Ricoh GX200

      Photo Review 8

      In summary

      A well-built pocketable digicam with high resolution and a wide range of adjustable controls.Replacing the 15-month old GX100 model, Ricoh’s GX200 retains most of the best features of its predecessor, including its svelte body styling and 24-72mm 3x optical zoom lens. It also supports raw file capture, sensibly using Adobe’s DNG format instead or a proprietary format. Purchasers can also count on getting the same full creative control over exposure settings and top panel hot-shoe, which accepts an electronic viewfinder or an add-on flash. . . [more]

      Full review


      Replacing the 15-month old GX100 model, Ricoh’s GX200 retains most of the best features of its predecessor, including its svelte body styling and 24-72mm 3x optical zoom lens. It also supports raw file capture, sensibly using Adobe’s DNG format instead or a proprietary format. Purchasers can also count on getting the same full creative control over exposure settings and top panel hot-shoe, which accepts an electronic viewfinder or an add-on flash.
      The GX200’s aluminium alloy body is almost identical to its predecessor’s and equally well built. Interestingly, overall body weight is 12 grams less in the new model. The removable electronic viewfinder (EVF), a first on the GX100, is also provided with the GX200. And, like its predecessor, the GX200 can be powered by either the DB-60 rechargeable lithium-ion battery (supplied with the camera) or two AAA batteries.
      The 24-72mm 3x optical zoom lens has also been carried over into the GX200, but with improved backlight performance. Constructed from 11 elements in 7 groups, it includes aspherical elements plus high-refractive-index and low-dispersion elements to provide better correction for distortion, chromatic aberration and edge darkening.


      Front view of the GX200 with the lens extended.


      Rear view showing the menu system.


      Top view with power switched on and lens extended.

      The CCD-shift vibration correction system, which is applied by default in the single-shot modes (but not for continuous shooting), has also been carried over from the GX100. Sensors in the camera body detect camera shake and counteract it by moving the CCD in opposite directions. Associated with these controls is another GX100 function, the electronic level, which uses acceleration sensors in the camera body to detect the position of the camera. When this control is active, an indicator bar on the LCD glows green if the camera is level or red when it’s out-of-kilter. The camera can be set to beep either with or instead of the visual signals.
      The scene modes are essentially unchanged, although the Movie setting is now included among them and the High sensitivity mode on the GX100 has been deleted. The offerings are rather sparse with only Movie, Portrait, Sports, Landscape, Nightscape, Zoom Macro, Skew Correct Mode and Text Mode provided. As in the GX100, sensitivity options range from ISO 80 to ISO 1600.
      The menu system is also little changed from the previous model. It’s easy to read, thanks to the yellow and white on black interface and clear typeface, Furthermore, the various options are clearly labelled. However, a lot of toggling is involved when you want to locate some settings. With three pages covering the shooting menu and five for the set up menu, you quickly tire of button pressing and are eager to customise as many frequently-used settings as possible (see below).
      The review camera was supplied with the VF-1 LCD viewfinder, which clips onto the flash hot-shoe and provides the same field-of-view coverage as the LCD monitor. It’s bright and appears to be reasonably colour accurate. However, no dioptre adjustment appears to be provided, which makes it effectively unusable for most photographers who require glasses.


      Side-by-side views of the front and rear of the GX200 body with the VF-1 viewfinder fitted.

      The VF-1 comes in its own leather case, which has a Velcro closure and loop for attaching it to the camera strap (or case). This case provides a convenient spot for ‘parking’ the slip-off covers for the electrical contacts on the hot shoe and finder when the finder is fitted. A soft case and neck strap are available as optional accessories for the camera itself. The GX200 can also be fitted with the TC-1 tele and DW-6 wide conversion lenses and a lens hood and adapter (HA-2) are also available as options.

