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Thread: GRD II review

  1. #1
    Super Duper
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    GRD II review

    Sean Reid's review of the GRD II has been posted at his site reidreviews.com Sean's reviews are great and well worth the subscription price.

    http://www.reidreviews.com/reidreviews/

    terry
    Last edited by Terry; 13th January 2008 at 16:21. Reason: added the link

  2. #2
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: GRD II review

    Thanks Terry,

    Cheers,

    Sean

  3. #3
    Caer
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    Re: GRD II review

    Just finished reading the review, well worth it!

  4. #4
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD II review

    It really is an excellent review and, in addition to direct and extensive comparisons with the GX100 and G9, there is a good deal of discussion of the original GRD as well.

    As I've written elsewhere I think that Sean's thorough and systematic reviews are better -- in the sense that they contain well-designed comparisons as well as balanced qualitative judgments by an excellent photographer -- than anything available on the web or in magazines. This review provides the basis for people who are trying to decide which camera to buy. For me, the review gives me specific performance reasons for my own conclusions on the GRD2 vs the GX100 that I posted some days ago, based on use of the two cameras without any specific A-B testing.

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

  5. #5
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    Re: GRD II review

    I just finished reading Sean's thourough and thought provoking review of the GTD II.
    As has been mentioned it was well worth the subscription.
    And far more geared towards those wanting to use this camera as a tool rather than the average consumer.
    I especially liked Sean's comments about manual focus.
    Still digesting the rest, but Bravo!

  6. #6
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    Re: GRD II review

    You do such beautiful work, Sean!

    Your methods seem irreproachable, your prose concise and informative but your pictures really tell the tale! The test samples, on the one hand, allow one to SEE the the points you are making and to evaluate for oneself. That's good pedagogy.

    The photos of your life with the camera, though, are what really delight. You've made them within just the sort of situations that I, personally, would want such a camera for, and they reveal your friends and family (and locale) so lovingly that the whole endeavor of such photography (and of the effort of learning to do it for oneself) is shown to be EMINENTLY worthwhile!!

    Thank you so very much for all this. You've enriched my life.

    Irenaeus

  7. #7
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: GRD II review

    Wow, thank you these comments. I'm happy to discuss the review further here. A review like that (and I've done a lot of them) is such an involved process that preparing and writing it is almost like taking a long road trip. I was just telling my wife that it's like waking up in Maryland and having dinner in Georgia. By Georgia, its hard to remember what it was like to be in Maryland. I'll try to explain that better tomorrow since it may not be clear and my brain is a little tired.

    For those people reading who are new to the site, I really recommend, in addition to the GR II review, the various essays there that deal with photography and art generally.

    ie:

    - On Small Sensor Cameras
    - Correct Exposure and Other Myths
    - "Street Photography"
    - Photographing Strangers
    - Photographing People We Know

    Also, to those who don't mind the long trip many of those equipment reviews are (Guy Mancuso keeps asking me for the "Cliff Notes" versions), most of them discuss aspects of photography that may be of interest even if one is not specifically interested in the particular camera or lens under discussion. They're always about the subject of the review but, hopefully, they're also always somewhat about larger aspects of photography itself - technical or otherwise.

    A lot of discussions about RR on the web debate the cost questions. But, business issues aside, I'm really interested in communicating ideas and information to other photographers who really care about making pictures. A lot of people care about equipment but I'm really writing to the people who truly only use it as a means to an end.

    Enough tired rambling for now but its always great to hear back from people who find one's work useful so thanks once again.

    Cheers,

    Sean
    Last edited by Sean_Reid; 13th January 2008 at 18:41.

  8. #8
    Chuck A
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    Re: GRD II review

    Quote Originally Posted by Irenaeus View Post
    You do such beautiful work, Sean!

    Your methods seem irreproachable, your prose concise and informative but your pictures really tell the tale! The test samples, on the one hand, allow one to SEE the the points you are making and to evaluate for oneself. That's good pedagogy.

    The photos of your life with the camera, though, are what really delight. You've made them within just the sort of situations that I, personally, would want such a camera for, and they reveal your friends and family (and locale) so lovingly that the whole endeavor of such photography (and of the effort of learning to do it for oneself) is shown to be EMINENTLY worthwhile!!

    Thank you so very much for all this. You've enriched my life.

    Irenaeus
    You hit it right on the head. I have been reading Sean's reviews since well before he opened his new site, as lots of us probably have. I look forward to them, even looking through some that are about products I may not be as interested in just to see the wonderful photos Sean includes.

    If you get the chance head over to http://www.still-photo.net/still-photo/index.htm and see some of his gorgeous wedding work. (I hope Sean doesn't mind the plug)

    I am currently in a debate over whether to get the GX100 or the GRDII, as I think some others are as well. Both cameras offer strengths and weaknesses and Sean's reviews will be right there helping me make the decision.

    Sean is right that these are photographers cameras that should be used to create images. The wonderful images I have seen from these cameras have inspired me. I love the small sensor format and have been looking for a small sensor camera that inspires me for a long time.
    Last edited by Chuck A; 13th January 2008 at 19:19.

  9. #9
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    Re: GRD II review

    I enjoyed the review, loved the pictures. Sean, how many shots does it take to get all those kids waiting to see Santa to simultaneously smile and present nice profiles? And how do you get your kids to light up in white, while surrounded by grey relatives? Does an unobtrusive camera help to wait for such moments? Of course that's a function of the photographer, too. I also thought the first of the rainy, snowy shots from inside the car was very strong, besides being a great demonstration of small-sensor DOF.

