GRD4 weird spontaneous flash behaviour (help!!!)

Started Nov 20, 2012 | Questions thread
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johanwahlberg
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GRD4 weird spontaneous flash behaviour (help!!!)
Nov 20, 2012

Hello fellow Ricohers,

I know as a GRD user I'm supposed to favour fixed ISO and manual flash output but when you spend $600+ on a camera you want it to work as expected. I actually prefer auto ISO in most situations and flash output is just too slow to adjust when out and about, as I mostly use the flash in candid nightlife shots.

You might say, stop theorize, stresstesting your camera, and start photographing. And I did. It's just that one among the first "real" shots I took with this camera, a great shot of a famous swedish photographer together with a friend of mine, that I was really eager about, turned out overexposed beyond rescue.

I'm quite new into the wonderful world of GRD's. I got mine about a month ago, after 10+ years of having used a dozen of digital and a dozen of analog compacts, SLR/DSLRs, mirrorless, medium formats... I think I might finally have found the camera I dreamt of for so many years. Or, at least as close as physics can get.

There are though a couple of quirks/bugs that leaves a question mark (yes I've read the manual and googled like a fool);
• One is the Auto ISO, which seem to work between 64 and 154. Only. Why Ricoh left it named Auto ISO, while adding another Auto-Hi ISO for custom auto behaviour is beyond me. But it seems the Auto-HI works as I expect so I've come to accept this. Not a biggie, just a question mark.
• The second, and prominent one is the flash output. It sometimes, for no apparent reason, overexposes.

The following two test shots of my cat are taken with 13 seconds in between at the exact same settings and ambient lighting conditions. In the first overexposed one the camera chose f=1.9 and likely too high flash output. In the second, correct exposed, the camera has chosen f = 2.8 and probably lower flash output. The EXIF won't reveal the flash output but I't looks like more than half a stop less than the first one.
Both are ISO 154 and 1/30 s.

First, overexposed shot. Auto ISO = 154, 1/30, 1.9. Flash output auto/unknown.

Second, correct exposed shot. Auto ISO = 154, 1/30, 2.8. Flash output auto/unknown.

The settings:
• Latest firmware (2.11)
• My mode – Auto (green camera symbol)
• Exp comp -0,7 EV
• Exp Center weighted metering
• Auto ISO (not Auto-Hi)
• Flash auto forced on
• Flash exp comp 0 EV
• Pre-AF off
• Snap Focus 1m
• Multi-AF
• RAW 4:3
• Continous mode off

Possible reasons I experimented with:
• Auto ISO vs Auto-HI ISO. At first the change to Auto ISO seemed to fix this but then the overexposure suddenly reappeared… I have not tried with fixed ISO, but since both test shots is Auto ISO = 154, ISO shouldn't be the problem.

• Focus distance – maybe the close test distances in my home make AF measuring easily fooled. Maybe the AF-distance makes grounds the flash output adjustments… but why would it, since it does a preflash for TTL-metering… No, after some out-of-focus tests, this seemed unlikely.

• The flash mode – "Auto flash" and "Auto flash forced on" are the only ones I used so I don't know if the probem occurs in the other modes. As I understand this "Auto flash" lets the camera decide IF the flash should fire and at what output (through TTL preflash). In "Auto flash forced on" the flash always fire, but the output is set by the camera (through TTL preflash). At first, a switch to "Auto flash" seemed to solve the problem, but then, the overexposure reappeared...

I have tried these settings with Auto/green camera, Program and Aperture priority modes, as well as RAW/JPEG and Multi/Center weighter metering. No difference. Still occurs spontaniously.

The camera is approx 6 months old. I bought it used after only a coupe of hundred exposures. It seems unlikely that it's a hardware problem.

Are any GRD(4) users out there experiencing similar behaviour? Am I stupid?

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