The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design

Started Oct 4, 2011 | Discussions
sphexx
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The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
Oct 4, 2011

I don't think this has been linked here yet:

http://www.seriouscompacts.com/f41/ricoh-gr-digital-camera-philosophy-design-4392/

It is preaching to the converted here but a good read nonetheless. Perhaps I should post it in the Pentax forum
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Tom Caldwell
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Re: The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
In reply to sphexx, Oct 4, 2011

Thanks - interesting read. GRD owners will applaud. Everyone else will remain perplexed .. what? .... a camera with no zoom, no HD video? .... you must be joking ... and how much? .... you really are joking ....

Thank you Ricoh for ignoring conventional opinion and just making a real camera for thinking users.

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Joel Stern
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Re: The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
In reply to sphexx, Oct 4, 2011

Thanks for posting, very good article on why one uses a great camera.

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sphexx
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Re: The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
In reply to Joel Stern, Oct 4, 2011

Cheers Joel, Tom. I did post it on Pentax talk too
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1028&message=39509367
so far no adverse comment
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Mark Turney
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Re: The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
In reply to Tom Caldwell, Oct 4, 2011

Ditto !!

Tom Caldwell wrote:

Thanks - interesting read. GRD owners will applaud. Everyone else will remain perplexed .. what? .... a camera with no zoom, no HD video? .... you must be joking ... and how much? .... you really are joking ....

Thank you Ricoh for ignoring conventional opinion and just making a real camera for thinking users.

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slncezgsi
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Re: The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
In reply to Mark Turney, Oct 4, 2011

Even though I would prefer 35 or 40 mm lens to 28, I find that the linked article is really spot on. Ricoh tuned the design and interface to close to perfection.

I enjoy my GRDIII so far.
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Midwest
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Re: The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
In reply to sphexx, Oct 4, 2011

Just an observation and a serious question:

Since so many Ricoh users are intent on taking almost nothing but b/w photos, why doesn't Ricoh develop a monochrome sensor that does not do color? Imagine how great it could do b/w if it didn't have to handle color info. A small sensor with low-noise remains the holy grail - as yet not achieved - but could one be made that's not color, and be able to achieve this? And imagine an APS-C sensor that only does monochrome and is noise free to 25600 or beyond.... the night street shots that would work might be a revelation.

Now that would be a niche market Ricoh could completely own among street shooters.
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North45
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Re: The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
In reply to Midwest, Oct 4, 2011

This reflects my technological ignorance, but would there be an advantage to doing so? At the moment, one can create a B&W image in several different ways from a color digital file.

Many of the techniques involve channel mixing, so you need that color information to get the full variety of possible digital outcomes. I imagine a pure B&W sensor could be implemented in a number of ways. One would be to get one that only captured information about luminance. At the moment, you can create a 'lab tiff' that ignores all color info from a photo and just gives a gresyscale image according to luminance levels.

You'd have to get something good in return for giving up the chance to color mix (given that you can create a lab image already). I take it that you're suggesting that you'd get a less noisy image. That might be a good trade-off in some cases. Is there a theoretical reason to think that a B&W sensor would be less noisy?

Midwest wrote:

Just an observation and a serious question:

Since so many Ricoh users are intent on taking almost nothing but b/w photos, why doesn't Ricoh develop a monochrome sensor that does not do color? Imagine how great it could do b/w if it didn't have to handle color info. A small sensor with low-noise remains the holy grail - as yet not achieved - but could one be made that's not color, and be able to achieve this? And imagine an APS-C sensor that only does monochrome and is noise free to 25600 or beyond.... the night street shots that would work might be a revelation.

Now that would be a niche market Ricoh could completely own among street shooters.
--
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Pangloss
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Re: The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
In reply to Midwest, Oct 4, 2011

Midwest wrote:

Just an observation and a serious question:

Since so many Ricoh users are intent on taking almost nothing but b/w photos, why doesn't Ricoh develop a monochrome sensor that does not do color? Imagine how great it could do b/w if it didn't have to handle color info.

Interestingly the lack of interest in the development of b/w sensors was discussed in the Open Talk forum many times in the past, and each time the same technical reasons come up: a "monochrome sensor that does not do color" would offer few advantages over a "normal" Bayer sensor.

A small sensor with low-noise remains the holy grail - as yet not achieved - but could one be made that's not color, and be able to achieve this?

From what I could understand from the relatively sophisticated arguments, the answer to your question is negative.

