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Selecting a camera: need some advice from the resident experts
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Dave .
(Ramapo) - F - M
Selecting a camera: need some advice from the resident experts on 05/04/2008 17:40:48 MDT Print View

Hi all,

I've been reading up in this forum lately in an effort to select a camera.

A little background: I don't have much experience with digital photography, but I did take some photography courses as an undergrad. I'd like to get back into photography now that I'm finishing grad school and have more time.

Initially I was thinking to buy a nice, big DSLR, but, given that one of the camera's primary primary applications will be taking pictures while hiking, I've since changed my mind.

I've been leaning more towards the high(ish) end point and shooters like the Ricoh GX100 and Sigma DP1. I especially like the GX100 given the zoom lens, wide angle, and the option to use polarizing filters and a hood.

However, I have two reservations that I was hoping you could help me settle:

1. What is the "noise issue" with this camera like. I understand (roughly) that the issue stems from the compact sensor, but what does it translate to into in terms of image quality? Can anybody post an example of a noisey photo taken with this camera? Without knowing more, I can't determine if I'm fussy enough for this issue to bother me.

2. Compared to the waterproof/crushproof and rugedized point and shooters on the market, how delicate is the GX100? Does selecting the GX100 mean that I would not be able to take photos in the rain or snow?

I'm not sure what's more important at this point: The option to take highquality photos in the backcountry (and at home for that matter) or the desire not to be paranoid about caring for a $500+ camera. It may be that I end up selecting a more rugged camera like the Pentax Optio WPi or Ricoh G600 and then get a nice DSLR down the raod for photography in less demanding environments.

Also, while we're at it, can anyone suggest something like a general primer on digital photography? I'd like to educate myself. At this point I'm going more on the general consensus of the reviews rather than my own understanding of the technical specs to pick this camera out, but I'm going to need to learn quick so that I can take some great shots this August in Glacier National Park.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F - M
Also on 05/04/2008 17:43:42 MDT Print View

My list of cameras is in no way comprehensive. If anyone has other cameras that they think I should consider, please feel free to suggest them.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F - M
Wait a minute... on 05/04/2008 18:02:36 MDT Print View

Is it just me, or is the GX100 only compatible with Windows?

I use a Mac, but I don't see OSX listed as a compatible option on the Ricoh website.

This opens up a whole new can of worms. Do I need any special software for this camera? Any of the others?

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Wait a minute... on 05/04/2008 19:01:22 MDT Print View

If the camera uses an SD card or similar, you can always use it on a mac. I use a Pentax Optio WPi, and when transfering pics I use an SD card reader.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Selecting a camera: need some advice from the resident experts on 05/04/2008 22:12:25 MDT Print View

Hi David,

The GX100 stands well apart from 99% of point-and-shoots, largely due to its lens, RAW file option, metal construction and unique accessory EVF. They're hard to find (only two US dealers) so buying one is an act of faith.

It's not weather or bounceproof, so you'd have to take reasonable precautions. Because it's very small, you can keep it handy in a weatherproof pouch between shoots, so it's not as bad as stashing, say, an slr in a backpack between uses in bad weather. There are some reports of getting dust inside the lens and even onto the sensor, which has to be cleaned by a service tech. I don't know how widespread this is.

If you search Flickr for GX 100 you'll get over 40k hits, so there are plenty of samples to review. Talented photogs are getting great results from it.

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=ricoh%20GX100&w=all

And there's a thorough review here:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/ricohgx100/

Like any small-chip camera, there will be noise at higher ISOs, especially shooting jpgs. The good news is that shooting RAW allows you to avoid any problems with in-camera noise processing or color balance. BTW, Ricoh RAW files are in DNG, which is Adobe's standard format, meaning they should be editable with any OS.

I've handled one, and am impressed at the small size, the build quality and the terrific WA lens. There's literally nothing like it. Its GRD II stablemate is an even better camera, but you have to dispense with the zoom, which many won't like. The DP1 is a whole other kettle of fish, and with good light it really does deliver slr-quality shots. There are flies in the ointment, however (true of literally any camera).

