HELP. I can't seem to get anything in focus. - Ricoh GR

Discussion in 'Ricoh GR (APS-C) Forum' started by scadjacket, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. scadjacket

    scadjacket New to SC

    1
    Nov 3, 2013
    Atlanta
    A little Background:
    First off I'm a graphic designer by trade, have been fror 16 years now professionally. Although I studied photography a lot in school, everything was film in my time and digital was just coming on the scene. I never really made the switch once digital took over. It felt very unnatural to me and I just never invested the time in making the transition. Eventually film seemed to die away in the late 90's early 2000's and I just put the camera on the shelf.

    Recently with the resurgence in film photography I've dusted off the old cameras and taken it back up. In the process I've seen the need to learn digital photography as well (outside of my cell phone)

    My wife and I just got a new puppy and are planning a trip to NYC in Dec, so it seemed like a good time to really dive into digital. I've had a K5 sitting on the shelf for awhile and have rarely used it. When I did I just set it to auto so I could get fast shots of the pups and family. As much as I love film it does have some down falls; cost, convince, speed and it's difficult to shot at night. The digital gave me the option to shoot at night easier and most of the time when I'm out with friends or family it's at night. But I very quickly noticed I'd leave the K5 at home and just use my iPhone just due to it's size and portability. So when I saw the GR it seemed like a prefect fit.

    Small camera with big sensor + Pocketable + New Puppy + Trip to NY + better night shooting + Opportunity to finally learn digital = Purchase of GR


    Now with all that said… I'm really struggling with the GR. I need some advice. I've read through several boards, tested, read, retested, searched YouTube, combed the net and the manual but I'm still missing too many shots. There are somethings about the camera that I don't understand and I can't seem to get anything in focus.

    At first I was excited about Snap Focus, but I never can seem to hit the field correctly (from reading I think a lot of people have the same issue or they expected Snap to me more than it is) I decided to drop snap for awhile and just focus on learning the rest of the camera with using the autofocus.

    Here is a list of things I've noticed or questions I have. If anyone can shed any light on these I would really, really appreciate it.


    1. DNGs appear sharper than JPEGS. But DNGs seem to show more grain. Why?

    2. DNGs appear truer to color, JPEGS take on a honey golden tone, especially on indoor photos. Any ideas?

    3. TAV mode always seem to blow out the ISO when inside or low light conditions The results are very grainy. Is this common or am I at fault?

    4. Snap Focus seems to miss focus more than I'd like. I know this is a result of my skill level in understanding zone focusing. Things like hyperfocial or infinity I just don't get.

    5. In Av or P mode I seem to get a lot of missed focus shots due to s slower shutter speed. I can't imagine the light is always that low. ?

    6. ND filter… what is it? Should I use it? Why is it in two places in the camera settings?

    7. P mode never seems to drop below f4?

    8. Full Press Snap, sometimes still seems to try and focus with both FPS and Snap focus on. I can feel/hear the lens adjust. I get the feeling that's why it misses focus a lot. I thought the point of FPS was to remove the autofocus half press since the focus point is already set.

    9. AF seems to hunt in lower light. It helps if the AF light is turned on as it speeds up a little, but then I'm less incognito. Is this common for digital AF cameras? I'm used to old film manual focus. In low light or indoors it can hunt for focus for 3-5 seconds before grabbing a focus.


    Here is a situation I ran into last night:

    M Mode
    ss 1/500
    fstop 5.6
    iso 3200

    F1 button is set to AF/Snap
    Snap is set at 2m
    AF is set to Point
    Button is set to Full Press Snap

    I point the camera, using F1 I set it to AF, I press the AFL button to set the focus, and meter the exposure.

    Obviously I'm way under exposed, so I tap the ExpComp + button.
    The exposure corrects, I'm close maybe a tab bit over, but the SS drops all the way down to 1/20

    Obviously I'll never get a image in focus with 1/20 due to shake, but why didn't the camera leave SS where I set it?

    In the past it's done the same thing in other modes when I hit the ExpCom+ button but it would adjust the ISO or the Fstop

    I've posted some images on my Flickr account if you want to take a look. You'll see how many are taken in daylight, at a high SS and with AF grabbing the areas I expect should be in focus, but they'l not.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/7709416@N05/sets/72157637249106765/

    Please help.
    Thanks!
    scadjacket
     
  2. christilou

    christilou SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    There are people here who are much more able to help you than I but I in most cameras using manual mode negates the exposure compensation dial altogether, I wonder if you are inadvertently setting something else by trying to use this EC dial in manual? Just a thought. I'll look at my GR later but it's packed away at the moment.
     
