Ricoh Snap Focus: Not just for Street.

Crsnydertx

Top Veteran
Jan 21, 2011
Houston, TX
Chuck
I was getting a little confused because I thought snap focus on the GRD is equivalent to zone focus. Thanks, Ray, for confirming that!
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
I was getting a little confused because I thought snap focus on the GRD is equivalent to zone focus. Thanks, Ray, for confirming that!
Its kind of funny that some people think snap focus is some kind of amazing innovation. It is a REALLY nice and convenient feature, but its basically just a shortcut to one of the oldest (and most nearly obsolete) photographic techniques there is. People USED to use zone focus because more precise manual focus was very slow, so it was a good way to capture different levels of action without having to really nail focus on it. With auto-focus in modern cameras there is less and less actual need for it. But for street photography, in particular, its still really nice because you can just concentrate on getting the moment right without worrying about getting the moment AND the focus right. I use it almost always for street shooting. And as shown in the shots on the first page of this thread, it can work for BIF shots and other action as well, depending on the lens used and some other variables.

My favorite ways of getting to zone focus, in order, are with the 12mm Olympus m43 lens because it combines the old school rotary lens ring control with markings with a "snap" ring to switch immediately between manual and auto focus, Ricoh's snap focus system which can also switch very easily but isn't quite as tactile about getting to the right focus point, a classic manual focus lens which is perfect for the zone adjustment part but doesn't have the auto-focus option, cameras like the Fuji X series and Pany LX series with full electronic manual focus scales and even DOF scales built into the interface, and then everything else, which generally requires some sort of kludge if its doable at all.

So the GRD and GXR and other Ricoh bodies are really really good for this type of shooting, but there's no need to build a religion around them. There's more than one way to skin most cats and the Ricoh way is a good one, but not the only and not even necessarily the best.

-Ray
 

Olivier Duong

Regular
Jul 16, 2012
ANOTHER issue? Snap focus is a shortcut to zone focus - that's EXACTLY what it is. My point is that it's a fine shortcut to zone focus, but far from the only really good one. The LX5 has exactly the same DOF as the GRD when it's set to 28mm, more when you zoom out to 24mm. The X10 has almost as much. And m43 has plenty in any sort of decent light. Snap focus IS zone focus and it's a great way to go about it, but it's not the only great way to go about it. I think that's on point, whether you agree or disagree with my conclusion.

-Ray
Shoot, I made an arbitrary division that I did not say. I make the difference between [Manual P&S] and [Larger sensors]. That's why I meant when I said "particular way of getting the shot". Manual P&S have a ""particular way of getting the shot" because of their great depth of field (small sensor), you simply preset at something like 1m and the rest of the image will be reasonably in focus. That does not happen with an APSC like the fujis, where you have to do the hyperfocal or trap focus.....So in all that you said I was more focused on the LX5 vs GRD...and classified "another issue" if you want to zone focus with something with a bigger sensor. My bad classification of cameras, sorry.
Now, put aside everything bigger than the GRD sensor, I believe that nothing comes close to the GRD, here's the reason: In any situation you can half press for AF, but you can also full press for snap mode. You can also change the distance without going into the menus. So you have the possibility of choosing between AF and Zone focusing from either full press of half press of the shutter release. Nothing comes close to it because in order to have something similar, you have to put your camera on manual, preset the focus and then shoot, if you want to revert back, you have to put the camera back into AF...

Now on snap focus not being an amazing innovation...
Christopher Columbus, having been told that discovering the Americas was no great accomplishment, challenged his critics to make an egg stand on its tip. After his challengers gave up, Columbus did it himself by tapping the egg on the table so as to flatten its tip.
Snap is so stupidly simple (a shortcut to zone focus) that you are wondering why other manufacturers never imputed that. And that's exactly the point, only after Ricoh implemented it does it sound obvious, but it had to be implemented first.
Now I am not after building a religion after Ricohs, you can make great shots with whatever camera you have, but you have to give credit were credit is due, Ricoh made a way to skin the cat more efficiently(full press snap/half press AF), more conveniently(simplicity of snap). And only Ricoh has that implemented, but if you can do without, well the GRD wont be such a big deal anymore.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
Shoot, I made an arbitrary division that I did not say. I make the difference between [Manual P&S] and [Larger sensors]. That's why I meant when I said "particular way of getting the shot". Manual P&S have a ""particular way of getting the shot" because of their great depth of field (small sensor), you simply preset at something like 1m and the rest of the image will be reasonably in focus. That does not happen with an APSC like the fujis, where you have to do the hyperfocal or trap focus.....So in all that you said I was more focused on the LX5 vs GRD...and classified "another issue" if you want to zone focus with something with a bigger sensor. My bad classification of cameras, sorry.
Now, put aside everything bigger than the GRD sensor, I believe that nothing comes close to the GRD, here's the reason: In any situation you can half press for AF, but you can also full press for snap mode. You can also change the distance without going into the menus. So you have the possibility of choosing between AF and Zone focusing from either full press of half press of the shutter release. Nothing comes close to it because in order to have something similar, you have to put your camera on manual, preset the focus and then shoot, if you want to revert back, you have to put the camera back into AF...
OK, fair enough, but to be clear, the GRD and LX5 have the same effective sensor (the LX5 is very slightly larger only because its multi-aspect, but in use, its the same). The Fuji X10 is only very slightly larger and the same basic situation applies. M43 is larger, but at a focal distance of 5 feet at f8, the whole world is in focus - on the smaller sensor maybe you get the same thing at f4, but either one works fine in even half decent light. And really, this is a hyperfocal approach more than zone focus - zone focus works well with larger apertures because you don't really need EVERYTHING in focus, just maybe the "zones" between 3-7 feet or 5-20 feet, which is pretty doable even with larger sensor cameras in somewhat low light. In decent light, APS sensors are equally capable and in lower light, their high ISO performance is getting so good that even THEY work well for zone focus. And as Brian shows in the post after yours, its not like people haven't been zone focussing for years with full frame cameras too - I used to do it with a film SLR shooting football games for the school paper in high school.

