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12-bit vs 14-bit Raw and shadow detail

The Nikon outputs 14bit Raw files, rather than the 12bit ones produced by the Ricoh. The real-world difference this makes is minimal - the Nikon files appear to have a fraction more latitude if you push them hard (a tiny bit more information in the deepest shadows). We've tried to create images with substantially brightened shadows and the only realistic difference is a slight loss of contrast in the deepest shadows. Overall, then, in terms of image quality/flexibility the Nikon offers a theoretical benefit, but you'll rarely see the results of it.

The shots below have been processed in Adobe Camera Raw 7.4, with Blacks set to +34 and Shadows brightened to +89, to reveal detail in the shadows without degenerating into heavy-HDR creepiness. The Ricoh's green and yellow response have also been slightly adjusted to overcome the profile embedded in its DNG files, to more closely match the standard Adobe profile used for the Nikon.

The result is a pair of images with shadows that have been lifted by up to 2.5EV in places but both cameras are still showing plenty of detail in the darker areas, with no sign of noise intruding.

Ricoh GR - F8, ISO 100 - Original JPEG Nikon Coolpix A - F8, ISO 100 - Original JPEG
Ricoh GR - Adjusted Raw Nikon Coolpix A - Adjusted Raw
100% Crop of adjusted Raw 100% Crop of adjusted Raw

There's essentially nothing to choose between the two files - there's slightly more contrast (and possibly a fraction more color data) in the shadows of the Nikon file but, without being able to exactly match the tone and color response on both cameras, we can't be certain this difference really exists.

The difference that certainly does exist is that Nikon's 14-bit Raw files are significantly larger than the Ricoh's. The Coolpix A's Raw files are typically around 17MB per file, rather than the GR's 13.5MB (Which would allow you to fit over 100 more Ricoh images onto an 8GB SD card, if you were shooting Raw only).

In-camera Raw Processing

We've mentioned this in a few places in this review already, but as is increasingly common on contemporary cameras, the Ricoh GR allows you to re-process its Raw images in the camera. The GR's implementations is one of the better examples - constantly re-rendering a small preview to give you an idea of what difference your changes will make.

The Raw processing option in the camera provides an updating preview image as you tweak parameters such as white balance, brightness and noise reduction.

You can retrospectively apply any of the camera's Effects and adjust the available settings - such as tweaking the tint on bleach bypass filter or specifying where the in-focus region should appear and how wide it should be, on the 'Miniaturize' filter.

The Raw conversion process also allows you to retrospectively apply the camera's 'Effects' - a rather film-orientated selection of processing filters. (Including Cross-Process, Bleach Bypass and Positive Film).

Overall Image Quality

The Ricoh's image quality is impressive - with the lens ensuring very sharp images and the sensor giving solid image quality in a range of conditions. The camera's JPEGs have plenty in the way of detail and the noise reduction is both subtle and controllable, meaning the output can be rather good.

The Ricoh's biggest down-side is its metering - while generally good, it's perhaps too conservative - to the point that the camera can be a bit prone to delivering underexposed images (as shown in the 35mm crop images on the previous page). Although it is possible to show an on-screen histogram, we found it too small to reliably let us set the correct amount of exposure compensation to achieve optimal exposure.

The Ricoh's color response is also a touch muted, compared to the Nikon Coolpix A which, when combined with a tendency towards underexposure, makes the GR a better camera for Raw shooters than those shooting JPEGs. That said, the in-camera Raw processing option is flexible enough to allow you to tweak your images if you're away from your computer.

Default JPEG Embedded profile in DNG Adobe default profile

It's also worth noting that as you can see in the image above, the color profile embedded in the camera's DNG files isn't as attractive as the one used by the camera's JPEG engine. Reds in particular end up being presented as magenta unless you modify or choose a different profile.
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Comments

Total comments: 36
white shadow
By white shadow (1 week ago)

If you want to walk the temples of Kyoto in Japan all day for a few days you would need to carry a Ricoh GR instead of a DSLR. It would be ideal to pair it with the Lumix GM1 with its kit lens and the Lumix 45-150 f/4-5.6 lens.

Anything more would be a burden. The performance of this combo would not let you down.

0 upvotes
Fotogeneticist
By Fotogeneticist (1 month ago)

Here's the advantage most people don't notice:
Flash sync speed: 1/2000 sec!!! This means you can use fill flash in bright daylight without a neutral density filter! You can capture things no other camera can. This is better than every professional D-SLR on the market. And with the standard hotshoe (unlike my Nikon V1), you can do some off-camera flash using a wireless transmitter like a Pocket Wizard. This is a professional's tool. Perhaps once my Nikon V1 dies, I'll get one of these.

0 upvotes
nand0
By nand0 (1 month ago)

I really felt in love with this camera only by reading this post, and watching reviews on youtube..

