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Ricoh Caplio GX | Digital Camera Review | Adjustments
Ricoh has entered the path of the 5 Megapixel for the first time with the introduction of the GX. Beside the JPEG format the camera also supports TIFF format. It is a pity Ricoh hasn't adopted the RAW format yet. RAW will be and already is popular amongst the users and the Caplio GX is a typical digital camera that would suit RAW. The JPEG has two different compression factors: a Fine (F) and a Normal (N). The first factor regarding the 5 Megapixel resolution is on a scale from 1:5.7, the second has a factor from 1:9.8. I see room for a third factor here: 1:2, which is an even finer setting with less loss. The fact the file will increase doesn't really matter. The retail price of a high capacity storage medium has dropped drastically lately, and there are rumours of it dropping even more this year, a massive price drop (until 35%)!
Ricoh Caplio GX | Digital Camera Ricoh Caplio GX | Digital Camera
The GX features a full automatic setting which includes some 6 built-in scenes as an extra advantage for the user. These scenes (Portrait, Sports, Landscape, Night view, Text mode and High-sensitivity) put emphasis on certain features in the concerned scene to get the best exposure. Beside these scenes it is also possible to adjust the aperture value manually, however, Ricoh made the choice to enable only 3 steps. This means it is only possible to shoot an image with full, half-full or open aperture. The value of the aperture changes in three steps with separate values that depend on the position of the zoom lens. So in wide angle the camera has three steps from f2.5, f4.7 to f8.1, but at a 50mm or telephoto setting these values are changed, with the minimum values of the 50mm or telephoto position as a the starting point. I don't believe in working this way. It is confusing and it doesn't meet the expectations. 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.

Shutter speed priority is available freely and has values from 30 seconds up until 1/2000 second. The "limited" aperture priority is adjustable through the command dial in the hand grip, the shutter speed priority is adjustable trough the command dial and via the arrow up/down of the multifunctional control button.

The images made by the GX camera feature high details and a fine contrast. Some distortion in wide angle is found, but inevitable on a 28mm lens. The clearness in the corners really pulls up when adjusting the aperture, and achieves an optimum result at f4.7 in wide angle. Images taken with strong backlight give some 'halo' effects; purple and white borders on those spots that have a contrast borderline which is too strong in between a row of pixels. This effect occurs a lot on the digital compact cameras and so far had to be taken for granted. The macro images are excellent and can be made from 1cm in wide angle and from 8cm in telephoto. In wide angle at maximum aperture some unclearness appears in the corner, but adjusting the aperture solves this problem. The flash is activated automatically when there is not much light, which is not very handy, because the flash requires a minimum focus distance of 20cm. Strange that the minimum range in telephoto use is 15cm.

The ISO values can be set from 64 until and included 1600 ISO. The test images show that the ISO values until and included 200 ISO offer a good quality. The images in 400 ISO show high noise values and even a stripy effect here and there. The high ISO values don't offer the quality that can be reached nowadays, in my opinion, and the 800 and 1600 ISO produce a strong visible noise with a strong stripy effect.

As told earlier on, focussing with the GX is very smooth and fast. This feature is an absolute surplus value and is noticeable directly in practice. The focus point is placed centrally under normal circumstances, only at Macro images this focus point is moveable via the ADJ button. A pity it is only possible in this mode, especially when taking pictures with the camera placed on a tripod, it would come in handy to be able to change the focus point without having to change the composition, meaning the camera's position. Beside automatic focus also manual focus is possible.
This is quite easy, via the arrow buttons manual focus is possible and via the OK button between both arrow buttons the image is shown enlarged so focus is easier to decide. It works fast and easy this way and could be the solution when trying to focus on difficult objects. This latter possibility is hardly experienced while the GX focuses precisely and correctly even on the most gleaming objects or the objects without contrast. The GX features three different light metering methods; 256 segment, centre weighted and spot metering. Beside that there is the possibility to use an exposure compensation from 2 steps in 1/3 step precise. This method offers the user every possibility to take a correctly exposed picture. The GX doesn't feature AE lock, a function that should not be missing on this camera.

Beside taking still images the Caplio GX also has a movie clip function. Unfortunately Ricoh doesn't follow the trend of recording (short) movies in higher resolution. The maximum resolution is 320x240 pixels and the maximum recording time is 80 seconds whatever the capacity of the Secure Digital memory card will be, which is not sufficient nowadays. During the recording of the movie only digital zoom can be used. While recording single images it is also possible to add 8 seconds of voice comment. Beside that the camera can be used as a voice memo recorder, at which the maximum recording time depends on the capacity of the Secure Digital memory card. For example: a 128MB Secure Digital memory card offers a voice memo from approximately 267 minutes.

The internal flash has a fine range of approximately 4.5 - 5 meters when photographing in wide angle and around 3 meters in telephoto. In general the flash has good qualities and features. However, the flash tends to form a spotlight in wide angle, so corners are exposed less. Standard settings are: red eye reduction, auto, flash off, fill-in flash, and flash with slow shutter speed. The hot shoe on top of the camera offers the possibility to enhance the flash range tremendously with a standard X Contact flash.

A nice detail is the function Date Imprint. This function melts time or date together with the captured image. Now and again the question reaches me if the time and date is carried out like at a negative/slide in the image. Many times it isn't like that, the date and time are taken up in the Exif value. With Date Imprint Function activated time and date is actually "burned" into the image, down right.

The Ricoh Caplio GX acts really well in practice. The camera has some very warmly appreciated features: very fast focus and very fast shutter responding time. The images look excellent, fine contrast and sharpness, but the high noise values at ISO 400 and higher pull down the appraisal. The wide angle range of 28mm is attractive but if Ricoh finds the possibility to enhance the telephoto range in the next generation that would complete the zoom range.
Ricoh Caplio GX Ricoh Caplio GX
   
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