Well, I think this has to be the dumbest snake oil nonsense product I’ve seen so far this year. Being sold by the “Ding ding dong crazybtplay Store” on AliExpress, these masks claim to turn your Ricoh GR into a Hasselblad XPan.
Of course, the claim is ridiculous. But, the product aims to let you see and shoot ultra-wide format panoramic images with your Ricoh GR, GR II or GR III. It does this by placing a mask over your lens, essentially cropping at the point of capture.
How does it work?
Essentially, there’s a base ring that sticks to your camera and three magnetic masks. These masks attach to that ring to block part of the camera’s view. Obviously, this doesn’t turn your GR into a Hasselblad XPan. It doesn’t even turn it into a digital version of the Hasselblad XPan. All it does is mask the camera’s view. You’re still limited by width to the 28mm full-frame equivalent focal length.
The principle is that it allows you to see an ultra-wide panoramic-style format composition on your LCD more easily. Of course, due to physics, those masks don’t provide a solid, sharp mask. The images are still blurry on the edges where the edge of the masks covers the frame.
They also don’t actually crop the image file either. You still need to load each of your images into your image editing software you use to crop them manually. From an editing standpoint, nothing has changed. These do nothing but black out the top and bottom sections of your images with a blurry edge.
As mentioned, the goal of the product is simply a compositional aid. An aid that wouldn’t be required if Ricoh provided the option to overlay custom ultra-wide format composition masks on the LCD itself. Or if they gave you the option to specify a custom aspect ratio overlay in the settings.
It’s not a terrible thing to want to have. Other cameras offer multiple aspect ratios, and if you’re connected to an external monitor, you’re able to mask aspect ratios usually up to about 2.35:1.
The Ricoh GR doesn’t have an HDMI output – and neither do the GR II or GR III – so that’s not even an option. But even if they did, walking around with a little compact camera and an external monitor isn’t exactly a practical solution. It doesn’t make you all that inconspicuous when trying to shoot street photography – the primary intended use for the GR series cameras.
So, what’s the solution?
The obvious solution to not waste $30 on these masks is to simply use a couple of pieces of tape. One covers the top part of the LCD, while the other covers the bottom. This would give you the same effect without spending any money.
This means that you’re unable to see other important elements on the LCD. Elements like your exposure settings and how much battery life is left. But, it does accomplish the same goal, compositionally speaking.
If you don’t want to stick tape onto the back of your LCD, you could make your own masks. All you’d need to do is cut out a circular piece of paper. Then, cut a slit across the middle and stick it on the lens. This, too, would achieve the same effect.
But I’m going to go back to my previous “Buy, why?” question. Sure, it might help to make your life a little easier if you’re just starting out trying to figure out composing ultra-wide format images on your GR, but even without these, learning to see that composition becomes second nature after a little practice, even when viewing the entire LCD.
Whichever method you use, you still have to crop in post, so I’m not really seeing the point of this. It just looks like yet another photography gimmick that shouldn’t be taken all that seriously.
Price and Availability
If you’re a Ricoh GR shooter that still wants to give these a try, they’re available to buy on AliExpress. They’re listed as having a regular price of $30 but they’re currently on sale for $23.21.
It should be noted that the “device” has not been no the Ricoh GR IIIx (buy here), which has a longer 40mm full-frame equivalent field of view.
[via Pentax Rumors]