Ricoh hasn’t strayed too far from the GX100 design path. This is a small but traditionally styled camera. It is very well made and feels solid and robust. The black finish and rubberised grip maintain the 35mm tradition, while the manual mode and viewfinder options, together with the square format mode, are sure to appeal to purists and experimentalists alike. I especially liked using the square format with in black and white mode.
The camera is slim so it easily fits in a pocket, though less so with the viewfinder attached, and the lens protrudes once the camera is powered up. Start up time (and power down) is around a second, which includes the time for the lens to extend into position, and the auto focus is fast and accurate. While it’s not as fast as a DSLR in operational speed, it’s still a pretty nifty number compared to other compacts. One slow-down factor is the time it takes to remove the lens cap – something DSLR users are familiar with but if your migrating from a lower end compact, with an automatic lens cover (or no lens cover) this may take some getting used to (and remembering!).
Changing shooting modes is via a wheel on the top plate – another traditional aspect – while the menu is navigated through the familiar four-way controller. This also offers quick access to macro mode, flash modes and self-timer. Other adjustments can be made through the ‘adj’ switch. This button offers left and right rocking for changing shutter speeds in manual mode. Pressing this switch will bring up commonly used settings such as white balance options, ISO speeds, ±2EV exposure compensation and image size and quality. It also lets you pick a combination of AE and AF lock options, which I discovered to be very useful.
If you have the viewfinder kit, then you can switch between viewing images and menu on the EVF or monitor via a dedicated button. A separate display button adds EVF/monitor information such as a nine square grid, histogram, the electronic level and shooting information. The monitor itself knocks spots off most compacts and is a selling point in itself.
The menu system is easy to read with a yellow and white on black interface and clear typeface, and the various options and menus are clearly labelled. It can be a bit laborious though when switching through the menu pages – there’s three for the shooting menu and five for the set up menu.