    I got a GR-D based on Sean's previous article, used it a lot while waiting for the M8 to finally be available, and am still using it quite often because of its convenience. I wish there were more GR-D GR2 comparisons possible, to make this an informed decision, but getting a GR2 is very tempting even though it might sideline a perfectly good camera. There seem to be two views on the difference, Walt Odets claiming that he can now stop being frustrated by the excessive tidiness of his M8 (and its failings) and use the GR2, and Mitch Alland disliking the excessive tidiness of the GR2 (too "Leicalike") when used at low ISO. I thought it was known that the lens in the two cameras is the same.

    I'd like to know more about the 40 mm lens adapter and about viewfinders now sold for this camera. What is widest aperture with the GT-1? I gather that it doesn't reduce it by the ratio of 40 to 28, as would a converter after the prime lens. And is the new viewfinder a low profile 28-only, that fits the new carrying case? How does it compare in size with the 28/21 that I got with my GR-D?

    The Ricoh film GR and GR21 were great favorites in Japan, so Ricoh has experience selling two models with different focal lengths. Sean, if you get some interview time with Ricoh people, please ask what lessons they are taking from that era with regard to supporting two fixed lens models in the digital era.

    regards,

    scott

  10. #10
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: GRD II review

    Hello my friend,

    Scott wrote:

    "I enjoyed the review, loved the pictures."

    Thanks very much.

    "Sean, how many shots does it take to get all those kids waiting to see Santa to simultaneously smile and present nice profiles?"

    One. But it has to be the right one.

    And one has to learn as much as he or she can from Breughel and Winogrand and many others. This must be the first two pictures in the article that you're thinking of. They're not all smiling but the different profiles are important and intentional. And the finder is really important because at the moment of exposure one really has to be able to see the whole space of the picture precisely. That's the main reason that I love RF cameras and that the M8 is my main squeeze. But, as you know, the GR2 with an optical finder is a lot like a rangefinder camera. With rare exceptions, I only use an SLR if I'm being paid to do work that an SLR is best for.

    "And how do you get your kids to light up in white, while surrounded by grey relatives?"

    Oh, they're just like that. Even the best relatives are always at least a bit grey and these two girls just shine and shine.

    "Does an unobtrusive camera help to wait for such moments?"

    It helps but I've done the same kind of pictures with a Graphlex...a long time ago. You know that my wife is also a professional photographer and Cheyenne is also a serious photographer. It may be only a matter of time for Emily. So we're all used to cameras being a part of life. Even the littlest one knows what an RF lens looks like.

    "Of course that's a function of the photographer, too. I also thought the first of the rainy, snowy shots from inside the car was very strong, besides being a great demonstration of small-sensor DOF."

    Thank you. I'm going to keep making these when we get snowstorms. Thank heavens for water and glass. It's really the summer water pictures of the last few years in a slightly different form.

    "I got a GR-D based on Sean's previous article, used it a lot while waiting for the M8 to finally be available, and am still using it quite often because of its convenience. I wish there were more GR-D GR2 comparisons possible, to make this an informed decision, but getting a GR2 is very tempting even though it might sideline a perfectly good camera. There seem to be two views on the difference, Walt Odets claiming that he can now stop being frustrated by the excessive tidiness of his M8 (and its failings) and use the GR2, and Mitch Alland disliking the excessive tidiness of the GR2 (too "Leicalike") when used at low ISO. I thought it was known that the lens in the two cameras is the same."

    Mitch, I think, is coming around to a different point of view on this. The main differences are that the GR has more noise in its files and is much slower in RAW. Of course, its still a great camera but, objectively, that's really where the two differ. Some people miss the noise, which I understand, but its important to know the differences for what they really are. Given that the GR2 is so much faster than the GR, I think the real choice (among the Ricohs) is between the GR2 and the GX100. Hence, that was the emphasis in the comparisons.

    It goes without saying, almost, that people could continue to use the GR for years and get excellent results.

    "I'd like to know more about the 40 mm lens adapter and about viewfinders now sold for this camera. What is widest aperture with the GT-1?"

    Same - F/2.4, you'll see it in the picture captions.

    "And is the new viewfinder a low profile 28-only, that fits the new carrying case?"

    Also the the GV-1 if desired or CV/Zeiss finders...

    "How does it compare in size with the 28/21 that I got with my GR-D?"

    Its much smaller but your current finder will be fine on the GR2...

    "The Ricoh film GR and GR21 were great favorites in Japan, so Ricoh has experience selling two models with different focal lengths. Sean, if you get some interview time with Ricoh people, please ask what lessons they are taking from that era with regard to supporting two fixed lens models in the digital era."

    I'm in good communication with Ricoh Japan now and so that's something I can discuss with them. I'm always in communication with several camera companies of course, but Ricoh's actually listening <G> unlike another company which listened a lot more in 2006 than it does at the moment.

    Cheers,

    Sean
    Last edited by Sean_Reid; 13th January 2008 at 20:32.

