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Thread: Camera decision help needed!

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    Camera decision help needed!

    Hello to all the DPI forum members and I hope you can help me out. I now use the Olympus E-1 dslr and shoot raw format files which I like very much but I want something smaller to have with me all the time. I do not like holding a camera at arms length so it must have some kind of viewfinder to use. I do wear glasses also full time ( blind without them ). My current choices seem to be the GRD II, the GX 200, or the Sigma DP 1. I do not know if I can live with only one focal length as I owned a 25mm Leica 1.4 lens for the E-1 and sold it after about a month. A great lens but again a fixed focal length. However I do like the image quality of the DP-1 from what I have seen but am not sure how friendly the files are for enlargement and printing. I also want to do more B&W which the Ricohs seem very good at also. I guess I am trying to justify the GX 200 as my top choice but a large part of that hinges on how good the EVF performs. I want to be able to shoot indoors, flowers outside, general landscape scenes and have a camera with me at all times which I can use quickly for those shots we all want to take. Sorry for the long post but I hope some of you here can help me out! Thank you!

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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    If you find a fixed field of view too limiting then your only choice of the 3 is the GX200.
    I had the GRD, which I adore. I've not used the DP-1 or the GX200 so I have no oponion really on them.

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    Subscriber Member Streetshooter's Avatar
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Ahhh Lili...a knight in shining armor to your rescue.....

    bbo.....
    I have both the DP1 and thre GX-200 and the DP1 is a better camera for IQ but the interface of the Ricoh is unmatched by any camera....any

    I have had prints made and they both do a great job in B&W and color the DP1 certainly out performs the Ricoh. Oh, I made 11 x 14 prints and all were very good.

    The DP1 is a great camera if ya come from the Leica M world...and the GX-200 is great if ya come from the zoomie world....
    The DP1 is made for an external Viewfinder and the GX-200 works ok with it but the zoomie thing gets confusing with a finder...
    shooter

  4. #4
    ddk
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by bbodine9 View Post
    Hello to all the DPI forum members and I hope you can help me out. I now use the Olympus E-1 dslr and shoot raw format files which I like very much but I want something smaller to have with me all the time. I do not like holding a camera at arms length so it must have some kind of viewfinder to use. I do wear glasses also full time ( blind without them ). My current choices seem to be the GRD II, the GX 200, or the Sigma DP 1. I do not know if I can live with only one focal length as I owned a 25mm Leica 1.4 lens for the E-1 and sold it after about a month. A great lens but again a fixed focal length. However I do like the image quality of the DP-1 from what I have seen but am not sure how friendly the files are for enlargement and printing. I also want to do more B&W which the Ricohs seem very good at also. I guess I am trying to justify the GX 200 as my top choice but a large part of that hinges on how good the EVF performs. I want to be able to shoot indoors, flowers outside, general landscape scenes and have a camera with me at all times which I can use quickly for those shots we all want to take. Sorry for the long post but I hope some of you here can help me out! Thank you!
    I highly recommend the GRD with Ricoh OVFs, it has the best interface and ergonomic body out there, real joy to use. And who said you're stuck with the 28mm, there are two other wonderful lenses for this camera, 21mm & 40mm making it even more versatile. The raw files are pretty good but I also like its jpg engine, specially for BW.

    I had the DP1 and really hated everything about it, just couldn't take a half way decent picture with it. Even the batteries were crap. Yes DP1's sensor is better than Ricoh's but that's irrelevant when you have to fight the camera to take an image.

    No experience with the GX200.

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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Thanks everyone and yes I had forgotten about the 21 and 40 converters, that might make the GRD a good choice also. Does the OVF have framing lines for these lengths?

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    ddk
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by bbodine9 View Post
    Thanks everyone and yes I had forgotten about the 21 and 40 converters, that might make the GRD a good choice also. Does the OVF have framing lines for these lengths?
    The Ricoh OVF has lines for the 21mm and the 28mm and framing is very accurate with it. Bought a Voiglander for 40mm and framing wasn't right so now I either use the 28mm's lines and guesstimate or use the LCD which unlike Sigmas is of very high quality.

    Initially I also hated using the LCD for framing but in time I've learnt to enjoy it, specially given its live view exposure ability.

  7. #7
    VladimirV
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    I have both GRDs, the GX, GX100 and for reviewing the GX200 from Ricoh.

