Image quality

35mm crop mode

For those occasions in which 28mm equivalent is just too wide, the GR also offers a 35mm equivalent crop mode. It's either accessed through the menus or can be applied to one of the customizable buttons.

16MP, 28mm equiv mode 10.3MP, 35mm equiv crop mode

The camera will continue to shoot Raw files even in crop mode, but those files only contain the data for the cropped region - you can't change your mind about the crop, later.

Moiré reduction

As we've already seen, the Ricoh's lens is extremely good, in just about every respect. If anything it risks being a touch too sharp - or, at least, sharp enough that moiré can occasionally creep into images shot at all but the smallest of apertures.

The camera doesn't offer the option to remove moiré at the point of shooting but it does allow you to apply one of three levels of 'Color Moiré Correction' to JPEGs or Raw files after they've been shot. The images below have been re-processed from Raw, in the camera with Moiré Correction turned all the way up to 'Strong.'

Default JPEG (100% crop) Re-processed Raw with Moiré Correction Strong (100% crop)
Default JPEG (100% crop) Re-processed Raw with Moiré Correction Strong (100% crop)

The processing is clearly pretty effective at removing moiré. Very closely comparing the files it becomes apparent that the Ricoh is reducing moiré by de-saturating edges, particularly of green and red areas. This can have unintended side-effects on the image, so it probably makes sense to make the effect optional and give some control over its intensity. That said, even looking obsessively at 100% crops only reveals the differences if you flick between the two images.

Default JPEG (100% crop) Re-processed Raw with Moire Correction Strong (100% crop)

Applying the processing to JPEGs gives results that are very similar to those gained by re-processing a Raw file in the camera. There are minor differences (and the slight increase in compression artefacts you'd expect from re-saving a re-processed JPEG) but, overall, it's a useful and fairly effective solution, if moiré ends up marring one of your images.

Bokeh

An 18.3mm F2.8 lens is never going to be the first choice when it comes to blurring backgrounds. If you're shooting anything but close-up work, the camera will only offer a little bit of background defocus. In the example below, most of the buildings are around 750m (0.46 miles) away, yet are only just beginning to drop out of focus, when the camera is focused on an object around 1.5m away.

Ricoh GR - F2.8, ISO 100 100% Crop
Nikon Coolpix A - F2.8, ISO 100 100% Crop

The Ricoh's bokeh is a touch smoother than the Nikon's but there's a distinct bright edge to the rendering of point light sources, which isn't terribly attractive.

Low light performance

As in the daylight scene, the Ricoh's colors aren't quite as punchy as the Nikon's. Specifically, its red response seems a touch muted. This is something that can be easily adjusted if you're shooting in Raw. The default noise reduction, shown here, does a good job of producing a clean result without losing too much fine detail.

Ricoh GR - F8, ISO 6400 100% Crop
Nikon Coolpix A - F8, ISO 6400 100% Crop

Focus slows down considerably in low light, but we found the Ricoh to be generally a touch faster than the Nikon. And, of course, there's the option to set 'Snap Focus distance' to a sensible working distance and use 'Full-press snap' to force the camera to your preset focus distance if the light is so low that the camera is taking too long or failing to focus.

Flash

The Ricoh has a less powerful flash than the Nikon - just Guide Number 5.4 (m/ISO 100). This limits its use a little - there's not a lot of power for use as a fill-flash in bright weather, but the camera is intelligent enough to raise the ISO to make the most of its meagre output, if you do try to use it.

Then, of course, there's a hot shoe if you do find yourself needing a more powerful flash.

The Ricoh's flash is a touch underpowered but, in Program mode, at least, the camera is intelligent enough to boost the ISO to take this into account. The results aren't unpleasant.

Dynamic Range Compensation

The Ricoh offers a Dynamic Range Compensation mode. Engaging it increases the minimum available ISO - a dead give-away that it's reducing the exposure (relative to standard mode), to capture more highlight tones, then pulling the shadows up to give the correct image brightness.

The GR offers three levels of Dynamic Range Compensation, giving 0.7, 1 and 1.7EV extra highlight capture, respectively.

Dynamic Range Compensation
Off

(ISO 100 1/60th Sec)
Dynamic Range Compensation
Weak

(ISO 160 1/125th Sec)
Dynamic Range Compensation
Medium

(ISO 200 1/125th Sec)
Dynamic Range Compensation
Strong

(ISO 320 1/250th Sec)

The three tone curves used to offer these three settings are increasingly flat - incorporating more highlight and shadow detail but with an overall loss of contrast. This is made more dramatic because the Ricoh takes the unusual step of pushing the shadows until they're brighter than they were with DRC Off.

This risks exaggerating the increased shadow noise that comes from using darker tones in the Raw file. Thankfully, at the cameras' lowest ISO setting (100/160/200/320 depending on DRC setting) there's plenty of Raw dynamic range to call upon before noise becomes a problem.