Ricoh New Gear Odyssey Results: GR II Wins!

agentlossing

Veteran
Mar 23, 2015
104
Andrew Lossing
So, I'm a longtime member of the Mu-43 forum and shoot that format full time. However, I documented over there how I feel the Panasonic GX85 I have lends itself particularly well to certain shooting situations - it's a great street, travel, landscape camera. It has many features I need for these particular uses, such as a comfortable grip (with the Gariz half case added), lightning quick AF (my street setup is a custom pattern of AF points along with the shutter set to take the photo on half-press, which eliminates the time it takes for your brain to register that AF has occurred and to fully depress the shutter), an EVF, tilt screen for chest-level composing, and a bunch of other all-around perks to using Panasonic's smart and versatile cameras.

But, there are certain things I just can't quite get with the GX85, and everyday carry is one of them. I've owned some of the smallest M4/3 bodies available, and some of the smallest pancake lenses, but even so the package is bulky enough to only fit in large pockets. Where I felt my photography has been lacking is a camera I have with me in even more cases. So, I needed a tiny camera. Realistically, if I ever expected to carry it reflexively instead of only when I made a concerted effort, it had to be really small. I considered the original Fuji X100 as I'd heard so many good things about the file output (they were all correct!) but I couldn't get used to the dated menu system and the size really wasn't any better than my GX85 with a pancake prime. It pretty much came down to the Fuji X70 or the GR II (although I briefly flirted with the idea of a used Sony RX1, before I came to my senses). Aesthetics said go with the Fuji, but the truth is, I just don't like the Fuji build quality or menu system. Am I crazy? People fawn over those cameras, but they feel hollow and delicate to me. Plus, the results from the 28mm lens on the X70 are clearly inferior to that of the GR II. Not to mention, I really don't like the way the X-Trans sensor renders foliage.

So I pulled the trigger on a new GR II (it helped to get $90 off through eBay's coupon the other day). I've had it for a day, and I'm already really liking it, though I need to go through the manual to understand the menus a little better. This thing is a tiny, light brick, and it's hard to believe there's a sensor in this thing that's larger than the one in my GX85! Initial file quality tests are superb.

I remember reading the DPR interview with Ricoh/Pentax earlier this year, and they did mention that "research" for the next GR was happening. It sounded to me like the next model is probably at least a year out. Maybe an announcement end of this year with a release next Spring? I'd have held off if the rumors had been right about a new camera this year, but it really didn't sound like it will happen.

Now, my only question is, is it worth it to spend $70 on an accident+service warranty through SquareTrade for any future dust issues?
 

bluzcity

Top Veteran
Jul 24, 2013
104
Memphis, TN
Brent
You could think of the SquareTrade as an insurance policy. If the $70 wouldn't be a burden and having it gives you peace of mind it may be worth it. I've had a SquareTrade warranty before but never had to collect on one so I know nothing of their customer service or dependability.
 

agentlossing

Veteran
Mar 23, 2015
104
Andrew Lossing
I have 30 days to go for the SquareTrade policy if I decide to do so. One thing I don't care for is that if you make a claim that results in a payout, the warranty has to be purchased anew for the new product.

I've been poring through the menu and customizing the camera a little; so far I've changed my function buttons to:
FN1: Snap 28/35
FN2: AF/Snap
FN3: ND filter.

I've turned the noise filter off, since the noise grain in this camera looks quite excellent and I never like a camera applying noise reduction to JPEGs. I'll edit the RAWs when I need to. ISO is set to auto-hi with a maximum threshold of 3200, minimum shutter speed is 1/30. I'm quite impressed with the level of customization that can be done with this camera!
 

Luke

Super Moderator
Nov 11, 2011
214
Milwaukee, WI USA
Luke
knowledgeable consumer advocates say that extended warranties are a bad investment.

