Zeiss lenses for 50mm and 150mm fields of view. Definitely not ideal for the way I shoot, but I build my collection around FX. I'm sure the CV's will see the most use since they'll balance the best, and no more smeary corners from the 20mm lens. Someone on DPR recently posted some Zeiss 100mm photos using the module, we'll see how that goes. It's like using a NEX with that zoom video lens, but you have to MF it!

I've decided that I'm only going to buy M-mount glass that I plan to keep for a long time, and would prefer to save for the best rather than upgrading down the road. It's going to be awhile, but hopefully the household CFO clears me for a lens for the holidays! If so, the plan is for the Zeiss ZM 25mm f/2.8, one of the highest resolving lenses ever made. Fast enough, small enough, sharp enough, and most importantly will act like a 37mm lens, close to my favorite 35mm field of view.


This thread is useless without pics :biggrin: lets see some
 
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This thread is useless without pics :biggrin: lets see some

Tell me about it. I should have the adapter in hand tomorrow or Monday, but won't get the sensor mount unit until a week from Monday as we're going out of town next Tuesday November 1st. I only posted now because I finally found a vendor that could give me a guaranteed ship date. I've had money burning a hole in my Paypal pocket ever since I sold my GH1 and lenses. I can fire off some pics of the GXR with an adapted F-mount lens next to my LX3 and a D40 for size comparison if people want that.

I did pick up the EVF for the Ricoh and gave it a whirl with the point and shoot S10 module in place. It's not bad, but I preferred the EVF in the GH1. I think it was bigger, and I liked the sensor that turned it on when you put your eye to it. There is a toggle button for LCD/EVF on the GXR body, but when you hit the image review button, it shows on the LCD only. I hope there is a setting to review via the EVF, so I can chimp in the sun or in dimly lit places without the screen lighting up. The nice part about the EVF is that it protrudes towards your eye, somewhat mitigating against the lame centered hotshoe position that squishes my nose against the LCD. I have no idea why these manufacturers put the multi-purpose hotshoes in the middle of these bodies when most people will use them for EVF's.
 
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First go with the GXR and CV 40mm

Here are a few samples and crops from the CV 40mm AI-S adapted to the M-mount. I need to pay more attention to what I shoot at since the adapter doesn't transfer aperture data. Car shots are at base ISO 200, last is at 1600 to give an idea of the noise profile of the sensor. These are RAW files developed in Aperture 3 with default settings applied for DNG files. Only adjustments from there are exposure. Crops are all 100%.

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R1010703 by matthewcummings99, on Flickr

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First go with the GXR and Nikkor 28mm f/2.0 AI

Same story as above. First at ISO 336, second at ISO 673. Ricoh's auto-ISO is the same as Nikon's, where you can set the lower shutter speed limit and upper ISO limit.

In the first crop, there is what I think may be a combination of some chroma noise and possibly aliasing artifact? Never shot a camera with no AA sensor like this. Per pixel detail is amazing compared to the D700, but is it real detail? Second shot argues a boatload of detail if you see the building focused in the melting snow/ice crystal.

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R1010736 by matthewcummings99, on Flickr

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R1010736 - Version 2 by matthewcummings99, on Flickr

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GXR and M-mount module in use

I now have a fairly complete GXR kit after putting it together over the past month or so. For those unaware of this unique platform, there is a universal GXR body that houses the controls, grip, a popup flash, a hotshoe with associated port for smart attachments like the EVF, and the LCD. The LCD is in 4:3 format. The body can accomodate a variety of lensors including the P10 28-300mm zoom and tiny sensor, S10 24-70 zoom and small sensor, A12 50mm (equiv) 2.5 macro prime with APS-C sensor, A12 28mm (equiv) 2.5 prime with APS-C sensor, and now the M-mount module with a modified APS-C CMOS sensor that is stripped of its AA filter, and has offset microlenses optimized to accomodate rangefinder lenses designed with a short flange focal distance.

I have the S10 module that came at a discount with the body, and the recently acquired M-mount module. The S10 module is :Curved: and I prefer my Panasonic LX-3 for IQ. I have a Fotodiox Nikon lens to M-mount adapter to use my current lenses while I save up some coin for rangefinder lenses. There are so many out there with varying design goals and rendering characteristics that I'll need to re-evaluate my shooting habits before I pick the right kit for me. I will likely get the ZM 25 2.8 or ZM 35 2.8 as my first lens, and am leaning towards the 25mm because of its stellar reputation, Zeiss look, and it gets me close to 35mm equivalent field of view.

I also have the EVF which I've grown to like, but could be improved upon. It tilts up much like the new Sony EVF, and has a diopter adjustment for those who need it. I've been shooting with glasses on or off without an issue. If they upped the resolution and put an IR sensor on it, like my GH1 had, it would be great. The position of the button to toggle between EVF and LCD is awkward. Also, I like to adjust some settings while looking at the LCD rather than through the EVF because the adjustment lever on the back is too close to my face to use on the fly without some discomfort.

