Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ricoh GR: Why Use Custom Setting Mode?

Ricoh GR D IV: 1/270th sec F/1.9 @ ISO 80, Bleach Bypass. MY3 Setting custom profile.

Do you own a Ricoh GR-D IV Digital camera? How about the new GR, or any of the older models? Have you taken advantage of the custom settings features? Did you know you can control more than just ISO, shooting mode and your image settings? How about your focus distance? How about customize your jpegs image setting? I was too lazy to go through all the features until recently; and I thought I would share with you how powerful this feature can be for those with specific shooting needs. 

Although I'm going of the custom function features of the older Ricoh GR-D IV, much of this applies to the latest GR (and the older versions as well) with some differences.

First of all, we need to know the difference between global settings, and custom function settings. When you are in P,A,S,M (program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual), you can set global settings, that won't change even when you change into different shooting modes. Like most cameras, you can set 30-50 different settings that are global. However, when you switch to a customized setting, most cameras will only allow 12-18 of these global settings to be set, and the rest will still remain global. 

A good example is focus. Most cameras will keep focus mode as global, so if you have the camera in manual focus while in P-mode, and you switch to your custom setting, it will still remain in manual focus. It won't allow focus to be a custom setting. The Ricoh GR will not only allow you to use focus as a programmable custom function, you can actually set the exact focus distance in manual mode. For example, I created "My1" setting for street photography. I have it on manual focus at exactly 2 meters, and I also have it set to manual exposure mode, and I have picked 1/640th sec and F/4 as my exact exposure when I go into "MY1". That's pretty powerful.

How many global settings does the GR-D IV allow you to save when in a custom MY mode? It allows you to save and control around 40 distinct functions!! I say around because some functions allow you to create multiple custom functions within a single function, which is amazing. 

For example, the GR D IV has 2 customizable function buttons on the back, Fn1 and Fn2 (the new GR has a third "Effects" button on the side). The camera allows for 4 different sets of Fn1 and Fn2 settings, and you can easily scroll between the 4 sets (this feature has been removed on the new GR, although I don't know why). You would assume this would be a global setting; so no matter if you're in PASM, MY1, MY2 or MY3, the custom function buttons 1 and 2 would remain the same. Nope. Each MY setting can have it's own 4 sets (or total of 8 settings per MY setting) separate from the global setting, for a total of 32 different custom settings for the Fn buttons!! Of course, you also have the option of keeping the global Fn button setting to be the same in all 3 MY settings as well (the same goes for custom white balance adjustment). 

Let's use my own personal setting for MY1 custom mode as an example of what you can do with Ricoh's powerful custom modes.

Ricoh GR D IV's customizable setting for MY1:

01.Name: Street BW Zone Focus (attach any name, number or whatever you want)
02.Switch Shooting Mode: Manual
03.Aperture: F/4.0
04.Shutter Speed: 1/640th sec
05.Picture Quality/Size: 9mp 3:2 F
06.White Balance: Manual
07.White Balance Compensation: A:0, G: 0
08.ISO Setting: ISO 400
09.Image Setting: Black & White (customize sharpness and contrast specific to this mode)
10.Macro Mode: Off (if ON, remember you can choose the exact distance for macro)
12.Manual Focus Distance: 2 M
13.Snap Focus Distance: Auto (access the external focus sensors when Full Press Snap is ON)
14.Full Press Snap: On (instead of 1/2 press, press shutter all the way down to access 2nd function)
15.Pre-AF: Off (turn off external focus sensors, use only sensor based autofocus)
16.Exposure Metering: Multi
17.Self-timer: Off
18.Custom Self-Timer: 2Pics, 5Sec.
19.Continuous Mode: Continuous
20.Auto Bracket: Off
21.Dynamic Range Compensation: AUTO
22.Flash Mode:Manual Flash
23.Flash Exposure Compensation: 0.0
24.Manual Flash Amount: 1/16
25.Flash Synchro Settings: 2nd Curtain
26.Noise Reduction: Weak
27.Noise Reduction ISO: Over ISO 801
28.Date Imprint: Off
29.Fn Button Pair Setting:
          Setting 1: Fn1 Auto Bracket/ Fn2 ISO (global setting for Fn1 is WB, but this mode is B&W))
          Setting 2: Fn1 Flash Comp./ Fn2 Flash Amount
          Setting 3: Fn1 SnapFocusDist./ Self-timer
          Setting 4: Fn1 Multi Exposure/ Fn2 Image

