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Further Improving Ergonomics in GRD III

This is the fifth post of the GRD III review series.  Today we will finish up the remaining discussion about the major improvements I see in the GRD III.  The photos featured in this post are folk playthings on a traditional Chinese festival.

R1149401 (Medium)^Besides the solstice and the Chinese New Year, the Mid-Autumn Festival is an important celebration for the Chinese during which families get together for a meal with the special festival food.  The moon cakes are must-haves.  It is a tradition to buy kids lanterns to play with.  This is one of the shops selling lanterns made of paper and plastic alike in all sorts of shapes and characters.

The following improvements and additions to further boost the GRD III in terms of ergonomics are good surprises to me.

- Shutter Priority Mode

One very important addition to the camera is the shutter priority mode.  The point that this addition is essential to photography should not be required making.  When I got the GX200, I was first appalled to find the lack of a S mode.  It should be there long ago.  Better late than never.

R1149392 (Large)
^Lanterns in the shape of carambolas are the all-time favourite.  These lanterns are made of paper and bamboo sticks.  Light a tiny candles, place in the teeny metal coaster at the bottom of the lantern and it is ready to go.  Kids carry the lanterns around in the street or a park.

The good thing is that the GRD III allows users to customise the front dial and the ADJ rocker for either the shutter and aperture adjustments.  That's a very subtle consideration indeed.  As a street photographer, I mind the shutter speed much more than the aperture in making the exposure combo.  So I assign the front wheel for changing the shutter.  After all, the dial is smoother than the rocker.  The index finger is nimbler than the thumb too.

The possibility to alter the default controls and assign the front dial to tweaking shutter is a nice move here.

R1149393 (Medium)^The rabbit is in the lantern design because a folklore has it that a disgraced fairy was punished by living on the Moon forever, with a rabbit.  Her mortal lover was also sent to live there, but on the other side of the Moon.

- New Implementation of the AEL

The Auto Exposure Lock works in a better way too.  Users can dictate the set-up that at the press of the lock, which I assigned to Fn 1, whether the correction is to be made to the shutter only, the aperture only or both.    It is by way of activating the function called "One Press M Mode" which is a misleading name, to say the least.  I have found this new implementation of the AEL very user-friendly and especially fitting for photographers who are encountered with a wider variety of photography occasions.

R1149396 (Medium)^Fish is a auspicious sign for the Chinese because the character of fish sounds the same as the character meaning "surplus". 

By the way, the AEL correction will lock the exposure combo at the "right" value in the S and A mode.  When in M mode, you can make further changes to the shutter and aperture after the AEL correction fixes (without locking it) the right combo.

R1149397 (Medium) ^I chatted with the shopkeeper while taking the photos and learned from him that these handmade lanterns were all imported from the Mainland Chinese cities.  He said that the Bank of China ordered from him some lanterns as large as a table big enough for 14 persons.

- Store Menu Cursor Position

When I found this feature, I was like why they hadn't thought about this before.  If this feature is turned on, the last accessed item will be highlighted when the menus are displayed.  This is very handy feature because the last accessed item is probably the next item a user needs to make changes to, especially when the menus are divided into three taps.  Fact is, the menus are in need of a tidying up.

In operation, it is much like an extra quick access to the menu in addition to the ADJ rocker.  The Ricoh designers are to be admired and praised.

R1149399 (Medium)^This swan lantern is made of silky cloth.  Hong Kong used to have craftsmen doing these handmade lanterns.

- One Press Snap Mode and Focusing

This is a smart move.  And I'm sure you have learned about it: if the function is turned on, a half press of the shutter release will activate the auto focusing as normal with the image taken when a full press follows whereas a direct full press of the shutter release will take a picture at the Snap focus distance.

R1149400 (Medium)^I like the parrot lantern a lot.  It is delicately patterned and stitched.  A masterpiece. 

You may wonder what is a Snap focus.  Well, Ricoh is smart enough to let users tune the Snap focus distance at 1m, 2.5m, 5m or infinity.  That's much smarter than the fixed Snap focus distance in my GX200.  During the testing, I have found myself using the Snap focus distance mostly at 5m as I have shot mostly in the street.

R1149402 (Medium)^A fighter lantern.  And the silly me missed the tank lantern!  I found it out only when I got home. 

Another point about focusing is that when using the manual focus, there is a green marking covering the focus distance selected in the focus bar.  The green marking actually shows the depth of field at the selected focus distance.  It is not especially useful to me during the testing.  But you need to know the DOF exactly, this is the trick:

Assign the manual-to-auto focusing to one of the Fn slot.  Focus the subject using auto-focusing.  Then press the Fn to toggle to manual focusing.  Now the focus bar will show the distance of focus and the green marking.  Of course, if it is at a macro focus distance, the green marking does not show because of the shallow DOF.

R1149398 (Medium)
^The carp lantern.  An interesting one.

  (to be continued)


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