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Thread: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

  1. #1
    Mitch Alland
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    Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    A consensus seems to be forming here and on the dpreview Ricoh Talk forum that Ricoh has introduced too much noise reduction in the GRD2 in-camera processing of JPGs, particularly at higher ISOs. Although I don't normally shoot in JPG mode on some occasions I have done so, when, for example, I was running out of space for DNG files on an SD card. Today I've looked at GRD2 JPG files and it does look like there is substantially more noise reduction in the GRD2 JPGs than in those from the GRD.

    But what concerns me more is how the RAW files look. While I am happy about the look I can get from the GRD2 at ISO400 and 800 which, in some of my shots I like better than that of the GRD, at ISO200 and below I find the look of the GRD2 too "fine grained" or "too smooth" for my taste compared to that of the GRD. Some photographers have written that the GRD2 has lost most of the "character" that the GRD had. I think that there is something to this, particularly at ISOs below 400.

    In processing RAW files of ISO200 I have sharpened the grain in an effort to get the look that I want; but I'm not that happy with the results, which you can see on my flickr site in the link under my signature below.

    The GRD, like the GR1/GR21 film cameras, has been a niche product, with virtually a cult following in Japan. It looks like Ricoh is now trying to reach out to a broader market, which seems risky to me because they run the danger of losing their grip on their core constituency of experienced photographers, who have been enthusiastic about the camera. Me feeling is that the GRD has been bought by many people after seeing photographs online produced with this camera — I know that quite a few photographers bought the GRD after seeing my B&W pictures on flickr.

    On the other hand, many color photographers may prefer the look of the GRD2.

    Any thoughts on whether the GRD2 has lost much of the character of the GRD and whether Ricoh has gone off in the wrong direction? But please specify whether you are referring to the look of JPG or RAW files.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  2. #2
    Mark Turney
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Mitch,

    This question has really been bothering me ever since I starting seeing the first images produced from the GRD II. I keep wanting to get a GRD II; but, since I really can't justify two cameras of similar purpose, my suspician is that I would wind up going back to the GRD I. Although they are in different leagues, this happened to me when I bought a GX100 last year - I soon found that I just didn't like the GX100 images as much as the GRD images, and so I soon sold it and now solely carry my GRD.

    To put a twist on the question you posed above, let's ask this a different way: Are the GRD II's RAW captures superior, inferior, or similar to those from the GRD I? I ask this because Ricoh claimed on their web site (I'm only quoting from memory here) that the GRD I was built with the best components - chosen for their low noise and high quality.

    In building the GRD II, did Ricoh opt for cost-cutting by utilizing many of the same components as the GX100? Basically, did they cram GX100 electronics into a GRD body? And, by doing so, have the RAW captures been degraded with comparison to the GRD I?

    The reason I ask the above questions is because the sensor and electronics may be the factors here, not the in-camera software. Even jpgs are simply RAW data converted by the camera's software as opposed to pp the RAW data after the capture.

    Mark T.

  3. #3
    Mitch Alland
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Mark:

    I doubt highly that it's a question of manufacturing quality. I would think it's more in the nature of the new sensor itself, as the lens is the same as in the GRD, except possibly for better coatings.

    —Mitch/Bangkok

  4. #4
    7ian7
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    I'm not sure it's "cost-cutting" per se, as the definition of "progress" within the photography world has a storied (depressing) history of leaving the favored tools and materials of many professionals and serious amateurs behind.

    The Polaroid Spectra was sharper, cleaner, more compact, more durable and created more accurate colors than the XS70 ....but its output lacked "poetry", and that is where the XS70 excelled, leaving a cult of devotees in its wake, many of whom are still coveting their last, outdated boxes of the finally discontinued TimeZero film.

    My guess is this is shaping up to be a little bit like that. Ricoh r&d are doing there best to achieve "progress" and there is surely a profit component as well— I think more in broadening appeal (always dangerous) than in cutting costs in some cynical way. However progress has rarely favored idiosyncrasy.

    The GX100 is a great little camera. The GRD is a special little camera. Many would disagree, but given equal captured moments, if it's purely about the final image, and how it speaks to the artist's initial inspiration and intent, and how it renders an interpretation unique to its own characteristics, in my book special trumps great every time.

  5. #5
    Mitch Alland
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    To make it clear what I'm talking about in terms of the "character" or "texture" of the GRD vs the GX100 and the GRD2, at the risk of criticism, I'll repost pictures that illustrate my point, as follows (all at ISO200):

    1. GRD
    2. GX100
    3. GRD2

    In the last (GRD2) I've sharpened the grain but just don't achieve the same textures that I get with the GRD.












    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  6. #6
    Mark Turney
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    You're right Mitch. There's just something about the character of the GRD image that 'feels' a bit more 'real' to me. But, just to clarify to anyone reading this, the GX100 and GRD2 are worthy cameras. If it wasn't for the direct comparison of the GRD to GX100 to GRD II, then most of us would likely not notice the difference, as all three produce fantastic images.

    Mark T.