  3. biglouis

    biglouis SC Veteran

    401
    Aug 4, 2013
    Scadjacket

    I am a GR owner and I hope I can help. Well done on choosing a remarkable camera in addition to your K5 which is also a remarkable camera.

    I'm not that impressed with snapmode. It sounds good in theory but so far the number of keepers I have achieved is very low for the number of shots taken. Comparing this with another friend who has the GR and is a very experienced and regarded street shooter this is his experience as well. Like the lady says when you ask how to get to Carnegie Hall, 'practise, practise, practise!' is about the only advice I can give you.

    However, I can comment more on the point about DNG and RAW files. I too have found the RAW files from this camera to be very 'undeveloped' to use the best word I can think of. Grainy, lacking in colour - I've described it elsewhere as being 'flat'. This is not dissimilar to the RAW files I get out of my Sigma cameras but entirely different, for example, to the quality of the RAW files I get from my Sony RX1.

    I've found even at base iso I need to compensate for noise, sharpness, saturation and contrast. I think that the point here is that Ricoh may be a lot more honest about what they call a RAW file than other manufacturers. In other words, you really are seeing what is coming in off the sensor without any processing.

    Of course, no amount of post processing will compensate for the effects of high iso speed which inevitably take a toll on detail and sharpness or on frames which are underexposed. But the DNG files from the Ricoh are therefore even more unforgiving given their 'honest'(?) characteristics.

    If anyone does have the solution to obtaining a high rate of keepers in snap mode I'd like to know the answer myself. My experience of using hyperfocal distance focussing for many years is that you are often better to have the camera on a high f-stop and at infinity focus. Especially with wide-angle lenses which in any case have strong depth of field.

    Finally, and I hope I am not teaching my granny to suck eggs, I would steer clear of any kind of manual focussing with a digital camera unless you are on a tripod - especially one without a viewfinder.

    LouisB
     
  4. Richard

    Richard SC Top Veteran

    564
    Feb 1, 2013
    Marlow, UK
    Welcome to the site.

    I might be missing something here (and I don't own a GR) but what did you want to happen when you asked the camera to increase the exposure? The three ways it can do this are to decrease the shutter speed, to increase the ISO or to open the aperture. Presumably it makes a different choice in each mode you set, but it has to vary at least one of those parameters to change the exposure.

    (Actually, I just re-read your post. 1/20 is a hell of a jump from 1/500 isn't it? That's not what I'd expect from one tap of an exp comp button!)

    Regarding Point 6, the usual purpose of the Neutral Density (ND) filter is to allow you to open up the aperture in bright light without exceeding the maximum shutter speed available. It can otherwise be impossible to achieve a shallow depth of field on a sunny day. People also use the ND filter to set unusually long exposure times - the classic example being to make running water appear soft and dreamlike.

    -R
     
  5. newmikey

    newmikey SC Regular

    28
    Oct 15, 2013
    Looong list, but let me try to answer some as I'll not pretend I can answer all.

    1. DNGs appear sharper than JPEGS. But DNGs seem to show more grain. Why?
    DNG's do not "show" anything, they are merely archival files containing all of the info off your sensor. By using a raw converter, you can make the image represented by the DNG file visible. Use the settings in your raw converter to reduce the apparent noise. The jpeg file was "cooked" by the camera, applying raw conversion, color curves, noise reduction and sharpening.

    However, JPEG is also (amongst other things) a file with lossy compression. Very small details visible in the DNG file might be simply unvisible in the jpeg. That would affect noise, but also surface details, fabric threads, hairs etc.

    It is very easy to get the impression the DNG file, or any raw file for thet matter, is noisier than the raw file of the camera (any camera) that generated both. The simple truth is that the DNG file is pure and undiluted, unprocessed image data. If you want it to have less noise after conversion, that is up to you. The jpeg is the image data processed to bits and beyond by the camera jpeg engine. If you feel you get better results with jpeg, there's no shame with shooting jpeg whatsoever.

    2. DNGs appear truer to color, JPEGS take on a honey golden tone, especially on indoor photos. Any ideas?
    See above, with a twist. Although the final converted DNG will merely show whatever your raw converter was set to make out of it, the DNG also contains a small preview jpeg which you would see on any desktop as representing the file icon in the file manager. That preview jpeg was processed by the camera exactly as it would an in-camera jpeg.