And imagine an APS-C sensor that only does monochrome and is noise free to 25600 or beyond.... the night street shots that would work might be a revelation.

Well, perhaps, but an APS-C sensor would not fit inside a GRD. If you want a camera with a sensor with high sensitivity irrespective of size, I think Nikon has an FF DSLR that fits the bill.

Now that would be a niche market Ricoh could completely own among street shooters.

The GRD is already a niche camera, having a b&w only version would not really make it more attractive within its already narrow niche.

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Andrew
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Midwest
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Re: The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
In reply to North45, Oct 4, 2011

North45 wrote:

I take it that you're suggesting that you'd get a less noisy image. That might be a good trade-off in some cases. Is there a theoretical reason to think that a B&W sensor would be less noisy?

I don't have the technical know-how but it would seem to me that it would be easier to make a sensor that does great in terms of low-light and noise, if it only records light levels (from black up to white) without having to also handle the color info. I am thinking along the lines of one of the GRD cameras with a small sensor, which can do b/w with better noise characteristics than at least an APS-C which does color. I think it's a pretty intriguing prospect. How about being able to shoot high speed action like sports with a pocket camera and a zoom, even if the zoom is not fast at the long end? No problem, just shoot at ISO 12800 or 25600 or ...?

I don't know if it is feasible or possible, I'm just thinking as long as color is not so important to many Ricoh users, maybe a strictly b/w sensor would have really superior characteristics in terms of speed and lower noise.

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Midwest
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Re: The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
In reply to Pangloss, Oct 4, 2011

Pangloss wrote:

Midwest wrote:

Just an observation and a serious question:

Since so many Ricoh users are intent on taking almost nothing but b/w photos, why doesn't Ricoh develop a monochrome sensor that does not do color? Imagine how great it could do b/w if it didn't have to handle color info.

Interestingly the lack of interest in the development of b/w sensors was discussed in the Open Talk forum many times in the past, and each time the same technical reasons come up: a "monochrome sensor that does not do color" would offer few advantages over a "normal" Bayer sensor.

Hadn't seen the threads but was there an authoritative conclusion to this effect?

A small sensor with low-noise remains the holy grail - as yet not achieved - but could one be made that's not color, and be able to achieve this?

From what I could understand from the relatively sophisticated arguments, the answer to your question is negative.

Hmm.

And imagine an APS-C sensor that only does monochrome and is noise free to 25600 or beyond.... the night street shots that would work might be a revelation.

Well, perhaps, but an APS-C sensor would not fit inside a GRD. If you want a camera with a sensor with high sensitivity irrespective of size, I think Nikon has an FF DSLR that fits the bill.

I know an APS-C would not fit in a GRD - I had in mind that such a sensor in a GXR module could really be amazing.

Now that would be a niche market Ricoh could completely own among street shooters.

The GRD is already a niche camera, having a b&w only version would not really make it more attractive within its already narrow niche.

I saw a photo that was taken at a large gathering of people using a super high resolution camera and it was amazing (a word I avoid using) in that you could zoom and zoom and zoom in on the photo and still continue to see good sharp detail from the tiniest corner of the image. If a b/w sensor isn't going to have an advantage of being faster, how about making it much higher resolution? Not all photos have to be just viewed as - is or printed; it would be great to take a larger area shot and be able to examine it in detail.

Just thinking out loud here, trying to maximize Ricoh's hand.

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Andrew
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snake_b
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Re: The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
In reply to Midwest, Oct 4, 2011

My guess will go back to Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone. Even though they were filming in black and white, he was meticulous about the use of colors to produce the right effect on the film because it isn't just black and white, but shades of gray and textures that will be interpreted differently by a sensor.

Midwest wrote:

Just an observation and a serious question:

Since so many Ricoh users are intent on taking almost nothing but b/w photos, why doesn't Ricoh develop a monochrome sensor that does not do color? Imagine how great it could do b/w if it didn't have to handle color info. A small sensor with low-noise remains the holy grail - as yet not achieved - but could one be made that's not color, and be able to achieve this? And imagine an APS-C sensor that only does monochrome and is noise free to 25600 or beyond.... the night street shots that would work might be a revelation.

Now that would be a niche market Ricoh could completely own among street shooters.
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Ray Sachs
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Re: The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
In reply to North45, Oct 4, 2011

North45 wrote:

This reflects my technological ignorance, but would there be an advantage to doing so? At the moment, one can create a B&W image in several different ways from a color digital file.