If you pay $70 and you never need it, you've wasted $70. If you need a repair and you have no warranty, you already have the first $70. If it makes you feel any better, find out how much Ricoh charge for cleaning your sensor and weight he benefits of paying an automatic $70 or a 1 in 20 (or whatever it may be) chance of paying $190 (or whatever a sensor cleaning costs).

Just my 2 cents....everyone views that formula differently or Square Trade wouldn't be making tons of money off of people's fears.
 

davidzvi

Top Veteran
Apr 18, 2014
104
Boston Burbs
David
So, I'm a longtime member of the Mu-43 forum and shoot that format full time. However, I documented over there how I feel the Panasonic GX85 I have lends itself particularly well to certain shooting situations - it's a great street, travel, landscape camera. It has many features I need for these particular uses, such as a comfortable grip (with the Gariz half case added), lightning quick AF (my street setup is a custom pattern of AF points along with the shutter set to take the photo on half-press, which eliminates the time it takes for your brain to register that AF has occurred and to fully depress the shutter), an EVF, tilt screen for chest-level composing, and a bunch of other all-around perks to using Panasonic's smart and versatile cameras.

But, there are certain things I just can't quite get with the GX85, and everyday carry is one of them. I've owned some of the smallest M4/3 bodies available, and some of the smallest pancake lenses, but even so the package is bulky enough to only fit in large pockets. Where I felt my photography has been lacking is a camera I have with me in even more cases. So, I needed a tiny camera. Realistically, if I ever expected to carry it reflexively instead of only when I made a concerted effort, it had to be really small. I considered the original Fuji X100 as I'd heard so many good things about the file output (they were all correct!) but I couldn't get used to the dated menu system and the size really wasn't any better than my GX85 with a pancake prime. It pretty much came down to the Fuji X70 or the GR II (although I briefly flirted with the idea of a used Sony RX1, before I came to my senses). Aesthetics said go with the Fuji, but the truth is, I just don't like the Fuji build quality or menu system. Am I crazy? People fawn over those cameras, but they feel hollow and delicate to me. Plus, the results from the 28mm lens on the X70 are clearly inferior to that of the GR II. Not to mention, I really don't like the way the X-Trans sensor renders foliage.

So I pulled the trigger on a new GR II (it helped to get $90 off through eBay's coupon the other day). I've had it for a day, and I'm already really liking it, though I need to go through the manual to understand the menus a little better. This thing is a tiny, light brick, and it's hard to believe there's a sensor in this thing that's larger than the one in my GX85! Initial file quality tests are superb.

I remember reading the DPR interview with Ricoh/Pentax earlier this year, and they did mention that "research" for the next GR was happening. It sounded to me like the next model is probably at least a year out. Maybe an announcement end of this year with a release next Spring? I'd have held off if the rumors had been right about a new camera this year, but it really didn't sound like it will happen.

Now, my only question is, is it worth it to spend $70 on an accident+service warranty through SquareTrade for any future dust issues?
Last things first:
I'm not really a fan of accident / service warranties. But I understand many get them.

GR II vs X70

I agree that many Fuji bodies feel hollow and delicate, you're not alone. I'm sure they probably aren't delicate, I really like the solid feeling of the GX85 and other m4/3 bodies. The X70 does feel better, but I also almost always had it in a half case. So I'm sure that contributed to how it felt. At this point I wish I hadn't sold off my X70 for another GM5. The GM5 is smaller, but not thinner with anything other than the 9mm BCL. And I'm REALLY missing the tilt screen, which kind of rules out the GR II as well. It's hard to really work though all the rumors so I think I'll hold off buying another X70 for a little. Who knows, maybe the new GR III will have a tilt screen? (I know many would hate that.)
 
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agentlossing

Veteran
Mar 23, 2015
104
Andrew Lossing
I like tilt screens, but I prefer the one on the GX85, which stays close to the body and feels solid, over the extendable double thing on the X70. That type of tilt screen just rubs me the wrong way. my GX85 is plastic, yet feels more rugged than an X100.

