Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ricoh Firmware update 1.40

Ricoh has been busy shopping, bagging themselves Pentax. How will the purchase pan out is still pretty uncertain as the process will only be completed in October 2011. In the meantime, the engineers have not sat idle, despite a devastating earthquake / tsunami that is also still reverberating throughout the Japanese society.

The biggest news is of course the official announcement of the M-Mount module. That is discussion for another time. For now they are tempting users, or rewarding early adopters for their patience.

I think the biggest highlight  is the following

  1. Greater focusing precision now possible.
    • In order to increase the precision of manual focusing, the focus assist function has been added. Two modes can be selected, with the focus being checked by strengthening outlines or contrast.
    • It is possible to magnify the image while shooting to make it easier to focus. In addition to magnifying the central part of the image, it is possible to display the magnified area across the entire screen. The image quality for 4x and 8x magnification has also been further enhanced, and the area to be magnified can be moved with the directional pad.
    • A setting can be made to automatically eliminate the display magnification after the picture is taken.
The dismal focusing ability the GXR APS-C modules had in the early stages are virtually gone since the last few firmware updates. But it still cannot compare with dSLR in terms of speed and precision.

While the LCD screen is brilliant, focusing is still a bit of hit and miss at times especially with closeups. It is quite difficult to assess the point of focus accurately and I always hated the magnified view which only shows a small rectangle of highly pixelated image.

Now it comes with FULL screen magnification at full resolution. It is really much much clearer. The only problem is I lose track of the composition. Something easily solved with practice.

Catching up with video cameras, now they have focus peaking in 2 modes. In Mode 1, you see the full color image with the focused portion showing a glimmering outline. Mode 2 the image turns into a grey monochrome with glimmering edges in the focused zone.

It is an amazing tool in view of the relatively large apertures of the APS-C modules. The fly-by wire manual focusing is not precise or fast, but it is enough to get as close as possible. The limit to the focus assist function is in low contrast situation, especially with the A12 28mm. I still get some out of focus pictures when I thought it looked ok on screen.

This is of course a prelude to the long awaited M-Mount module where manual focusing is the only option. Still it is amazing that they updated for ALL the modules.

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