I'm really curious how pictures look with the wide-angle lens (the GW-3)
Does anyone know where I can find some example pictures with and without the lens?

I found one site with examples: http://www.openphotographyforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17653

But it would be nice if there is a site with more examples.. maybe on flickr? can somebody help me out?

Many thanks in advance!

Nando

0 upvotes
aatom
By aatom (2 months ago)

Does the GR have Neck Strap Lugs?

0 upvotes
Scottelly
By Scottelly (3 months ago)

For this price it should have GPS, wi-fi, a fold-out screen, and weather seals. Yes, I know there are cameras in the price range that don't have such features . . . but I wouldn't buy one of those either.

0 upvotes
Wira Nurmansyah
By Wira Nurmansyah (5 months ago)

I write my personal review on Ricoh GR when traveling to Raja Ampat, Indonesia. You can see them here http://www.wiranurmansyah.com/ricoh-gr-all-the-camera-i-need

6 upvotes
john Clinch
By john Clinch (3 months ago)

Thanks I really enjoyed your review and photos

0 upvotes
vessy
By vessy (2 months ago)

Thank you Wira for your great Ricoh GR review!
Clear and helpful.
And very nice pictures too :)

0 upvotes
nand0
By nand0 (1 month ago)

Love your blog, full of joy and beautiful pictures, one day I will travel just like you because it looks awesome!

0 upvotes
white shadow
By white shadow (1 week ago)

You have highlighted some of the best features and capabilities of the GR in your blog. It is indeed a travel photographer's camera. Few cameras this small can out-perform it for image quality, ease of use and stealthiness. The positive film mode with your settings has even made the camera more outstanding. The B&W mode is also a joy to use.

Like I am, you are really enjoying this little gem.

0 upvotes
Chimayred
By Chimayred (7 months ago)

hey can anyone explain how the GR and the RX100 both earned 79% in the enthusiast large sensor compact camera class but the GR is a gold award and teh sony is a silver?

0 upvotes
Almeida
By Almeida (7 months ago)

The gold and silver award are not related to the score of the camera.

1 upvote
eng13
By eng13 (9 months ago)

Can someone give some pros and cons of the Canon S110?
Thank you

0 upvotes
CarVac
By CarVac (8 months ago)

I have experience with the S90, not the S110, but here's my impressions:

The S series is a good deal smaller, and it has the lens ring. It's very easy to learn how to use. It's cheaper. It has image stabilization, and oh yeah, it zooms.

The GR mops the floor with the Powershot S cameras in sharpness and low light image quality, and it has customizable buttons for insta-access.

However, it takes a while to learn all the tricks of the GR. I'm going on a week with a rented GR and I just figured out a new hidden way to access manual focus. Now I don't have to deal with modes anymore: flip the switch to continuous and I can track with the backbutton; flip to af-lock and it locks AF and enables MF when I hit up, and in the normal mode I can autofocus normally and snap-focus. Everything I want from the focusing system without menu diving.

And then there's dynamic range. I am ecstatic with the shadow recovery ability of this camera.

1 upvote
esketores
By esketores (9 months ago)

I've been using a GR III since they came out. Worth it to update? I've been looking the Fuji X100S but fail to find it worth the extra $$$. The sensor sizes are similar. Etc.
However the GR beats the snot out of the Fuji when it comes to macro. Anyone done side by side comparisons?

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
esketores
By esketores (9 months ago)

The macro statement is inaccurate. My GRIII beats the snot out of both the GR and the X100S.

0 upvotes
CarVac
By CarVac (9 months ago)

The more I read about this camera, the more I want it.

And so I have a rental one coming tomorrow for evaluation purposes.

2 upvotes
LichtFan
By LichtFan (9 months ago)

I think it is too narrow to always call the Ricohs "street shooter". Although it is true and valid, the Ricohs are much more...

Really nice configurable cameras that are good for any job within its limits. I use the GRD 4 and really enjoy it. And I rarely shoot street photos.

2 upvotes
pitaw
By pitaw (10 months ago)

Looks like a nice small street camera...but I called around Orange County CA and no dealers have it, I like to see how it feels in my hands.

0 upvotes
regardlese
By regardlese (10 months ago)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/regardlese/tags/ricoh/

1 upvote
regardlese
By regardlese (10 months ago)

fantastic RICOH GR!
28mm-35mm-47mm

0 upvotes
marco1974
By marco1974 (10 months ago)

Ugh!
UGLY Moiré!
M.

1 upvote
povetron
By povetron (11 months ago)

Great litlle camera, would like to have one.
But it would be nice if there could be also a version with eq of 35mm lens.

4 upvotes
bill434
By bill434 (10 months ago)

I've just bought this camera, love it. I work in a camera store so I've had time to make my decision.
I'm not sure if you know this but this camera does have a built in crop feature that allows you to select a 35mm equivalent. Basically when you select this feature the camera crops a 35mm equivalent off of the APS sensor blowing the image up to fill the LCD screen. When in this mode, the camera becomes a 10MP camera.

