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Overall handling and operation

The Ricoh GXR with the P10 28-300mm doesn't usually feel sluggish but it's never exceptionally quick either. Power on and off times are almost identical to the S10 module and in line with rivals from the travel zoom compact camera sector. The AF is a little on the slow side but within acceptable limits. Picture browsing and magnification in review mode works very swiftly. At 4.5 fps the P10 28-300mm's continuous shooting in RAW mode) is fast for this type of camera and you can get rates up to 120 fps at reduced (VGA) resolution.

Timings & File Sizes

Timing Notes: All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 3648 x 2736 best quality JPEG (approx. 3,500 KB per image).

The media used for these tests was a 8 GB Sandisk Extreme III (30mb/s edition) SD card.

Action
Details
Time, secs
(8 GB Sandisk)
Power Off to On *1   1.8
Power Off to Shot   2.0
Shot to shot time (JPEG) Manual focus, no flash 1.7
Shot to shot time (RAW) *2 Manual focus, no flash 2.4
Power On to Off *3   1.8

*1 This is the time from turning the switch to the 'On' position to the live view display appearing on the LCD monitor.
*2 This measurement is for a RAW + VGA size JPEG file. The GRX does not offer the option to shoot RAW only.
*3 This is the time from when the switch is set to off till the status LCD going blank.

Performance

To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/500 sec, F3.5), ISO 100.

The tests carried out below measured the following results for JPEG and RAW:

  • Frame rate - Initial frame rate, this was 4.5 fps (+/- 0.1 fps) in JPEG mode and 4.5 fps in RAW + JPEG mode
  • Number of frames - Number of frames in a burst
  • Buffer full rate - Frame rate if shutter release held down after burst (buffer full)
  • Write complete - How long after the last shot before the SD lamp goes out

Burst of JPEG Large/Fine images Continuous

Timing
8 GB Sandisk
Frame rate 4.5 fps
Number of frames no limit
Buffer full rate -
Write complete 1.2 sec

Burst of RAW + JPEG (VGA) images Continuous

Timing
8 GB Sandisk
Frame rate
4.5 fps
Number of frames
5
Buffer full rate
-
Write complete
5.5 sec

Ricoh specifies the maximum continuous shooting speed of the GXR P10 28-300mm in JPEG (Fine) quality as 5 fps but the maximum we could get out of the camera was, a still quite respectable, speed of 4.5 frames per second. On a fast card there does not appear to be a limit to the number of frames - you can shoot until the memory card is full. When shooting in RAW format you get the same speed but only for five frames after which the P10 28-300mm clears its buffer for approximately 5.5 seconds. You will then have to press the shutter again in order to keep shooting. Unlike most other cameras the GXR does not keep shooting at a slower frame rate once the buffer has run full. You also cannot shoot in 'RAW only' mode. The RAW file is always accompanied by a JPEG image. You can choose the size of the latter but it does not really have an impact on the burst rate.

The P10 28-300mm lens module also offers a HI and LO M-Cont mode which records a burst of 15 images at 5 fps at full resolution or or 26 images at 30 fps (1728x1296) respectively. In Ultra-high-speed Cont mode up to 120 fps can be recorded in VGA resolution (1 second). In these modes, Instead as individual files, the images are saved into one single .MOP file. Individual frames can be extracted from this file using the supplied Irodio software. Individual images can also be viewed on the camera LCD in playback mode.

USB transfer speed

To test the GXR USB speed we transferred approximately 500 MB of images (mixed RAW and JPEG) from a SanDisk Extreme III (30MB/s edition) SD card. When the GXR is connected to a computer via a USB cable, by default the camera appears on the system as a 'mass storage device'. At 6.9 MB/sec the transfer speed is usable but a good external card reader will speed things up noticeably.

Method
Transfer rate
Ricoh GXR - Mass Storage 6.9 MB/sec
Sandisk Extreme III (using built in USB connector) 20.2 MB/sec
SanDisk Extreme III in USB 2.0 reader 11.3 MB/sec

AF speed

The P10 28-300mm autofocus speed in good light is fairly average compared to other travel zoom cameras. In decent light at wide angle the camera takes approximately 0.7 sec to lock focus. At the long end of the zoom this increases only very slightly to 0.8 sec. The focus can slow down a little further in low light (although the focus light helps in dim conditions) and/or when using the macro mode.

Like on the S10 module manual focus works by pressing the Macro button and turning the front dial. This works well and achieving focus is easy. However, it's not as fast as turning a focus ring on a manual focus lens. The P10 28-300mm's manual focus is therefore more suitable to macro or landscape work on a tripod rather than more fast paced photographic environments.

Battery life

The manual states 320 shots (CIPA) battery life for the GXR's DB-90Li-Ion battery pack when the P10 28-300mm lens module is attached. We found we could approximately reach this number with not too much image browsing or other screen-intensive tasks. Obviously the exact number of shots you can get out of a charge will depend on all sorts of parameters and circumstances but if you shoot a lot during a whole day it might be a good idea to bring a spare battery. For those who are using the GXR in reach of a power socket there is also an optional AC adapter (AC-5) available.

Image Stabilizer

With Ricoh P10 28-300mm's maximum equivalent focal length of 300mm image stabilization is a must-have feature. The camera module stabilizes its image by shifting the sensor. Let's see how the system fares in our test.

The stabilization test

Twenty hand-held shots were taken of a static scene, half of those with stabilization, half without, the shutter speed was decreased by a stop and repeated (from 1/400 sec to 1/13 sec). The zoom lens was set to the maximum tele setting (producing a 300 mm equiv. FOV), the test chart was 3.5 m away from the camera. To exaggerate the effect of camera shake the camera was only supported with one hand.

The resulting 100 images were then inspected and given a blur score from zero to three where zero represented a very blurred image and three a sharp image with no noticeable blur (see crop examples below). Obviously the amount of blur which is acceptable will depend on your personal taste and the final image size (for instance a '2: Soft' will still look fine as a 4x6 print or in a web gallery). Example crops from these four blur scores can be seen below.

0: Very blurred 1: Blurred
2: Soft 3: Sharp

Hand-held, no stabilization (300 mm equiv.)

With no stabilization we still get 100% sharp shots at 1/400 but then the hit rate decreases pretty rapidly as we reduce the shutter speeds. We could not get any sharp shots at all at 1/100th of a second and couldn't be guaranteed to at least get a usable shot at 1/25th.

Hand-held, with Shake Reduction (300 mm equiv.)

The P10 28-300mm's image stabilization system works very efficiently and generates an advantage of somewhere more than 2 stops. At 1/50 we still get 50% sharp shots and 90% usable shots. At even slower shutter speeds the hit rate drops quickly but even at a a shutter speed as low as 1/13 we still get 2 usable shots out of 10.

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