Monday, August 20, 2007

$600 Oh Crap!

I've been getting along a little better with my little Ricoh GX100, though I admit not to doing a whole lot of photography in the last couple weeks. Yesterday when a friend and I went out to do a little exploring around Astoria though I left all my other cameras in the car in threw the GX100 in my new little P&S photo bag I got to sling over my shoulder. I had been keeping it in my pocket but it was a little bulkier then I liked and I didn't like how it dirt and dust would collect on it while in my pocket and how it would get wet with sweat if I was hiking or something. I found a nice, small, cheap bag that fit the camera perfect and had a second little pocket for extra batteries and an SD card or something. When I was looking for bags I specifically got one with a zipper because I didn't like how noisy the velcro ones were; especially if I'd be in a quiet place.

So anyway we're out galavanting around the sea shore and we walked out on this rickety old dock. As I jumped across a sunken spot in the dock and landed on try boards I noticed something black flying through the air out of the corner of my eye. I was confused as to what it could be but just after the “splash” in the water there was no mistaking the black shape of my $600 GX100 as it slid out of site down into the murky water. I was stunned for a second, not really understanding what had happened, but I hit my belly on the dock and stuck my arm into the water up to my shoulder where I'd last seen the camera. As I was sticking my hand down as quick as I could I was thinking how poor my chances were. Even if I could reach the camera on its way down I was afraid that I'd just bump it and not actually get ahold of it. The water was awful cold and I was wondering how deep I could dive.

Miraculously enough my finger tips felt the wrist strap as I reached as far as I could and they got a positive lock on it! I drug the camera to the surface where I quickly pulled the battery and memory card before rinsing it off with fresh water. We turned the floor vents of the car to heat and let the camera sit in the warm, dry air to hopefully dry off.

When I woke up this morning I looked over the camera and from the outside it looked just fine. I slipped the card and battery back in the camera and powered it up. The lights came on and the LCD panel lit up, but it was displaying the “please remove lens cap” warning even though the lens cap was off; then lens must be stuck! I gave the camera a couple sharp taps on the steering wheel hoping to knock something loose and the lens extended just like it's supposed to. Everything was looking pretty good except that when trying to compose a picture the LCD screen remains black. It's not that the LCD is failed or not able to light up, it's just that either the sensor isn't recording any information or no light is getting through the lens. I'm thinking it might be that no light is getting through as the camera isn't able to focus either (you can hear focus hunting and unable to lock). I did take a picture and the camera recorded a nice black frame to the SD card.

Looking into the lens I can see a few water spots inside, I wonder if the shutter isn't stuck shut? Either way it's not looking too good. Maybe I'll get lucky and it will dry off some more over the next couple days and work normally but who knows what damage might be done or how long the camera will last until other things start to fail. I can't imagine water spots in the lens will do any favors to image quality either.

Oh well, at least it makes a good story. I'll probably end up contacting Ricoh and seeing if anything can be done for it. If it can't be repaired then I'll have a tough decision to make as to whether to replace it with another GX100 or a different camera. I'm still not totally convinced the GX100 is worth $600, but there's really not anything else that size that I'd want that could take its place either. Decisions, decisions!

Looking at my little camera bag it was obvious what had happened, the zippers for both compartments were open. I never leave the compartments unzipped when the camera is in the bag, so how could this happen? What happened was that I must have reached down to zip the bag without looking and grabbed the wrong zipper. So instead of zipping up the camera I unzipped the little accessory pouch; allowing the camera to come flying out when I jumped. It looks like that bag was by far the worst $10 I ever spent. Guess I should have gone with velco.

Today I downloaded the few pictures from the Ricoh that were on the memory card. To the left are the last two pictures I took with the camera before it went into the drink. Oddly enough they show my frustrations with the camera. Both pictures are of the same scene, from the same distance, with the exact same camera settings (I was shooting in Manual); the only difference is vertical vs. horizontal. I focused on the same spot and the shutter speed was plenty high at 1/1000 to keep camera movement from being an issue; yet the vertical shot is definitely a lot sharper then the horizontal shot. So much so that it's pretty apparent in a 700 pixel web image. I don't really think either of them look all that sharp though.

Somewhat fitting I guess.


Julio F said...

A camera, even digital, in fresh water is not necessarily a disaster. They have high impedance circuits that stop working with even a bit of humidity inside. I would say you have a 50 % chance. Try the Ricoh dealership and cross your fingers. Good luck!

phule said...

I'm just curious, what sort of post-processing, in terms of sharpening, have you been doing with the Ricoh images? Considering that it along with the G7 are my top choices for high-end P&S, I'm trying to gather some information :)

Alan said...

I've been shooting RAW with it for the most part and have been giving in the same sharpening as I give all my web images that come from my DSLR. I run them through an action that sharpens something like 75/1/1 if I remember right for the web.

I haven't done a whole lot of playing around with sharpening but they didn't seem any sharper when I'd shoot JPEGs which were sharpened by the camera AND by me in the action.

I've never used one so I can't really even compare it but I would have taken the G7 without a doubt if it wouldn't have been for the wide angle lens of the GX100.