  7. #7
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    JPEG person here and without a doubt, the original GRD is king. i've played with the GRDII for over a week and have people oohing and ahhing over the quality of the photos. i personally preferred when they liked the content rather than the form. one person has already gone out and bought a GRD!! and a few others are considering it. bah humbug!

    whilst there are certain aspects of the GRDII i love, it just isn't the same. however, i don't regret getting it rather than a second GRD because i think it's very useful in low light situations. it also still has something special to it versus other makes, just not as distinctive as the original. and, with JPEGs, there is a lot less room for manipulation in PP with the II (meaning as well that people not adept at this or willing to do it will prefer the II -- probably a wider audience).

    i miss the character of the original and am eagerly awaiting it's return. as i've said before and i'll say it again -- i love my GRDII but i'm madly in love with the GRD.

  8. #8
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    I agree with Cam,
    I shoot almost entirely JPEGS and the amount of control I have in-camera with the GRD is terrific. I love the grain, the 'bite' in both B&W and Color and hate losing that.

  9. #9
    lucridders
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Seems at the end that Ricoh was not listening that well to the existing customers with a GRDI.
    IMO they are quite right. How much they sold from GRDI, not a lot. Sales of the GX100 is much better.
    This is something Ricoh was also noticing, so they decide to create a similar cam with the GRDII. For me it is not any problem, I should prefer that they focus more on other things than the grain (only liked by a few people in fact)
    I am sure it will sell to a more general public better than when they should make an upgrade that will have the same grainy result as the GRDI.
    I will not say that it can not be nice such a grain, the reality is that 99% of the people do not like it and that 99% of the people are shooting in color instead of B&W.
    Also in an other way I have to say Ricoh is right, as it is in fact all based on software. This means that you can do the same look as the GRDI with the GRDII by using the right PP.
    On the other hand, it would be nice per example that Ricoh should give a software where you can simulate with the GRDII the view as you have with the GRDI. As they have the source codes, it will not be a big deal to make a raw software that can do this.
    Even more, every self respecting brand should make a software adepted to the RAW conversion they do in the cam.
    Now, you see that when using software X, you have an other result as when using software Y.
    This is also the reason why brands as Nikon is making the own Rawsoftware versions, made for their cams.
    At the end, Ricoh will sell more and this will maybe bring profit on long term to more demanding users.

  10. #10
    7ian7
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    By the way, I keep meaning to mention (here and on dpreview) that the "special" characteristics I love about the GRD have as much or even more to do with the beautiful way it renders saturated colors, not simply for its vintage "tri-x" look in b&w.

    And yes, if there had never been a GRD the newer Ricohs would sit comfortably in a group with the Panasonics and Leicas, and hold the edge for their minimally-processed RAW files and great ergonomics and tactile controls. But that is a hypothetical; the original GRD does exist, and the results it produces are different enough to earn its singular status among photographers, and different enough to have already inspired a number of lengthy threads, with many posts expressing guarded or full-on disappointment about the changed characteristics in the new model.

    I guess in part, many of our negative posts bely a hope that these opinions may still influence in some small way the direction of Ricoh's product development. It's not to take potshots or draw lines in the sand. Ultimately all of us will be using their newer cameras at some point anyway, at least that's my guess.

  11. #11
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    To make it clear what I'm talking about in terms of the "character" or "texture" of the GRD vs the GX100 and the GRD2, at the risk of criticism, I'll repost pictures that illustrate my point, as follows (all at ISO200):

    1. GRD
    2. GX100
    3. GRD2

    In the last (GRD2) I've sharpened the grain but just don't achieve the same textures that I get with the GRD.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
    Hi Mitch,

    Some, though not likely yourself, may skim the following post and misunderstand it. Fortunately, you'll probably understand exactly what I'm saying.

    Unfortunately, if you're comparing three different pictures, that doesn't really tell us much about the differences among those three cameras. There are too many confounding variables. And if the GX-100 is stopped down more than about F/4.5, we know that it will be soft because of diffraction.

    I definitely do not think that GR II is a move in the wrong direction, overall. Quite the contrary, I think its a better (especially much faster) camera than the GR. Now, I haven't done any JPEG comparisons but if they increased the smoothing in the JPEGs that's unfortunate and I believe, mistaken (but I also need to check the extent to which this can be turned off). And, as I've said before, I have not ever tested a digital camera that gave its best performance with JPEGs.

    The GX-100 just arrived and once I finish these Pentax articles I can start some comparison tests. I think we're going to discover a few things:

    1. ...that the detail levels of GX-100 RAW files are not all that different than that seen in files from the GR2, if one is using optimum apertures. Stopped down past F/4.5, the GR2 *may* show better res. So if one really wants to work at F/5.6, that fixed lens may have an advantage. Too soon to say, though.

    2. Speaking only of converted RAW files...I think that much of what people are describing as GR "character" (vs. the GR2) may really just be noise. That noise can do things to the surface of a picture which many may like and I understand completely why some might prefer a noisier camera. But it helps to be clear if, indeed, this is the real difference between them.

    It's very easy to confuse noise with detail because they both activate the picture surface in similar ways. I suspect that the GR2 is just providing a cleaner file than the GR. To emphasize, I don't mean JPEG smoothing, I mean a lower noise RAW file from the start.

    If thats the case, I can see why some may seek the GR specifically in order to have that extra noise. But, overall, a lower noise camera is more versatile because its allows photographers a wider range of ways in which their pictures can look. Though some may be loath to do it, noise, simulated grain, and other kinds of surface textures can be added to a file quite successfully. So photographers who want that kind of file can certainly get it if desired.

