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DW-6 : 19mm wide-angle lens for GX100

hiro

New Member
I finally got my DW-6 19mm wide-angle supplementary lens today after waiting a month during which three promised delivery dates slid by. Since there wasn't already a DW-6 discussion thread I thought I'd post my initial observations on this gizmo, which gives approximately a 90° horizontal field of view.

Let's dispose of the most obvious questions first: Is it any good? Yes indeed it is! A quick examination of my first shots shows excellent corner to corner sharpness with no aberrations or any issues at all. Indeed I expected no less, as I had previously read a GX100 review which raved about this attachment, and the shots I saw then were also pin-sharp right to the corners.

Next obvious question: Can you still zoom? Yes you can, and indeed in step zoom mode you will find it now reads 19–22–28–40–57 instead of 24–28–35–50–72! I'm not sure the performance at the longer settings equals the performance of the lens at the same focal lengths without the DW-6 fitted, but it looks pretty good to me. (Has anyone tested this?) In real money, your 5.1–15.3mm lens is now a 4–12mm lens.

Final obvious question: is the extra field of view of 19mm v. 24mm really noticeable? Yes again! It's a bigger difference than 24 v. 28mm and well worth it if you're into wideangle work. (Note that in 3:2 mode, the focal length is effectively 20mm due to the crop factor.)

On to some practical observations.

Protection & storage The lens comes with front and rear caps, and a little nice black nylon stuff bag with a drawstring which is big enough to hold the DW-6 with the HA-2 adaptor still attached. Sadly the rear cap doesn't fit the rear of the HA-2, so if you store the combo ready assembled (which of course you will, since it enables you to fit or remove it in seconds) you will have to leave the rear end open. However this isn't too much of a problem as the 30mm depth of the tube easily protects the rear glass, and the bag should keep the dust out. Actually, the stuff bag is big enough to hold not only the DW-6 & HA-2 but also the EVF and a couple of 43mm filters. It's only a pity it's not a bit deeper or I could have used it for the GX100 itself! Having said all that I don't think the bag is waterproof, as holding it up to the light I can see a few pinpricks of light between the weave.

Fitting The DW-6 screws into the 43mm filter thread of the HA-2.
Tip: As with all filter threads, you can spend ages trying to find the start of the thread, so once I'd found the exact point of engagement I put a little dab of tippex on the DW-6 at top dead centre so I'd be able to fit it more quickly in future without turning it round and round until the thread catches on. Now I just have to hold the DW-6 so its white spot is at the top, and I know it will immediately engage with the filter thread, which is not only quicker but avoids the risk of dropping it whilst turning it round and round trying to engage the thread. I did the same with my polarising filter so I can fit that quickly too without fumbling about. But as noted above, unless you are going to be using the HA-2 mainly for filters it's better to leave the DW-6 & HA-2 assembled by default so the combo can be fitted and removed instantly.
Tip 2: What to do with the little bayonet ring you have to take off in order to fit the HA-2 to the camera: I've simply taped the ring and lens cap together (with some of that invisible type sticky tape that doesn't go sticky with age) to make a combined bayonet-mount lens cap. Now I can remove them together in one step, and they will both be safely tethered to the camera as a single unit. There seems to be no downside to removing the bayonet ring even when not using the HA-2, since it doesn't actually protect anything — the lens is no more exposed with the ring removed, which makes me wonder what the point of it was anyhow.

Linkages Fitting the DW-6 depresses a metal linkage in the HA-2 which in turn depresses a little tab in the camera's bayonet mount. This causes the camera's step zoom to show a revised scale of 19–58mm. I don't know if it alters other aspects of the cameras behaviour or not, such as how the zoom moves or processing of the images created. The tab is depressed correctly regardless of whether you screw in the DW-6 when the HA-2 is already on the camera, or fit the HA-2 to the camera with DW-6 already attached. (Note: the front end of the linkage is positioned such that screwing a filter into the HA-2 does not depress it, although conceivably there may be filters whose thread is thick enough to do that. My chunky polarising filter was ok though.)

Adding filters to the DW-6 The front of the DW-6 is not threaded for filters. However it is trivial work to adapt a Cokin filter holder so it fits the DW-6 (I will make a separate thread with pictures of this).

Pocketability The GX100 loses a lot of its pocketability with the DW-6 attached. Comparing it to my old 35mm SLRs with a 20mm lens attached, the GX100 is now actually deeper than either SLR I possess! It is however still quite a bit narrower and a lot lighter: at 380g it's half the weight of a Ricoh XR-X with 20mm lens and batteries (750g), and 2/3 the weight of a Pentax ME Super with 20mm lens (600g). In practice the GX100 with DW-6 & EVF will still fit in my inside coat pocket, but now I can feel it prodding me, whereas with just the EVF fitted I find myself tapping the front of my coat now and again to reassure myself it's still there! But with the EVF sticking out the back and the DW-6 out of the front, the GX100 is a very awkward shape to stow.