    3. TAV mode always seem to blow out the ISO when inside or low light conditions The results are very grainy. Is this common or am I at fault?
    This is not common and maybe you are expecting TAv to do something else than what it was designed for. I've used it for years on all of my Pentax DSLRs and found it to be a lifesaver at times, "not so nice" on other occassions.

    It merely does what it says it'll do: match the iso automatically to shutterspeed and aperture set by the user, on the basis of the metering mode set by the user, assuming the user is ready to shoot at whatever combination that will result in. If you have set metering to spot, you will almost certainly blow-out some highlights somewhere or have other exposure issues.

    You can control the grainyness you are experiencing by setting shutterspeed and aperture to their most sensible combination for the light available and then allow TAv to control variations. If you just set shutterspeed to 1/500 and aperture to f7.1 the resulting ISO set by TAv will indeed shoot noise through the roof - that is user error, not a camera issue.

    4. Snap Focus seems to miss focus more than I'd like. I know this is a result of my skill level in understanding zone focusing. Things like hyperfocial or infinity I just don't get.
    Snap focus on the GR has one big difference with the previous Ricoh compacts: the GR has a gigantic sensor, compared to the GRD models and with that a greatly reduced DOF at any f-stop. We want that of course but it work against snap focus as that is based on setting focus zones which we want to be as large as possible. Set a higher aperture on the GR and you will see snap focus results improve. Get a DOF calculator online to figure out the best combo of f-stop and snap-focus setting and to see where your "zone" is.

    5. In Av or P mode I seem to get a lot of missed focus shots due to s slower shutter speed. I can't imagine the light is always that low. ?
    In Av, you are in full control. If you set the aperture to f2.8 and the ISO high enough, the meter will decide on a competent shutterspeed. In P mode I understand there may have been an issue with the aperture not hitting f2.8 under any circumstances. The newer firmware (2.03) has solved that.

    6. ND filter… what is it? Should I use it? Why is it in two places in the camera settings?
    Neutral Density or ND filters are used to reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor, allowing for a larger aperture to be used and reducing DOF or alternatively under extreme circumstances temper the light to avoid overexposure. On a DSLR you would use a screw-in ND filter on the lens, with the GR you can quite simply move it into the lightpath with a menu setting.

    7. P mode never seems to drop below f4?
    See my earlier answer: upgrade your firmware.

    8. Full Press Snap, sometimes still seems to try and focus with both FPS and Snap focus on. I can feel/hear the lens adjust. I get the feeling that's why it misses focus a lot. I thought the point of FPS was to remove the autofocus half press since the focus point is already set.
    Then you are not pressing all the way through in one fluid motion. I get the same as the half-press is so built-in to my brain over the years, that's what my finger does even if I do not want it. Snap-focus takes a lot of unlearning at least for me.

    9. AF seems to hunt in lower light. It helps if the AF light is turned on as it speeds up a little, but then I'm less incognito. Is this common for digital AF cameras? I'm used to old film manual focus. In low light or indoors it can hunt for focus for 3-5 seconds before grabbing a focus.
    If you get really, really low light with the GR it is indeed my experience that autofocus slows down a lot more than let's say my K-5 with the 35mm/f2.4 lens.
     
  6. newmikey

    newmikey SC Regular

    28
    Oct 15, 2013
  7. Image52

    Image52 New to SC

    2
    Sep 6, 2013
    Here are some answer.

    1. JPEGs, depending on your in camera settings, may have noise reduction applied to them. GR DNGs hold quite a bit of detail up to about ISO 3200 and a functional amount up to 6400. However, you have to de-noise them to your taste.

    2. The colour choice in JPEGs is how Ricoh engineers like to see the pictures rendered. The warm colour indoors may have something to do with white balance. Try switching from auto white balance to the WB setting for the appropriate kind of lighting.

    3. TAv mode's job is to change the ISO so that you get bright enough images at a chosen pair of aperture and shutter speed settings. If you get a high ISO in low light, it's not very surprising. You have to change another variable to avoid that, e.g. by lowering the shutter speed, opening up the aperture, or increasing the light by using a flash.