Many of the techniques involve channel mixing, so you need that color information to get the full variety of possible digital outcomes. I imagine a pure B&W sensor could be implemented in a number of ways. One would be to get one that only captured information about luminance. At the moment, you can create a 'lab tiff' that ignores all color info from a photo and just gives a gresyscale image according to luminance levels.

The first question is whether you could get a cleaner or higher res or better low light image from a dedicated B&W sensor. I don't know the answer to that but presume the answer is no. But for the sake of discusion, lets assume its YES. I still wouldn't want it - I'd take the color raw file as a starting point every time.

There are just so many B&W processing decisions you can make after the fact if you start with a color file that wouldn't be available to you with a B&W file. There's channel mixing and the related issue of filters. In the old film days, shooting with B&W you'd decide whether to use a red filter, yellow filter, no filter, etc BEFORE you took the shot. And the results were cooked in to the negative. With digital processing, you take the color image and you can then apply various filters either individually or in combination, you can brighten certain colors and darken others, etc. There are just a lot of options open to you if you start with a color source file that you don't have if you just expose a B&W image from the start.

I also don't particularly mind the noisy / grainy look in many of my B&W images anyway, so the idea of cleaning up the image isn't all that appealing to me to begin with...

-Ray
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Tom Caldwell
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Re: The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
In reply to sphexx, Oct 4, 2011

sphexx wrote:

Cheers Joel, Tom. I did post it on Pentax talk too
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1028&message=39509367
so far no adverse comment
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Of course there is no adverse comment. Those millions who buy the conventional cameras recommended by neighbours and the salesman selling "product" are simply so overcome by emotion at the thought of anyone seeing anything useful in a GRD that they cannot see their keyboards and their fingers refuse to type. This is not an elitist comment but more an acknowledgement that the vast bulk of the population simply just want a camera that does everything easily and needs little knowledge other than pointing and shooting. And it must be cheap. The true elitist is the one that buys a entry level dslr with kit lens at the latest bargain run out sale because they want to have a "proper" camera - then amaze their friends when it takes great images as proper cameras do (whilst all the time being used as a point and shoot).

Plain example from a couple of days ago. Wandering around a shop trailing behind wife and daughter on a shopping expedition taking casual images of clothes dummies (free models guys!) when I met a guy similarly perplexed waiting on his wife. We talked cameras and he asked about my outfit. I showed him my GXR-M with Jupiter-9 85mm f2.0, and how it was working. Some captures, and how it came apart. He seemed mildly interested and asked how much it might cost. So I gave him an idea and I could see his eyes glaze over.

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Tom Caldwell
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Re: The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
In reply to Midwest, Oct 4, 2011

Midwest wrote:

Just an observation and a serious question:

Since so many Ricoh users are intent on taking almost nothing but b/w photos, why doesn't Ricoh develop a monochrome sensor that does not do color? Imagine how great it could do b/w if it didn't have to handle color info. A small sensor with low-noise remains the holy grail - as yet not achieved - but could one be made that's not color, and be able to achieve this? And imagine an APS-C sensor that only does monochrome and is noise free to 25600 or beyond.... the night street shots that would work might be a revelation.

Now that would be a niche market Ricoh could completely own among street shooters.
--
Art is far superior to "artsy".

MW, Just to cover a couple of areas that the others have not alluded to:

Ricoh don't make sensors and therefore have to rely on others. Not sure if Pentax do.

There might not be enoughtdemand for a dedicated b&w only sensor to justify making one. Also as other's have alluded, you need the subtle nuances of colour captured to get the most accurate representation in b&w anyway. Therefore a b&w sensor might not be that much different from a colour one anyway, just a dedicated engine to give you b&w only. Therefore there would be no better high ISO performance.

Surprisingly some actually seem to like a bit of grain in their images. Usually grain is a trade off to get sharpness in high ISO images as noise processing routines end to make these images soft and plastic looking. But these processing engines seem to be improving.

Ricoh always seem to have done b&w well, even the R4 takes great high ISO b&w images. The M mount module has reduced (scrapped?) the anti-alias filter and it should go to even greater heights. I am sure that great b&w will keep coming from conventional colour sensors.

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Pangloss
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Re: The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
In reply to Midwest, Oct 4, 2011

Midwest wrote:

Pangloss wrote:

Midwest wrote:

Just an observation and a serious question:

Since so many Ricoh users are intent on taking almost nothing but b/w photos, why doesn't Ricoh develop a monochrome sensor that does not do color? Imagine how great it could do b/w if it didn't have to handle color info.

