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1/1600 flash GRD2 sync and first impressions


New Member
My GRD2 finally arrived. It brings sweet memories of my Olympus XA and Ricoh GR1... Its even smaller than those already very small machines, yet the lens quality is much better than the XA (and I suspect a tad better than the GR1 though I still have to run some conclusive tests).

Instead of repeating stuff Pavel and others have already made clear, I will concentrate on its capabilities, or how it lets me apply what I already know. I am coming from a full frame Canon 5D, so please bear with me if I seem to compare peaches to oranges, as I got the Ricoh as a go-everywhere alternative to the Canon. Also keep in mind I shoot my 5D in manual mode and use zone focusing with prime wide angle lenses most all the time...

I love the stepped manual focusing in the GRD2... it reminds me of the way rangefinders or the XA were ment to be used, always setting focus before raising the camera to the eye, as to concentrate in framing and the decisive moment. Even with a tele lense on the 5D I use the * button on the back to preset focus and forget about it. So prefocusing the GRD2 seemed completely natural to me. AF wasnt particularly slow on the Ricoh, it just wasnt instantaneous (neither is it on the 5D) so the last thing I want is to wait for the camera to acquire focus "after" I press the shutter and while the subjects drifts away and the composition get ruined (or those blessed moments when the camera decides to "fix" focus between two consecutive shots).

I love the way the ADJ button on the GRD2 quickly switches between exposure compensation, white balance and ISO setting. I have been using Canon digital SLRs since the D60 and this way of keeping everything under a single dial button makes so much more sense I am amazed. This is critical since the tiny sensor inside the GRD2 starts to run into diffraction (spread every image forming point so the image looses acutance) around F5.0 ( at least according to Sean Reid GX100 test, have to run my own tests with the GRD2). In real world usage this means the ISO must be switched very often in order to keep the apertures wider than F5.0 when moving from shadow to sunlight.

The AutoWB does a great job in the Ricoh, even better than the Canon especially with tungsten, still I dont give it much thought since I only shoot RAW and WB can be decided after the fact, at the conversion step. "A" MODE did a pretty good job with exposure, except when the subject was backlit or strongly sidelit (my two favorite light directions) so as with every camera I have had for the last 20 years I ended up shooting in M MODE for everything but bland cloudy days or open shade.

I was concerned about dynamic range loss with the GRD2 tiny sensor. Coming from the 5D full frame sensor there is a perceivable detail loss in the highlights (the WHITE SATURATION warning flashes a LOT more often). I'd say as often as it did with the D60... So I'd be wary to recommend it to landscape or architectural photographers, often struggling to keep the highlghts within the cameras dynamic range. Still the GRD2 raw seems to have plenty of shadow detail exposure latitude (at least below ISO 400) so when there is a will...

Here's is a little workaround and some unexpected finding: the GRD2 not only works great with an external flash but can Sync up to 1/1600 of a sec.



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