      What’s New?
      Among the enhancements that differentiate the new model from its predecessor are a larger imager chip, which boosts effective resolution from 10-megapixel to 12-megapixels, a larger, 2.7-inch LCD monitor and a new image processor. The new LCD has 460,000 dots, compared with 230,000 on the GX100 – and the difference is noticeable in the clarity with which images are displayed.
      The buffer memory in the GX200 is larger than its predecessor’s and can now accommodate up to ?ve raw images in continuous shooting mode. of possible in RAW mode, and it is also now possible to use the bracketing function to automatically change exposure settings when shooting in RAW mode. You can now use the bracketing function to automatically change the exposure settings when shooting in raw mode. This will please photographers who want to take high dynamic range shots.
      The mode dial now contains three “My Settings” modes (up from two on the GX100), which allow users to register up to 29 shooting settings in memory for quick recall. Further customisation is provided through two Function buttons (one on the top panel, the other on the rear), which can be used to provide quick access to a number of selectable camera settings. For example, you can set one button to switch between JPEG and raw and the other for changing between auto and manual focusing.
      Up to four shooting menu functions can be assigned to the ADJ. lever, while a fifth function (AE-AF Target Shift) is fixed. The AF target shift function, which was only usable for macro shooting in the GX100, can now be used for other shooting modes.
      Flash functions have also been expanded with a flash output control that ranges from -2.0 EV to +2.0 EV. Flash intensity can also be set manually. The GX200 also offers first- and second-curtain flash synchronisation. However, the ?ash has to be raised by sliding the Open switch on the top panel before any of these settings become effective. An auto rotate function makes it easier to view images on the picture display.
      In aperture priority mode, the camera will now adjust the aperture setting automatically to prevent overexposure. This automatic correction will also be applied when shooting in high-contrast situations to achieve a balanced brightness level with the widest possible dynamic range.
      Distortion correction can be switched on to automatically correct image distortion when shooting with the lens at the wide position. It’s also usable with the 19 mm conversion lens. Auto rotation of images is also available.
      Ricoh has also expanded the in-camera editing functions to include white balance compensation across two axes: green/magenta and blue/ amber. Brightness and contrast can also be corrected with either auto or manual modes, the latter providing a histogram as a guide. Colour, colour density, contrast and sharpness can each be re?ned on a ?ve-level scale, while the Toning Effects menu allows images to be converted to sepia, red, green, blue or purple.

      Sensor & Image Processing
      The new Smooth Imaging Engine III image processor chip, which was first introduced with the Caplio R7 model, has been further improved to provide better high-ISO noise reduction processing and colour reproduction.
      Support for the DNG raw file format has been carried over from the GX100 to the new model. Ricoh has persisted with its slightly counter-intuitive system of limiting JPEG compression options at smaller file sizes with the aim of providing a wider selection of shooting modes.
      However, no compromises are made at high resolutions with DNG.RAW plus Fine and Normal compression at the highest resolution settings, which also offer three aspect ratios: 4:3 at 12-megapixels, 3:2 at 10-megapixels and a new, 10-megapixel 1:1 aspect ratio for square format photos, which has been adopted from the GR Digital II. Typical file sizes are shown in the table below.

      Picture mode

      Recording pixels


      JPEG Fine

      JPEG Normal


      4000 x 3000




      10M 3:2

      3984 x 2656




      10M 1:1

      2992 x 2992




      N3264 (8M)

      3264 x 2448




      N2592 (5M)

      2592 x 1944




      N2048 (3M)

      2048 x 1536




      N1280 (1M)

      1280 x 960




      N640 (VGA)

      640 x 480











      Movie options are pretty limited (for a modern digicam), with only two resolution and frame rate settings provided. HD video recording is not supported and no provision is made for capturing widescreen video. Typical recording times for a 2GB SDHC card are shown in the table below.

      Recorded pixels/frame rate

      Recording time/2GB card

      640 x 480 pixels at 30 frames/second

      24 minutes, 23 seconds

      640 x 480 pixels at 15 frames/second

      48 minutes, 13 seconds

      320 x 240 pixels at 30 frames/second

      48 minutes, 13 seconds

      320 x 240 pixels at 15 frames/second

      1 hour, 45 minutes, 2 seconds

      Playback and Software
      Playback settings are essentially the same as in the GX100. Pressing the quick review button (marked with a green arrow) displays the last shot and you can scroll through the shots you have taken, view thumbnails (up to 20 per index view) and zoom in and out by turning the up/down control dial. Up to 16x magnification is provided.
      The GX200 also supports slideshow playback with audio, DPOF print tagging and provides settings that let you delete, protect or resize an image. You can also copy images from internal memory to a memory card. Skew correction in playback mode corrects converging verticals, while the new Level Compensation and White Balance Compensation settings provide brightness/contrast and colour corrections in-camera.
      No software disk was supplied with the review camera but, according to Ricoh’s website, the supplied bundle contains Ricoh Gate LA, Irodio Photo & Video Studio, Acrobat Reader and DeskTopBinder Lite. All appear to be Windows only and no editing software is provided for Macintosh users. Fortunately, most image editors and raw fiel converters can open DNG raw files from the GX200.

