Ricoh always seem to go the extra step to differentiate themselves from the crowd. While far from the most well known brand, their products typically have a sense of craftsmanship and class that few others can replicate, and the GX100 is no exception. Sporting a 10 megapixel sensor, a stylish design that resembles the elegant GR Digital and a wide angled 24-72mm wide angle lens, (with scope for an even wider 19mm extension to be attached) it certainly is an appealing device. There are some minor image quality issues, and as usual with top end Ricoh models, cost is somewhat of a concern, but for enthusiast photographers it's a good choice.
- Wide angle shooting, Smooth design, Funky accessories, Sharp pictures
- Some noise problems, Expensive
Ricoh's Caplio GX100 is a high end camera for experienced users. While average photographers may not fully appreciate the wide angle shooting and extremely crisp shots it produces, there is no doubt it's a great camera if you can afford it.
Price$ 799.00 (AUD)
The most notable aspect of the GX100 is its wide angle shooting capabilities. The 24mm-72mm lens allows for a much broader picture than a standard compact camera. This has a whole range of applications, from fitting more people into group shots to taking better landscapes. For those who aren't satisfied with a mere 24mm lens however, Ricoh also provide an optional attachment that enhances this further to 19mm, extending the view even further. The attachment simply screws on to the front of the unit and is easy to connect, although we do feel like the construction could have been a little better. It's essentially just an extra piece of glass at the end of a piece of tubing. It manages to do the job, but it's a little flimsy and will pick up dust quite easily.
Another nifty accessory available for the GX100 is the electronic viewfinder. The unit itself has no viewfinder built in, instead relying on the 2.5in LCD display to frame your shots, but you can connect an external electronic one via the hotshoe. The quality of the image you see isn't great, but it does the job and you can angle it up to 45 degrees for some slightly more difficult shots.
All the attachments in the world won't help if the camera captures poor quality pictures, but fortunately the GX100 performed well in most of our tests. As usual we took a lot of test shots and ran our Imatest testing software to help put the camera through its paces.
In our sharpness test it achieved a great result of 1813, which more than satisfied our expectations of the 10 megapixel sensor. One of Ricoh's claims to fame is that they constantly use extremely high quality components when constructing their cameras and it really shows in the pictures. They were crisp and sharp, with no fringing and great detail. Amateur and enthusiast photographers alike will be able to appreciate the exceptional shots this unit takes.
Chromatic aberration was barely a problem either. There was almost no visible sign of haloing in our test shots, not even in the high contrast charts which tax almost every camera. In our colour tests, the GX100's performance was slightly more modest, with it achieving a score of 9.04. Our shots were quite well balanced, tending towards the dull side rather than over saturating everything like many compact units. This was most evident in shades of blue but reds also exhibited some minor error.
The only area this model disappointed a little was noise performance. At ISO 100 it scored 0.81%, which is a little on the high side. Our shots had some visible speckling, although it won't be evident unless you make reasonably large prints. The noise jumped up sharply as we increased the sensitivity though, and by ISO 400 the pictures became largely unusable. This is a little disappointing as most modern cameras perform very nicely at ISO 400. The pictures may still be suitable for small 4in x 6in prints, but serious photographers will simply find them too noisy to be practical.
We also ran our standard speed tests, with some mixed results. On one hand, the GX100 was extremely quick in most areas, exhibiting 0.07 seconds shutter lag, 0.8 seconds shot-to-shot time and 1.6 seconds power up time. However these were all dependant on the focusing. Depending on where our camera was in relation to the target, it could take anywhere from 0.2 of a second to over a second to focus. This only seemed to be an issue with relatively close range targets as when we were shooting outdoors everything happened very smoothly.
Ricoh has packed basically every feature you could want in the GX100. Shutter, Aperture and Program priority modes are all available, along with full manual shooting. Aperture extends from f/2.5 to f/9.1 when in wide mode and f/4.4 to f/15.8 when zoomed. All the standard focus and metering options are on offer and the burst mode operates at a healthy three frames per second. Eight scene modes are included for less experienced users and there is also the very nifty ability to save your settings configuration to one of two spots on the function wheel, which can be flicked to in an instant.
The camera is relatively easy to use thanks to the brilliant control layout. While Ricoh certainly has included a lot of buttons on the GX100, everything is where you'd expect it and experienced photographers will find that when they pick the unit up their fingers naturally fall in all the right places. The only exception is the zoom controls, which are stuck in the very top right hand corner and require you to alter your grip to use them properly.
This is no surprise considering Ricoh's strength when it comes to design, and as usual the aesthetics of the unit corroborate this. The black rubber and plastic constructed combined with the long, thin shape all lend a certain classic feel to the GX100. Similar to the GR Digital, it somewhat resembles an old film camera and should suit users who want a sophisticated but not flashy camera.
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