    4. Snap focus doesn't miss. You miss. Snap focus is one a way of implementing zone focusing. Traditionally, zone focusing is done by looking at the distance scale on a lens with the accompanying markings that indicate hyper-focal distances. If you look at an old lens, you'll see that the the hyper-focal distances increase as you close the aperture to smaller sizes. This is true, too, on the GR. So, you'll do a bit better by stopping down more (at the expense of a higher ISO or lower shutter speed, given identical lighting). Zone focusing is a skill that takes time to acquire. The one way to get good at it is to choose just one distance for snap focus. Then, measure out a length of string at that distance. In your start practicing shooting pictures at that distance from the object that you intend to capture (using the string laid on the ground as a guide. After you get a sense of what (say) 1.5 meters really looks like, start guess when you're 1.5 meters from various household objects, and use the string to check. Snap focus is only as good as your ability to estimate distance within the hyper-focal zone. Full press snap is a useful way of being able to access snap focus, while relying on autofocus when you can.

    5. The shutter speed that the camera chooses for you in Av is a function of the aperture and ISO that you've chosen in addition to the available light. You can increase shutter speed by increasing the size of the aperture, increasing the ISO, or increasing the available light. It really is that dark. Your eyes and the camera see very differently. F/2.8 is not a massively bright maximum aperture, too.

    6. The manual clearly explains how the ND operations work. Toggling between on/off with the ND filter is a choice between having the ND filter always on and having it be in whatever version of 'off' mode you have in the camera set-up. 'Auto' causes the ND filter to be activated automatically when there is too much light given your exposure parameters. 'Off' (when you have a choice between 'off' and auto') instructs the camera not to use the ND filter at all, unless you toggle the ND filter on yourself. The way to think about the two tier ND instructions is that one is a toggle switch that, when 'on', cannot be overridden. When 'off', you tell the camera whether you want it to use the ND filter when it deems appropriate, or whether the camera should just leave the ND filter off no matter the lighting conditions and exposure.

    7. I don't use P mode. Again, read the manual. It has a chart that describes P mode's behaviour in some detail.

    8. You're correct. You may not be pressing through. It takes some time to get the hang of pressing through without 'mashing' the button.

    9. The GR has mediocre low-light focusing ability. It achieves focus by looking for contrast, and it's harder to find contrast in lower light. Some cameras do better. The AF lamp helps because it provides a clear point of contrast.

    10. Again, read the manual. There are two override mode options that tell the camera whether you want it to help you with exposure. You presumably have this option on and set to priority for maintaining your aperture. But you're also trying to squeeze blood from a stone. Exposure comp. is an instruction to the camera to change an exposure parameter so that it is xEVs higher, or lower than its current settings dictate. If you increase exposure compensation, you have to change an exposure parameter. If you use the flash (or especially the more powerful GF-1 external flash), it will generally help you increase the exposure by increasing the available light with the flash. Without using a flash, the camera's only choices are to increase aperture size or decrease shutter speed. You no doubt have the override priority set to shutter speed.

    Read the manual and take some time to understand it. It will help a lot.
     
  8. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Responses to a few of your questions:

    3. TaV mode basically does what it's supposed to do, but it can act quirky at times, with some rather large and inexplicable jumps in ISO. There are tricks you can play with some of the DR settings to impose something of a governor on the high end, but I always found that a little unpredictable. With the older Ricohs (pre-TaV mode), you could use auto-ISO in manual mode but you could also place a top limit on the ISO - TaV isn't really set up to do that without some pretty complicated work-arounds. I know at least two people who no longer have GR's due to frustration with TaV mode. I ended up buying a different camera instead partly because of this..

    4. Snap focus, as you've ascertained, is nothing but a shortcut to zone focus. It can't do magic, but it implements zone focus as well as anything else, and more quickly and conveniently than almost anything else. So, if it's missing, you're not setting it up right. Try this in decent light - set your aperture to f6.3 and set snap focus to 2 meters. Unless you're trying to shoot someone who's closer than about a meter of you, the whole rest of the world will be in focus. If you ARE trying to shoot stuff inside of one meter, drop snap focus to 1 or 1.5 and go even tighter with the aperture. But for street shooting in good light, I use f6.3 and 2 meters all day without any problems. I have a Nikon A and I use zone focus with these settings and they're the same focal length and sensor - it just works. When the light gets lower, you probably have to open up your aperture some. I've gone as wide as f3.5, still at 2 meters, at which point your zone of focus is down to about 4 feet out to about 10 feet - not all that wide, but still great for most low light street work...