    The GRDs are more refined and you won't find any compact camera that comes close to the build and handling of them, they are also very good in low light and high ISO. The add-on lenses are very high quality and so are the OVFs. So if you can live with only 21mm, 28mm and 40mm and are prepared to put up with the extra bulk when using the adapter lenses the GRDs are the best choice, especially for b&w work. I personally would recommend the GRD I over the GRD II but if you shoot RAW the 13 sec. RAW write time of the GRD I might not be to your liking. The JPGs however are very good so there is mostly no need for RAW.
    If you need a more flexible zoom lens that does not add extra bulk to the camera the GX200 is fantastic, at low ISO it's better than the GRD II although the dynamic range suffers a bit. The EVF is very good and better than the LC1 EVF since it has no lag and does not slow down in low light. If you need a viewfinder on a compact zoom camera this is at the moment as good as it gets, the OVFs in the G10 or Nikon P600 are horrible to use and obstructed by the lensbarrel.

    I don't have the DP1 but played around with it before it came out and afterwards and it is true what you read about it. The build, handling, LCD are all horrible and it is sloooowww. It has however the best IQ at low ISO you can get in any camera that compact and the highest dynamic range. At high ISO you're better off switching to b&w and will get similar quality as to what the GRDs produce with maybe a bit more dynamic range. The Sigma OVF is however pretty bad, dark and made out of plastic so you might want to consider a different OVF. You won't have any other lens options with the DP1 so this will be a problem for you as you mentioned.

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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by Streetshooter View Post
    Ahhh Lili...a knight in shining armor to your rescue.....


    Lili is the last person here that needs "rescuing." (she was also the only one who actually paid attention that the original poster did not want a wide prime.) please think a little before you type. some mighty sexist comments have been coming out in this Small Sensor Forum lately (look at apropos as an example). it's starting to get annoying. just a warning -- i am mighty good with a lance myself.
    Last edited by cam; 16th February 2009 at 00:16.

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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    back to the original poster:

    for what you say you want to use the camera for, i think your instincts are spot on -- go with the GX200.

    the image quality out of the DP1 is second-to-none in its class but it's miserable to use and if you want to shoot quickly -- ha! you'll go mad. no Macro Mode either, unless you buy the close-up lens which negates the compact size and you're still stuck with the 28mm FOV.

    the GRD/GRDII gives you the macros, along with elegant handling. it also gives you the chance to add the fantastic 21/40 lenses, but at a great cost to its compactness (and your wallet). again, you're stuck with the 28mm FOV if you want to shove it in your pocket.

    the GX200, which you've rightly decided is the one that meets your needs, is a fantastic do everything camera. this is the one camera here that i haven't owned, but i have played around with it enough and sold it to many trying to make the same choice as you. (i hang around a camera shop sometimes, trying to improve my french.) i too am blind without my glasses and bless contact lenses -- to be honest i would go mad using any VF with glasses but i didn't find the EVF that much worse. the screen on the GRDII and the GX200 is so good that i think you may find yourself using it more than you'd expect. you also have the option of adding on an OVF of your preferred focal length if it really gets annoying to you.

    take a look at Wouter's work. he mostly does b/w on the GX200 and you can see how lovely it is.

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    Senior Member ShiroKuro's Avatar
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Pop Flash http://www.popflash.com has a deal where you an try the GRD2 and or the GX200 for the cost of shipping ...... so try before you buy ; )

    I have the GRD2 and absolutely think it is awesome ...
    The 21 mm converter lives on the front of my camera .....
    The 40 mm is great but it is prone to flare .... I use mine as a paper weight
    The GX200 sounds like the camera for you ......
    DP1 has really come down in price so maybe that makes up for some of its faults ...
    Some people rave about the image quality of this camera ....

    Ricoh also has amazing customer service and is constantly upgrading these cameras via firmware ......

    Have you considered the Panasonic LX3 / Leica DLUX 4 ? ; ) LOL Maybe this is a better choice for you over the GX200........
    Good Luck

    As Cam suggested , do check out Wouter's images ....

