Ricoh GXR: Firmware

Overview of Firmware Updates | Initial State | Function Enhancing Update 1 | Function Enhancing Update 2 | Function Enhancing Update 3 | Function Enhancing Update 4 | Function Enhancing Update 5 | References

On this page, I collect information on GXR firmware updates, focusing on function enhancing updates.

Note: You can find an update of the GXR manual (documentation of firmware updates) here:
English: www.ricoh.com/r_dc/download/firmware/docs/gxr_vup_en.pdf
German: www.ricoh.com/r_dc/download/firmware/docs/gxr_vup_de.pdf

 

Overview of Firmware Updates

There are basically two types of firmware updates: (1) updates that correct errors, (2) updates that add additional or modify existing functionality (they may also include error corrections).

In the following, I will only discuss function enhancing firmware updates. Updates 1.07, 1.18, 1.31, 1.36, 1.37, 1.43, and 1.44 are bug fixes, for details see www.ricoh.com/r_dc/download/firmware/gxr.

 

Initial State

It is instructive to start with some information about the initial state of the GXR system, which was in many aspects unsatisfactorily. First of all, the main complaint about the GXR system was the slow automatic focusing of the A12-50 camera unit. Personally, I was also frustrated by the AF behavior in macro mode, which was sometimes a real disaster. There were many discussions about the A12's focusing speed and people asked why Panasonic could do it much better. Secondly, there were some bugs in the firmware, some of which are described on my issues page (there were also other issues, which were not related to the system as such, but maybe to Ricoh's quality control and repair centers...). Most of the bugs seem to have been fixed, although there is little information about this from Ricoh's side.

In the following, however, I will not write about bug fixes.

 

Function Enhancing Update 1 (Version 1.17)

The first function enhancing firmware update appeared in May, 2010, had version number 1.17, and can in hindsight be mostly regarded as a quick hack that allowed Ricoh to win some time and becalm its customers. It included 11 enhancements, most of which were of cosmetic nature to me:

  1. Noise reduction performance enhancement: The MAX setting has been added to the noise reduction settings. When MAX is specified, the image data's noise distribution is analyzed and the optimum processing is done for each region of the image, thereby increasing image quality in low-light scenes.
  2. Noise reduction for nightscape and landscape scene modes: The ability to specify noise reduction for the nightscape and landscape scene modes has been added.
  3. Addition of "ADJ. ISO direct change" function: The "ADJ. ISO direct change" function has been added to the setup menu. If it is set to ON, in situations where shooting is possible (shutter-release button pressed halfway), moving the ADJ. lever right/left changes the ISO sensitivity.
  4. Two "incandescent lamp" settings for white balance: There used to be just the "incandescent lamp" setting for white balance, but now there are two settings: "incandescent lamp 1" and "incandescent lamp 2." Compared to "incandescent lamp 1," "incandescent lamp 2" gives the image a slightly more reddish cast so it is the equivalent of the old "incandescent lamp" setting.
  5. Auto shutter speed shift function: In cases where the image will be overexposed or underexposed when in shutter speed priority mode, if this setting is on, the camera automatically adjusts the shutter speed to give a suitable exposure.
  6. Flash and self-timer selection with up-down dial: Flash and self-timer setting changes can be made with the up-down dial.
  7. Zoom position changes with My Setting edit: The zoom position can be changed by editing My Settings. (When RICOH LENS S10 or RICOH LENS P10 is used)
  8. Macro AF distance restriction limitation: When doing macro photography with GR LENS A12 50 mm F2.5 MACRO, it is possible to select shooting distance (focus distance for auto focus) ranges of either 10-30 cm or 7-10cm. This increases auto focusing speed.
  9. Focus ring high-speed move (when using GR LENS A12): During manual focusing, the focus ring movement speed increases when the macro button is being pushed.
  10. Camera unit information in detail information display and Exif: The camera unit designation A12, S10, or P10 is displayed in the detail information display and in the Exif information.
  11. Firmware version information on setup menu

I boldfaced those enhancements that are the most useful ones for me.

Interestingly, this list that I copied from the Ricoh Website does not mention (any more?) the most important change with this firmware update: A new "Quick AF" mode was introduced that was meant to increase focusing speed (could be set in the menus). This hack did indeed increase AF speed, although not incredibly, but had two drawbacks: (1) the screen freezed during focusing, (2) in low light the AF returned to the old, slow mode without giving feedback. Thus you could never be sure that focusing would really be faster. While the screen freeze was now problem at all in bright light, it was an issue for macro shot and in lower light. In macro mode, focusing takes longer. Therefore, after focusing the object typically was no longer in its original position and you had to reframe. This was a real hassle!

The introduction of two distance ranges for macro shots increased focusing speed but not my shooting speed, because in half of the cases I was in the wrong range and had to carefully change my position.

Luckily, with the next function enhancing firmware, Ricoh addressed these issues.

