Inside Story

Balancing between ease of use and compact to carry

photo - Koji Yokoyama
“When I review the camera now, I can't
believe that we could fit all the parts
into this small body.” (Koji Yokoyama)

Once magnesium body was turned out to be possible, the way to the Digital GR was then wide open for them. “The designers in charge of the interior part of the camera have developed the camera with a strong belief that unless it was not really compact, it was not worth named as GR,” says Mr. Yokoyama. The lens cell of the GR Digital was designed very compact but still slightly larger than that of original GR. As for the LCD display, it has to be large enough considering the ease of use, like for framing and for confirming the pictures taken. Internal space has been occupied by the parts in the order of priority of design concept.

“Ricoh had the high-density electronic packaging technology, which was utilized to make smaller sized printed circuit flexible board. And Ricoh’s past experience in designing digital cameras has helped to layout all the component parts most effectively. But for these accumulated technologies, the GR would not have been realized,” says Mr. Yokoyama. “We needed a lot of idea and device to make the camera compact, pursuing the ease of use. For example, AAA battery compatibility is a must specification in spite of the additional parts required, to secure the continuous use of the camera when the battery is dead while using outside, which is an idea to comply with the ease of use. Multiple compatibility of the battery including AC adapter is the tradition of Ricoh for ease of use. We needed to manage to make the large space for two standard AAA batteries while clearing the objectives of securing longer battery life. For this, we carefully selected parts, designed the electronic circuit board and maneuvered those parts into the space,” adds Yokoyama.

One of the functions the user favorable comment is the twin dial system. To design this, they have faced with the difficulty to design the compact system to fit into body for the maximum ease of use. Then, how does the twin dial system work, and why do they stuck to this? “When you want to set the camera to a manual mode, adjusting the shutter speed and the F-stop by the menu mode on the LCD display, you need to push the button many times in the order instructed by the camera. Therefore, it takes a lot of time to set the exposure at the manual mode. We have come out of the idea to use two dials: setting the F-stop with the front dial and the shutter speed with the rear . Thus, you can quickly adjust the exposure at the desired setting of the F-stop and the shutter speed. The twin dial system is one of the key features to secure the quick operation of GR Digital. “It was not an easy job at all, but finally we could manage to install two dials into space. It was just like playing the jigsaw puzzle, and I remember the excitement when the puzzle was finally put together,” says Mr. Yokoyama.

The shutter release button can be fine tuned.

The twin dial system is well accepted thanks to its quick access to the setting of the camera.
The twin dial system is well accepted thanks
to its quick access to the setting of the camera.

Another example of the GR legend is seen at the operation of the shutter button. “We wanted the user to feel the fun to take pictures using the camera,” says Mr. Yokoyama. For that, the touch of the shutter button is quite important. “Some say they like light touch but the others say they prefer heavier touch”. Therefore, we have studied the various factors to decide the release touch, including the spring force and the shutter stroke, etc. We have collected the advice from the professional photographers and the users, also have checked the shutter release touch of the various cameras available, to define the best,” he says. By the way, the shutter release touch can be fine tuned at the service facility to meet the various users’ feeling of the touch of the shutter release.

This kind of personal feeling is highly respected and reflected in designing the accessories such as 21mm *1 wide conversion lens with the comfortable feeling of attaching to the body. “Of course, not only the feeling but durability is required at the same time, and we have tested and designed the operating buttons to work for more than some hundreds of thousand times”. This way, the satisfaction you can only learn after using the camera is made possible by the persistence of the designers to the camera worth to be called the successor of the GR.

  • *1:35mm film quivalent

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