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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    I haven't owned my D-Lux 4 (LX-3) long enough to warrant a full on recommendation but you can look at the results all over the internet. The LCD seems to be of very high quality (but I'm coming from a 6 yr. old Canon dSLR.) The GX200 seems to be a very capable choice as well (especially for grayscale images) and I believe it incorporates a "stepped zoom" from 28mm-72mm equivalents.
    Sony Visible Light & IR Photographer
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Hi Bruce
    Cam has it!
    As for the GRD with the add on lenses, it'll take up more space than your E1 with the 14-54.
    I have a GX100, which I really like, but I never really got to grips with the EVF viewfinder (maybe it's better on the GX200, or maybe I'm just stupid).

    If you're wanting to hold it to your eye and put it in your pocket, then options are very limited.

    I have a D-lux4 at the moment, which is definitely my all time favorite small sensor camera - it's great for macros, black and white, and it fits in your pocket. Leica do an addon optical viewfinder, but I'm not sure if it has framelines for anything other than 24mm.

    As others have said, the interface on the GX200 is to die for - logical and sensible and clean - better than most SLR interfaces I've seen.

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    you know, everybody is bringing up a great point -- the LX-3/D-Lux 4 looks mighty sweet and everybody's been raving about it! much as i love the Ricoh interface, there seem to be a lot of happy campers out there with one of these two cameras (basically the same in different wrappers). the f/2 really tempts me as well!

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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    As Cam pointed out my original answer to the OP was based off his mention he could not live with a fixed FOV.
    That leaves the GX200 only of his original trio. The Ricoh also has the advantage of a stepped zoom that retains its zoom position after power cycling, this makes it far easier to use add-on OVF's.
    I am no fan of the add-on lenses for the GRD, they compromise, IMHO, compactnesss and sturdiness far too much; one can easily end up with something on the order of a Panny G1 with kit lens in bulk if not in weight.
    The LX3 D/Lux-4 seem to be nice little cameras as well albeit, in the latter case, far over priced. If one /went that route I would far prefer the LX3 iteration

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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Okay I will recommend the LX-3/ D-Lux 4 based on early impressions. I just spent the last 2 hrs or so playing with it (and Lightroom 2.2.) I will restate what is publicly available elsewhere. The camera is very usable up to 800 ISO for color images. It's possible to use it at 1600 ISO for B&W and internet shots (the noise is somewhat film-like.) Post production will help you pull a bit more out. I was worried about the zoom only going to a 60mm equivalent but you just have to use the camera to it's strengths. 24mm is great for landscape shots. The three aspect ratios (4:3, 3:2, and 16:9) are very useful and add something to different shots IMO.

    My biggest issues so far is the way you zoom (joystick for manual,) the necessity to go through the menus for everything, and the body doesn't offer much surface to hold on to on the Leica version for people with larger hands (it's in you best interest to use the included wrist strap.)
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    Oxide Blu
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by bbodine9 View Post
    Thanks everyone and yes I had forgotten about the 21 and 40 converters, that might make the GRD a good choice also. Does the OVF have framing lines for these lengths?

    For whatever reason, I'm not into wide angle lenses. I have both the GRDII (28mm) w/40mm lens and a GX200 with eVF.

    GRDII (+ 40mm lens) - not small with 40mm lens on. The 40mm is heavy considering these are pocket cameras. No VF from Ricoh, got to use the display on the camera. Lens flare with the 40mm lens is a pain in the donkey beyond belief!!! There is no 40mm lens hood, no threads on the lens to attack 3rd party lens hood, either. You will be reduced to taping all kins of junk to your 40mm lens trying to shade it from light sources. Most of the time I prefer the combination of the GRDII + 40mm lens over the GX200 -- if I can avoid the lens flair

    GX200 (+ eVF) - I love the eVF! I wish there was one for the GRDII. The eVF can be used with the on-camera flash ONLY if holding the camera up to your face to look through the eVF (horizontal). With the eVF tilted vertical, the on-camera flash does not engage, can't pop up. I shoot a lot -- a whole lot, with the GX200 low and the eVF vertical. All of the camera setting displays appear in the eVF. The Ricoh cameras are so intuitive to use it is a breeze to make camera adjustments while looking through the eVF. The eVF makes looking at playback of images in bright light/sunlight easy.

    When I want/need zoom, the GX200 + eVF is the camera of choice. Otherwise, the GRDII + 40mm lens.

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    Subscriber Member Streetshooter's Avatar
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    The GX-200 has a much better intuitive feel than the LX3. I had the Lumix and is was a good camera but the interface doesn't come close to the Ricoh.