Edit: Below is a comparison shot of cameras with a 20mm lens or equivalent fitted: left to right, Ricoh XR-X* (a 35mm SLR which is about the same size as a typical DSLR I think), Pentax ME Super with 20mm/f4, GX100 with and without the DW-6 fitted. As you can see, the GX100 is indeed the deepest of the lot! (Of course the comparison isn't totally fair since the GX100 has a zoom reaching to 72mm, but I think it's an interesting comparison anyhow.)
*Note: I cheated slightly - the XR-X actually has the fractionally deeper 35mm/f2.8 fitted as I don't have two 20mm lenses!
 

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Just to follow up my own report, it seems using the built-in flash is not completely out of the question with the DW-6 fitted. Below is the result at the widest setting. Only a little fall off at the sides, plus of course the shadow at the bottom. I can imagine shots where this might be ok though, e.g. a group of people with the shadow on their lower legs. Certainly the shadow is much smaller than I expected it to be. (In case you're wondering what the round thing is, it's my baby Lastolite reflector that just happened to be propping up the wall.)
 

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Thank you Hiro for such thorough and detailed report!

About the flash shadowing, maybe a custom made flash diffuser/bouncer could help with this problem? But as we are talking about built-in flash, it's not that bad ;)
 
I experimented with a small diffuser from my Vivitar flashgun (about 3x6cm in size) but the results were not good. What I learned was that the diffuser must completely enclose the flash or light spills around the edges of the diffuser and illuminates the edges of the picture very brightly (bear in mind the very wide angle of view of the DW-6). Also the diffuser must be some distance from the flash, perhaps 5cm, or the concentrated flash fires straight through with no diffusion, instead it is just dimmer.

Perhaps bouncing the flash will work better, but again I must be careful to stop any light from spilling around the reflector.

OK I made a discovery whilst in the middle of writing this! Like my cardboard ring Cokin holder, it is very very simple! Just take a sheet of white A4 paper held in landscape mode, and slide the bottom of it under the "Caplio" protrusion below the flash. Hold it at about 30° angle so when you look along it from the flash's point of view, the top of it is slightly above the top of the picture in the viewfinder. Now dial in +2 stops exposure compensation and shoot! A perfectly diffused exposure which covers the 19mm field of view. I will post an example soon. The flash on the paper is very bright (especially when using the EVF) — it's best to close your eyes as you press the shutter!

Of course, this assumes a white ceiling for the flash to bounce off. At this time I don't know how much of the light goes through the paper and how much is bounced via the ceiling, but if I use some opaque card instead I should be able to find out.

Of course this method should be useful for a true soft flash effect generally, not just with the DW-6. It is made possible by the very strong flash of the GX100 which as we know tends to hugely overexpose things. I don't think a normal compact with a small flash could bounce/diffuse in this way (I was working at ISO 80 too.)
 
Here are the GX100 test shots with DW-6 at 19mm, and built-in flash diffused by a sheet of A4. All were taken at ISO 80, f2.5, flash on auto, largely out of laziness. The wall is 2.2 metres away. I am sure brighter results of the diffuser shots would be possible with flash on manual or higher ISO.

First the direct flash shot with the shadow of the DW-6. Exposure comp. -0.7 EV.

Next with a sheet of 80gsm A4 (ordinary copier paper) held at about 30° as previously described. Exposure compensation +2 EV. Note the reflection on the poster shows that some of the light is shining directly through the paper. But how much? Let's find out...

Here I've curled the paper back over the top of the flash so all of the illumination is coming through the paper, in other words diffused direct flash. Exposure compensation +2 EV again. Looks pretty similar, except the surface reflections are stronger. In this curved round position the paper is closer to the flash unit though, about 10cm away at max.

Finally I used a sheet of 1mm thick white card held at 30°, so this is bounce flash only, with almost no light coming through the card. Exposure compensation +2 EV as before. The surface reflections have gone, confirming this is bounce flash only. It is also the darkest shot.
DW6-Bounce-only_%2B2.jpg

Comparing the surface reflections it seems that the first shot is a mixture of diffused direct flash and bounce flash, with the diffused flash through the paper predominating. It is also the brightest shot.

All three methods give good diffusion with soft shadows, though only the final one eliminates specular reflections entirely. Although the shots look a little dark this is correctable. However for the purposes of this test I haven't adjusted the levels at all, these images are as they came out of the camera. The sides of the pictures are darker than the centre, but with a 90° field of view, those corners are about 3 metres away from the flash compared to 2.2 metres for the centre so some fall off in illumination is unsurprising.

