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Go aRounD 3ongkok

We have already discussed some of the major strengths of the GRD III, namely, the fast lens and its image sensor.  This forth post of the review series continues the  discussion on the image sensor and the ergonomics of GRD III.  Photos of Mongkok are featured in this post.  Mongkok is a place bustling with all sorts of activities with some interesting place nestled in the side streets to be discovered.

Let's check out what to look for in the GRD III and Mongkok.

 R1149499 (Large)
^Mongkok is actually an old area where, away from the busiest streets, there are clusters of rundown tenement buildings.  A visit to these residential neighbourhoods will open you up to some old ways of life here.  On the back of the aged woman is a traditional baby carrier in which sits the little chap.

Previously we stopped at the ISO performance of the image sensor.

Image Processing

Some users has complained in the past about Ricoh cameras producing less vibrant colours and so on and so forth. Fact is, some were probably related to the environmental or technical settings under which the shots were taken, which translates into the users’ photographic skills. An old post talked about the issue can be found here.

It is, however, true that previous GRD and GX cameras produce images with thinner colour at the standard image setting. Of course there is the matter of taste about the image character too. While some users complain, some find that the images emit a more lasting favour in their own right.

R1149468 (Medium)^The open-air Mongkok wet market is a century old, definitely worthy of a visit.   The mini roadside kiosks with the awnings stretching out are unmistakeably  a part of Hong Kong culture.

For the GRD III, Ricoh has seemingly biased the image processing to a wee bit more vibrant. The "standard" setting results in images more like the "hard" (i.e. vivid) setting of my GX200. The auto white balance feels biased to the warmer hues as well.

But still, the images taken with the GRD III are not as vibrant as those of, say, the Canon cameras at their normal/ standard setting.  My impressions from using the GX200 and CX1 is that the images produced by GRD III are more vivid than GX200 does but softer than CX1.

R1149351 (Medium)^The busy streets in Mongkok can give quite an experience  to visitors from quieter towns, especially on any day in the sultry summer.

Whether this is because the CX1 uses a CMOS or the CX1 is targeted predominately at the general users is for a guess.  If vivid colour is your cup of tea, you should adjust the image setting, which brings us to the next topic.

As for RAW images, a link was given in the last post for downloading the DNG and JPEG files to make your own conclusion.

R1149354 (Medium)
^As in many busier areas in Hong Kong, begging has become a standard feature since the handover of the city to China.  It is a known fact that many of the beggars are controlled by some masterminds from certain Mainland Chinese cities.

Flexible Controls

Ricoh cameras are known for its excellent ergonomics not for nothing. If you haven't tried one of the class, you will probably feel that the likes of the G10 (or G11 for that matter good enough. But it will only be until you have played with a GRD or GX or even a CX that you see what truly great ergonomics means.

Originally I think my GX200 excels in ergonomics.  It is.  After all, it surpasses my probably king of ergonomics in SLR, the Minolta Dynax/Maxxum 7.

But I am totally thrilled by the manual controls given to the GRD III.  That the users given full play to customise the camera is an important aspect here.

R1149356 (Medium)^A must-go destination is the shopping stripes extending from the Lady's Market to the neighbouring roads.  This Hollywood Shopping Centre is of note for surviving the test of time for around 30 years.  It is sort of an old shopping centre now and could have gone ghosty long ago if located in other areas.  Business is still thriving in it.

- Image Character

This is related to where is written above on adjusting the image setting.  There are two customisable settings in the GRD III for photographers to dictate their own image character preferences. The settings are so sophisticated that the users can tweak not only vividness, contrast and sharpness but also the colours in Hue and Vividness from orange, greens, blues, reds to magenta.

This, working in conjunction with the White Balance Correction function (which in reality works like tinted filter to the lens), is quite extensive and exceptional for a compact camera in its class so far. I think this single tweaking will enough take the photographers quite some time to outgrow it. What a great news for control freaks like me!

R1149359 (Medium)^The de facto red light district occupies some side streets from Mongkok to the neighbouring district, Yaumatei.   These signboards of suspicious nightclubs and hostels are commonly known as the "yellow boards" because the Chinese character "yellow" is an euphemistic way of mentioning any related to porn.  Incidentally, most illegal brothels use yellow empty signboards or fluorescent tubes to allure patrons in dire need of a release.

- Fn Slots

The Fn button is a customisable quick access to a preferred function. You’ve probably know that Ricoh adds an extra Fn slot in the GRD III, making a total of two instead of one as in the II. However, what you are not aware is that the extra Fn slot sits on the self-timer button. Fact is, the self-timer is forsaken once both Fn slots are customised otherwise. And I am not aware of the possibility to resurrect the self-timer from the menus other than make it a setting in one of the MY slots. This is somewhat troublesome if photographers like me use the 2-second timer a lot for longer exposures, not to mention that there is the new DR function which requires a tripod and the 2-second timer.

In the GX200, there are two Fn slots without interfering with the self-timer button. The inadequacy with the GRD III has something to do with the position of its flash, on which sits a Fn slot in the case of GX200. This could be just a speck in the eye of many.

R1149363 (Medium)
^The old Chinese name for Mongkok was literally the Looking Cape as the dock was not far away.  This is why a large number of metalsmiths are still operating workshops in the area, interesting but unknown to 99.9% of the visitors.

- MY slots

As in the GX200, the GRD III is fitted with three MY slots. These slots are where the users can put together all the favourite settings to be recalled by turning the Mode Dial.

To give users more elbowroom to customise, Ricoh extends the slots to six boxes. Each of these boxes is for saving a set of settings to be recalled to any of the three MY slots.

This is not an extreme measure at all if it sounds like one to you. For the GX200 with three MY slots, I have found myself making repeated turns and tweaks to customise the right settings for the slots.

R1149391 (Medium)
^Shops selling traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) are galore in Mongkok.  The TCM items are eye-opening.  These are kind of kiwi fruits which are said to cure coughing caused by the heat evil in TCM practice.

- ADJ. Rocker

The ADJ. quick access to four customisable functions and the pre-set AE/AF/AE plus AF function, which allows users to move the AE/AF crosses across the screen, is a heirloom of Ricoh digital cameras. I have discussed this feature in the CX1 review, and the same positive verdict is applicable here.

R1149455 (Medium)^The two figures are made of paper.  Fact is, they are the effigies reminiscent of lady servants to be offered as burnt offerings to the dead.  A visit to the paper effigy stores is highly recommended.  You need some tips from a local to find one, and there are some in Mongkok.

(to be continued)

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