Can't help you on a primer, but there are a gazillion photography sites, and reading camera reviews is actually a pretty good way to sort through the controls, file formats and the like. I had to bite the bullet two years ago and simply buy a digicam and force myself to learn. Luckily, most allow success literally from the box, and digging into the controls you'll get better quickly. The laws of optics, luckily, still apply :-)

Dondo .
(Dondo) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Selecting a camera: need some advice from the resident experts on 05/04/2008 22:19:03 MDT Print View

Also, check out this review.

Ross Polete
(rdpolete) - F

Locale: Midwest Plain State
Not an expert, but on 05/04/2008 23:24:13 MDT Print View

Not an expert, but I do own a few. I have three fujifilm cameras, a pentax and the old school 35 mm stuff too. Not sure what type of photos you plan on doing, but my big digital camera (fuji S7000) stays in the drawer a lot (If you want to know more about what I use keep reading, otherwise here is my advice for a purchase today).

If I was buying to day I would buy either the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 or the newer TZ5. There might be a newer one out that has wi-fi if you have to have that. Here is a good review on this camera. Hope this helps you out. http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/PanasonicTZ3/

I carry the Finepix F20 in my pocket almost everyday. Reason for this camera is it's fast start up time and quick shots for my 4 and 2 year olds that are hard to get pictures of otherwise. Fuji cameras have a great color pallet and are pretty reliable and have a bunch of features. The Pentax Optio 750Z and the 550Z have a unique feature that I wish all cameras had; that being, you can chose any picture on you card to be a base picture and then double expose another picture in one of three ways. 50-50 or one on top more like 75-25 or the opposite 25-75 with the other base picture on top. This allows for the old school way of double exposure. All other cameras that allow you to do this will only allow you to take a picture and then your very next picture will be double exposed. I have this camera mainly for this feature alone.

Roger B
(rogerb) - MLife

Locale: Here and there
GX 100 on a mac on 05/04/2008 23:37:25 MDT Print View

I use my GX 100 on my mac, once you have loaded Capilo Mounter you can upload photos to iPhoto.

Working with RAW is a bit trickier. Aperture will not handle the raw images, but there is a work around by adding a line into the p list full details found Aperture DNG work around here. This works for Aperture 1.5.6 I have not tried it with Aperture 2 or 2.1. However, if you are using Adobe Lightroom or one their other products then RAW works fine as DNG is the basis of the Adobe products.

Hope this helps

Miguel Marcos
(miguelmarcos) - F

Locale: Middle Iberia
Canon G9 on 05/12/2008 04:10:25 MDT Print View

You might consider the Canon G9. I've had mine since December and love it.

- RAW
- decent zoom
- an optical viewfinder (though it could be better, it's 100% better than cameras without one)
- spectacular LCD
- rugged (not weatherproof, but I've handled it in light rain)
- hot shoe
- an ISO dial. This is great and I wish I had it on my 400D
- sound memo. You can record audio snippets after or before snapping (it has video as well)

I love it and take it with me when I don't want to lug around the 400D and lenses.

Here the review at dpreview.com:
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canong9/

Edited by miguelmarcos on 05/12/2008 04:12:27 MDT.

Kenneth Reppart
(kreppart) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Canon G9 on 05/12/2008 10:13:36 MDT Print View

I 2nd that, the G9 is a great camera. In response to your questions the noise is good for a smaller camera. It's still going to have issues for long exposures but that fast f/2.8 lens (at widest) helps quite a bit. I'd also agree that's it's pretty rugged, I think the body is made of metal. I'm carrying mine to the Olympic Coast next week in a bubble pakit and have no worries about it.

If the G9 could focus a bit faster (it's good for a point & shoots) it'd be a serious contender for a DSLR for the average person. Why do P&S cameras have to focus so slow?

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F - M
Gonna buy the Ricoh, but need som help on 07/31/2008 12:33:11 MDT Print View

I need to resurrect this thread briefly…

So, over the past couple months, I’ve been doing some reading on cameras and digital photography, trying to decide what camera will best serve my interests. Mostly though, I’ve just been procrastinating, afraid to take the plunge and plunk down a wad of cash for a camera.

Anyway, I’ve finally come to a decision. I think I’m going to go with my first choice and buy the Ricoh GX100. I think that after I get the camera, I’ll learn a lot more about photography as I won’t need to fret about what to buy…I’ll already have it and just sort out its limitations and strong points as I go, taking lots of photos in the process. Besides, nobody who is into photography (as I hope to be soon) has only one camera, so this isn’t likely to be my last purchase. It will certainly get me started though.