Conclusion The GX100 flash unit is strong enough to take pictures using just an ordinary sheet of white paper as a diffuser, producing very soft natural illumination. With only minor caveats the built-in flash is even capable of covering the 90° field of view of the DW-6 when used in this way!

Postscript: For completeness, here is a shot using the same exposure settings (1/30 f2.5) but without flash, to show the contribution of ambient light to the above shots.
DW6-ambient.jpg
 

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I am about to order the GX100. But I must be able to use filters on the DW-6 19mm!

I did not record the author, but his very helpful and thorough article stated "Adding filters to the DW-6 The front of the DW-6 is not threaded for filters. However it is trivial work to adapt a Cokin filter holder so it fits the DW-6 (I will make a separate thread with pictures of this)."

If you posted this, please tell me where, otherwise, please let me know what to order!

Many propose using 43-46mm step up, and then 46mm filters/caps.

I propose to to use 43-52mm step up, so I can use Raynox wide/tele attachments. Any comments?

My reasons for selecting the GX100 ----
1. I use a 12mm rectilinear lens on my Voightlander. This is my favorite lens. Unfortunately, Voightlander has not yet brought out a full frame digital so I can use this lens. They will someday I am sure, but I can wait no longer. There are 10mm or 11mm CMOS lenses for SLR digital, equivalent of 16 or 17mm, but I am not interested (see 3). So I pick the CX100 as a reasonable compromise today.
2. So I propose to use Raynox 0.66x which will get me to 15mm with the GX100. Close but not there. I also propose to use the Raynox 0.5x, which will get me to 12mm, but it is soft on the edges, ie I do not believe it offers a pro solution. I also propose to use the Raynox 2.2x. With 150mm, 72mm, 40mm, 24mm, 19mm, and 16mm, I have a usable system, which supplements my 12mm film system. That is, I can carry less film. Still not eliminated though. I might still shoot with the 0.5x and then digitally blend my film and digital images.
3. I find it incredibly stupid to have a mirror in a digital camera. Mirror was needed in a TTL film camera, no film, nothing to ruin, no mirror needed. I want a TTL NON REFLEX digital. The GX100 is the first.
4. Why TTL? I must guess with my rangefinders when using the half ND filters for landscape at the extrema of the day, where to put the line. TTL, no guess!

That's it for the pro. Here's the con.
5. Why stop at 19mm? Please, 12mm!!! Its so easy! Give me a 12-24mm zoom! Or a straight 12mm!
6. I also find it incredibly stupid to be stuck with 3:2 format, when this came from 35mm, when that came from a man named Leitz cleverly putting B&W movie film in a still camera, some 100 years ago. We got stuck with dual sprockets when NONE are needed, and no one ever made super 35mm. The perfect format is 4:5, everyone knows that, and all lenses can do it. This is the time to make the change. Anyone listening?
 
The topic about putting a Cokin holder on the DW-6 is here.

As for using alternative wide/tele attachments with the GX100, I've not tried any so don't know how well they work. Since the GX100 is rather short at the telephoto end, your mention of a 2.2x converter intrigued me, however on checking out the Raynox I found it is rather large, in fact a more compact & lightweight solution would be to simply buy a second camera which has a long zoom for doing telephoto work.

As for a 12mm equvalent lens, I think making a wider angle lens than the GX100 has is not easy, or surely someone would have done it. Currently 24mm seems to be the limit that several manufacturers have hit. I suspect the problem is that CCDs like the light to hit them at right-angles, so you need to use an extreme inverse telephoto design which can take in light at a wide angle but bends it a huge amount to project a narrow cone of light back to the sensor, in other words a large and bulky lens.

As for 3:2 format being too wide a shape, well of course the GX100 is natively 4:3 so there's no need to use 3:2 if you don't want to. I've not heard anyone champion 4:5 much, only medium and large format cameras seem to use that shape. Personally I nearly always use my GX100 in 3:2 mode since I find the shape more pleasing. (With the DW-6 in 3:2 mode you get effecively a 20-60mm lens.) It has been suggested that 3:2 was chosen for 35mm cameras because it is close to the golden section (1.618:1) which is supposed to be the most aesthetically pleasing picture shape.
 
hi
we're having a discussion on our board about what wide angle lenses are best to use for underwater photography. A lot of use there are you know, neophyte kind of photographers, most of the people using Canon and Nikon. Are there any Ricoh products you think offer something to the aquarium enthusiast that maybe we just haven't had the exposure to? Of course, we have to take the lighting and water refraction into consideration, as well as the desire to capture the color in as most vivid a way as possible. Thanks.
 
Great review and test Hiro, i'll be purchasin' this lens now. Thanks.

Would a review on the TC-1 teleconverter be on the horizon, also?! ;)
 
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