The X70 will probably be replaced pretty soon (I think the GR III is still a little further off, we'll see how accurate my predictions are!). My guess is giving Fuji time to refine their touch screen interface and responsiveness will result in a better camera all around, and a resolution bump would be nice as well. I doubt I will be tempted from the GR to the current X70 anytime.
 

agentlossing

Veteran
Mar 23, 2015
104
Andrew Lossing
An update: a few weeks into owning my GR I realized it had a fairly large dust spot on the upper right of the sensor, probably came from the factory that way. Since it was within the initial return window, I sent it back to Adorama for a replacement. It was a little while waiting, as Adorama got confused and refunded me instead of replacing the camera and then corrected their mistake, but I do have a new (and visually clean sensor, at least for now) GR in my hands at last.

During the period Adorama had refunded my money, I tried out a couple cameras at Pro Photo Supply in Portland (would have bought a GR on the spot but they didn't carry Pentax/Ricoh at all). They had a new black X70 in stock which I played with for quite a while (to make sure I made the right choice). I think the focusing is a tad better but the X70 just doesn't win me over. It doesn't feel right in my hand, it feels like a gizmo and not a tool. I also tried out a used Panasonic LX100 they had in stock. That's a pretty good camera. The focus speed was right up there with my GX85, and the menus were responsive, smart and just as I expected a Panny to be. The only thing that I really didn't like was the power zoom. It's slow and just feels like a less quality experience than it is. If Panny decides to make a fixed focal length version at some point I may have to invest.
 

davidzvi

Top Veteran
Apr 18, 2014
104
Boston Burbs
David
....During the period Adorama had refunded my money, I tried out a couple cameras at Pro Photo Supply in Portland (would have bought a GR on the spot but they didn't carry Pentax/Ricoh at all). They had a new black X70 in stock which I played with for quite a while (to make sure I made the right choice). I think the focusing is a tad better but the X70 just doesn't win me over. It doesn't feel right in my hand, it feels like a gizmo and not a tool. I also tried out a used Panasonic LX100 they had in stock. That's a pretty good camera. The focus speed was right up there with my GX85, and the menus were responsive, smart and just as I expected a Panny to be. The only thing that I really didn't like was the power zoom. It's slow and just feels like a less quality experience than it is. If Panny decides to make a fixed focal length version at some point I may have to invest.
Funny I find the X70 feels more basic, more like an old range finder (with out the viewer). And yes, I gave in during the last 20% eBay sale on a nice, reasonably priced X70. :oops:

COMPLETELY agree on the power zooms. Tried the original RX100, 2 LX100s, and a LX10. I would love an LX100 with Fuji's X30 style power switch/manual zoom lens.
 

agentlossing

Veteran
Mar 23, 2015
104
Andrew Lossing
I think the X70 would actually feel like more of a workhorse with a different type of tilt screen, maybe one of the more basic ones like the one on my GX85. The added bulk and... not flimsiness, certainly, but just the bit of play you get with the hinge system on the X70 feels weird to me. That said, I wish my GR had a tilt screen.
 

emerson

Top Veteran
Oct 2, 2015
104
Maritime Canada
David
GX200 had an external tiltable'clip-on' EVF. IQ was awful, but it worked very well for data and composition. There seems to be only a minimal drain on the battery. The hinge was rock-solid. I thought this was an excellent compromise: maintain the small size, but EVF when required.
 

davidzvi

Top Veteran
Apr 18, 2014
104
Boston Burbs
David
I think the X70 would actually feel like more of a workhorse with a different type of tilt screen, maybe one of the more basic ones like the one on my GX85. The added bulk and... not flimsiness, certainly, but just the bit of play you get with the hinge system on the X70 feels weird to me. That said, I wish my GR had a tilt screen.
Yes, selfie screens and traditional camera / Fuji controls seem a silly mix. It made much more sense (IMHO) the way Fuji went with the XT100. Yes dials, but not the dedicated use dials.
 
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