    Photographers who are less interested in noise need to start with a cleaner file. Every kind of noise reduction costs the file something. Luminance noise reduction always reduces resolution. Color noise filtration is less noticeable but it too removes fine variations in color detail. So, there's always a visual price when one has to filter a noisy file.

    So, among the thousands of potential GR2 customers there may be some who prefer noisier cameras but also many who do not. The former can add noise or simulated grain with great success. The latter can not remove noise without also losing either some color detail or some resolution. So, if I were Ricoh I would definitely aim for the lowest signal to noise ratio possible...not, I emphasize, the most aggressive noise filtering/smoothing but rather the best ratio of image information versus stray electrical noise.

    Again, I have a lot of testing to do but my hunch is that the GR2 shows a higher S/N ratio at most ISO levels (quite apart from any smoothing) as well as, of course, much faster performance in RAW. My guess is also that the lens remains exactly the same between the GR and the GR 2. I wouldn't be surprised to see the GR2 prime outperforming the GX-100 zoom at certain apertures but we'll see.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  12. #12
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Turney View Post
    Mitch,
    I ask this because Ricoh claimed on their web site (I'm only quoting from memory here) that the GRD I was built with the best components - chosen for their low noise and high quality.
    Mark T.
    All manufacturers say that. <G> What it usually means is the best given the technology at a given time and within the constraints of whatever budget is set for those parts.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  13. #13
    7ian7
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    I'm not convinced that these characteristics are so easily attained after the fact by using post-processing, as I have been attempting it. That doesn't mean it can't be done.

    Anyway, I personally like it when a piece of gear imparts its own "native" footprint, even before I go to work on the image. "Absolute" resolution has never been my version of the ideal starting point — Hasselblad 500CMs have a creamy, signature look that is very different than the blown-out but detailed backgrounds rendered by Pentax 67 lenses, so which to use was always as much a creative choice as a technical decision. To me, the idea that Ricoh is adopting less "signature" characteristics to appeal to a greater common denominator is disappointing.

    Then again, it may boil down to the science of what they have been attempting to achieve — mainly faster write times and higher "resolution" — and may not be a "philosophical" decision on their part at all. Hard to say, but someone at that company MUST be aware of the same kinds of differences we are noticing in the new camera.

    And without a TON more advertising and promotion, and a price-reduction, I find it hard to see those efforts challenging Canon's predominance in any meaningful way. But I guess Ricoh's Asian market may still hold serious potential for sales growth.

    Ok — must stop writing — sorry — not good at writing — less — sorry. .. ..

  14. #14
    David Paul Carr
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Nobody picked up on my thread about Raw Developer settings but, although expressed differently, I was touching on this. The GRD2 is a different beast and I do not like the JPEG s at all. Raw seems incredibly dependent on software choices and settings and I still haven't found my own solution. Raw Developer gives me glimpses of the sharpness and image structure I was hoping for but at the expense of a lot of trial and error... That said, I have had my GRD2 for just over a week now and have already used it on three commercial jobs (something that never happened with the GRD). In each case it was the fantastic depth of field that made it the right choice (group shots, event photography). Last night, in snap mode (80 ISO and f5.6) and using Pocket Wizards and a hand held off camera flash I managed to shoot some great spontaneous reportage in the middle of a dancing crowd. In every case I have noticed that the small size of the camera (I bring it out after "getting" the job with my Canons) changes completely the way people react to my presence. None of this would have been possible without the faster raw write time of the newer model. Sorry, I can't post any of the pictures: all done for commercial clients and I don't have the necessary permissions to put the stuff on the web.

  15. #15
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Paul Carr View Post
    Nobody picked up on my thread about Raw Developer settings but, although expressed differently, I was touching on this. The GRD2 is a different beast and I do not like the JPEG s at all. Raw seems incredibly dependent on software choices and settings and I still haven't found my own solution. Raw Developer gives me glimpses of the sharpness and image structure I was hoping for but at the expense of a lot of trial and error... That said, I have had my GRD2 for just over a week now and have already used it on three commercial jobs (something that never happened with the GRD). In each case it was the fantastic depth of field that made it the right choice (group shots, event photography). Last night, in snap mode (80 ISO and f5.6) and using Pocket Wizards and a hand held off camera flash I managed to shoot some great spontaneous reportage in the middle of a dancing crowd. In every case I have noticed that the small size of the camera (I bring it out after "getting" the job with my Canons) changes completely the way people react to my presence. None of this would have been possible without the faster raw write time of the newer model. Sorry, I can't post any of the pictures: all done for commercial clients and I don't have the necessary permissions to put the stuff on the web.
    That's very interesting and impressive, really. This past summer I was shooting the premier of the Simpson's movie in Springfield, VT and I decided to use the GX-100. A few days later I was starting a shoot for an architectural client and he said; "Hey I saw you shooting at that Simpson's thing. What was that tiny camera? Were you playing some kind of joke?"

    Cheers,

    Sean
    Last edited by Sean_Reid; 12th December 2007 at 11:33.

  16. #16
    Sean_Reid
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by 7ian7 View Post
    I'm not convinced that these characteristics are so easily attained after the fact by using post-processing, as I have been attempting it. That doesn't mean it can't be done.
    ..
    Which characteristics? The grain-like look of the noise?

