Thanks to Laikok, the sole dealer of Ricoh cameras in Hong Kong, GX Garnerings have the chance to update the verdict on the focusing speed of the A12 50mm module upon installing in it the firmware version 1.29 released on 1 November 2010.
Previously, the major issue of the 50mm module (actually it is 50mm equiv.) was the sluggish focusing speed. With the previous firmware, the AF of the module could take as long as 4 seconds to confirm, but sometimes even to no avail after the time spent on focusing under, say, indoor lighting. The average time for locking the focus was about 2 seconds.
When the Marco function was turned on, the searching for the right focus took so long that the MF was preferable in the first place. Undoubtedly, this could be frustrating in some situations.
Now, the Ricoh engineers are known as issue fixers not for no reason. With the latest firmware v1.29, the issue is completely gone. The focusing takes less than a second to confirm for a normal scene, that is to say, brightly lit and with good contrast. In low light situations, it takes roughly up to 2 seconds. When the Marco is turned on, the focus is confirmed after 1 to 2 seconds.
No, with the new firmware, the focusing speed cannot be said to be impressive still. But it is not unbearable either. Certainly, the speed is slightly behind the NX100 as far as the author's experience goes.
A side note: the first two shots today were designed to suit the topic. The first shot was done with the continuous shooting function on. The second shot was made possible by using the M mode to drag the shutter speed (hence, overexposing the image a bit for effect) and panning down a bit when full-pressing the shutter release. The best about the cheapy WB600 is that it has PASM modes, which is very handy when using its farthest focal length at 360mm equiv.