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    Re: GRD II review

    Sean, wonderful review! i just wish you hadn't put it up so late here in europe as it kept me up way past my bed time... it has definitely encouraged me to play around with the manual focus and i really need to adapt to RAW...

    on that point, is Silkypix your preferred RAW conversion program for the GRDII?

    what would you consider the "sweet spot" Aperture setting for street photography? i often shoot whilst walking and don't even look at the LCD (never mind the VF) when doing so. i don't always have time to twiddle with the settings to make them perfect. i gather you thought f/2.8 to f/4.0 was the sharpest during tests, but what about real world use?

    and, lastly, since you have the ear of Ricoh, i'd like to bring up a point you didn't mention that still bothers me. i do enjoy using the bracketing or continuous mode (especially when i can't look at what i'm shooting). this means i need to shoot JPEG. currently, turning the NR off does not mean that it is currently off. i would much rather have the noise in all it's glory rather than losing details in JPEG.

    due to size or time constraints, especially for social settings, i think there are instances where others will use JPEG as well. in this respect, the original GRD shines. the JPEGs capture more detail in certain situations (even with no NR settings) than the GRDII with NR off.

    thank you again for the lovely review!

    cheers,
    cam

  12. #12
    orliekim
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    Re: GRD II review

    Sean,

    good review...I enjoyed reading it into the early hours.
    I particularly like the style and the real life situations you use.As I am still in the first months of the GRD1 I also enjoyed your referencing to that product.

    I won't be upgrading just yet as it would be such a shame to make my GRD1 redundant, even though the lower noise and faster RAW times are attractive.
    I have set myself a goal of getting the absolute maximum out of my cameras before trading in and upgrading all the time.
    Therefore the best feature of the GRD models is for the the REAL pocketability of it and the shockingly good user interface and controls.These two features will, I hope enable me to improve my overall photography.

    Hat off for a really interesting and factual read....
    REGARDS

    andy

  13. #13
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD II review

    Quote Originally Posted by scott kirkpatrick View Post
    ...and Mitch Alland disliking the excessive tidiness of the GR2 (too "Leicalike") when used at low ISO...
    Scott,

    As Sean states, since my original posting on that subject and after more experience with the GRD2, I now indeed like it more than the GRD — a conclusion that I came to by the end of that same thread. The GRD2 files offer more flexibility for the way I tend to manipulate contrast, without, as Sean suggests, being overtaken by noise.

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

  14. #14
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD II review

    Sean:

    I guess you shot mainly or entirely in the 4:3 aspect ratio. How do feel about this these days compared to 3:2?

    On another subject, as discussed in another thread here, the maximum shutter speed that can be used at f/2.4 is 1/760 sec and at f3.2 is 1/1000,owing to the fact that the iris is also used as the shutter, which means that, at these larger apertures, the iris-shutter has to travel too far to allow faster shutter speeds. Unfortunately this limits what one can do when one wants to shoot at ISO 400 is bright light because, in order to be able to use the maximum 1/2000 sec shutter speed, one is forced into the smaller apertures that are subject to diffraction effects. Any thoughts on this?

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

  15. #15
    Subscriber Member Jonathon Delacour's Avatar
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    Re: GRD II review

    Golly, I've come late to the party only to find that pretty much everything I wanted to say about Sean's GRD2 review has already been expressed more eloquently than I could have done myself.

    Like Scott Kirkpatrick, I bought a GRD after reading Sean's review (and also seeing a large selection of Moriyama Daido's work at the Art Gallery of NSW). Although I'd purchased one of his books a few years ago in Japan, I wasn't aware -- until Mitch Alland pointed it out -- that Moriyama used the Ricoh GR cameras.

    The original GRD review and now this latest GRD2 review are typical of Sean's approach which, because it is built upon a foundation of photographic practice, is totally unique. Reading Sean's reviews -- which combine rigorous testing, insightful analysis, a broad knowledge of photographic history, and (happily) marvelous images -- one can almost feel what it might be like to use the particular camera or lens. This felt sense makes it so much easier to imagine whether or not the instrument under consideration might match one's own favored content and style. When I took the GRD home and started using it, it worked exactly as I'd expected it to; in other words, it worked just as Sean had said it would.

    For me -- apart from the entrancing images of Sean's family and community -- the most useful part of the review was devoted to the (40mm EFoV) GT-1 add-on lens. I realized that the GT-1 would turn the GRD2 into something that would no longer feel (or function) like the camera I've come to love. But a GR40? Well, I'd buy that in an instant. In any case, I hadn't intended to replace (augment?) my GRD with a GRD2, but now I might have to think again...

  16. #16
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD II review

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathon Delacour View Post
    ...Like Scott Kirkpatrick, I bought a GRD after reading Sean's review (and also seeing a large selection of Moriyama Daido's work at the Art Gallery of NSW). Although I'd purchased one of his books a few years ago in Japan, I wasn't aware -- until Mitch Alland pointed it out -- that Moriyama used the Ricoh GR cameras...
    Jonathan,

    I also bought my GRD after reading Sean's Review.

    I was completely blown away by Moriyama's 100x150cm (40x60 inch) prints at the Sydney Biennale from, most likeley Tri-X and Neopan 1600 film, taken with the GR1 and GR21 cameras. The fact Moriyama made these marvelous photographs with 28 and 21mm lenses made me receptive to the 28mm EFOV of the GRD at a time when 80% of my shooting was with a 50mm lens and the rest mainly with a 35mm lens. And the size of his prints made me experiment with printing this large with GRD files and framing the pictures the same way.