For details, see: ricoh.com/r_dc/gxr/firmware.html

 

Function Enhancing Update 2 (Version 1.29)

The second function enhancing firmware update appeared at the end of October, 2010, had version number 1.29, and definitely addressed many issues of the GXR system, particularly the slow and unsatisfactorily AF behavior of the A12-50 camera unit. The new focusing approach was also applied to the A12-28 camera unit, which was released shortly after the release of the firmware update. Ricoh listed a total of 11 items that had been improved in this update, some of them, however, just changed the behavior that had been introduced with the previous firmware update.

Again, it offered 11 enhancements, some of which were also of cosmetic nature to me:

  1. Addition of "Screen Magnification Position Movement" when shooting: The magnification position of the shooting screen display can now be moved together with the AF/AE target movement or macro target movement. Supported in both auto focus and manual focus modes. (Macro target movement is only supported on units equipped with macro mode.)
  2. Addition of 3 handy magnification ratios for the focus check function: You can select the magnification ratio from 2:1, 4:1, and 8:1 in the shooting screen.
    Additionally, you can register the magnification function to the Fn1 or Fn2 key.
  3. Addition of "spot AF, macro AF area selection": You can choose from normal or pinpoint AF area size when Spot AF is selected or when shooting in macro mode. (Only spot AF is available when GR LENS A12 50mm F2.5 MACRO is used.)
  4. Addition of "ADJ key and Fn key registration function" when changing the aspect ratio: You can now register the aspect ratio change function to the ADJ, Fn1 and Fn2 keys.
  5. Addition of "key custom setting initialization" function: Key custom settings can be returned to their initial values.
  6. Addition of "My Setting delete" function: You can return the registered settings in the My Settings BOX and mode dial to the initial values.
  7. Addition of "Shutter half-press confirm" function in the DIRECT screen: You can confirm setting changes in the DIRECT screen by half-pressing the shutter.
  8. Exif2.3 support: Exif2.3 is now supported.
  9. Addition of "Noise Reduction AUTO": You can now automatically adjust the noise reduction effects on the camera using the AUTO function.
  10. Macro AF Distance Limitation: When macro shooting using the GR LENS A12 50mm F2.5 MACRO, you can now select the shooting distance (distance within which the auto focus can focus) from 7-14cm or 12-30cm to provide overlapping distance ranges.
  11. AF Acceleration: The autofocus control drive system has been improved and accelerated. In association with this change, the AF mode (QK-AF and FR-AF selection mode) in the set up menu has been deleted. (When GR LENS A12 50mm F2.5 MACRO is used)

Again, I boldfaced those enhancements that are the most useful ones for me, but I did not use the pin point spot AF up to now.

The most important enhancement is, of course, the improvement of AF speed and the deletion of the Quick AF mode, which only complicated matters. Insiders speculate that Ricoh double the speed at which information is being read out of the sensor (a technique that Panasonic seems to use). But I am still not sure, whether the sensor really permits this. I asked my Ricoh contact about this but did not get an answer yet.

The second important enhancement is that the macro ranges now overlap, which makes focusing a lot easier. However, I thought about returning to only one macro range, which would make focusing even easier. I tested that but have not come to a conclusion yet.

This firmware update shows Ricoh's commitment Ricoh to bring the GXR to a state that it should have had from the beginning. While a lot of Ricoh enthusiasts endured (but not all of them...), most testers criticized the AF speed in a way that prevented good review ratings. Hopefully, Ricoh and the GXR will eventually recover from the damage that was done at the GXR's release...

For details, see: ricoh.com/r_dc/gxr/firmware.html

 

Function Enhancing Update 3 (Version 1.33)

The third function enhancing firmware update appeared at the end of March, 2011, had version number 1.33, and introduced a number of gimmicks that were not really of interest to me. But I have not tried them out yet – maybe my opinion will change after that...

The third update offered 5 enhancements and one modification:

  1. New option for SCENE modes: The following 5 modes have been added to the SCENE mode: "Soft Focus", "Cross Process", "Toy Camera", "Miniaturize", and "High Contrast B & W".
  2. New option "Target Tracking" in "AE/AF Target Shift" added: "Target Tracking" has been added as an "AE/AF Target Shift" method that displays when the ADJ. lever is pressed.
  3. Reset/Cancel for "Target Shift" added: Pressing the Delete button during target shift returns the target position to the center of the image. Pressing the Delete button again exits target shifting.
  4. Enlarge display for "Target Shift" added: When enlarging a picture at playback, the picture will be magnified with centering around the position of AE/AF target shift.
  5. New option for zoom button assignment added (A12 camera units only): "Exposure Compensation" and "White Balance" can be assigned to the zoom button.
  6. Modification: Adjusted the position of date imprinting when taking a picture with the following conditions: Date Imprint On, Auto Resize zoom "On", picture size 1Mpx.

