Photokina 2008 – Day 2

Ok, yesterday’s report dealt with serious compacts from Panasonic, Olympus, Canon, Nikon and Sigma. But what about the company that almost defines what a serious compact is all about these days and has been doing so for quite some time. Yes, I am talking about Ricoh.

While Ricoh did not announce anything new at Photokina, they showed the GRD II, GX200 and the R8 and R10 which were announced a while ago but are still some of the best serious compacts.

They also announced the Ricoh Candid Photo Project in cooperation with the Photographic Department at the Royal College of Art (RCA) in London.

I had the great pleasure of meeting the Ricoh representatives at Photokina and had a very nice chat with them. Ricoh is one of the few, if not the only, company that really values it’s customers and their opinions. One thing that surprised me is that Ricoh does not only read the Ricohforum but also read the DP Review forum and are aware of the blogs related to their cameras. So they follow very closely what their customers think about their cameras.

During the meeting I was able to provide some feedback and suggestions to improve their cameras as well as my thoughts on the next GRD III. I highlighted the known issues and other things I would like improved that I mentioned previously on my blog and are also mentioned in the various forums (phase detection AF, noise reduction, dust issues, etc.). They were aware of this but could not give me any exact details as to how these issues can/will be addressed.

One thing they explained is why they had to drop the phase detection AF, this is not because they don’t want to have a fast AF system or want to save money but because the company producing them stepped the production down due to lack of demand. Ricoh will look at alternatives and seeing how fast the Panasonic G1 can focus using contrast detection AF, I am sure we might not need phase detection in the future.

With regards to the GRD II and GX200 and the increase in MP, Ricoh does not produce their own sensors, like Panasonic, so they have to buy them from other companies. This limits what they can choose from and being a smaller company they can’t dictate what sensors get produced for their cameras, like Nikon can probably do with Sony. They are aware however that their customers want less MP.

Ricoh bought the building pictured above in Ginza, Tokyo and will have a gallery on the 6th and 7th floor. I can imagine this should be well worth a visit and may also play host to their new camera announcement events.

As some of you might have noticed, Ricoh wants to step up their presence in the US and have Adorama and Popflash as the official shops.

Now you probably want to know what’s coming out next from Ricoh. Well, they were very closed about this but ensured me there will be some “very interesting” announcements soon and they have a few interesting releases scheduled.
Ricoh knows about their niche, after all they created it and now everyone is following and copying what they did, and are also aware of the competition and what separates them from the competition. The plans for next year are to strengthen their position and compete better with the m4/3 cameras and the Sigma DP1/2.
There will be a new GRD III next year, as expected from the 2 year release cycle, but the interesting news is that it should showcase more than before why the GR line is their flagship camera.

I wrote about the first Ricoh London Meet-up a while ago and Ricoh were aware of this. They have expressed interest in taking part in another Meet-up where we can ask questions and provide feedback. This will be arranged together with Pavel from the Ricohforum and should take place beginning of December. More details will be provided when available.

On a Ricoh related note, Artisan&Artist* who have created the very stylish Ricoh GRD case plan to release new cases for Ricoh cameras in December and they displayed a nice leather half-case for the GX200.

Again, a big thank you to the people at Ricoh for meeting me at Photokina and I am very glad for the opportunity to also meet Pavel there.

If you can’t get enough of Photokina reports make sure you also check out Tom’s report.


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