As for the half press AF, full press snap, that's the "full press snap" (or whatever they call it), which is sort of a sub-feature of the basic provision of snap focus. To be honest I never got on with it because I found myself full pressing so firmly to bust through the half press AF spot that I'd frequently get camera shake. Or I'd accidentally pause just enough to trigger the AF - just never got comfortable shooting with that feature turned on. So, instead of doing it that way, I just assign a snap focus / auto focus toggle to one of the FN buttons and I can switch between them in about a half a second, which has always been quick enough for me. Similarly with the 12mm Olympus m43 lens, there's a focus ring on the lens that snaps forward for auto focus and back for manual focus, with convenient distance markings exposed when you pull it back. I can switch between auto and zone focus as quickly on this camera as I can with the GRD and I can move between different zone distances even quicker with a true lens ring than by holding the macro button down and turning the front dial to find the right setting. More tactile and intuitive for me than the Ricoh approach, but both work great. But didn't Ricoh change the way you change snap focus distance on the GRD4? I thought I remembered you had to menu dive on that one, but maybe they fixed it in more recent firmware? I remember being really put off by that and it was one of a couple of reasons I stuck with the 3. Regardless, I agree that snap focus is a fine fine thing, but I actually like the Olympus 12mm m43 lens with pretty much whatever m43 body even better than the Ricoh. The way I use both, the Olympus is as quick and more intuitive and tactile to me.

Now on snap focus not being an amazing innovation...
Christopher Columbus, having been told that discovering the Americas was no great accomplishment, challenged his critics to make an egg stand on its tip. After his challengers gave up, Columbus did it himself by tapping the egg on the table so as to flatten its tip.
Snap is so stupidly simple (a shortcut to zone focus) that you are wondering why other manufacturers never imputed that. And that's exactly the point, only after Ricoh implemented it does it sound obvious, but it had to be implemented first.
Now I am not after building a religion after Ricohs, you can make great shots with whatever camera you have, but you have to give credit were credit is due, Ricoh made a way to skin the cat more efficiently(full press snap/half press AF), more conveniently(simplicity of snap). And only Ricoh has that implemented, but if you can do without, well the GRD wont be such a big deal anymore.
I agree, as I've said, that Ricoh's implementation is a fine one. Its my second favorite of all of the available options I've tried. I'm just saying its not more than a little bit easier than some of the others. Switching a Fuji X10 or X100 or X-Pro or Panasonic LX 3, 5, or 7 between auto and manual focus takes about a second and then dialing in the right focal distance takes another couple of seconds, except that you can set them up to recall your last manual focus setting, so its really only very slightly less convenient than pushing a fn button to switch from snap to auto focus. I've very happily shot with all of these cameras all day and had no trouble switching back and forth pretty frequently.

I agree that if you like the "full press snap" feature, that adds yet another level of convenience to the way I use it - I just could never get comfortable shooting like that. I'd either accidentally pause just long enough while full pressing that I'd trigger AF or I'd press down so hard to avoid that problem that I'd get camera shake. Bottom line I was missing shots that way and just toggling between the two with a fn button was a better solution for me, but it does take a fraction of a second longer to switch, so I understand your enthusiasm. Again, I'm not claiming that Ricoh is anything other than a great approach - I just don't find it to be the only great approach or, for my purposes, even the greatEST approach. Just one of a few very very good ones. Certainly not some amazing ground breaking technology, just a very very good set of shortcuts - a very well designed user interface. Nothing more, nothing less.

-Ray
 

Olivier Duong

Regular
Jul 16, 2012
I agree with all that you say but my experience has been the opposite, like getting shots sharp in a moving car....I tried to do the same with the gxr but it mainly gave me muddy grain. Love my grd, ive been mourning it ever since I sold it -just got a iv- anyway, have a good one :}
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
I agree with all that you say but my experience has been the opposite, like getting shots sharp in a moving car....I tried to do the same with the gxr but it mainly gave me muddy grain. Love my grd, ive been mourning it ever since I sold it -just got a iv- anyway, have a good one :}
You too. I'm curious about whether/how Ricoh fixed the issue of how you change snap focus distance in the GRD4 - I know you had to menu dive initially but I THINK they updated firmware to improve it, but its still different from the GRD3. I'm not sure I understand how you do it though. I'd be interested for whenever they come out with a GRD5 or 6 or whatever's next. I didn't see enough upside to the 4 to upgrade from the 3 (and the snap focus implementation at that time was a real downside), but if they improve the sensor in the next version, I might have to take a serious look at that one. Or just find a really good deal on another used GXR-28 - I really did like that setup a lot...

-Ray
 

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