Ricoh GX200 Review

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Ricoh GX 200

Steve's Conclusion

Sitting on the top end of Ricoh's professional series cameras is the new GX200. This 12-Megapixel camera features a 2.7" 460,000 dot LCD screen, 3x wide optical zoom lens and an optional external View Finder. Like the GR Digital 2, the GX200 lacks some of the user friendly features that you will find on most consumer level digicams. You won't find features like face detection, instead you will find full manual shooting modes, intricate image adjustments and a wide angle lens that almost completely eliminates barrel distortion at its widest point. It does, however, have a scene mode that provides you with settings for some difficult shooting situations.

Although it is a little larger than most of the digicams on the market that are getting smaller and smaller, the size and feel of the GX200 will have you convinced almost instantly that it was designed to fit in your hand. The top of the camera houses the power, shutter release and Fn1 buttons along with the mode dial, pop-up flash and an adjustment dial. All of these controls are easily accessible when operating the camera with one hand except for the flash and Fn1 button which are on the left side of the camera.

On the back of the camera, the ADJ button/lever, zoom controls and play button lay conveniently under your thumb, continuing the ease of use with one hand. Under those you will find the 4-way controller/menu buttons, DISP and timer/delete buttons. Above the LCD is a button that allows you to switch between the LCD and optional VF. All of these buttons make it easy for you change all of the camera's settings quickly and easily.

For framing and viewing your images, Ricoh has provided a 2.7" HVGA LCD screen. HVGA screens sport twice as many dots as most digicams on the market today (460,000). This provides you with incredibly sharp, detailed images when viewing them on the camera. Combine this with its high-contrast and wide viewing angle, it is perfect for shooting in all light conditions or sharing your pictures with others. If you buy the GX200 with the VF kit, you will also get a small EVF that plugs into the hot shoe of the camera. The display provides an equivalent of 201,000 dots, nearly the resolution of most digicams. Unlike most external or detachable viewfinders, all of the camera's information that is displayed on the LCD screen is also displayed in the EVF. It provides 100% of the image coverage, and adjusts as you use the zoom.

Performance from the GX200 is very good when shooting in jpg. mode. It is able to capture its first image in just 1.5 seconds after turning on the camera. When the camera is pre-focused, there is virtually no shutter lag, and 6/10 of a second when allowing the auto focus to work. In single shot mode the camera is able to capture 5 shots in 6.1 seconds without the flash and 10.5 seconds with the flash. The camera also features 3 continuous shooting modes. Normal continuous is able to capture 10 images in 6.1 seconds, twice as fast as single shot mode. The other two modes capture 16 shots, either the first or last 16, and combine them into one repeating image.

When shooting in RAW mode the performance was just a little slower. In single shot mode, it took 8.8 seconds to capture the 5 images without a flash and 15 seconds with the flash. In RAW there is only one continuous shooting mode. This mode is able to capture 5 full-sized images in just 2.7 seconds before filling the buffer. Our tests were completed using an Ultra 150x 4GB SDHC memory card, program mode, ISO auto, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults, unless otherwise noted. All times may vary depending on lighting, camera settings, media, etc.

Our outdoor image quality is fantastic. With outstanding exposures and true to life colors, it is hard not to be amazed by the images that this camera captures. The super wide angle (24mm) lens produces crisp images and virtually eliminates barrel distortion. This gives you the ability to shoot scenes that are not possible without an interchangeable lens for a dSLR. The 3x optical zoom lens gives you a telephoto end of 72mm, which is enough to help you in framing your images. It is not, however, enough to get close to an object off in the distance. The zoom range is also great for shooting portrait shots, whether you are just framing your subjects or trying to include the surroundings, you will have no troubles.

Our indoor image quality is also excellent. The auto white balance does a great job of producing the same colors between the available light source and the flash shots. When you get to ISO 200, you start to lose some of the really fine details. At ISO 400, you lose a bit more detail, but the amount of noise is very acceptable for the ISO setting. The built in pop-up flash has a range of 16.5 ft. wide and approx. 10 ft. at the telephoto end at ISO Auto/400. This gives you enough room to light a small to medium sized room at the wide angle. I did notice that areas outside of the flash range do produce a noticeable amount of noise that can be seen in the background of the portrait shot.

The GX200 features a very impressive macro shooting mode. It is able to focus on it's subject from as close as 1cm. The amount of detail that is captured in the images is amazing. Even when using the flash from just a few centimeters away, images come out very well with nothing in the image over-exposed or blown out.

With the ability to shoot video at either 640x480 or 320x240 at 15fps or 30fps with sound, when you come across a situation where a photo just isn't enough, then you have a few good options for taking video. The image quality is good, however, there is a little noise throughout the video. The mic on the camera is very sensitive and picks up a lot, which includes background noises and wind, if you are outside. Remember that the built in microphones on digicams will always pick up the sounds closest to the camera, no matter where the camera is facing or how much of the zoom you are using, so don't expect to pick up a lot of sound detail from any large amount of distance.

Supplying the power to the GX200 is a 3.7V 1150 mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. Ricoh claims that this battery packs enough juice to take approx. 350 pictures with the battery pack or it also has the ability to use 2 AAA sized alkaline batteries. With the AAA batteries you can take roughly 30 pictures. I was able to take over 200 images and several videos while completing my tests on a single charge of the included battery. There is also an included external battery charger that allows you to keep a spare battery charged or you can pick up a couple AAA batteries anywhere if you are in a bind.

Bottom Line - The Ricoh GX200 is a professional / enthusiast level camera that provides a great combination of quality and performance. The super-wide 3x optical zoom lens, 12-megapixel imager and slew of creative features make this perfect as a small easy to carry alternative to a dSLR in some circumstances. With a MSRP of US$599-$749, depending on the VF kit, it is definitely for someone that is serious about photography.

Ricoh has announced an updated firmware for the GX200

Details - Ricoh GX200 Firmware Update Version 1.25 (7/15/2009)

Modified the following phenomenon:

  • With the combination of the following conditions, it will not properly appear the image in the position display window that is shown when you playback with enlarged.
    • - [Auto Rotate] ON
    • - There are both horizontal and vertical images in a camera
    • - Playback enlarged images with the ADJ. lever.
  • When using long time exposure, the orientation information (horizontal or vertical) of the image may not be recorded correctly.

To download either of these new updates, visit Ricoh's Support website.

Details - Ricoh GX200 Firmware Update Version 1.20 (12/9/2008)

Modified the following phenomenon:

  • When you playback a 1:1 image in the playback mode, the small window may not move to the right edge in the position display window that is shown in the right corner in the LCD.

To download either of these new updates, visit Ricoh's Support website.


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