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Color reproduction

Here you can see a generated GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart, place your mouse over any of the labels below it to see the color reproduction in that mode. Select a camera/setting combination from the 'Compared to' drop-down to comparative boxes inside each patch.

As we've seen in other reviews the standard hues are quite similar to many other cameras in this class, with minor saturation and brightness differences but essentially the same color response. All in all, at default settings the GXR is slightly on the vivid side. Switch the image mode to Natural if you prefer things a little more muted.

Ricoh GXR (A12) Compare to:  
      
      
      
      
StandardNaturalB&WB&W(TE)
VividAdobeRGB

Artificial light White Balance

The GXR's white balance performance under artificial light, with the standard settings, is not brilliant. Images taken with both the Auto WB modes under incandescent and fluorescent light show fairly strong color casts. The good news is that Ricoh gives you all the tools you need to get your white balance 100% right. There is of course a manual white balance setting and white balance compensation can be accessed from the shooting menu.

The GXR also features a new white balance Auto mode for mixed light situations - Multi-P. When used under a single light source it delivers pretty much identical results to the standard Auto mode but when used under mixed light it is supposed to equalize white balance across the frame. See below for test results.

Incandescent - Auto WB
Red: 6.6%, Blue: -6.4%, Average
Incandescent - Multi-P Auto WB
Red: 6.4%, Blue: -6.4%, Average
 
Incandescent - preset WB
Red: 10.0%, Blue: -11.8%, Poor
 

Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: 6.6%, Blue: -10.8%, Average
Fluorescent - Multi-P Auto WB
Red: 7.1%, Blue: -11.7%, Average
 
Fluorescent - preset WB
Red: 4.5%, Blue: -1.8%, Average
 

We first tested the new mode with our usual test charts illuminated by a tungsten light on one side and a fluorescent tube on the other but could not really spot a difference between the standard auto mode and Multi-P. The usefulness of the new mode becomes much more obvious with the setup you can see below. We used fill flash to light the 'model' in the foreground while the background is illuminated by two tungsten lights.

When using the standard Auto mode the camera corrects for the tungsten lights and the model ends up with a blueish color cast. In Multi-P mode the whole image is a little warmer but crucially the hues in the face are much more in line with the rest of the frame. As a next step you could now use white balance compensation for perfect whites. All in all Multi-P is a useful addition to the standard white balance modes. It can help in mixed light situations and there's no harm in leaving it on all the time.

Mixed light - Auto WB
Mixed light - Multi-P Auto WB

Flash

The GXR's flash performance is generally decent but the metering does occasionally require some manual intervention, especially when the subject distance is small. White Balance is a little warm which gives flash portraits a more flattering look. Fill-flash works pretty well and benefits from the new Multi-P white balance mode (see above). Ricoh also offers the GF-1 external flash unit which can be mounted on the GXR's hot-shoe.

Overall Image Quality / Specifics

Fortunately we can keep this section fairly brief. There simply aren't any specific issues or problems to report on. The GXR with the A12 50mm camera module delivers very good image quality in almost any shooting situation.

In good light and at default settings the out-of-camera JPEGs show very good detail and pixel level sharpness, combined with natural colors and tones. The measured dynamic range is very high and the real-life shots show good shadow detail and a smooth highlight-roll-off. The very positive impression does not change when looking at the A12 50mm's output at higher sensitivities. Ricoh has found a very good compromise between noise reduction and retention of fine detail. The visually very unattractive chroma noise is battled with a heavy hand while some grain-like luminance noise gives the images a slightly film-like look. If you're happy with the GXR's default colors and tonality there's not really a need to play with any of the image parameters.

The metering doesn't leave anything to complain about, it is usually spot-on, even in high-contrast situations. From F2.5 to F3.5 you cannot use the maximum 1/2000s shutter speed (at F2.5 only 1/1000) which can in sunny conditions lead to overexposed images at those apertures. This is due to the construction of the shutter (the shutter and aperture blades are pretty much one and the same mechanism). In most scenarios this is not a problem but it's probably worth knowing.

The sensor and the Ricoh JPEG engine are doing a very good job but we should not forget to mention the excellent lens which is contributing its fair share to the camera's image quality. It displays excellent corner-to-corner sharpness, almost from wide open. If you look very closely at RAW files you'll find the tiniest amount of lateral chromatic aberration towards the edges of the frame but this is being eliminated in image processing and is not visible in the JPGs. There is also the smallest amount of distortion; it's measurable but not really visible (note the GXR's distortion correction option does not work with the A12 50mm module).

All in all, thanks to its tried and tested sensor (a very similar model is used on a variety of DSLRs and other cameras in the market), it's well-engineered image processing and the excellent lens the Ricoh GXR with the A12 50mm camera module arguably delivers the best image quality of all mirrorless cameras we've seen so far.

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