Before penning the closing remarks on the GXR report, I wish to write a few things about the GXR body on ergonomics, which has always been the strong point of Ricoh.
Since I was attracted to digital serious compact cameras and bought the GX200 over a year ago, I have tested and played with a number of such cameras, namely, the G10, LX3, GRD II and III, GF-1 and GXR. The engineers and designers have done an admirable job in drawing up well thought-out button arrangements over what little space left on the camera back, not least because the LCD display is growing bigger while the camera size smaller.
If you use the G10, GF-1 and, to a lesser extent, LX3, you would surely be impressed by their ergonomics. It is the area that these compacts undoubtedly out-shine some big DSLR, like the Nikon entry-level models.
Once you've used the G10 or GF-1, you would be too pre-occupied by the good ergonomics to find the difference offered by Ricoh. But if you use Ricoh's compacts first, you are more likely to tell the best from the good in this area. GXR is of no exception.
The twin-wheel design (actually a front wheel plus the back rocker) is the gem. The wheel and rocker double as different function keys/ buttons.
Ricoh even makes it so flexible for users to customise them to a certain extent.
The best thing about the rocker is its few presses to activate and tweak the quick menu. The quick menu is with four customisable function slots.
I put manual flash output control in one of the function slot of the quick menu. The activation and output selection can be made by pressing the rocker and scrolling the wheel.
I highly recommend customising the White Balance Correction as a quick menu option. This function colour the image as tinted filters, especially useful for evening out the adverse effect of coloured lighting.
The only fixed option for the quick menu is the AE/AF function. This function makes it possible for the user to specify the AE and/or AF area for a scene. The following illustration shows green and blue focus boxes which lock the respective areas for the focus and exposure.
With the quick menu, I seldom need to dive into the regular menu. However, as if such flexibility is not enough, GXR has a unique DSLR-like menu which has four adjustable display level by which users can make the menu superimpose on the scene in a translucent way.
The menu can be turned on and off with a press on the direct button above the LCD display. This intuitive menu allows tweaking be done in a blissfully quick fashion. I absolutely like it. If you check out the GRD III review, the points regarding its ergonomics do apply to the GXR.
A final note should be added that if you're familiar with Ricoh serious compacts and use the one-press M mode (i.e. one press on the arrow key to instantly fix the exposure combo to the "right" value), GXR allows user to customise whether the adjustment is made to the aperture or shutter speed or made as the program dictates. This is way better than my GX200 which adjusts the shutter speed only when the one-press M mode is activated.