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

  17. #17
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: GRD II review

    Quote Originally Posted by cam View Post
    Sean, wonderful review! i just wish you hadn't put it up so late here in europe as it kept me up way past my bed time... it has definitely encouraged me to play around with the manual focus and i really need to adapt to RAW...

    on that point, is Silkypix your preferred RAW conversion program for the GRDII?

    what would you consider the "sweet spot" Aperture setting for street photography? i often shoot whilst walking and don't even look at the LCD (never mind the VF) when doing so. i don't always have time to twiddle with the settings to make them perfect. i gather you thought f/2.8 to f/4.0 was the sharpest during tests, but what about real world use?

    and, lastly, since you have the ear of Ricoh, i'd like to bring up a point you didn't mention that still bothers me. i do enjoy using the bracketing or continuous mode (especially when i can't look at what i'm shooting). this means i need to shoot JPEG. currently, turning the NR off does not mean that it is currently off. i would much rather have the noise in all it's glory rather than losing details in JPEG.

    due to size or time constraints, especially for social settings, i think there are instances where others will use JPEG as well. in this respect, the original GRD shines. the JPEGs capture more detail in certain situations (even with no NR settings) than the GRDII with NR off.

    thank you again for the lovely review!

    cheers,
    cam
    Hi Cam,

    Thanks very much. I agree with your point about NR still being applied even when NR is, supposedly, "off" and I will discuss that with Ricoh.

    The sweet spot aperture for the GR2 is F/2.8 but anything from F/2.4 - F/4.0 (maybe F/4.5) is also great. Of course, one can stop down more but there are diffraction losses.

    I like Silkypix very much for the Ricohs. I'm mostly a C1 guy, though, (for many years now) and so my favorite program for RAW conversion right now is C1 4.0 (despite it having some annoyances they need to sort out). I like being able to use the JFI profiles in C1 since most of my work (unless I'm being paid to shoot in color) is in B&W. But Silkypix is an excellent alternative to C1.

    Cheers,

    Sean
    Last edited by Sean_Reid; 14th January 2008 at 04:53.

  18. #18
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: GRD II review

    Quote Originally Posted by orliekim View Post
    I have set myself a goal of getting the absolute maximum out of my cameras before trading in and upgrading all the time.
    I think that's a great perspective. I stuck with a Canon 1Ds for years after newer models had been introduced. "If it ain't broke don't fix it."

    Cheers,

    Sean

  19. #19
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: GRD II review

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    Scott,

    As Sean states, since my original posting on that subject and after more experience with the GRD2, I now indeed like it more than the GRD — a conclusion that I came to by the end of that same thread. The GRD2 files offer more flexibility for the way I tend to manipulate contrast, without, as Sean suggests, being overtaken by noise.

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

    Yes, as you say, that's something that I discussed in the review and it really can make a difference for photographers who tend to do a lot of work with local contrast.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  20. #20
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: GRD II review

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    Sean:

    I guess you shot mainly or entirely in the 4:3 aspect ratio. How do feel about this these days compared to 3:2?

    On another subject, as discussed in another thread here, the maximum shutter speed that can be used at f/2.4 is 1/760 sec and at f3.2 is 1/1000,owing to the fact that the iris is also used as the shutter, which means that, at these larger apertures, the iris-shutter has to travel too far to allow faster shutter speeds. Unfortunately this limits what one can do when one wants to shoot at ISO 400 is bright light because, in order to be able to use the maximum 1/2000 sec shutter speed, one is forced into the smaller apertures that are subject to diffraction effects. Any thoughts on this?

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

    I could work either way. I liked the way the camera and GV2 fit into that case and so I thought I'd work in 4:3 for awhile. I also figured that, for evaluation purposes, I'd use the full sensor area and see what I noticed.

    I should add a section about those shutter speed ranges. This limitation happens often with small sensor cameras but, like yourself, I would like to be able to get to 1/2000 at F/2.4. So, this is another item for me to discuss with Ricoh (I nearly wrote Leica) about future directions for their camera.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  21. #21
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: GRD II review

    Also...thank you, once again, for the comments that many of you made, above, about the review. This is a great way to start the morning.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  22. #22
    Super Duper
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    Re: GRD II review

    Having had time to digest Sean's GRD II (and GRD and GX100) review(s) I've realized just what a valuable resource his site represents.
    Examples of Real World usage are juxtaposed nicely with salient points in text.
    Thourough tests are one thing, living with and using the cameras for a long time are quite another altogether.
    What does well in a Lab might not do well in the pocket or purse; the *domestic tranquility* of a camera like the GR/GX series is equally important.
    Sean's tips about how he adapted to carrying and using these tools are enlightening (like his use of a kit of the GX100 and several optical finders).
    The extremely in depth comparisons of performance between the GRD II/GT-1 combo and the GX100 at comparable EFL was of the greatest interest to me.
    It drove home the pint that the GT-1 is a very very high quality add-on lens.
    But being a supplementary lens there are some unavoidable compromises in bulk and, to a lesser degree, performance.
    I do not think I shall be getting the GT-1 because of this.
    I agree with Sean that should love to see a GRD40 or 50.
    However one thing that surprised me very much was the quite decent performance of the gX100 lens at the middle and longer EFL's.
    To the point that should I really desire a *longer* point-of-view in roughly the same form factor I will choose a GX100!
    Perhaps, like having ones cake and eating it, one CAN have both the Razor and the Swiss Army Knife!

  23. #23
    stnami
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    Re: GRD II review

    Nice review, it sorta shows that the 100 is ahead in versatility, just starting to lose touch at 400iso and with a bit more R and D could lead the pack.

    I can't but notice that in the first image of the review the so called "grain" and "tonal qualities" of the image look incomplete, they just don't seem to gel, almost like two separate entities. Any thoughts on that?

  24. #24
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: GRD II review

    Hi Imants,

    I was thinking about this recently. One of the things that is tricky about digital noise (from any camera) is that its stronger in the midtones and shadows than in the upper quarter tones and in the highlights, as I'm sure you know. So parts of a pictures will show something "grain-like" and others won't. I can think of three directions one might go with that:

    1. Reduce the noise in the lower tones
    2. Increase the noise overall
    3. Add grain, digitally, to even things out

    The third option interests me most - selective application of digital grain in the upper tones.