However, there are a couple complications that I was hoping for some help with:

1. Now that I’ve decided on the GX100, I notice that the GX200 is out! It looks like it’s essentially the same camera, but with a better sensor that will produce less noise, right? What do you guys think, is it wise to buy a new model camera before it’s been put through the ringer and reviewed thoroughly? Is it worth the increased price tag?

2. The other issue I’m having is that I’m not certain where to buy from. Can someone help me source the camera or suggest a good retailer? It looks like this camera is hard to buy in the US. Specifically, I’d like to get the camera in its kit with the viewfinder. I’d also like to get the hood and polarizing filters as well as a second (bigger) memory card. I feel quite nervous about buying this stuff, so any help or even links to specific products/prices would be greatly appreciated.

I think that covers it. Anyone have any words of wisdom or advice before I do the deed?

As always, thanks for the help.

Dave

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Gonna buy the Ricoh, but need som help on 07/31/2008 13:45:40 MDT Print View

Hi Dave, sounds like you're on the brink :-)

Little definitive word yet on GX200 performance, other than much faster file-write times (welcomed by GX100 owners). I haven't seen a full test (in English) or a side-by-side against the GX100. My sole concern is whether the higher pixel count might yield more noise, rather than less. Still, at this point I'd only get the 100 if it were significantly cheaper.

Only Adorama and Popflash are official US dealers, and they seem pretty close in price and in bundling camera packages (e.g., w/ finder, spare battery, memory card, etc.). Anecdotally, Ricoh US warranty service is pretty responsive, despite their being such a tiny player in the marketplace.

I'd definitely invest in the adapter and hood and a second battery. There's also a new interesting accessory lens hood that pops open but remains on the camera.

Also, a caveat. Several GX100 owners report their zoom lenses ingesting dust. I don't know whether that's been addressed in the 200, but in any case I'd be cautious about using either model in a very dusty environment.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
GX200 on 07/31/2008 14:29:01 MDT Print View

There's a detailed review of the GX200 on Sean Reid's subscription website Reid Reviews in which he compares it with the GX100, which he also reviewed in detail. Reid reckons the main improvement of the 200 over the 100 is a raw buffer, which means increased writing speeds for raw files. He says there are also some functional improvements over the GX100 but only the raw buffer is significant. Overall he gives the camera an excellent review.

With regard to noise Reid says the same about the GX200 as the 100 which is that, as with any small sensor camera, there is noise at high ISO speeds and it's best to use low ISO speeds whenever possible. The greater number of megapixels are likely to make images more noise rather than less as more of them are crammed onto the same tiny sensor. What more megapixels give you is better resolution which means more detail, which is important if you make large prints.

Edited by Christownsend on 07/31/2008 14:31:59 MDT.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F - M
Ricoh GX100 is on on the way on 08/01/2008 17:36:56 MDT Print View

The deed is done.

I did some more reading up on the GX200 after reading the last few posts. At first I was torn about whether to order it or the GX 100. I liked that the 200 was quicker with the file-write times and it has that cool leveler feature that would be great for landscapes, but the noise issue left me nervous.

Ultimately though, I cruised on over to Popflash upon Rick’s recommendation and found that they were packaging the GX100 with the view finder, the hood, the 19mm conversion lens, a 2 GB memory card, the carrying case, and neck strap for less than the GX200 with just the view finder. That made my decision easy. ;)

The camera will get here just in time for my trip to Glacier National Park. Hopefully I’ll take come good photos.

Thanks for all the info and help here. Much appreciated.

Dave

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Selecting a camera: need some advice from the resident experts on 08/02/2008 17:43:39 MDT Print View

Gillian
If you get the chance, buy a spare battery or at least take 4x AAA oxyride or lithium .
I would also suggest a second 2GB card, as a back-up.
You may also want to turn the beep/shutter sound off. With such wide lens I would keep the grid lines on to help having the camera on the level and for composition.
Franco

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Ricoh GX100 is on on the way on 08/03/2008 22:03:28 MDT Print View

That sounds like a cracking good deal Dave, especially since they're including the WA converter. That should really expand your creative horizons (but: mind your feet, hands, camera strap, etc.).

Best wishes on your new camera, and please post pics for us to enjoy!