6 upvotes
Michael_6
By Michael_6 (11 months ago)

Could anyone tell me about the pros and cons of this camera vs a Fuji X camera and vs a Sony RX100 II for street and indoor photography? Especially in low light.

0 upvotes
bill434
By bill434 (10 months ago)

Hi Michael,
Fuji X cameras (X100, X100S and XPro 1) all are fantastic cameras - but for a street shooter they are more obtrusive than the GR. The GR doesn't look like a serious camera, so you look like someone taking snap shots. All four of these cameras are fantastic in low light. I don't know if you know this but on this site you can go to the review of one camera (in the GR review it would be page 15) and look at a low light comparison. The photo has a cursor so you can move to anywhere on the page - select cameras to compare in raw or jpg,
The RX100 II is a great camera but I would have to say that it's unfair to compare it to the others mentioned here, as the sensor is about one quarter the size of the others. This means, that while the RX100II has high resolution, its pixels are much smaller in size, so they don't perform as well in low light. You can use that comparison page to check this.
BTW, I work in a camera store, and I've just bought the GR for street shooting.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (10 months ago)

Street photo with 18mm lens.... Somehow I'm not tempted.
I would buy this camera right off if it'd come with 50, 35 or heck: even 24mm lens. But 18? I can't imagine myself shooting wide angle all the time.

0 upvotes
likeafoxow
By likeafoxow (10 months ago)

the 18.5mm lens is on an apsc sized sensor, making the lens a 28mm full frame equivalent.

8 upvotes
Old Baldy
By Old Baldy (8 months ago)

Check the image quality compared to the other cameras on Page 16 of the Review "Image Quality Compared (Raw)." The GR trounces the others, including the aclaimed X100S at every ISO level. It really is a great little camera!

0 upvotes
bill434
By bill434 (Aug 29, 2013)

I work in a camera store, and I've had plenty of time to play with this camera. Over time I had lost the excitement I associated with photography. After all, I get to play with these things 8 hours a day.

I've carried big equipment, shooting everything and enjoying it less.

This camera has reawakened me to completely new possibilities. It looks like a cheesy point and shoot camera - totally unobtrusive on the street - but it shoots amazing images. This is the ultimate street shooters camera - no one will ever know.

I'm impressed with the low light characteristics of the camera and it's easily held in one hand - it has preset distances to minimize auto focus speed, ie., if most of your shots are at 15 feet, you can preset the camera giving you instantaneous AF around 15 ft.

If I were to be super critical I would rather have image stabilization in camera - but it's a small price to pay, and I'll be shooting most everything at higher IS0s (around 800)

This one I have to have.

7 upvotes
antwstldn
By antwstldn (Aug 18, 2013)

Dear Ricoh enthusiast,

I really want to buy the GR Expert. I had the GR film version and though it was a stunning camera. On the strength of it I bought the first GRD and was hugely disappointed by it's poor light handling capabilities. I've waited years for Ricoh to improve it and judging by the reviews it's getting they have finally done it. And then I look at the sample images in this review and it just reminds of what I remembered about my first GRD ... flat images, poor contrast, no real sense of depth. Does anyone agree or am I missing something?

1 upvote
JEROME NOLAS
By JEROME NOLAS (Aug 21, 2013)

Oh man!!! If you like "a cheap whore"colours then buy Nikon, Sony, Canon compacts, etc. This is not a toy for fanboys!!! Také a pics from your window, donload it and check the reality and comp. screen. Whoa!! Is it real or what!

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Artistico
By Artistico (11 months ago)

When an image from a camera is flat and has poor contrast straight from camera, it is often because the camera hasn't added any processing of its own, leaving that to you, the photographer. It's a good thing, leaving you more room to make adjustments in post-processing.

6 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Aug 14, 2013)

I like this camera after seeing the IQ compared to the Fuji-X100s and the Nikon-A. but size for size, I think I'd rather carry a Samsung NX300 with one of their several pancake lenses on it, in my pocket. Not much size difference, and you have more versatility than these cameras. Just saying.

(I have an NX20 and am only eyeing these types of cameras because I'd like something smaller to slip into my pocket to have on me at all times)

the interface is definitely a huge deciding factor between these two very similar models. I'll go for direct controls over menus any day.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 11 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
JEROME NOLAS
By JEROME NOLAS (Aug 21, 2013)

I also have NX10 and some time ago I bought 30/2 lens and it's still "big....." I cary my Ricoh all the time!!!

4 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (10 months ago)

Yea, only NX doen't fit your jeans pocket and never will - this one meanwhile does. And that's an enormous difference in the long run.

1 upvote
Total comments: 36