    As for the larger question of "character" and "signature looks" I've been arguing for the importance of these (in lenses and cameras) for many years now. Ask Mitch where he first got the idea to try a Ricoh GR. I've also argued for the significance of small sensor cameras as a format, which is why this is not called the "Point and Shoot" (ugh) forum. But increasing the S/N ratio in a camera doesn't mean it has less character, only that its character has changed. Noisy small sensor files are really the rule, rather than the exception, among most of these cameras. Having a small sensor file with a high degree of S/N (as opposed to smoothing) is actually a highly unique accomplishment; its not at all common among small sensor cameras.

    So again, I understand why some may prefer noisier cameras as a rule. But, I also understand why that would not be a direction Ricoh would want to move in when it considers its customer base overall.

    Cheers,

    Sean
    Last edited by Sean_Reid; 12th December 2007 at 11:17.

  17. #17
    7ian7
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Sean, I agree in theory with everything you are saying (and even like the idea of potentially having the resolving strengths of my GX100 proven by your tests to be at or near the level of the GRD2! Nice.).

    But I still believe the draw of the original GRD is kind of reminiscent to making a favorite film choice and sticking with it — the camera's lack of versatility is in line with a philosophy of drilling-down as many variables as possible, which in the context of a pocketable camera, I think is cool, and creatively inspiring in its own way.

    Regardless, I am be eager to read about your findings.

    Signing out. For real this time.

    Ian

  18. #18
    7ian7
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Sorry, yes Sean — the grain-like look, but while maintaining a gentler curve to the contrast. I find that with the GX100 I can achieve interesting results at 200, but it still requires a greater boost in contrast and sharpness — which tends to teeter on a self-conscious "look". The GRD at 64 has something special. Anyway, I am working on my new website, which will feature a boatload of GX100 pictures, many of which may actually confirm your viewpoint about versatility, so in a couple of weeks once it's up, I will share the link with those interested in checking it out. Thanks again, Ian

  19. #19
    Sean_Reid
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by 7ian7 View Post
    But I still believe the draw of the original GRD is kind of reminiscent to making a favorite film choice and sticking with it — the camera's lack of versatility is in line with a philosophy of drilling-down as many variables as possible, which in the context of a pocketable camera, I think is cool, and creatively inspiring in its own way.
    Ian
    Absolutely, and as I've said above I can see why one might like that. But, I also understand Ricoh wanting to improve the technical performance of its cameras.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  20. #20
    Sean_Reid
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by 7ian7 View Post
    Sorry, yes Sean — the grain-like look, but while maintaining a gentler curve to the contrast. I find that with the GX100 I can achieve interesting results at 200, but it still requires a greater boost in contrast and sharpness — which tends to teeter on a self-conscious "look". The GRD at 64 has something special. Anyway, I am working on my new website, which will feature a boatload of GX100 pictures, many of which may actually confirm your viewpoint about versatility, so in a couple of weeks once it's up, I will share the link with those interested in checking it out. Thanks again, Ian
    What Mitch's testing so far suggests is that the GR2 has a higher contrast lens than the GX-100. That's good in some ways and not so good in others.

    If the GR2 has a higher contrast lens than the GR (and I don't know if it does) that's probably going to be due to improvements in the lens coatings.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  21. #21
    7ian7
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Classic, David.

    You'll be happy to know there's someone even "crazier" than you — I have done a small handful of people/places assignments entirely on the GX100, and yes, people do respond very differently — in a positive way — to the tiny camera, and for a travel assignment in Paris the depth of field was essential (although the highlights were an issue for a number of sunny situations).

    By the way, I think we are all aware of your RD posts. I downloaded it on your recommendation. It's just I am in an ACR workflow, and until I hear you literally screaming eureka, I am ok with the results the latest version is giving me.

    I don't shoot jpegs, and wish the sidecar jpeg feature could be shut off on the GX100 to make more room on my cards.

    Ok, I have to go.

    Cheers.

  22. #22
    IamJacksBrain
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean_Reid View Post
    What Mitch's testing so far suggests is that the GR2 has a higher contrast lens than the GX-100. That's good in some ways and not so good in others.
    Maybe I'm shortsighted, but I don't see any good coming from compressing an already short dynamic range. I can always boost contrast in post processing, but I can't create dynamic range after the fact.

  23. #23
    asabet
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    From what I have seen so far, I like the GRD II RAWs at least as much as the GRD RAWs. However, I think Ricoh went very wrong with the GRD II in-camera JPEGs at high ISO. I'm by far primarily a RAW shooter, but I've recently come to appreciate the ISO 800 and ISO 1600 B&W in-camera JPEGs I get from the GX100. Processing from color RAW to B&W at those ISOs, I find it very labor intensive and sometimes impossible to remove blotchy color noise, which ultimately translates to blotchy B&W tones. The only way I can get rid of them is by using heavy chroma NR in C1, which itself destroys quite a bit of detail even if I leave luma NR alone. Somehow the default GX100 in-camera process to B&W manages to avoid the blotchy tones while achieving a very nice balance between noise and NR. Consider the following two in-camera JPEGs, both at ISO 1600, The first is from the GX100, the second is the Canon G7:

    http://flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=...57600346842498

    http://flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=...57600346842498

  24. #24
    asabet
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by IamJacksBrain View Post
    Maybe I'm shortsighted, but I don't see any good coming from compressing an already short dynamic range. I can always boost contrast in post processing, but I can't create dynamic range after the fact.
    I've never seen definitive proof that lens characteristics make a big difference in DR. Certainly there can be differences in microcontrast and perhaps local contrast, but overall contrast? Here's an interesting thread on the topic -> http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=24904557.