    In low light, low contrast, I had problems with AF. Even after the firmware, I wasn't satisfied. Sold it and have the Ricoh as a backup for the DP1.

    The DP1 is not for everybody, it has a love/hate relationship with it's users. I personally have never been as satisfied with a digital camera since the beginning of digital cameras. For all around general use, it's hard to beat the Ricoh GX-200...very hard....

    shooter

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    Oxide Blu
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by Streetshooter View Post

    In low light, low contrast, I had problems with AF. Even after the firmware, I wasn't satisfied. Sold it and have the Ricoh as a backup for the DP1.

    Good point; I forgot to mention it -- for whatever reason, the GRDII autofocus locks on to things the GX200 autofocus can't. The GX200 often struggles in low light or low contrast situations, sometimes never locking onto a focus, where the GRDII has no problems in the same situation. Never missed a shot because of it, early on got some fuzzy pix until I figured out what the GX200 wanted that the GRDII didn't.

  19. #19
    JCdeR
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    I have the GX200 and the GRD-II, I have no technical knowledge of either, I just adjust, point and shoot and I have started an affair with my GRD .... the camera is great, and as for the 28mm... learn to live with it, adapt and find a was to put the new "only" angle to use... I love it... the feel, the touch, the results.....

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    Subscriber Member Streetshooter's Avatar
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by Oxide Blu View Post
    Good point; I forgot to mention it -- for whatever reason, the GRDII autofocus locks on to things the GX200 autofocus can't. The GX200 often struggles in low light or low contrast situations, sometimes never locking onto a focus, where the GRDII has no problems in the same situation. Never missed a shot because of it, early on got some fuzzy pix until I figured out what the GX200 wanted that the GRDII didn't.
    Dunno...maybe the new firmware fixed that issue...I have had no problems at all....I don't use AF to much but some times in very low light I do....
    maybe they fixed it......I know on the LX3 they didn't....

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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    i'm afraid the GRD/GRDII has spoiled me for any other compact cameras and i think you hit the nail on the head why, Oxide Blu. (sigh, i miss mine! i'm still on a self-imposed one-camera-diet for another month or two....)

    interesting, Don, i knew that the LX3 interface wouldn't match up to the GX200, but i've heard everybody bragging about how great it was for low light so i wouldn't have thought that AF was a problem. thanks for the heads up.

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    Subscriber Member Streetshooter's Avatar
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Cam,
    There's a few issues that serious shooters should be aware of...
    When you set the camera, like in manual focus and the camera goes off, or you turn it off....
    when it fires up again, it has changed the focus distance to 1/2 of where you left it...
    this is a problem as I'm sure you are aware.....

    The AF in low light is not reliable...it hunts and if it gives the green light..well, check focus and you might see a focus shift.....it happened to me and I felt that also was unacceptable.....

    The problem is that the manufactures still don't take the buying public as serious shooters. They feel that these are advanced amature cameras.....

    All the goodies go into the DSLR cameras...what a shame.....

  23. #23
    Oxide Blu
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by JCdeR View Post
    ... I have started an affair with my GRD .... the camera is great, and as for the 28mm... learn to live with it, adapt and find a was to put the new "only" angle to use... I love it... the feel, the touch, the results.....
    The "only" angle only works only when you have an only need for it. It is not about learning; it is about having the right tool to do the job. It can be like only having a screwdriver when you need to drive nails.

    I do a lot of close-crop stuff. The 28mm is mostly wasted on me, but I use it sometimes. The GRDII + 40mm is FANTASTIC for macro work. Oh, but I use a small tripod, too. Japan is a diff culture, folks are less likely to take something that does not belong to them. So bars tend to have a menagerie of small stuff decorating them and anything can show up at anytime. I have an ongoing series of 'bar top junk' that I have been photographing over the last year.

    No telling what you find on top of a bar in Japan.

    Ricoh GRDII + 40mm:


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    Senior Member Tim's Avatar
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    If you consider physical size, and IF this is important to you then IMHO the GRD is a winner. I have the LX3 and its deceptive size wise as the "camera body" is similar in size to the GRD but the lens (even when the camera is powered down) pokes out considerably, making it bigger to carry. The other day the LX3 got left home and I carried the GRD because the GRD went into a pocket where the LX3 could not. I do wonder if the GX200 is more pocketable than the LX3?

    I am considering a very small shoulder camera bag and taking the GRD and LX3 together, this might still work for a compact kit.