Shooting MF once all the settings are adjusted is a dream on this camera. My keeper rate is quite high with still objects. I shoot in aperture priority mode with matrix metering. Aperture is adjusted on the lens, of course, and camera sets the shutter speed. Just right of the thumb rest is an up-down lever that zooms the point and shoot modules, but can be assigned to exposure compensation with this M-mount unit, very very handy. The 4-way pad around the OK button is also customizable with Fn1 and Fn2. I have set Fn1 to toggle between full sensor view and magnified 1:1 view for pixel perfect focusing. I have set Fn2 to toggle between focus assist on-off. There are 2 focus assist modes. One is like the peaking feature on the NEX where there is shimmering, for lack of a better word, on any part of the image determined as in focus by the body. The second is a grayscale high-pass filter that shows high contrast edges as dark next to bright, with everything else gray. I prefer to use the second mode. When either focus assist mode is activated, it stays on whether I'm in full-sensor view or magnified view. When the shutter release is partially depressed, magnification and focus assist are deactivated to allow framing with full-color view. Let go of the shutter, and your settings re-engage.

Easier to use than describe. Essentially what I do is start in full-sensor view with focus assist set to on. I ball-park the focus, tap Fn1 for a mag view and critical focus, then half-press to frame the shot, then full-press to capture. This method only requires one button press in addition to the shutter, almost as easy and arguably more accurate that using an OVF. If Nikon updates the D700, I'd honestly prefer a great EVF with live-view focusing like the Ricoh to the current OVF, but bigger with higher resolution.

As far as cons, this is a camera for non-moving subjects for me right now. Stopped down without magnifying, I'm sure you could easily capture moving subjects that are reasonably sharp. But I still prefer the D700 handling even with MF for moving subjects. The other issue is RAW write speed. It may be the SD card I'm using, but it takes a couple seconds to write one RAW.

I'm just starting to play with the files now. There is definite fine grain even at or near base ISO, so we'll have to see how shadows do in post. I hear people talk about "film-like" noise, and I think that's what I'm seeing here, at least in the mailbox shot above. I'll put some of the files through Nik Dfine and see how they turn out. For black and white, I'll probably just shoot at high ISO and leave it there for the look.

More to come hopefully, and fire any questions you may have if you're interested in this lesser known and loved mirrorless camera.
 
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I recently received my Zeiss ZM 25mm f/2.8 lens for use on the Ricoh GXR. Until this point, I've been shooting with adapted lenses, most commonly the Nikkor 28/2.0 AI, CV 40, and CV90 in F-mount via an adapter. I've only had a limited amount of time shooting with the setup due to work and weather, but thought I'd post some photos showing the behavior of this lens on the AA-free 12mp sensor of the GXR M-mount.

For those of you not familiar with the ZM 25mm, this is touted to be Zeiss's highest resolving lens, with a quoted 400 mm/lp at MTF10. It is quite sharp wide open and is wickedly sharp across the frame at f/5.6. It is said to be diffraction limited beyond f/4, which is amazing. In limited testing, it has proven to be quite sharp, and I plan to post some images in the near future to demonstrate the interaction of a ridiculously sharp lens and this camera's sensor. There is definite moire showing up all over the place with this lens. But the trade-off compared to AA equipped mirrorless cameras is that there is no noticeable corner smearing or degradation. To counteract the moire in some circumstances, I plan to just stop the lens down until diffraction acts as its own AA filter, which will be uniform and more correctable. I look forward to seeing how a diffraction softened image with sharpening in post-processing stacks up to the look when shot at f/4-5.6.

Here is a boring image of dinner the other night. This was underexposed by probably 1-1.5 stops on accident, and shot at ISO 734. Pushing the exposure up didn't help the already noise-prone sensor. First is the converted unsharpened RAW with only exposure adjustment, downsized by Smugmug. Second is a 100% crop of the same image with exposure optimized for the cropped area. All sharpening is turned off. Third is the final image after editing in Nik, which doesn't look too different from the original when downsized, but has noise reduction applied to clean it up when seen full-size.

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Here are 3 images with the same treatment as above, a converted RAW with exposure adjustment only to preserve highlights (no sharpening), a crop of the same image (look at that branch detail, but peppered with color artifacts), and an edited version with noise-reduction, mild sharpening, and exposure color adjustments in Nik. I've found that Nik's D-noise can have a tough time differentiating noise in shadows from the chroma noise-like artifacts that I'm attributing to aliasing. When it's reduced, it does knock down some of the detail as well that can be easily seen during editing. Sharpening brings some of this detail back to life. Even after this short experience, I'm really looking forward to improvements that I expect when Ricoh uses the 16mp sensor that is in the D7000 in upcoming modules. The increased pixel density, greater dynamic range, and improved base-ISO noise should all play much more nicely with the absent AA filter. The experience has also made me take pause on the new D800, as I want to see more real world use with the regular and E versions before committing. I suspect that very high-performance lenses will resolve enough detail to give us moire on the E-version.

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Here is an illustration of the trade-offs regarding absence of the AA filter on this camera's sensor. The first is the original scene, and the following crops are unedited, unsharpened JPEG images converted from RAW in Aperture 3 with only a 50% Hue Boost. The crops are from images shot at 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16, 22 in that order. Sharpness and contrast peak at 5.6, but so does all of the color artifact due to absence of the AA filter. As the lens is stopped down further, we lose the crisp sharpness, but the color artifacts also go away

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2.8
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4.0
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5.6
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8.0
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11
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16
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22
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Here is a comparison of the untouched crop at f/5.6 compared to the crop at f/16 denoised and sharpened in Nik. The exposure is a little different. I think that the crispness and true detail of the image is better in the untouched f/5.6 image, but find the color artifacts annoying. The f/16 image has no artifact, but lacks the punch. I virtually never print, but I'm tempted to find a scene I really like sometime and shooting it at optimal aperture and a diffraction limited aperture, then printing both big to see which I ultimately prefer.

f/5.6
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f/16 sharpened
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