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7.19.2011

Ricoh GX200: The G12 Better Bring It!

When I first decided on my three camera showdown (P7000, GX200, G12) I thought that I would be ranking them:
  1. P7000 – very comparable to the G12, but cheaper
  2. G12 – best in class, but overpriced
  3. Gx200 good, serviceable, low lost alternative
The apple cart was first overturned by the poor showing of the P7000, which meant that unless the other 2 were real dogs, the Bronze medal had already been won. Sadly, my G12 is somewhere in limbo as it never arrived and my seller is putting in a claim since he got insurance on it (although strangely he did not get tracking), So I probably won’t be getting my G12 until next month. I like the GX200 so much that I have actually toyed with not even getting another G12 to try out as the GX200 is just about everything I was looking for, to my surprise. The G12 is the best in class so I have to give it a whirl, but the GX200 is so nice I might just keep it even if the G12 is a better all around camera. Why? The GX200 is a great compromise camera for all the things I need: it’s small, easy to handle, takes great pictures and is very versatile. It does make compromises that the G12 might not have to make because of its larger size and dedicated battery type, but larger size has it’s downsides; the G12 is not pocketable. Without the viewfinder the GX200 is very compact.

GOOD
  1. Small size
  2. EVF – A godsend in bright conditions where the display is washed out, the fact that it tilts is icing on the cake.
  3. Controls not to cluttered – Kinda minimalist; just 8 control buttons, but they do enough things so you can get what you need done, I found that the P7000 had so many buttons you had to hold it just right when shooting so you did not hit/press something accidentally.
  4. Auto ISO settings – Awesome setting where you give the range of ISOs the camera will use on auto.
  5. Low-key look – Nice black matte look, does not shout “I am expensive, take me” and I imagine it would be great for street shots.
  6. Nice manual mode - A lot of compact cameras' manual mode does not still give you an exposure bar so you can tell when the camera is properly exposed, having that in manual on a compact is a real nice touch.
  7. Uses AAA batteries in a pinch – Nice, but emergency only to get you to the next charged battery.
  8. Snap Focusing – Nice for quick shots, fixes the focus distance so there is less travel when focusing.
BAD
  1. No Shutter Priority setting – Weird but true, was not a big issue for me as I rarely use shutter priority, and the GX200’s excellent manual mode makes up for it.
  2. Short battery life – 350 shot estimate with GX200 battery and 45 (yes, 45) if you use AAAs, normally I always carry a spare but with all my other cameras if I leave the house to shoot 3 hours fully charged I rarely have to swap batteries, with this one I’m on my second battery or dangerously low.
  3. Oblong Shutter button – I don’t know what this is about, I actual looked for the shutter button a couple seconds before I caught on. I guess it’s to save space, but it just seems…unnatural.
  4. Short Zoom – 3x is all you get. They have a nice wide of 24mm equivalent, but I would have love at least 5x.
  5. Cluttered settings menu – Once you want to change a setting that is not a basic shooting setting the menu is pretty poorly laid out, and not having a dedicated button for manual focus still bothers me. On the P7000, you just press the macro button 3 times and you get manual focus. On the GX200, the macro button is just macro on/off
  6. No button to manual focus – Already whined about that
  7. Expensive accessories – They have an EVF kit with the camera, but it’s kinda cheap not to throw in the cap and the EVF default. They are kinda pricey otherwise; I mean over $150 for the viewfinder is kinda harsh.
  8. EVF useful, but poor quality – The EVF is a godsend, but it is not really high quality. Everything looks a little washed out and can make things look over exposed. I thought I would use it more, but because of the quality of it I only use it in bright sun, and at low shutter speeds for stability.
For me I am pretty sure the G12 will put up a good fight and will probably outdo the GX200 in all aspects except size, low-key look and uncluttered ergonomics, but the more I played with the GX200 the more the size, and actually being able to pocket a camera of this quality grew on me.

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