    If one is working at a 28 mm EFOV, the GR2 is technically the better camera and also the one that I prefer. But, one might well prefer the GX-100 for work at 35/40 mm EFOV and the latter camera definitely is more versatile.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  25. #25
    Sean_Reid
    Guest

    Re: GRD II review

    Quote Originally Posted by Lili View Post
    Having had time to digest Sean's GRD II (and GRD and GX100) review(s) I've realized just what a valuable resource his site represents.
    Examples of Real World usage are juxtaposed nicely with salient points in text.
    Thourough tests are one thing, living with and using the cameras for a long time are quite another altogether.
    What does well in a Lab might not do well in the pocket or purse; the *domestic tranquility* of a camera like the GR/GX series is equally important.
    Sean's tips about how he adapted to carrying and using these tools are enlightening (like his use of a kit of the GX100 and several optical finders).
    The extremely in depth comparisons of performance between the GRD II/GT-1 combo and the GX100 at comparable EFL was of the greatest interest to me.
    It drove home the pint that the GT-1 is a very very high quality add-on lens.
    But being a supplementary lens there are some unavoidable compromises in bulk and, to a lesser degree, performance.
    I do not think I shall be getting the GT-1 because of this.
    I agree with Sean that should love to see a GRD40 or 50.
    However one thing that surprised me very much was the quite decent performance of the gX100 lens at the middle and longer EFL's.
    To the point that should I really desire a *longer* point-of-view in roughly the same form factor I will choose a GX100!
    Perhaps, like having ones cake and eating it, one CAN have both the Razor and the Swiss Army Knife!
    Hi Lili,

    Thanks very much.

    I would think that if one was really interested in these cameras, and if his or her budget allowed, it might make sense to own a GR2 and a GX100 simply for the flexibility that could give one for choosing fields of view.

    I really like the lens on the GR/GR2 as well as the fact that the latter is faster in RAW than the GR or GX100. So, I'm holding on to the GR2 for a long term test.

    Then again, after I tested the GX-100 this summer, I nearly bought one.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  26. #26
    stnami
    Guest

    Re: GRD II review

    is that its stronger in the midtones and shadows than in the upper quarter tones and in the highlights,
    .. it's sorta where Mitch gets away with it as he pushes his shadows into jet black and reduces his mid tones. Leads to harsh images in a way that may not be too versatile if a soft mood is required.............then there is a need to step up a few sensor sizes

  27. #27
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    Re: GRD II review

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean_Reid View Post
    Hi Lili,

    Thanks very much.

    I would think that if one was really interested in these cameras, and if his or her budget allowed, it might make sense to own a GR2 and a GX100 simply for the flexibility that could give one for choosing fields of view.

    I really like the lens on the GR/GR2 as well as the fact that the latter is faster in RAW than the GR or GX100. So, I'm holding on to the GR2 for a long term test.

    Then again, after I tested the GX-100 this summer, I nearly bought one.

    Cheers,

    Sean
    Sean,
    I quite agree!
    And after reading your review and as well as Mitch's, had I not just gotten my GRD I would have bought a GRD II immediately!
    However, just as another poster said, I wish to fully use my GRD before supplanting it.
    But that does not mean I am not tempted by by the GX100

    Lili

    PS- as regards RAW. I am new to RAW as well as Post Processing. One thing that really attracted me about the GR Digital was the ability to directly and easily control sharpness, contrast and saturation when shooting JPEGS.
    So the RAW write times, at least for now, are of less importance to me.
    Last edited by Lili; 14th January 2008 at 06:17.

  28. #28
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD II review

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean_Reid View Post
    Hi Imants,

    I was thinking about this recently. One of the things that is tricky about digital noise (from any camera) is that its stronger in the midtones and shadows than in the upper quarter tones and in the highlights, as I'm sure you know. So parts of a pictures will show something "grain-like" and others won't. I can think of three directions one might go with that:

    1. Reduce the noise in the lower tones
    2. Increase the noise overall
    3. Add grain, digitally, to even things out

    The third option interests me most - selective application of digital grain in the upper tones.

    If one is working at a 28 mm EFOV, the GR2 is technically the better camera and also the one that I prefer. But, one might well prefer the GX-100 for work at 35/40 mm EFOV and the latter camera definitely is more versatile.

    Cheers,

    Sean
    Sean,

    As you know I feel uncomfortable with this issue: firstly, I'm not necessarily really after having film-like grain — all I want is for the digital noise to look good; and, secondly, I'm generally not sure what to do to make it look good, whether to increase in the highlights as you suggest or to reduce in mid and lower tones. That's why so far I've preferred to "rough up" my files by sharpening to accentuate the grain.

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

  29. #29
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: GRD II review

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    Sean,

    As you know I feel uncomfortable with this issue: firstly, I'm not necessarily really after having film-like grain — all I want is for the digital noise to look good; and, secondly, I'm generally not sure what to do to make it look good, whether to increase in the highlights as you suggest or to reduce in mid and lower tones. That's why so far I've preferred to "rough up" my files by sharpening to accentuate the grain.

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

    That's one way to do it, for sure. The other thing that occurred to me as I was driving this morning is that this difference (in the higher vs. lower grain areas of the picture) can be more pronounced in JPEGs that are resized for screen viewing. There's a certain amount of noise reduction that just happens as a consequence of down-sizing the file for the web. But that re-sampling has a threshold above which some noise will still be visible. So, thinking in terms of the Zone system, for example, the re-sampling may mean that the tones at Zone IV and below will still show the noise whereas those above that level may have lost it in the re-sampling. So, the difference tends to be less pronounced in prints.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  30. #30
    Mitch Alland
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    Re: GRD II review

    That's interesting — and encouraging, Sean.

