With fixed-lens compacts like the Ricoh GR, the image quality is determined just as much by the lens as the sensor. As it happens Ricoh has a long history of putting superb optics in its premium compacts, dating right back to the original film GR1 from 1996, and the GR's 18.3mm 1:2.8 optic continues in this tradition. Indeed the lens has no obvious flaws, and crucially it's at least a match for the Coolpix A's in every respect. The only clear differences between the two are that the GR's is a bit sharper in the centre at larger apertures, while exhibiting lower vignetting: click here to compare the two in our lens data widget.
Note: it's not possible to determine the T-stop for a fixed lens camera, so this number is not displayed.
|Sharpness||Sharpness results are hugely impressive. The centre of the frame is exceptionally sharp at F2.8, and while the corners don't reach quite the same giddy heights, they're still very good indeed. There's barely any improvement on stopping down, with the lens delivering exceptional results from F2.8 through to F8. Diffraction starts to soften things a bit at F11, but even F16 should be perfectly usable when extreme depth of field is required.|
|Chromatic Aberration||Lateral chromatic aberration is extremely low, and most unlikely ever to be visible in real-world shooting.|
|Vignetting||Vignetting is pretty low, at a maximum of ~0.8 stops wide open. This will rarely be noticeable or need correction in normal use.|
|Distortion||Distortion is essentially insignificant. The graph shows measurable distortion that's quite complex in character, but the grid view shows that it's unlikely ever to anything worth worrying about.|
The Ricoh will focus slightly closer than its quoted 10cm minimum working distance, allowing you to focus on objects around 9cm in front of the lens. This gives a maximum magnification of 0.23x - which, while usefully close, doesn't exactly count as Macro. However, that's probably not something you'd expect from a fixed 28mm equiv. camera.
What's impressive is how consistently the Ricoh's lens behaves at these close focusing distances. The extreme corners are a touch soft at F2.8 but improve pretty rapidly if you stop down. There's also essentially no distortion, meaning you don't have to worry about getting close to your subject with the Ricoh - it's a noticeably better result than the Nikon.
The lens test data in this review is produced in collaboration with DxOMark. Click here for the full test data and DxOMark's own review of the Coolpix A's lens, over on dxomark.com