    Every comparison I've seen where the GRD II was clipping highlights relative to the GRD, the GRD II seemed to be exposing higher overall. So far, I think the DR difference between the two is quite small.

  25. #25
    IamJacksBrain
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by asabet View Post
    I've never seen definitive proof that lens characteristics make a big difference in DR. Certainly there can be differences in microcontrast and perhaps local contrast, but overall contrast? Here's an interesting thread on the topic -> http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=24904557.

    Every comparison I've seen where the GRD II was clipping highlights relative to the GRD, the GRD II seemed to be exposing higher overall. So far, I think the DR difference between the two is quite small.
    I don't know if it's the lens, the way they process the raw data, or the exposure (I find that doubtful), but the GRD II files I've seen uniformly look like they have greater overall contrast. I've also noticed that some subtle detail has suffered, but I haven't seen enough test images to determine if that's the difference in exposure or dr. I wasn't looking at the clipping for the exact same reason as you.

  26. #26
    Mitch Alland
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean_Reid View Post
    ...As for the larger question of "character" and "signature looks" I've been arguing for the importance of these (in lenses and cameras) for many years now. Ask Mitch where he first got the idea to try a Ricoh GR. I've also argued for the significance of small sensor cameras as a format, which is why this is not called the "Point and Shoot" (ugh) forum. But increasing the S/N ratio in a camera doesn't mean it has less character, only that its character has changed. Noisy small sensor files are really the rule, rather than the exception, among most of these cameras. Having a small sensor file with a high degree of S/N (as opposed to smoothing) is actually a highly unique accomplishment; its not at all common among small sensor cameras...
    Absolutely, Sean, I bought the GRD finally after reading your review of it. On whether the "character" we speak about comes from the grain or not, yes, but perhaps only some of it: looking at the three pictures that I posted above — and of course this is not test not only because they are not the same scene but also because the first picture is so much better than the other two — I just have not been able to get the rich texture from either the GX100 or the GRD2, for the latter I should really say that I haven't been able to get this type of texture "yet", for I'm still working at it.

    Maybe I'll have a go with the GRD2 to see what are the brightest light conditions here in Bangkok under which I can still shoot at ISO400 with the GRD2, which, by the way, is also the speed that I liked on the GX100 and with which I made some of my favourite pictures with that camera.

    I like Ian's simile of the GRD being like making a "favourite film choice" and also his statement on achieving a look we like with the GX100 but, I like him, I find that I'm pushing the GX100 around very hard to do this, compared to doing it with greater ease with the GRD.

    Finally, here are two example of a GX100 shot at ISO400 on a fairly bright day, and I'll now try to see what I get with the GRD2 at ISO400 under similar conditons:










    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  27. #27
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by IamJacksBrain View Post
    Maybe I'm shortsighted, but I don't see any good coming from compressing an already short dynamic range. I can always boost contrast in post processing, but I can't create dynamic range after the fact.
    The subject of lens contrast and its relationship to dynamic range is quite involved. I've been writing about it for several years now.

    So, I'm assuming you're wondering why anyone might prefer a higher contrast lens? I take it then that you prefer lower contrast lenses? I like them both.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  28. #28
    Sean_Reid
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by asabet View Post
    I've never seen definitive proof that lens characteristics make a big difference in DR. Certainly there can be differences in microcontrast and perhaps local contrast, but overall contrast? Here's an interesting thread on the topic -> http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=24904557.

    Every comparison I've seen where the GRD II was clipping highlights relative to the GRD, the GRD II seemed to be exposing higher overall. So far, I think the DR difference between the two is quite small.
    Of course definitive proof, of anything, doesn't really exist. As I often remind my twelve year old (and as she often reminds me) all that we can do is to reject the null hypothesis. But if you want side by side examples of how lens contrast and DR interact, see my lens reviews such as the one on 28 mm RF lenses. There absolutely is a relationship if the subject contrast exceeds the DR of the camera. I began discussing this in a review of fast lenses that I did for LuLa in early 2005.

    Cheers,

    Sean
    Last edited by Sean_Reid; 12th December 2007 at 19:19.

  29. #29
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    Absolutely, Sean, I bought the GRD finally after reading your review of it. On whether the "character" we speak about comes from the grain or not, yes, but perhaps only some of it: looking at the three pictures that I posted above — and of course this is not test not only because they are not the same scene but also because the first picture is so much better than the other two — I just have not been able to get the rich texture from either the GX100 or the GRD2, for the latter I should really say that I haven't been able to get this type of texture "yet", for I'm still working at it.

    Maybe I'll have a go with the GRD2 to see what are the brightest light conditions here in Bangkok under which I can still shoot at ISO400 with the GRD2, which, by the way, is also the speed that I liked on the GX100 and with which I made some of my favourite pictures with that camera.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
    Hi Mitch,

    In order to know, we really need side by side tests with no confounding variables. I'll do some as soon as my Pentax stuff is done and perhaps you'll do more. Otherwise, we have gut reactions (which I think are very important) but not, as yet, anything that we might call evidence (except for the contrast difference - thanks to your samples).

    I also wonder how many of your GX-100 pictures have been made at apertures smaller than F/4.5. Diffraction is a problem for that lens beyond about that aperture (depending on focal length). I suspect that there's a difference but its less pronounced than you're thinking *so long as* the GX is not in "the diffraction zone".