    5. In Av mode, you can use auto-ISO and designate a minimum shutter speed. It only allows you to select up to 1/250 - not fast enough for my taste, but many are happy enough with it. I think you need to set ISO to auto-high, but I forget the exact terminology or where you find it in the menus - its pretty far removed from the other ISO menus if I recall. The way it works is you set your aperture and auto ISO (with whatever maximum ISO you're comfortable with - I use 6400 on the GR, much less on earlier models) and the ISO will keep climbing as needed to maintain your designated minimum shutter speed. Only after it pegs out at the highest ISO you've allowed for and still needs more light will it start to lower the shutter speed below your minimum. I love this logic and find it entirely workable, but I'm just not satisfied with 1/250 as a top minimum shutter speed. The Nikon A uses 1/1000, the Fuji XE2 will be using 1/500, and the Samsung NX300 I think may go as high as 1/2000 or more. All using the same logic. This is primarily why I chose the Nikon A over the Ricoh - 1/500 is about the lowest that I'd find useful. The Olympus m43 models allow a back door method of setting this as high as 1/320 and that's still no high enough for me. So with the GR and Olympus I end up just monitoring the shutter speed and set the ISO manually to make sure the shutter speed is usable. It's very easy to set ISO on the fly with the GR, so if none of the auto ISO modes work for you, at least the controls for setting ISO manually are excellent - best I've ever used actually. YMMV of course, but either TaV mode (with it's own set of issues) or Av using a auto-high ISO and a minimum shutter speed of your choosing is the way to keep the shutter speed up as light changes without having to manage it manually (and actually TaV results in you managing it manually - you just monitor ISO and change shutter speed rather than monitoring shutter speed and changing ISO - six of one, half dozen of the other)...

    7. P-mode being biased toward f4 for almost everything was a big point of discussion when the camera first came out. I THINK Ricoh addressed this in their firmware update, but I'm not sure. Do you have the latest firmware? If not, probably worth installing. It fixed one thing that I thought was pretty critical and was one of the reasons I didn't initially choose the GR - you can now set it so the exposure comp "menu" doesn't stay live after you adjust exposure comp - it'll go away as soon as you half press on the shutter. That thing staying open and live until pressing the OK button was a real problem with the initial FW, IMHO - good on them for fixing that and re-installing an option that had been on their earlier models. Odd that they left it out in the first place...

    8. I love snap-focus with the Ricohs I've owned and I've NEVER liked press through snap. I'd either press too softly, in which case it would auto-focus rather than pressing through to snap. Or, to avoid that, I'd press very aggressively to make sure it pressed all the way through and then I'd end up with camera shake way too often. Some people swear by it - I never found the touch for it. I'd just assign AF/Snap toggle to the fn1 button and then I could switch between snap and AF instantly and not worry about how hard I was pressing the shutter button.

    9. AF is slow as molasses in low light. Just a fact of life. Not unique to the GR, but the contrast between the relatively fast AF in good light and the very slow AF in low light is wider than most other cameras I've used...

    Good luck - it's a great camera, but it's got its quirks and it requires a lot of user understanding...

    -Ray
     
  9. RidgeRunner22

    RidgeRunner22 SC Regular

    65
    May 31, 2013
    Jackson, WY
    Sam
    To Ray
    I'm probably going to purchase either the GR or the A. I'm leaning toward the GR mostly due to price, and it seems a little less drop-able.I have been able to handle the A though and the one thing i really liked was how positive the control wheel and shutter button were.My hands get cold often and I wear gloves all through the year. I was wondering if you ( or anyone how wears gloves) could comment on the GR controls in this regard. Im hopeful in that the GR seems ergonomic, but is not the sort of thing the local shop is going to carry.
     
  10. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I don't think one is notably different than the other in this regard. I find I like the on-off switch more on the Nikon and this would be a bigger issue with gloves because the GR has a pretty tiny button mounted flush with the top, while the A has a spring loaded rocker that moves around the shutter button and has a much more positive feel. In terms of the shutter buttons I sort of prefer the A only because it's round and flat and hard and I could mount a little adhesive backed soft release on it. But other than that, I don't think one is any better than the other. And controls are similarly good - maybe an edge to the Ricoh for wearing gloves because the A does have a couple of controls where you have to hold down a button and simultaneously turn a dial/wheel, so the Ricoh is probably easier in that regard. I'd go for whichever you like more - I don't think the handing with gloves is really going to be a strong pro or con for either overall...

    -Ray
     
  11. Les Hall

    Les Hall New to SC

    2
    Jan 17, 2014
    Impressed by the responses given here. Makes a change to read forum posts without personal bias injected. I'm waiting anxiously for my GR, next week some time. Am sure I will have plenty of RTFM type questions ;)

    Les
     
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