Working with the Ticoh Caplio GX

As soon as the Ricoh Caplio GX was announced, I had it on my list. Small, AA batteries, standard memory card, 28mm wide angle, manual controls, external flash, wide angle converter. However, I really was looking for an upgrade from my Dimage D7. This was in July 2004, a friend of mine was also looking for a compact wideangle camera, but she bought the Canon S60.
So I continued to use my Minolta D7 and as a side-step, my Olympus 4040. In March 2005 I then bought a Pentax *ist DS.html which immediately became my #1 camera. So I _almost_ forgot about the GX.
Well, until a thread on dpreview where John Bean was thinking aloud about the GX. This reminded me of the reasons I had it on my list, and with the DS my primary camera, its small size would make a nice back-up camera. I searched the internet and found that the GX clone, the Rollei DR5100 was now cheaper than the GX, although it started out much more expensive than the GX (due to its prestigious Rollei badge, I assume). Well, it was silver (=less stealthy), but cheaper. Hm... I contemplated back and forth and suddenly, the DR5100 was sold out in germany at all retailers that did not adhere to the recommended retail price. So I ordered the GX with HA-1 adapter tube and DW-4 wide angle converter (22.4mm equivalent FoV). More than a week later I got the info that they only had one demo model of the GX left and were willing to give it to me for (a measly) 10 Euros less. I said "no thanks" and ordered a brandnew GX at another online shop for the same money. It is now October 2005 and we will see how long stock lasts, I don't think prices will fall much lower than the 179 Euros I paid, even with the new GX8 announced. The GX8 does some things better, but its price is too high as a secondary camera for me.

Here's the distortion and vignetting you can expect from the 2-element wide angle converter DW-4:
Not too bad, considering its small size. If I ever get around using PTLens, I will post info on how to correct this distortion. The DW-4 has no filter thread at the front, but the front diameter is just large enough to fit inside a 49mm filter. So, I am thinking about a solution to attach filters or a lensshade to it. Its rear thread is 37mm, a fairly standard filter size and it attaches to the HA-1 adapter tube.
The HA-1 adapter tube comes with a nice rectangular rubber hood. To mount the HA-1, you have to remove a plastic thread cover from the GX. This cover sits very tight and I only managed to get it off with rubber gloves (thanks, John!). These would allow me to turn the ring without pinching it even stronger into the thread. Once removed, you can screw this cover onto the adapter tube so you don't lose it - nice idea!

Known Quirks (partly taken from the forum at dpreview)
  • Don't rest your thumb on the zoom buttons - the camera will not expose
  • When removing the SD card, be careful, it is ejected with a strong spring that might cause severe flying time!
  • The fake shutter sound may cause streaking in high ISO images - just turn it off
  • When holding the camera (especially with one hand), your palm may push open the card cover
  • when external flash is activated, the internal flash will discharge, too
  • the internal flash takes long to charge
  • no underwater housing
Good points
  • small
  • standard batteries
  • standard memory card
  • wide angle lens
  • filter adapter tube
  • wide angle converter
  • manual controls
  • external flash
  • Step zoom: 28mm 35mm 50mm 85mm
  • snapshot focus: hyperfocal distance
  • ISO 1600 - it's _very_ noisy, but at least it is available

Currently, I don't have any picture worth showing, but check back occasionally, this might change. However, you may want to check the IR sensitivity page for the GX.

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