Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More Ricoh GXR A12 28mm

Next to a interchangeable lens unit, this GXR camera unit was highly anticipated by a lot of Ricoh fans.
Yet in typical Ricoh style, the arrival in Singapore was understated, in fact totally unannounced. Perhaps that's not the case in Japan, but I had to monitor Clubsnap the local photography forum to find out the A12 28mm had finally landed.

So what is new, what is good?

It has the same Ricoh quality construction of the A12 50mm, compact and solid. One difference is the manual focusing ring, the 28mm has a looser feel, unlike the 50mm which has a definite resistance to turning. With the firmware version 1.29, manual focus seems actually redundant with the 28mm. For one, with the wider field of view you cannot really tell if it is in or out of focus (for me anyway). Another is, the autofocus is now far more precise and concise then fiddling with a "loose" ring so why bother?

Lots of detractors of the GXR system emphasized that you have to change sensors with each lens change and that it seems such a waste. Now that we have 2 working "serious" module available, it is time to re-examine this mindset. Bear in mind I am discussing only about the 2 camera units with APS-C sensors.

The GXR engineers and designers have created a well thought out system, so much so it is no different from changing a lens on a Canon or Nikon. You just have to be aware of the different angle of view and the focusing limits. There is no need to learn new button positions or functions. In fact, the first experience of using the 28mm unit was underwhelming, almost mundane like putting gloves in winter.

However looking the images taken so far, I do wonder if there were some quality control issue. The question is are the sensors in both APS-C units the same? The 28mm unit seems to show more noise even at the base iso of 200. It is not that my unit is faulty, the same issue has been noted online and I have tried a second unit with the same result. So could the problem be the optic-sensor pairing? Or simply a result of the wider field of view. Or are the detractors right after all? The noise issue is definitely noticeable, but easily remedied in Lightroom for those shooting in Raw, and it does not show up at all in JPEG pictures. 

Here is a little sample of this understated piece of precision machinery.

I love that you can see Venus (I think) at the middle top area.

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