    I'm looking forward to learning a lot more about the GR2 I have here as soon as I can concentrate on it.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  30. #30
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Sean:

    The apertures of the GX100 pictures above are f/3.9, 4.1 and 3.5, although the first one is not sharply focused and probably has some camera motion, as I was walking as I took it. I should clarify that I do like the GX100, as I do the GRD2 at ISO400 and 800, and, although I am trying to see whether ISO200 can give what I want, I do recognize the high quality of the files.

    I also recognize that I am giving only impressionistic reactions and that deliberate and methodical testing, particularly of the intelligent variety of your reviews, are necessary for firm conclusions. But I started this thread because there have been many postings here and on dpreview with reactions similar those of Ian and me, and I want to get all this out into a more thorough discussions in which other views and sides of this story would come out — something that this forum has shown to be good at. I must thank you for the idea of starting it — it's really useful.

    It would be good if Ricoh published something on how they developed the GRD2 and what their goals and considerations were, like the following series of nine articles on the development of the original GRD, called "Inside Story", which is quite interesting to read and shows the enthusiasm of the design team for the camera:

    http://www.ricoh.com/r_dc/gr/gr_digital/story/01.html

    They have a similar series of articles on the development of the GX100 on their Japanese site. If you think the above is good you might want to suggest that they make the GX100 articles available in English and do the same thing for the GRD2.

    I'll close by posting a GRD2 picture shot at ISO100 with the 21mm converter, which I have tried to sharpen the grain to get more of a look that I want:





    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
    Last edited by Mitch Alland; 12th December 2007 at 20:02.

  31. #31
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    Sean:

    The apertures of the GX100 pictures above are f/3.9, 4.1 and 3.5,
    Well, that's close to the sweet spots for sure. I'll mention these ideas to Ricoh (almost wrote Leica through force of habit).

    As for this new forum. I think its been great so far.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  32. #32
    IamJacksBrain
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean_Reid View Post
    So, I'm assuming you're wondering why anyone might prefer a higher contrast lens? I take it then that you prefer lower contrast lenses? I like them both.
    I quite understand the appeal for cameras with interchangeable lenses and JPEG only point and shoots, but for the GRD II I would prefer to see a lower contrast lens. It all depends on the camera and its use.

  33. #33
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Sean,

    i know you say that you only shoot raw and are not much interested in JPEGs. however, if i recall correctly, in your review of the original you did shoot JPEG as the raw was so slow. i am shooting JPEG on the GRD2 right now only to conserve space, rather than necessity (blew all my money on the camera, have to wait to get a larger card).

    since you are in contact with Ricoh, i'd be very interested if they are going to come up with a firmware update that will turn NR completely OFF. you can turn it off, supposedly, but it is more of a 'light' version rather than off. this is a biggie for me.

    you say the new camera will have a much wider appeal and i tend to agree. however, despite the RAW capabilities, most punters will still shoot JPEG (they just want the status of its ability to shoot RAW) so this is something that should be addressed. ideally, i suppose, would be three levels of NR on the camera: ON, LIGHT, OFF (completely!).

    and, Mitch, all my observations on the camera stand for RAW files as well. i was being honest in that i'm still shooting JPEG mostly, but i have done so in RAW and do prefer it. again, the original files are much easier to manipulate, etc. whether your tests are scientific enough, i don't much mind. you're doing real world testing and i agree with the conclusions you're finding.

  34. #34
    lucridders
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Sean, for me you have the most valuable explanation until now. Indead, lots of people are saying that the GRDI have more detail, in fact it is the way noise is doing it without being sharper at all.
    For me, Ricoh is anyhow going into the right direction.
    And as all, they still have to go a long way before I can say that the cam will be usable in 50% of he situations where I like to use it = real situations.
    Making pictures with a certain view that you create in advance is good, but a fact is that it stays the view from one individual, not for majority.
    IMO, the more contrast with the GRDII is also not a question of being better or not. I even saw pictures where the so said micro contrast is so pronounced that you will never see this in reality = too much for me.

  35. #35
    Mitch Alland
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    I find the discussion in this thread interesting. Sticking with RAW files, while some people, including myself, are saying that at ISO200 and below the "special character" that the GRD is gone in the GRD2 others, including Sean, are saying that the image quality of the GRD2 is much improved. It seems to me that both sides are right: when I first looked at the GRD2 files posted by Pavel on dpreview I concluded, like Walt, that Ricoh had made a major step forward in improving image quality.

    It's like the difference between Delta 100 and Tri-X film: the former has better image quality while the latter has a special character — the trouble is that in a digital camera you cannot change the type of sensor the way you can change the type of film in a camera. Of course I am exaggerating because the GRD2 files look quite different at IS0400 than they do at ISO100. And perhaps its not reasonable to ask for the type of character at ISO100 and 200 that we can have at ISO400. As I've said before, so far I'm happy with the GRD2 at ISO400, it's just that it's often to bright here to shoot at that speed. Maybe I should get an ND filter...

    Here are some attempts to get what I want from the GRD2 at ISO100 (with the 21mm converter)












    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  36. #36
    Senior Member Robert Campbell's Avatar
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    "the trouble is that in a digital camera you cannot change the type of sensor the way you can change the type of film in a camera."