For details, see: ricoh.com/r_dc/gxr/firmware.html

 

 

Function Enhancing Update 4 (Version 1.40)

The fourth function enhancing firmware update appeared at the end of August, 2011, had version number 1.40, and introduced a number of enhancements that were introduced with the new M-mount expansion unit that appeared in September 2011.

Enhanced functions for all camera units

  1. Greater focusing precision
    1. Added the focus assist function to increase the precision of manual focusing. Two modes can be selected: strengthening (1) outlines or (2) contrast.
    2. The image can be magnified while shooting to make focusing easier in two ways: (1) Either the central part of the image can be magnified and moved with the directional pad, or (2) the magnified area can be displayed across the entire screen. The image quality for 4x and 8x magnification has also been further enhanced, particularly for the full screen mode.
    3. A menu setting allows you to reset the display magnification automatically after the picture has been taken.
  2. New aspect ratio choices for auto resize zoom: Auto resize zoom can now be used with aspect ratios 1:1, 3:2, and 16:9.
  3. Flash firing now possible when making the white balance manual setting: When setting the white balance manually in the actual shooting environment, it is now possible to make the setting while firing the flash.
  4. When making ISO AUTO-HI settings, it is now possible to define the shutter speed for changing ISO sensitivity at the same time as specifying the ISO maximum sensitivity.
  5. The electronic level can now be displayed when shooting with the self-timer.
  6. The vignetting setting for shooting with the cross process and toy camera options: You can now select from the following settings: weak, strong, and off. When the firmware update is done, the vignetting settings are initialized as follows: Cross process: Off; Toy camera: Weak.
  7. More detailed ISO sensitivity settings: In addition to the previous settings, it is now possible to select ISO-LO*, ISO 250, ISO 320, ISO 500, ISO 640, ISO 1000, ISO 1250, ISO 2000, and ISO 2500.
    *This added setting is only for the GR LENS A12 28mm and GR LENS A12 50mm camera units

Enhanced functions only for the GR LENS A12 28mm and GR LENS A12 50mm camera units

 

Function Enhancing Update 5 (Version 1.50)

The fifth function enhancing firmware update appeared in Mid-March, 2012, had version number 1.50, and introduced a number of enhancements that were introduced with the new A16 zoom unit that appeared at the end of March 2012.

Enhanced functions for all camera units

  1. AE/AF target shift in scene mode
    The photographer can now use AE/AF target shift even when shooting in scene modes such as high contrast B&W, soft focus and cross process. (AE/AF target shift cannot be used in portrait, sports, landscape, nightscape, miniaturize and toy camera modes.)
  2. ISO sensitivity setting step switching available
    The setting steps 1EV and 1/3EV can now be selected. When 1/3EV is selected, ISO settings are available at a greater level of detail than before.
  3. ISO bracketing function added
    By pressing the shutter release button once, images can be shot with a selection of three ISO sensitivity settings.
  4. Interval shooting function expanded
    A two-second setting is available to minimize shooting time between intervals. It is also possible to specify the maximum number of pictures to be shot.
  5. When manual mode is selected, ISO Auto and Auto-Hi is now available.
  6. A new function maintains the same shooting settings.
    By keeping the shutter release button pressed halfway after taking a picture, the photographer can continue to shoot with the same settings (focus, exposure, white balance, etc.).
  7. Sleep and auto power off time setting functions can now be set in one-minute units.
  8. Ability to record only the RAW image.
    The function for recording a JPEG image simultaneously with the RAW image has been expanded so that it is now possible to record only the RAW image. This is suitable for a work flow based on the premise that image finishing is to be done on a PC after shooting. Since a JPEG file is not simultaneously recorded, this option is also useful when the photographer wants to increase the number of images which can be recorded on the memory card or wants to optimize camera response time.
  9. Copyright information can be entered in the Exif information.
    Copyright information such as the photographer’s name can be entered and written to the image Exif data. The recorded information can be checked on the playback screen detailed information display.
  10. Firmware version upgrades can now be done from the menu.

Enhanced function only for the GR LENS A12 28mm, GR LENS A12 50mm, RICOH LENS S10 24-72mm, and RICOH LENS P10 28-300mm camera units

  1. Function added for saving My Settings on an SD card.
    My Settings records shooting settings for future use. The My Settings information can now be saved not only in the camera body but also on an SD card. This expands the world of photo expression by enabling GXR users to exchange their shooting settings.

Enhanced function only for the RICOH LENS S10 24-72mm and RICOH LENS P10 28-300mm camera units

  1. Bulb and time can now be selected.
    B (bulb) and T (time) can now be selected as the shutter speed in manual exposure mode. With “B,” the exposure continues while the shutter release button is pressed down, and with “T,” the shutter release button is pressed to start and end the exposure. For both, the exposure is forcibly ended when 180 seconds have elapsed.
    (In the case of RICOH LENS P10 28-300mm only, when 30 seconds have elapsed, shooting is forcibly ended.)

 

References

 

 

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24.03.2012