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A little help with the R8

Tom Caldwell

New Member
I was initially disappointed with the smooothing applied to R8 images but I found that I could get around this by setting auto-high to 1600 in the shootings menu. I feel that it now works much more like the beloved R4 and would venture that it is in fact better camera:

The R8 comes set up for very basic use by basic-minded users:
Auto ISO (default) is limited to 200 without and 400 with flash and Auto-High to 400 ISO. You can manually go higher - but which basic user plays with high-ISO? - Ricoh keep this a well hidden secret from those who just want to point and shoot.

Slow shutter limit defaults to 1/8 second.

Picture quality size is N3648

Focus is Multi AF and Exposure Metering Multi also

The Exposure Value (EV) adjustment is easily reached via the "Adj Button" as is the Automatic Exposure (AE) and Automatic Focus (AF) target adjustments.

The default settings seem optimised for smooth imaging with low or no-noise pictures captured. The smoothing engine works big-time and the camera has been criticised for this by those who prefer sharper images (without sharpening being applied) at the expense of some grain.

My set-up suggestions for those that want the R8 to perform more in the fashion that makes it an enthusiast's camera:

Don't use Auto ISO - use Auto-High if you want the camera to control the ISO and set the Auto-high to 1600 ISO. If this proves too high for your taste then you can always scale it back - the camera will start using higher-ISO preference to lower-ISO + smoothing. If the camera only needs 200 ISO or less it will still use the appropriate ISO setting. However where the Auto ISO might opt for 100 ISO plus smoothing the Auto-High setting might use 200 ISO with less smoothing. (This is my general observation based on their manual and my own experience but not a "tested" conclusion). I also note that the camera on auto-ISO seems to try to keep a small aperture for greater depth of field and compensates for slower shutter speed by greater smoothing.

Turn off slow shutter limit - you do have steady hands or use tripod an flash if necessary (don't you?) I don't know what bearing this has on when the smoothing kicks in but I suspect that when you get close to the limit speed the smoothing gets nervous.

Set the image capture quality to F3648 (the highest).

Use fixed higher ISO freely if you need it - overdo it and it will over-expose and the noise is awful - but by judiciously pulling back the EV setting and balancing the ISO with it you can actually introduce noise into your image if this is what you actually want.

The gem is held for last:
If you wish to use spot focus and/or spot exposure metering and the moveable target for either spot EV or AF you have a very versatile combination of camera exposure and focus capability. This is more especially so when combined with the EV control and exposure bracketing and even exposure controlled by varying the ISO setting used.

I have known about the moveable focus point in other Ricoh cameras for some time - it is only used in macro and only adjusts the point of focus. It had little use from me but now the versatile control in the R8 allows AF or AE or both to be used in spot fashion in both macro and normal focus modes and combined with the focussing and exposure metering set via menu. This allows a great deal of control by the interested photographer. I am still getting my head around all the possibilities this opens up.

I know that macro-focus-mode in other Ricoh cameras can be used for all focussing and not just macro-focussing - it is slower and more accurate. The limit of moveable focus point is more limiting than the set-up in the R8 but I certainly will now be using it more freely there now that I have discovered its more fully developed joys in the R8. ie: set spot exposure metering in the menu and the exposure will come from the centre - now focus on the subject using the moveable macro focus point - bingo exosure from one area and focus from another (crop to suit) - not nearly as good as the R8 but useful no less. I expect this feature of the R8 to be included in the GR-DIII and GX200 (smile). If you want it in the R series you will have to buy an R8 (bigger smile).

The big problem (for me that is) - no native b&w mode in the R8 - relegated to a smoothed fixed-200-ISO mode in scene mode - you can colour bracket to get three images including a sepia and a b&w and this is captured at whatever ISO and other setting the camera is using - so the high-ISO b&w native captures are obviously possible but have been "taken out" as a specific colour-mode setting. Should not take too much a a firmware fix to put them back in - and sepia for those that like it.

The R8 is sold as an "everyman's" camera and come out of the box in that mode - it is a pity that Ricoh don't just leave those settings all tied up in the default "Auto-ISO" mode and have other more exciting deafult settings everywhere else. They seem to have taken to heart the seemingly unstoppable wish from the general user for no noise whatsover and the preference of any mush will do as long as there is "no-noise".

However you can play with the settings and get a more normal Ricoh look to your images - I would venture that this camera is in fact superior to the R4 and has been given a bad rap by those immediately disappointed by the mushy-looking images from its default settings. I am glad I persevered as I was one of those who was first disappointed.

Listen to me and you will enjoy it - and there is a path to follow that is "Ricoh" once that R4 finally dies.

Tom Caldwell
It sure sounds good Tom and from reading your R4 posts at DPR you are the expert in the R series from what I can tell. It is causing me to
take a second look at the R8 as a compliment to my GRD II, which I do really enjoy.
Thanks for posting your findings and suggestions.
A big thank-you to Tom as well. I have bookmarked the page and as I receive my new R8 in a day or two in the US Mail, I know that Tom's insights will be tremendously helpful.

Looking forward to "becoming one with my 8" here on the Big Island of Hawaii - thank you again Tom and Gil, and everyone for your insights.

A soon to be Ricoh owner! Aloha, jonbon

P.S., and sales professional Alex and his sales manager/owner Tony are providing tremendous service to date. Recommend them and, but only 100%!