    Another thing that I noticed is from the facility that the Macintosh has for viewing picture files: you can select a tiff or jpg file in a directory and when you hit the space bar the file is displaced on the screen. When I display tiff files in this way the noise in them looks much better than when I display reduced jpgs in the same way. This must be because the tiffs are 50MB while the jpgs are 500K.

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

  31. #31
    Preston
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    Re: GRD II review

    A very informative review from Sean as usual.

    One of the problem areas raised by Sean was with the ease of manual focusing. I set my GRD2 up to assign the left arrow key to AF/MF toggle, as suggested in the manual, and I also set the AF mode to center spot. Then it works a lot like a rangefinder camera.

    You aim the central spot, half-press shutter to autofocus, and release. Then tap the AF/MF button to lock focus in manual mode. This holds the focus for all successive shots, which then have no delay. It takes a second or so for the AF to work initially, but that's about the same time it takes me to focus my M6. Toggle back to AF to refocus only when necessary.

    Big caveat: the MF display doesn't indicate correct distances when used this way (as mentioned elsewhere in the forum)... this may have frightened people off, but I think (hope) it's the displayed distance and not the actual focus distance that's wrong. The AF motor definitely does not move after you toggle the AF/MF button, so it seems to be staying at whatever focus it found during autofocus. If the autofocus is working correctly I have to assume the focus is right, even if the MF distance display shows otherwise. Have not tested it carefully enough to be absolutely sure though... there is too much depth of field! Sean?

    Fixing the displayed distance or the focus, whichever is off, should be a high priority for Ricoh. The AF/MF toggle is a really valuable option.

  32. #32
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    Re: GRD II review

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean_Reid View Post
    I was thinking about this recently. One of the things that is tricky about digital noise (from any camera) is that its stronger in the midtones and shadows than in the upper quarter tones and in the highlights, as I'm sure you know. So parts of a pictures will show something "grain-like" and others won't. I can think of three directions one might go with that:

    1. Reduce the noise in the lower tones
    2. Increase the noise overall
    3. Add grain, digitally, to even things out

    The third option interests me most - selective application of digital grain in the upper tones.

    If one is working at a 28 mm EFOV, the GR2 is technically the better camera and also the one that I prefer. But, one might well prefer the GX-100 for work at 35/40 mm EFOV and the latter camera definitely is more versatile.

    Cheers,

    Sean
    first of all, thank you very much for the answers to my questions above! (i still have to figure out the RAW question as i'm intrigued by the JFI profiles -- though i thought i saw they were only for PC's?)

    i often do the roughening up that Mitch does as i like the look very much (i guess that's kind of your number two option). however, i have also experimented with using selective grain addition (number three) digitally using Alien Skin Exposure 2. it gives you the base, but you can adjust the grain in any of the tones to your aesthetics. it's really quite nice and makes it very easy to see what you are going to get.

    as to the 40mm adaptor, i have one on order. since i already own both the GRD's, i thought it was a more elegant answer than getting a GX100. do i not remember you saying somewhere on the forum that you used the neck strap when using the GT-1?

    again, many thanks!

  33. #33
    Sean_Reid
    Guest

    Re: GRD II review

    Quote Originally Posted by Mitch Alland View Post
    When I display tiff files in this way the noise in them looks much better than when I display reduced jpgs in the same way. This must be because the tiffs are 50MB while the jpgs are 500K.

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

    Cheers,

    Sean

  34. #34
    Sean_Reid
    Guest

    Re: GRD II review

    Quote Originally Posted by Preston View Post
    A very informative review from Sean as usual.

    One of the problem areas raised by Sean was with the ease of manual focusing. I set my GRD2 up to assign the left arrow key to AF/MF toggle, as suggested in the manual, and I also set the AF mode to center spot. Then it works a lot like a rangefinder camera.

    You aim the central spot, half-press shutter to autofocus, and release. Then tap the AF/MF button to lock focus in manual mode. This holds the focus for all successive shots, which then have no delay. It takes a second or so for the AF to work initially, but that's about the same time it takes me to focus my M6. Toggle back to AF to refocus only when necessary.

    Big caveat: the MF display doesn't indicate correct distances when used this way (as mentioned elsewhere in the forum)... this may have frightened people off, but I think (hope) it's the displayed distance and not the actual focus distance that's wrong. The AF motor definitely does not move after you toggle the AF/MF button, so it seems to be staying at whatever focus it found during autofocus. If the autofocus is working correctly I have to assume the focus is right, even if the MF distance display shows otherwise. Have not tested it carefully enough to be absolutely sure though... there is too much depth of field! Sean?

    Fixing the displayed distance or the focus, whichever is off, should be a high priority for Ricoh. The AF/MF toggle is a really valuable option.
    I talked about that method (AF center spot as a sort of RF) in my review of the first GR. The challenge, for me, comes when I am working quickly and at varying close subject distances because the AF simply can not keep up (by itself or as an initial RF substitute). A distance-marked MF focus thumbwheel, combined with the DOF, would, I think, really be the ticket.

    As for the distance indicator accuracy after using this method...I'd have to try some tests when there's time. Lets open up that question as well. What are other people finding?

    Cheers,

    Sean

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    Re: GRD II review

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean_Reid View Post
    I talked about that method (AF center spot as a sort of RF) in my review of the first GR. The challenge, for me, comes when I am working quickly and at varying close subject distances because the AF simply can not keep up (by itself or as an initial RF substitute). A distance-marked MF focus thumbwheel, combined with the DOF, would, I think, really be the ticket.

