The matrix is not nearly as complicated as it first seems.
The box mode is a great gift to the GRD user who might delve into it.
Right from the start I was saying that it was probably the greatest innovation introduced for the camera. At the same time I cautioned that it might be written off as making the camera 'too complex' by those that did not hve the patience to wrestle with its complexities. This would be a pity because the box modes are a very powerful tool.
I have tried to make it a bit easier to understand by reducing the inter-action to a matrix on a spreadsheet.
What it shows:
1) I have not fully come to grips with what its optimum settings are (this is why I have made a couple of cries for help from others for 'recipes')
2) The menu within the box settings is not in the same order as the Shooting Menu - this adds to the confusion.
3) Some linked functions are scattered about a bit in the menu - I have tried to show these links diagramatically.
4) Some items are applicable universally - if you change things in the setup menu then they apply to all settings used by the camera. eg: if you want the camera to be completely 'quiet' you need to shut down the power-on button, the AF Aux light emitter, the lcd confirmation and the lcd screen itself (not in the menu - this is done by repeatedly pressing the 'disp' button. When finished the camera can be switched on but there is no sign of life other than the extended lens and the little focus light comes on when the camera has made good focus. Perhaps these separate individual functions could be reduced to one menu item 'quiet camera' that could be accessed by each individual box setting and not something that was a universal setting. Currently a user either has to switch off everything else but the screen for all settings to get the effect. Otherwise a user has to make four seperate changes every time he switches on the camera when using it 'quietly' - and they are 'all over the place' in the menu structure.
5) When using quiet mode the user has the option of switching the 'information display mode' off or on - this also applies universally. It goes hand in hand with the quiet camera modes but if Ricoh ever updates the quiet camera function as I have suggested then this function should be a separate one but also Box-specific and not universal.
6) All items in Key Custom Settings and the Setup Menu apply accross all setup situations and are not Box-specific excepting for the curious cases of function key settings and white balance compensation. Both of these functions can be optionally switched off and on to be saved in Boxes. Why this is necessary is a bit strange. Surely even if permanently on then they can be ignored and left as standard? I think that this might be a firmware programming glitch. They were meant to be always on but left out on a limb somwhere and this is the way that they might be brought back into contention. They were included in the non-box-specific Key Custom Settings menu set and should have been in the Shooting menu set - this is just a way to incorporate them. To add a similar setting for 'quiet camera' would turn a maze into a labarynth.
7) I have only just got my mind around the Manual Focus Distance setting and I think I understand it. It is one of the effectively 'undocumented features' in the Box Editing menu and is apparently the first focal distance used when entering manual mode. If you have a fixed distance that you commonly shoot at or even if you wish to use a specific fixed distance of whatever length for a session then this is very useful. Note that you can set say 'Ski Jump Launch Distance' in a Box menu, then copy it to (say) My3 - use it then if you temporarily find the distance incorrect edit it in the My3 mode only. You can then switch your camera off and on and My3 will remember the new distance. But by copying the 'SJLD' from its box back into My3 you will reset the original focus point set.
Neat - this camera wil make us all stars if we put some effort into it.
8) The white balance compensation mentioned in 7) above is not the usual white balance compensation for variable known light sources or even a manual white balance set. This is something way deeper. You can manually fine tweak the actual colours to get the colour balance you wish and optionally chose to save these tweaked colour balances with any or all of your box setups. Deep - too deep for me at present but something I can fiddle with if ever I get bored ..
I could go on ... but I would like some feedback - perhaps I am wasting my time and GRDIII users are really closet point'n'shooters? This camera is destined to be an even greater classic I hope that those that extract the very best from it do not get the reputation as being witch doctors who rattle a few bones and mutter secret words at the camera before they go on and produce something exquisite.
For those that see these strange menus as being just too hard I am hoping that they will persevere and that my chart might be some sort of guide to setting the camera up.
For those more experienced than I am I would like some advice as to where my proposed settings are gong astray. Well I know all about RAW - so you don't need to tell me to use RAW exclusively (smile).
As an old GRDI owner I have switched off all noise reduction and am using Auto High and on noise reduction to 1600 ISO - perhaps I am being unduly heavy-handed there and in better light some noise post processing might not be as bad as tradition would tell us?