    The ability to change ISO and white balance without having to change film has been touted as a major advantage of digital sensors. While changing film types can be mimicked in PP, is this deficiency a significant disadvantage?

    Bertie

  37. #37
    asabet
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    I find the discussion in this thread interesting. Sticking with RAW files, while some people, including myself, are saying that at ISO200 and below the "special character" that the GRD is gone in the GRD2 others, including Sean, are saying that the image quality of the GRD2 is much improved. It seems to me that both sides are right: when I first looked at the GRD2 files posted by Pavel on dpreview I concluded, like Walt, that Ricoh had made a major step forward in improving image quality.

    It's like the difference between Delta 100 and Tri-X film: the former has better image quality while the latter has a special character — the trouble is that in a digital camera you cannot change the type of sensor the way you can change the type of film in a camera.
    I think you summed it up perfectly here Mitch. I find myself missing my old D-LUX 2 "film stock" from time to time. The RAW from that camera had a really nice quality. Even more so for the Digilux 2, which I recently sold with great regret.

  38. #38
    lucridders
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    Smile Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    I think those discussions are not quite interesting as it seems to be endless. The one is prefering this, an other that and the third between in. Come on guys, is this no a little bit the wrong way of approaching.
    Everybody is thinking that his way of approach is the best and is writing than stuff to convince other people, very interesting.
    Digital cams should have an advantage over film cams Knowing a litle bit of what is possible nowadays in technical and software way, I would approach it more simple.
    As told before, all settings to 0 and auto should give in 75% of the situations an as good as possible picture as close as possible as what you see in real.
    Than for those who likes to play and use their own phantasy the manufacturers will put lots of items you can change to create your own taste.
    This way of approach will make it much more simple.
    Now they realy will stick to a certain brand (surprisingly enough they say that they are not brand related) and at the end to keep on going with that brand they need to look for the right PP, the right filters (even as standard already an ND filter and so on).
    What we are doing is just little bit silly in my opinion.
    When I follow the ideas I see here in general than I come to the conclusion that instead of being a freedom, the cam we like is giving us limitations. Is this digital age?
    And I talk of coorse about all cams even DSLR. When I see what silly things I find in my dslr's, instead of being happy I need to say that the digital age was creating hypes untill now and was even able to sell it

  39. #39
    Sean_Reid
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by IamJacksBrain View Post
    I quite understand the appeal for cameras with interchangeable lenses and JPEG only point and shoots, but for the GRD II I would prefer to see a lower contrast lens. It all depends on the camera and its use.
    There's an argument for that, indeed.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  40. #40
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by cam View Post
    Sean,

    i know you say that you only shoot raw and are not much interested in JPEGs. however, if i recall correctly, in your review of the original you did shoot JPEG as the raw was so slow. i am shooting JPEG on the GRD2 right now only to conserve space, rather than necessity (blew all my money on the camera, have to wait to get a larger card).

    since you are in contact with Ricoh, i'd be very interested if they are going to come up with a firmware update that will turn NR completely OFF. you can turn it off, supposedly, but it is more of a 'light' version rather than off. this is a biggie for me.

    you say the new camera will have a much wider appeal and i tend to agree. however, despite the RAW capabilities, most punters will still shoot JPEG (they just want the status of its ability to shoot RAW) so this is something that should be addressed. ideally, i suppose, would be three levels of NR on the camera: ON, LIGHT, OFF (completely!).

    and, Mitch, all my observations on the camera stand for RAW files as well. i was being honest in that i'm still shooting JPEG mostly, but i have done so in RAW and do prefer it. again, the original files are much easier to manipulate, etc. whether your tests are scientific enough, i don't much mind. you're doing real world testing and i agree with the conclusions you're finding.
    Yes, I did often shoot the GR in JPEG so that the exposures would take place on the same day that I pressed the shutter <G>. I'll test the JPEGs from the GR2 when I test the camera proper and I'll follow up with Ricoh. It's a good idea to be able to turn NR off entirely. Still working on the Pentax mount lenses but will be able to start in earnest with the GR in a few days.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  41. #41
    Sean_Reid
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by lucridders View Post
    Sean, for me you have the most valuable explanation until now. Indead, lots of people are saying that the GRDI have more detail,
    It might just be the noise. For the lens differences among the two current models, I'd have to see my own test results (GR2 vs. GX-100) to know for sure. I suspect that there are performance differences between those lenses but I don't know yet how large they are or what apertures may be involved. As for the differences from the GR, someone would need to do careful tests to know.

    Also, I believe in at least paying attention to gut responses and if Mitch's gut response is that the GX-100 files are softer its definitely worth finding out if that might be the case. Mitch is using these Ricohs daily and heavily and so his radar is naturally going to be tuned to notice certain things even if we don't quite yet know the causal relationships.

  42. #42
    Sean_Reid
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Hi Mitch,

    "I find the discussion in this thread interesting. Sticking with RAW files, while some people, including myself, are saying that at ISO200 and below the "special character" that the GRD is gone in the GRD2 others, including Sean, are saying that the image quality of the GRD2 is much improved."

    I haven't come to any conclusions about that yet. But I think noise may play a role in what people are perceiving. "Better", as you certainly know, is somewhat in the eyes of the beholder.

