Ricoh GX200 Review

Review Date: June 26th 2008
Author: Mark Goldstein

Leave a comment about this Review

Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Design
Page 5
Specifications
Page 6
Conclusion

Conclusion


Ratings (out of 5)
Design
5
Features
5
Ease-of-Use
5
Image Quality
4.5
Value for Money
4.5

The Ricoh GX200 builds on the success of an already unique and very capable camera, the GX100, adding a small number of significant new features and a larger number of "nice-to-haves". By far the most important improvement is the operational speed of RAW mode. The 6 second file write time and lack of continuous shooting offered by the GX100 has thankfully been replaced by near-instantenous write times in single-shot mode and the ability to shoot up to 5 RAW images at 1.18fps in continuous mode. Now you truly can shoot either JPEG or RAW images with the GX200 without much difference between the two modes, perfect for the photographer who wants to extract the best image quality possible and retain full control over post-processing. It's well worth upgrading from the GX100 just for this one improvement alone. The clever employment of Adobe's DNG format, which means that you can continue to use your favourite RAW editor from day one without having to wait for the software makers to play catch-up, is the icing on the proverbial cake.

The larger 2.7-inch, 460,000 pixel HVGA LCD screen is also a great addition, making the screen easy to view in most lighting conditions, and there's always the VF-1 electronic viewfinder to fall back on if you opt for that kit option (which we'd definitely recommend). The electronic level function borrowed from the GR Digital II is a thoughtful touch that helps to keep all those 24mm wide-angle shots straight, as are the additional ways of customising the GX200 to your individual way of working - this is truly a camera that you can make your own. And it's easy to forget all the things that made the GX100 such an appealing proposition - the unique 24-72mm lens, sensor-based stabilisation, wealth of shooting options, 25mm thick body and intuitive handling all make a welcome return on the GX200.

When Ricoh brought the GX200 to our office last week, my first question was obviously "Does it have an APS-C sized sensor like the Sigma DP1?", and sadly the answer was no. This is one of the main reasons why you should seriously consider the DP1 over the GX200 (and indeed Ricoh's other compacts). All of the comments that we made about the GR Digital II apply equally to the GX200. The Sigma DP1 simply produces significantly better image quality than the GX200 thanks to its large APS-C sized sensor. Comparing images from both cameras side-by-side, onscreen and in print, is like comparing apples and oranges, with the DP1 clearly coming out on top.

The level of noise at ISO 400 and faster in the GX200's images hasn't been improved since the GX100, with the noise-reducing effects of the new image processing engine being cancelled out by the noise-enhancing effects of squeezing even more megapixels onto the 1/1.7-inch CCD sensor. I'm not sure if Ricoh have actively chosen to participate in the megapixel wars, or whether they simply had little choice but to use what was available to them, but the move to 12 megapixels hasn't been a wise one. It's a shame, because in all other respects the image quality is excellent, with very little sign of chromatic aberrations, good overall exposure if you dial in a little negative exposure compensation, a fantastic 1cm macro mode, powerful built-in flash and up to 3 minute long exposure times.

The other black mark against the GX200 is the price. We've actually awarded it 1/2 a mark more for "Value for Money" than the GX100 because it offers a lot more at exactly the same price-points, but the current UK price tag of 349 for the camera only and 399 for the VF-1 kit makes the GX200 more expensive than some entry level DSLRs with kit lens, and virtually all of its compact camera competitors. Factor in the additional cost of the wide-angle and tele-photo conversion lenses, plus lens hood, cable release and leasther case, and you soon reach an eye-watering 600+ (this is still cheaper than the Sigma DP-1 body-only though). Finally, as with the GX100, the GX200 isn't the most compact of cameras when the VF-1 electronic viewfinder or conversion lenses are fitted, but these are at least optional accessories that you can remove as and when required.

At first glance the GX200 seems very similar to it predecessor, but after a week's shooting it quickly becomes evident that this camera is much more refined, both in terms of speed and features - the only thing lacking is any improvement in image quality. If you can live with the noise at ISO 400 and faster, the Ricoh GX200 is a great backup to your DSLR, and a fantastic pocket camera is its own right.

Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Design
Page 5
Specifications
Page 6
Conclusion

DIWAPhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Ricoh GX200 have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.