      The test camera was something of a mixed bag in terms of image quality. Subjective assessments of test shots showed they contained plenty of detail and retained high apparent sharpness throughout the zoom range. Overall colour and tone were pleasant and images had plenty of punch. However, blown highlights and blocked-up shadows were common in shots taken in bright sunlight.
      Close-up performance was impressive, particularly when shots were taken at roughly a centimetre from the subject. However, a few centimeters further back the small sensor made it difficult to isolate subjects from their backgrounds, despite the camera’s relatively fast lens and wide aperture range. Comparison shots below, taken at different aperture settings, illustrate this point.


      5.5mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/350 second at f/3.2.


      5.5mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/39 second at f/9.2.

      Digital zoom shots were slightly soft and artefact-affected. Slight coloured fringing was seen in shots taken in bright outdoor conditions with both wide-angle and telephoto settings but edge sharpness was acceptable in most test shots. Barrel distortion was obvious at the 24mm focal length setting but no longer evident by around 35mm focal length. No pincushion distortion was observed with longer focal length settings.
      Imatest results from the test camera showed it to be capable of high resolution with both JPEG and DNG.RAW formats, the latter producing slightly higher resolution. However, our results were inconsistent. Best performance was at shorter focal lengths with wider aperture settings but our Imatest results revealed some edge softening across the focal length range. Diffraction affected images taken with the 15.3mm focal length from about f/9.0 on. The graph below shows the results of our tests.


      Resolution peaked at ISO 100 and began a steady decline at ISO 200, levelling off at ISO 800 and remaining relatively unchanged through to ISO 1600. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.


      Shots taken at ISO 400 appeared grainy but were printable at A5 size. But we consider the ISO 800 and ISO 1600 settings to be unusable for most applications. Exposures at ISO 1600 were more noise-affected than those taken at ISO 800, particularly with slow shutter speeds, where colour noise became noticeable. Flash exposures were less noise-affected than long exposures. Engaging noise-reduction processing merely added overall softening to the image at ISO 1600.
      Long exposures at ISO settings up to 200 were clean and relatively noise-free. The flash was capable of illuminating an average-sized room at ISO settings from 100 on and exposures were well balanced throughout the ISO range. However, when used with subjects closer than about a metre from the camera, the flash was over-powering and required the full -2EV compensation to provide anything like a correct exposure. We would not recommend using flash for subjects closer than a metre from the camera.
      Lateral chromatic aberration varied between low and moderate, with the best results at shorter focal lengths. A dramatic increase in C.A. was seen between the 6.9mm and 10.1mm focal lengths in our Imatest tests but little change in the amount of coloured fringing could be seen in outdoor test shots. Our Imatest results are shown in the graph below.


      Imatest showed colour accuracy to be good and saturation was modest for a compact digicam. Red saturation was slightly elevated in JPEG images but not in raw files that had received minimal processing during conversion to TIFF format. Skin hues were slightly off-kilter with both file types, which also revealed sizeable shifts in the cyan colour band.
      The test camera’s auto white balance setting failed to remove the orange cast from shots taken in incandescent lighting, although with fluorescent lights it produced neutral colours. Both the incandescent and fluorescent pre-sets over-corrected, the latter adding quite a strong purple cast. Manual measurement produced a neutral colour balance with both types of lighting.
      Video performance was unexciting but typical of a small-sensor digicam with a top resolution of 640 x 480 pixels for video capture. The built-in image stabilisation system proved very effective, enabling us to take hand-held shots in dim lighting at shutter speeds as slow as 1/5 second. An example is reproduced below.


      We measured an average capture lag of 0.5 seconds, which reduced to less than 0.1 seconds with pre-focusing. It took roughly half a second to process each high-resolution JPEG image and marginally longer for each raw file with a fast (Class 6) SDHC card. (This is significantly better than the GX100.) In the continuous shooting mode, the camera was able to record 10 high-resolution JPEG images in 6.1 seconds. It took only 3.1 seconds to process and store this burst.
      When shooting RAW+JPEG files, we were able to record five shots before the camera locked. It took 13.4 seconds to process this burst. In both the S-Continuous and M-Continuous modes, the camera recorded 16 shots at intervals of just over 0.1 seconds and combined them into a single index-style frame. It took 3.9 seconds to complete this processing.
      The supplied lithium-ion battery ran out after 150 shots, which is less than half its CIPA rating. When this occurred, the camera briefly displayed a warning to replace the batteries (presumably with AAAs) and shut down.

