The GXR Mount A12 brings with it a number of interesting features that make operating with a manual-focus lens much easier. As you might expect, there is a magnify function for checking finer detail that can be used when finding focus, but as with other cameras that use such a feature, the process is a little slow and not especially suited to the kind of spontaneous photography for which you might expect to use a GXR.
One of two other focusing aids introduced by the company is Mode 1, which creates a heavily oversharpened edge to anything that is in focus while leaving the rest of the scene looking normal on the viewing screen. With a wide aperture you can observe the focus field sweeping across the frame and, even when closed down to a midway aperture, the method is very effective and quick to use.
The other focusing aid is Mode 2, which creates a bas-relief/high-pass effect across the frame, with normal edges showing in dark grey and focused edges in white. Again, the mode is quick to use, and the greyed-over screen disappears with a half-press of the shutter-release button.
Both options are most effective when the aperture is wide, as the shallower focus will deliver a more accurate centre of focus, but when closed down a good idea of depth of field can be gauged.
Ricoh, it seems, is uncertain of the quality of lenses with which you might choose to pollute its nice GXR module, and has accordingly built in a wide range of manual corrections to tackle vignetting, curvilinear distortions and colour shifts in the corners of the frame.
On the face of it, these corrections, with their ±4-step ranges, appear designed to deal with extensive problems, but in use their impact is much more subtle.
I found their existence somewhat surprising at first because, with the APS-C sensor, we are not engaging the extremities of the imaging circle produced by any mounted lens, and therefore we’d expect optical imperfections to be neatly sidestepped.
In the event I found no problems at all and never needed to use the shading and colour corrections in anger, although I did apply a ‘High’ barrel correction to my Voigtländer 15mm f/4.5 Super Wide Heliar lens.
For fun, I dialled in a healthy dose of vignetting for the ‘My Settings’ I applied to a Voigtländer 35mm f/1.7 lens that doesn’t need it. The module allows all the corrections to be stored for 12 lenses – the names of which can be typed in so they are recorded in the Exif data.
For any Photoshop users, the convenience of having a DNG raw file is priceless, and means that the JPEG settings can be played with in-camera while knowing there is a back-up that’s just as easy to access. And Ricoh has introduced plenty of play, including miniaturisation mode, cross-process effects and toy camera, although perhaps you won’t feel the urge to use them. Other standard shooting modes (landscape, and so on) exist, as does a nicely balanced black & white mode.
Image: The electronic shutter option renders the camera completely silent during the exposure