    As for the distance indicator accuracy after using this method...I'd have to try some tests when there's time. Lets open up that question as well. What are other people finding?

    Cheers,

    Sean
    a thumbnail would be brilliant!

    as for the question of indicator accuracy, i played around with it this morning and it seemed to be all over the place, giving different DOF's for the same distance (and aperture and speed). it was very frustrating... or maybe it was just my eyes after staying up late to read your review

  36. #36
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: GRD II review

    JFI profiles should work on Mac as well.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  37. #37

    Re: GRD II review

    I got in yesterday evening after a long day organising a stressfull gig and doing it, then doing one in the evening, I arrived home very tired and had made a concrete decision to go to bed early:sleep006:, no such luck, I checked my emails as I always do at night, I had a quick look at the Dpreview Ricoh forum and there was a link to this GRD11 review, early to bed your joking!

    I read it from cover to cover and it answered some doubts, many people had said it was not as good as the GRD so I have been sitting on the fence waiting fror a real review done with knowledge, experience, enthusiasm, honesty etc, etc and of course Sean is the man, I have a GRD and use it more than my other three digital cameras, I wont rabbit on about the review but it has persuaded me to get the GRD11 when funds permit, (I have just ordered a new full PC system)

    Thanks for putting my mind at rest Sean
    Last edited by [email protected]; 14th January 2008 at 08:40. Reason: Spelling

  38. #38
    7ian7
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    Re: GRD II review

    Sean,

    Last night I subscribed to your site — more on principal, in support of your efforts on behalf of all of us than because of any urgent need for immediate answers — and I'm happy I did. There's a bounty of intriguing titles at ReidReviews that I've been planning on reading for more than a year, now, and that I will most likely explore even before digging in to your GRD2 review, which on quick perusal seems interesting, too.

    I am guessing you've programmed the site in Flash because that makes grabbing content without permission a bit more difficult, but I do wish that it loaded and displayed with greater ease and handled more fluidly (on my dual G5 Mac tower, anyway). I am sure it's possible, while still protecting your work from unauthorized access.

    That said, absolutely no regrets here — I am totally psyched to ante up!

    Mitch/Sean/Everyone else,

    In terms of maximizing perceived grain/texture/noise in highlights etc, one very effective method in PhotoShop is to create a curve layer that addresses a particular area of the image — for instance a cheekbone shadow that would benefit from the enhanced texture of greater contrast — invert the new curves layer, and then paint that curve algorithm back in with a brush tool to only the desired spot. Repeating these steps for however many parts of the photograph need special attention has been working well for me. Enhanced contrast, even in targeted areas, also increases the perceived sharpness of the image, without "crunching" the file with oversharpening.

    It's kind of like how we'd switch out gelatin filters in a condensor head enlarger — for instance, bumping areas up with a blast from #5, or burning down blown-out areas with a #0 — but this is easier, and the print isn't ruined if you overdo it. It's way faster than it sounds, and way more accurate than settling for overall tonal ranges. It's not unusual to have as many as ten or eleven curves layers in a .psd file, but the precision is fantastic, and the results are as "natural" as one's personal taste. I also use curves for adjusting color in targeted areas, rather than sacrificing overall saturation levels, and that works great too (one example: creating a curves layer with bumped up green channel to reduce facial rosiness in shadow areas where the magenta/red digital thing is taking over).

    Working this way also means that if you use the "Layer Comps" feature, you can create several versions of the image with various combinations of your adjustment layers, and toggle between those versions with a single click, which is great too. Ok, I guess I'm starting to veer further off topic ...

    This is kinda basic stuff, so forgive me, but for anyone who hasn't yet put - down - that - burn/dodge - tool - !! (which just messes up color most of the time) starting to work this way may feel like the epiphany it has been for me.


    Cheers,
    Ian

  39. #39
    7ian7
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    Re: GRD II review

    P.S. — Brushes set at lower opacities are easier to control. White paint reveals and black paint hides the inverted layer. A low opacity eraser is useful, too, as is simply pulling back the opacity of an entire adjustment layer to minimize its effect. Cheers.

  40. #40
    wbrandsma
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    Re: GRD II review

    Quote Originally Posted by stnami View Post
    .. it's sorta where Mitch gets away with it as he pushes his shadows into jet black and reduces his mid tones. Leads to harsh images in a way that may not be too versatile if a soft mood is required.............then there is a need to step up a few sensor sizes
    I don't think there is a need to increase the sensor size for a softer B&W mood. Decrease the ISO speed is another method. Mitch works with higher ISO's. My personal experience with high ISO settings is less dynamics and tonalities in my images. I therefor prefer ISO 80 or 100 for my B&W images.

    Made with a GX100.
    This thread is a very good read!!

  41. #41
    Chuck A
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    Re: GRD II review

    Here is a question regarding the 1:1 aspect. Sean doesn't cover much about this in either review. From what I can understand the GRDII will do a RAW 1:1 along with a jpg. How does this work with the GX100? I don't think that it does RAW 1:1 like the GRDII. If I shoot RAW with the GX100 can I do a 1:1 jpg at the best quality? I can always crop the RAW file to match later.

    I am very interested in the 1:1 aspect. My Yashicamat died and I love that square format.