      Buy this camera if:
      – You’re looking for a well-built pocketable camera with above-average wide-angle coverage, a good range of user-adjustable controls and adequate image stabilisation.
      – You like to register frequently-used camera settings for subsequent quick access.
      – You want manual flash adjustment plus a good range of flash settings (including first- and second-curtain synch).
      – You want a camera with a non-proprietary raw file format.
      – You’d enjoy taking square pictures.

      Don’t buy this camera if:
      – You require high-quality images in dim lighting.
      – You want to shoot high-definition video (the GX200 can’t).
      – You want high burst capacity for shooting raw files (the GX200’s buffer limit is five shots).
      – You wear glasses and want to use the viewfinder.


      JPEG image files


      DNG.RAW image files converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw.




      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      5.1mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/300 second at f/7.1.


      15.3mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/760 second at f/4.4.


      Digital zoom: ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/5.6.


      Close-up: 5.1mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/3.6.


      Coloured fringing: an edge crop from an image magnified to 100%. Focal length 12.3mm, 1/160 second at f/5.4.


      Backlighting: 5.1mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/90 second at f/4.6.


      15-second exposure at f/3.4; ISO 100.


      8-second exposure at f/10.6; ISO 1600 no noise reduction.


      8-second exposure at f/10.6; ISO 1600 plus noise reduction processing.


      Flash exposure, 1/80 second at f/4.4; 15.3mm focal length, ISO 100


      Flash exposure, 1/80 second at f/4.4; 15.3mm focal length, ISO 3200




      Image sensor: 7.6 x 5.7 mm CCD with 12.4 million photosites (12.1 megapixels effective)
      Lens: 5.1 to 15.3mm f/2.5-f/4.4 zoom (24-72mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 3x optical, up to 4x digital
      Image formats: Stills ““ JPEG (Exif 2.21), RAW (DNG); Movies – AVI (Open DML Motion JPEG format compliant)
      Image Sizes: Stills ““ 4000 x 3000, 3984 x 2656, 3264 x 2448, 2992 x 2992, 2592 x 1944, 2048 x 1536, 1280 x 960, 640 x 480; Movies ““ 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 at 30 or 15 frames/second
      Shutter speed range: 180, 120, 60, 30, 15, 8, 4, 2, 1~1/2000 seconds
      Image Stabilisation: CCD shift type
      Exposure Compensation: 2.0 to -2.0 EV in 1/3 EV steps
      Focus system/range: CCD method with multi, spot, manual, snap and infinity modes; range 1 cm to infinity
      Exposure metering/control: TTL-CCD 256 segment multi, centre-weighted, spot metering
      Shooting modes: Auto, Program Shift, Aperture Priority, Manual Exposure, Scene Mode (Movie/Portrait/Sports/Landscape/ Nightscape/Zoom Macro/Skew Correct Mode/Text Mode), My Settings Mode, interval shooting
      ISO range: Auto, Auto Hi, ISO 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
      White balance: Auto, Outdoors, Cloudy, Incandescent Lamp, Fluorescent Lamp, Manual Settings, Detail, White balance bracket function
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto (during low light and when subject is backlit), Red-eye Flash, Flash On, Flash Synchro, Manual Flash (Full, 1/1.4, 1/2, 1/2.8, 1/4, 1/5.6, 1/8, 1/11, 1/16, 1/22, 1/32), Flash Off; range ““ 20 cm to 5.0 m
      Sequence shooting:
      Storage Media: Approx. 54MB internal memory plus SD/SDHC expansion slot
      Viewfinder: External Ferro-electric polarization-type liquid crystal EVF (approx. 201,000 dots)
      LCD monitor: 2.7-inch” Transparent Amorphous Silicon TFT LCD, approx. 460,000 dots
      Power supply: DB-60 rechargeable lithium-ion battery (CIPA rated for approx. 350 pictures/charge); or two AAA batteries
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 111.6 x 58.0 x 25.0 mm
      Weight: Approx. 208g (excluding battery, SD memory card, and strap)





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