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Compared to...

Studio scene comparison (higher sensitivities)

We've already looked in detail at the Ricoh GXR/A12 50mm's high ISO performance in our noise section of this review; here we're just taking a quick look at how it compares to the Leica X1, Canon G11 and Panasonic GF1 (at their default settings) when shooting our studio setup at higher ISO settings - particularly in the shadow areas.

ISO 800

Ricoh GXR/A12 50mm
Leica X1
Canon G11
Panasonic GF1

ISO 1600

Ricoh GXR/A12 50mm
Leica X1
Canon G11
Panasonic GF1

ISO 3200

Ricoh GXR/A12 50mm
Leica X1
Canon G11
Panasonic GF1

At ISO 800 all cameras in this comparison show first signs of noise but the approaches towards noise reduction are very different. Out of the contenders on this page the Ricoh has arguably found the best balance between reducing noise and retaining fine detail. As you climb up the ISO range luminance noise (grain) naturally increases but good detail and color are preserved up to the maximum setting. The levels of visibly chroma (color) noise are very low and there is crucially also no pattern noise.

The Leica X1 is not too far off the Ricoh but loses some color and contrast at the highest sensitivities. There is also more noise visible in the image but all in all the two cameras' high ISO image characteristics are not too dissimilar. The Micro Four Thirds Panasonic GF1 cannot quite keep up with the two APS-C sensor cameras and from ISO 1600 upwards produces visibly more luminance noise. The Panasonic image is very grainy but on the upside manages to retain relatively good detail. The Canon on the other hand does the complete opposite. You'd expect its small sensor to be much noisier than the competitors but Canon mercilessly blurs all the noise away which results in very clean but extremely soft images with pretty much no fine detail at all. At ISO 1600 and 3200 it's like looking at the image through a hazy curtain.

Overall the GXR is clearly doing the best job in this comparison. Its high ISO performance is on par with many DSLRs (although those usually offer a higher maximum ISO setting) and the best we've seen so far in the (still relatively new) world of mirrorless large-sensor cameras.

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