    "It's like the difference between Delta 100 and Tri-X film: the former has better image quality while the latter has a special character — the trouble is that in a digital camera you cannot change the type of sensor the way you can change the type of film in a camera. Of course I am exaggerating because the GRD2 files look quite different at IS0400 than they do at ISO100. And perhaps its not reasonable to ask for the type of character at ISO100 and 200 that we can have at ISO400. As I've said before, so far I'm happy with the GRD2 at ISO400, it's just that it's often to bright here to shoot at that speed. Maybe I should get an ND filter..."

    For character in this case, we may just be able to substitute "noise". And it may be that photographers who prefer that look straight from the camera may prefer the old camera at lower ISO levels. I can certainly understand that. But, in general, a sensor with a higher S/N ratio is more versatile because its files can look a lot of different ways. Over time, it might help us to more clearly define what the ingredients of this "character" are. I'd argue that lens may have a lot to do with it and that lens is still there. But, again, I can see why noise may be quite desirable for some.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  43. #43
    Sean_Reid
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by lucridders View Post
    I think those discussions are not quite interesting
    I certainly find them interesting. If you don't, you might want to skip this particular thread.

  44. #44
    lucridders
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    No, Sean, with all respect, this is a conversation that I see about yes and no and one party that will convince an other party that he is right and telling things in advance.
    I like to see more real tests, so lets wait untill I see those. Now we just have PP pictures and some personal stuff. Everybody will find that his pictures are maybe the best to represent something, for me it says nothing this way.
    Is not also a question about skipping this, than I should not know about what they are talking

  45. #45
    Chris
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by lucridders View Post
    No, Sean, with all respect, this is a conversation that I see about yes and no and one party that will convince an other party that he is right and telling things in advance.
    I like to see more real tests, so lets wait untill I see those. Now we just have PP pictures and some personal stuff. Everybody will find that his pictures are maybe the best to represent something, for me it says nothing this way.
    Is not also a question about skipping this, than I should not know about what they are talking
    Photography is not an absolute science. And there are at least two things that are of interest in a new camera. One is the way you like it with tests of various cameras in the same conditions. This is very helpful and if I am not wrong, this will be done by Sean as soon as he can.
    But there can be also an interesting discussion about if someone can get the "look" he wants with a new camera. This is very personal but that does not mean that one cannot discuss it here. To discuss this you don't have to like the "look" of anyone else, but it would be nice if you would respect that not everyone wants the "look" you like (if I'm not wrong, your prefered look is "what your eyes see"; obviously, this is very personal as well...).

    If you want to keep on discussing if this is an interesting discussion or not, I propose to open a new thread where we can discuss this and thus, we wouldn't bother this thread

    Best regards,
    Chris
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/2130628...7603384457352/
    Last edited by Chris; 13th December 2007 at 07:52.

  46. #46
    lucridders
    Guest

    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Is not that personal as you say. Do a simple test and give 100 people a cam, they will in first order compare the picture they took with what they have seen in real. If not, than we have to start an other discussion. Because than it becomes a real personal matter.
    I never said that you may not put your own feeling into a picture!!!
    But the basics are the basics, simple as that. And when we have a car per example we also first start the engine, when this is not starting, we can even not judge about it!
    Bothering a tread is the same as having an other point of view? Interesting conclusion.

  47. #47
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Mitch, I did a quick PS job on your GRII photo and added some grain to it and I think it gets it much closer to your preferred look. Maybe Lightzone is unable to do that, so it wouldn't be useful to you, but perhaps PP grain is the way to go?

    As Sean has pointed out, it's much easier to add noise to a photo than to remove it.

  48. #48
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Maggie:

    I may eventually have to do that, as Sean also suggested; but I have been resisting this (1) on philosophical grounds, which are quickly fading, (2) because it's a skill-set that I don't yet have, and (3) because I haven't wanted to use very different approaches for different cameras and different ISOs.

    For the time being I think I'll try to shoot the GRD2 at ISO400 and ISO800, and only use ISO200 when I have to. Eventually, I'll either go the way you suggest or just use the GRD for ISO200. But I'll still experiment some more with the GRD2 at lower speeds.

    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

  49. #49
    Chris
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by lucridders View Post
    Bothering a tread is the same as having an other point of view? Interesting conclusion.
    I was just thinking about another thread for the discussion ("interesting or not interesting") because I think that it makes it difficult to discuss the actual thread. I was not saying that you can't have another point of view.

    Anyway, I did not want to lead this OT either. Sorry.



    Best regards,
    Chris
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/2130628...7603384457352/

  50. #50
    asabet
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    Re: Has Ricoh gone in the wrong direction with the GRD2?

    Quote Originally Posted by lucridders View Post
    No, Sean, with all respect, this is a conversation that I see about yes and no and one party that will convince an other party that he is right and telling things in advance.
    I like to see more real tests, so lets wait untill I see those. Now we just have PP pictures and some personal stuff. Everybody will find that his pictures are maybe the best to represent something, for me it says nothing this way.
    Is not also a question about skipping this, than I should not know about what they are talking
    Lucridders, there are thousands of in-camera JPEGs from each of these cameras on Flickr. If you want to get a sense for how they perform "out of the box," it is a trivial thing for you to browse there. For those of us who want to know exactly what the lens and sensor produce in its RAW form so that we know what we can do with it, we need forums like this one. We don't have the luxury of just checking out a couple thousand images on Flickr. No one is putting you down for wanting what you want. Why do you put others down for wanting otherwise?

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