A generic monitor not specifically designed for photography isn’t going to deliver the colour quality we seek. Processing images on the BenQ SW271 gives the user a stunningly vivid colour range.
Ricoh Australia GX200
- Excellent build quality, wide-angle zoom lens, extensive shooting options, portable design
- Noise became noticeable at moderate ISO sensitivities, it's a bit expensive
The Ricoh GX200 provides plenty of SLR-style functionality in the body of a point-and-shoot camera. Despite some unfortunate noise issues it is a solid option for those who can afford it.
Price$ 699.00 (AUD)
The GX200 is a self-described ‘brush up’ of Ricoh’s previous flagship compact camera, the Caplio GX100. Sporting a redesigned 12-megapixel 1/1.7in sensor and imaging processor, a 24-72mm (equivalent) wide-angle zoom lens, 54MB of internal memory and an elegant SLR-inspired design, it is unquestionably a worthy upgrade that improves upon its predecessor in most areas. By successfully combining high-end functionality with maximum portability, it represents an ideal stepping-stone into serious photography, as well as a good secondary unit for travelling professionals. On the downside, image noise was slightly higher than we were expecting; the camera's overall performance remains impressive nonetheless.
In terms of design, the GX200 has the physical styling of an SLR camera writ small. Adopting a similar aesthetic to the GX100, it retains a classically ‘retro’ feel characterised by a black rubber grip, unburnished plastic finish and traditional lens cover. With dimensions of 111x58x25mm and weighing just over 200g, it’s the sort of camera that can be carried around with ease. Impressively, Ricoh has managed to squeeze a huge array of buttons onto the GX200's diminutive frame without hampering its interface. We experienced no problems handling the controls, with our fingers naturally falling onto the appropriate buttons when required. It truly strikes the perfect balance between size and functionality, for which Ricoh deserves top marks.
A key feature of this camera is its 24mm-72mm wide-angle lens, which provides broader framing opportunities than a standard compact camera. This offers a variety of real-world benefits, from fitting more people into group portraits to taking better landscape shots. If such wide-angled opulence isn’t your bag, the camera comes with a range of intriguing picture ratios, including a 1:1 square format. Another neat feature offered by the GX200 is its electronic leveller: this alerts you when the camera is held unevenly to ensure your framing remains nice and level.
The GX200's 2.7in LCD display has the high-end credentials you'd expect from a camera in this price range. Boasting a resolution of 460,000 pixels and an extra-wide viewing angle, it is remarkably adept at producing sharp images. The menu interface is also something of a winner, with a legible white-on-black typeface and intuitive layout. With that being said, novice users may initially be daunted by the sheer number of menus and options on display: there are nine individual menu pages to wade through (four in Shooting, five in Setup), each with their own branching submenus. Thankfully, Ricoh has included a pair of programmable function buttons on the camera, as well as a My Settings dial with three separate modes.
Of course, such complexity is part-and-parcel of a camera of this calibre. Needless to say, the number of shooting options on offer should please all but the most exacting professional. Highlights include Shutter, Aperture and Program priority modes, manual white balance, colour tone correction and adjustable temperature, eight scene modes (Movie, Portrait, Sports, Landscape, Nightscape, Skew Correction Mode, Text Mode and Zoom Macro), 256-segment multi light metering, B&W conversion, full manual shooting and support for either JPEG or RAW images.
When it came to image quality, the GX200 gave a semi-impressive showing that fell just short of greatness. In optimum lighting, our test shots remained crisp and sharp, with no evidence of haloing or fringing. Colours were highly accurate for the most part, with none of the ‘hyper-real’ vibrancy that can mar other compacts. The camera’s Smooth Imaging Engine III processor helped to keep images appropriately smooth with noise kept to a minimum. Unfortunately, the noise performance took a sharp nosedive at higher ISO sensitivities, with an unpleasant grittiness spoiling pictures at ISO 400 and above. While still semi-usable for making small prints, serious photographers will surely baulk at the grainy quality. We also noticed occasional barrel distortion, though this wasn’t prevalent enough to be an issue. On the plus side, the GX200 has one of the most powerful inbuilt flashes we’ve seen, which should help to brighten up a dark room at low sensitivities.
The GX200 also has a host of optional accessories, including a 135mm (equivalent) tele-converter, a 19mm wide-angle lens, and an electronic viewfinder (which can be bundled with the camera for an additional $100).
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