30.Fn Button Pair Switching: Setting1 (use the first pair as my default pair of Fn buttons)
31.ISO Auto-High Setting:1600, Auto
32.ISO Step Setting: 1/3EV
33.Optional AF Distance Display: On
34.Level Setting: Off
35.Grid Guide Display Options: 9 box grid
36.Shooting Info. Display Frame: Off
37.Digital Zoom Image: Normal
38.DISP. Mode:Histogram Mode (GR has 5 different display modes, including Monitor Off)
39.Camera Shake Correction:On
40.Move Target Setting: AF (AF priority when shooting moving target)
41.Target Zoom Play: On

As you can see, that's a lot of options. You can quickly access your 3 'MY Settings' on the main top dial, but wait, there's more! The camera also allows you to save 12 custom profile settings in camera, another 6 on your memory card, and the 3 already stored in MY settings, for a total of 21 custom profiles!! Each custom profile can have its own title (up to 32 characters long) like "Streetphoto B&W ISO 80 man focus" or "Bleach Bypass ISO 400 16x9 AV", making it easy to remember what the purpose for the custom profile was in the first place. 

It's easiest to create the custom profile first in "My Setting Box", always remember to title it (it will give the date as the default title), and then when you need it, move the profile into your MY custom setting on the main dial. I thought I'd only want 3 custom profiles, but after playing with it, I realized it's faster to change custom profiles than digging into the main menu and scroll through all the options to change a few features. Right now I have 3 street photography profiles set up while I'm walking around. But when I go indoors, if I want to shoot artistic images, nature images, or if I'm out with my wife, then I'll want 3 different profiles.

Ricoh GR D IV. 1/500th sec F/3.5 @ ISO 400 in MY1 setting (above set-up)

As you can see by the above picture, MY1 setting (street photography) worked out pretty good. I just stepped out from eating lunch with my buddies, and my camera was in AV mode and colour and ISO 800. As soon as I stepped outside, I quickly jumped into my street photo profile and I was ready to shoot. No thinking involved. I adjusted the exposure from it's standard setting, but since the GR has separate dials for both shutter speed and aperture, it was quick to do so. 

I could go into further detail into custom profile settings, but I'm pretty exhausted explaining, and I'm sure you're also pretty tired just reading. Once you get the hang of it, it's a pretty powerful feature. Get creative with your 18 profiles. Create a profile for specific people (wife, girlfriend), specific places (concert, beach, mom's house), or specific shooting settings (food, pets, window displays). If you have any questions please comment below, or email me. I'll be happy to help. I'll have more Ricoh GR tips in the future. Happy shooting!

P.S. I will be doing a separate article on custom settings for the new GR-V. Although many of the features are similar, there are some significant differences as well.

Check out my full review of the Ricoh GR-D IV

Check out my full review of the new Ricoh GR (V)


  1. Nice post! Can you give short descriptions of what your other my settings are? Even mention a few major settings would be great! I just got a GR and am trying to decide how to set it up.

    1. I just realized this post is about the GR IV. Does the bigger sensor and slightly slower lens change what you choose as My settings?

    2. Hi there, there's very little difference in terms of set-up between the GR-D IV and the new GR. The GR has a few newer features, but the menu and OS is basically the same.

      In terms of what I would use for My Settings in the GRD IV and the new GR, it would be the same.

      Street Mode Zone Focus: set higher ISO, set to manual focus and pick 2-3M distance, choose AV mode with aperture set at F/4-6.7 (probably smaller for GR since depth of field is less)

      Street Mode Low: same setting as above but use a lower ISO 80 for brighter days.

      Bleach High ISO: Bleach Bypass JPEG but adjusted setting with strong vignetting added, ISO 800, snap focus mode at 2.5M

      Manual LOW: manual exposure mode, ISO 80, manual focus set at 2.5M, picture quality JPEG (although with new GR I would use both RAW and JPEG fine)

      I also have slight alterations of regular AV and M mode by adjusting jpeg white balance and custom Vividness, Contrast and Sharpness settings (low settings on all) and custom hue.

      Once you set up your camera and like the setting, immediately save to your My Settings by registering your settings. Make sure you name it so you'll remember what the settings are. Have fun...

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