  42. #42
    wbrandsma
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    Re: GRD II review

    Unfortunately not Chuck. You can apply image settings on the GX100 (and still shoot raw), but changing the aspect is also changing the saving format

  43. #43
    stnami
    Guest

    Re: GRD II review

    The grain/noise caper all depends on how much PP work one really wants to do. A lot of it stems from trying to get away from the smeared plastic look of most small sensor digitals
    Increasing sensor size will give one greater scope with the graduations within the dynamic range. A landscape image ( storm weather is not really serene) as posted is easier to cope with, the situation is a lot harder when it comes to people and fine detail is needed. A lower iso leads to slower speeds something that becomes a problem with moving subjects as we all know.
    Nothing wrong with working within the ricoh's limitations, but they cannot be applied to all situations,ie an entomologist would be pretty frustrated when it comes to fine detail.
    Last edited by stnami; 14th January 2008 at 13:47.

  44. #44
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: GRD II review

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck A View Post
    Here is a question regarding the 1:1 aspect. Sean doesn't cover much about this in either review. From what I can understand the GRDII will do a RAW 1:1 along with a jpg. How does this work with the GX100? I don't think that it does RAW 1:1 like the GRDII. If I shoot RAW with the GX100 can I do a 1:1 jpg at the best quality? I can always crop the RAW file to match later.

    I am very interested in the 1:1 aspect. My Yashicamat died and I love that square format.
    Either review? The feature is only included on the GR2 and its pretty simple. Make a menu selection and the camera can record a square picture as a JPEG or RAW file. The GV-2 has slight markings to indicate a square frame. That's about all there is to tell.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  45. #45
    7ian7
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    Re: GRD II review

    Yet another beautiful image, Wouter. In general, I also leave my GX100 on 80, but am finding that the noise at 200 can be appealing too, and without sacrificing too much resolution.

    I believe it is possible to attain exposures with the depth of your landscapes — which impressively sidestep the limited DR of the GX100 sensor — and still find ways of capitalizing on the appealing noise characteristics of this camera in smaller doses. For instance, in your image an additional curves layer might be used to massage and enhance the grain/noise of the cloud/shadow areas without sacrificing the overall DR, which would look incredible, especially enlarged on paper. Not that it needs that.

    1. Reduce the noise in the lower tones
    2. Increase the noise overall
    3. Add grain, digitally, to even things out


    Sean, upon revisiting your earlier post;

    My favorite natural-occurring film grain (especially in people-photography) tends to appear in the transitions from the highlights to the deep blacks, for instance at the junction where a bold cheek-bone shadow gives way to a white cheek. Therefore, instead of even-ing things out in my Ricoh files, I take the blacks even blacker (solving a bit of that underexposure noise, which I don't like), and sort of celebrate the highlights. Then I experiment with yet another curves adjustment layer in order to amplify those speckled (noisy) transition points between the two. To my eye, it ends up looking more like slightly-pushed Tri-X — or even Tri-X shot normal, but in a contrasty situation — which I prefer to "automatic" grain, such as the TMAX 3200 look.

    I find that adding noise in PhotoShop is best saved for areas that have been substantially retouched, which often need that grain boost in order to sit more naturally in context to the surrounding original image.

    That said Sean, as you (and anyone else here) continues to experiment further with adding noise in your pictures, I'd be interested in reading about your impressions and discoveries and results.

    Ok — that's two massive posts I've made today (this must mean I am proCRAStinating getting to work!). I hope these aren't too long-winded. I get so much free inspiration here that I feel obliged to share my impressions every now and again.

    Cheers,
    Ian

  46. #46
    Senior Member helenhill's Avatar
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    Re: GRD II review

    Wouter
    Beautiful shot
    Your work with the GX100 is pure magic......
    Cheers Helen

  47. #47
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    Re: GRD II review

    Helen is right, Wouters work rocks!
    I fav'd some of his flickr shots

  48. #48
    Mitch Alland
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    High vs low ISO

    Wouter,that's another masterly shot!

    I tend to shoot landscapes at low ISO speeds, as in my GX100 Chartres and chateaux of the Loire series on my flickr site, but not always. Sometimes I like to shoot in the harsh midday light of the tropics to show the brightness, the deep shadows and the heat. The following GRD2 picture was shot at ISO400 because I thought the grain would add to the feeling I wanted from the picture, and I must say that the 23x31 inch (58x78cm) print looks much better than the — the tones look richer and the grain more attractive in the print:



    —Mitch/Bangkok
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/
    Last edited by Mitch Alland; 14th January 2008 at 16:18.

  49. #49
    Mitch Alland
    Guest

    Adding grain vs accentuating noise

    Earlier in thread I wrote about the reasons for my preference for trying to accentuate noise rather than to add film grain. Another reason is that grain looks quite different on the computer monitor — certainly at 100% but even at 50% — than it does on a print, which makes is very difficult to make judgments. In this situation I feel more comfortable working with what's in the file already.

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

  50. #50
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    Re: GRD II review

    Sean,

    Thanks for the great review on the GRDII. I subscribed to your site a few weeks ago and agonized over the GX100 or GRDII and went with the latter for some rather silly reasons. I've been really enjoying the camera. I've fairly new to the world of photography, but shooting with a fixed lens and in B&W has been a lot of fun. It's gotten even better since I went out and picked up the OVF the other day. I learned more about the GRDII after your review and I think I picked the right camera for me at this time.

    I'd also like to thank everyone else here and on the dpreview forums. I know many of you post both places. I thought I needed to get a (D)SLR to be serious about photography, but I've learned that isn't case. I know I wouldn't carry it around due to the bulk, although I still have some hope for Olympus. Down the road I've love to get a digital rangefinder, but they are a little expensive right now. I'm going to enjoy learning all I can about the GRDII.

    Charles

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