    With the GRD because I know I am limited to 28mm I only tend "to see" in 28mm when I have it with me, or I frame subjects and always consider the 28mm angle of view. For me it frees my thinking, I know I only have one lens choice. This will not work for everyone and it sounds like it may not for you?? - maybe the GX200 or LX3 will be a better option?

  25. #25
    Oxide Blu
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim View Post
    ... I do wonder if the GX200 is more pocketable than the LX3?

    I don't know about the LX3. The GX200 (without the eVF) is basically the same size as the GRDII, just a fraction bigger in front, not enough to matter.

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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Ricoh has the best UI, bar none. They hold their settings during power cycle, both GX and GR. It is very much as if it was designed for photographers by photographers.
    Were I to be down to one camera I would have the GRD.
    I love the results, the look, the bite of the images it makes, esp in B&W.

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    Thanks everyone!

    I had no idea I would get so many responses ( keep em coming by the way ) to my dilemma. It was great to see how many different points of view there are about these cameras. I think right now the GX 200 should be something for me to look at post PMA and maybe get one for a week from Popflash and see if I actually take to it. Thanks again to everyone for the help!

    Bruce

  28. #28
    meilicke
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Bruce, if low light is important to you, consider the LX3 (D-Lux4). I had the GX100, but sold it for the LX3, and I read that the GX100 and GX200 are similar noise wise. Subjectively, I feel that the LX3 is about a stop better than the GX100. Combine that with a 0.5 to 1.5 (roughly) stop faster lens, wide to tele, and it is no contest. But, I think a race would be much tighter between the GRDII and LX3.

    For me, I like the dedicated AF button on the LX3 better than the FX button on the GX100 when assigned to turning AF on and off. Otherwise the interface on the Ricoh rocks, and I find it more comfortable to hold.

    You can use OVFs on the LX3, but without the step zoom and saved focal length between power cycles, it is certainly less convenient. I have put pencil marks on my lens barrel corresponding to 28 and 35, and use the CV 28/35 mini finder. The CV 25mm and 50mm should work for the wide and tele end, but I have not tried those (although read this thread).

    If most of my shooting was in good light, I would have kept the GX100 and been quite happy.

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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    meilicke,

    Thank's for your post about the LX3, it's exactly why I sold mine and got the GX-200

    thanks again, I thought maybe I was bothered by it and not to many other shooters were...
    don

  30. #30
    Oxide Blu
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Quote Originally Posted by meilicke View Post
    ...
    For me, I like the dedicated AF button on the LX3 better than the FX button on the GX100 when assigned to turning AF on and off. Otherwise the interface on the Ricoh rocks, and I find it more comfortable to hold.
    The GRDII has a user definable function button, the GX200 has two of them. I have AF/MF toggle assigned to Fn2 on the GX200. You can also assign diff focusing scenarios to them, e.g. I have AF/snapshot toggle assigned to the Fn on the GRDII.

    The function buttons was the most difficult part of learning the "Ricoh way" for me. The whole idea that I got to decide what a button does was so strange.

    In addition to the user definable function buttons, the GRDII has 2 user defined settings modes on the dial; the GX200 has 3 of those modes. You can define pretty much any shooting scenario with the settings modes, and then I try to get creative about assigning the function buttons in those modes ... Hence the learning of the function buttons being difficult -- so many choices to make!

  31. #31
    Oxide Blu
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Forgot to mention the Ricoh's (whatever model) take a common DB-60 battery, cheap as camera batteries go, lots of folks make 'em. Also, in a pinch, you can toss in some common AAA batteries and the Ricoh's will work with those, too. And...if you remove the memory card you can still take a few pix, more are lower res, the Ricoh's will store the images in the camera's internal memory, which you can download to a SD card whenever you put one back into the camera.

  32. #32
    Senior Member DavidE's Avatar
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    Re: Camera decision help needed!

    Oxide Blu,

    I didn't realize Ricoh cameras could run on AAA batteries. Thanks for the tip. I just checked, and my GRD2 runs nicely on two rechargeable AAA batteries. As you say, handy in a pinch.

    Something that's rarely asked: What happens to our digital cameras when no one is willing to manufacture their proprietary batteries or support their proprietary RAW formats? You have to hand it to Ricoh for supporting AAA batteries and DNG (though apparently DNG isn't as universal as it was supposed to be).

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