Interestingly the lack of interest in the development of b/w sensors was discussed in the Open Talk forum many times in the past, and each time the same technical reasons come up: a "monochrome sensor that does not do color" would offer few advantages over a "normal" Bayer sensor.

Hadn't seen the threads but was there an authoritative conclusion to this effect?

I think among the posters were Joseph, a PhD in physics that holds a few patents on CMOS sensors whose name I don't remember, and a few more highly qualified persons. If you just create a new thread with the usual suggestion ("why don't we have a monochrome sensor with higher resolution/sensitivity/miracle making quality?") I am sure at least Joseph will post a reply.

A small sensor with low-noise remains the holy grail - as yet not achieved - but could one be made that's not color, and be able to achieve this?

From what I could understand from the relatively sophisticated arguments, the answer to your question is negative.

Hmm.

And imagine an APS-C sensor that only does monochrome and is noise free to 25600 or beyond.... the night street shots that would work might be a revelation.

Well, perhaps, but an APS-C sensor would not fit inside a GRD. If you want a camera with a sensor with high sensitivity irrespective of size, I think Nikon has an FF DSLR that fits the bill.

I know an APS-C would not fit in a GRD - I had in mind that such a sensor in a GXR module could really be amazing.

Oh, for a GXR module? Well, perhaps PRIC will release such an APS-C monochrome module in 2026 or so...

Now that would be a niche market Ricoh could completely own among street shooters.

The GRD is already a niche camera, having a b&w only version would not really make it more attractive within its already narrow niche.

I saw a photo that was taken at a large gathering of people using a super high resolution camera and it was amazing (a word I avoid using) in that you could zoom and zoom and zoom in on the photo and still continue to see good sharp detail from the tiniest corner of the image. If a b/w sensor isn't going to have an advantage of being faster, how about making it much higher resolution? Not all photos have to be just viewed as - is or printed; it would be great to take a larger area shot and be able to examine it in detail.

Just thinking out loud here, trying to maximize Ricoh's hand.

Right now I believe PRIC must be trying to find a survival strategy. Products that are just too odd or niche oriented are not going to help them in their present situation, I think. You have Nikon and Canon dominating the market and Sony elbowing itself in the DSLR segment, and Olympus, Panasonic and Sony (again) fighting it out in the mirrorless segment. As for compact cameras, we all know the segment is threatened by smartphones.

When it comes to the GRD (the subject of this thread), my humble opinion is that Ricoh did the right thing when they developed the GRDIV from the GRDIII, by playing it safe.

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Andrew
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Midwest
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Re: The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
In reply to Tom Caldwell, Oct 4, 2011

Good points all but I think the one that makes most sense to me is in fact that just a straight monochrome sensor might not capture the 'depth' you get from making a b/w image from a color capture. Still, anything Ricoh can do that gives their cameras any sort of edge at shooting b/w or b/w destined images would be valued by many of their users.
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mootaineer
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Re: The Ricoh GR Digital Camera: A Philosophy of Design
In reply to North45, Oct 4, 2011

North45 wrote:

This reflects my technological ignorance, but would there be an advantage to doing so? At the moment, one can create a B&W image in several different ways from a color digital file.

For a typical bayer array, a red photosite will only read levels of red data. Blue ones will only read levels of blue, etc. Colour is then "interpreted" for the photo by some method of demosaicing. With a B&W sensor, I think that the advantage would be that each photosite on the sensor can utilise the full luminance data that is available to it regardless its R/G/B value.

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Tom Caldwell
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The end of the dedicated b&w sensor ...
In reply to Pangloss, Oct 5, 2011

Pangloss wrote:

When it comes to the GRD (the subject of this thread), my humble opinion is that Ricoh did the right thing when they developed the GRDIV from the GRDIII, by playing it safe.

No point in messing around with a good thing (agreed).

I think the only b&w sensored Ricoh ever sold would be sold to Midwest (grin).

I am not sure he holds with b&w grainy images (grin some more).

Why even those Ricoh nutters who work in b&w don't mind a colour sensor being used .... and they love the grain. Sort of ends up with the theorem that if a b&w sensor might remove the grain then those that might use b&w imaging would not particularly want such a sensor anyway.

So it remains just an interesting point.

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jharvest
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In reply to sphexx, Oct 5, 2011

Only peripherally related to the topic but I get a 403 (forbidden) error from http://www.seriouscompacts.com . Maybe they've banned African IPs. I'm reading the article via Google cache.

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