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Performance

General operation of the Ricoh GXR with the S10 24-72mm module never feels sluggish but there is room for improvement in some areas. Power on and off times are slower than on most DSLRs but in line with rivals from the compact camera sector. The same can be said for the AF. Picture browsing and magnification in review mode works very swiftly but at 1.7 fps the S10 is not the fastest in terms of continuous shooting.

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 1.0
Shot to shot time (RAW) *2 Manual focus, no flash 2.1
Power On to Off *3   2.1

*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.

Continuous Drive mode

To test continuous mode the camera had the following settings: Manual Focus, Manual Exposure (1/500 sec, F2.5), ISO 100.

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

  • Frame rate - Initial frame rate, this was 1.7 fps (+/- 0.1 fps) in JPEG mode and 1.5 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 1.7 fps
Number of frames no limit
Buffer full rate -
Write complete 0.9 sec

Burst of RAW + JPEG (VGA) images Continuous

Timing
8 GB Sandisk
Frame rate
1.5 fps
Number of frames
4
Buffer full rate
-
Write complete
3.6 sec

The GXR/S10 can shoot JPEG (Fine) files at a speed of 1.7 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 this slows down to 1.5 frames per second for four frames after which shooting stops completely. To shoot another burst you have to wait for the images to be processed first and then press the shutter button again. Unlike most other cameras the GXR/S10 does not keep shooting at a slower frame rate once the buffer has run full. On the GXR you cannot shoot in 'RAW only'. 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 S10 lens module also offers a HI and LO M-Cont mode which records a burst of 30 images at 30 fps (640 x 480) or 15 images at 1.6 fps (full size) respectively. Instead as individual files the images are then 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.

All in all the S10 24-72mm's continuous shooting is not exactly fast but faster than the Canon G11 (1.1 fps). The Panasonic LX3 does 2.5 fps in JPEG mode though.

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 S10 24-72mms autofocus speed in good light is slightly slower than the fastest Micro Four Thirds camera/lens combinations but pretty much in line with other small-sensor compact cameras such as the Canon G11. 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 slightly to 0.9 sec. The focus can slow down further in low light and/or when using the macro mode.

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 a particularly fast process. The S10'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 410 shots (CIPA) battery life for the GXR's DB-90Li-Ion battery pack when the S10 24-72mm lens module is attached. We found we could just about reach this number if image review and other non-image-taking-tasks that require the LCD screen were reduced to a minimum. 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

The Ricoh S10 24-72mm F2.5-4.4 VC 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 1/125 sec to 1/2 sec). The zoom lens was set to the maximum tele setting (producing a 70 mm equiv. FOV), the test chart was 2.0 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 (72 mm equiv.)

With no stabilization we could not get any sharp shots at all at 1/4th of a second and couldn't be guaranteed to at least get a usable shot at 1/30th.

Hand-held, with Shake Reduction (72 mm equiv.)

Image stabilization delivers visible results and generates an advantage of somewhere between one and two stops. This is not quite as impressive as some other systems we have seen but still provides a real benefit in many shooting situations. The system is quite efficient at very slow shutter speeds where it significantly increases your chances of getting a usable shot. For example at 1/4th of a second you still have a 70% chance of getting a usable shot.

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