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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. Surprisingly though the S10 module produces very slightly more muted colors in all image modes than its A12 counter part.

Ricoh GXR S10 24-70mm Compare to:  
      
      
      
      
StandardNaturalBWBW(TE)
VividAdobeRGB

Artificial light White Balance

The S10 24-72mm's white balance performance is very similar to the A12 lens module. Under artificial light, with the standard settings, the results are not great. 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: 7.4%, Blue: -7.7%, Average
Incandescent - Multi-P Auto WB
Red: 7.5%, Blue: -7.7%, Average
 
Incandescent - preset WB
Red: 11.1%, Blue: -12.8%, Poor
 

Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: 4.3%, Blue: -10.3%, Average
Fluorescent - Multi-P Auto WB
Red: 4.9%, Blue: -11.3%, Average
 
Fluorescent - preset WB
Red: 4.0%, Blue: -4.0%, Average
 

Please note the test of the Multi-P WB-mode below has been taken from the Ricoh A12 50mm review as results on the S10 are near identical.

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 S10's flash performance is generally decent. As on most compact cameras the built-in flash is not very powerful but does a good job. Both sample images below are well exposed with a very slight warm color cast which is quite useful for portraits. When using fill-flash combined with high ISOs (for indoor portraits in dimly lit rooms) things got a bit more difficult and we only could get a decent exposure of the subject by dialing in some negative flash compensation.

Macro Focus

As we've seen in many previous compact camera tests the S10 24-72mm's macro mode at the wide end of the lens allows you to focus so close that it almost becomes impractical as the camera/lens ends up shading the image area (we use our backlit test chart for this shot). At the long end of the tele you can't get as close but the covered image area is virtually identical. This is unusual in so far that most compact cameras are much less efficient at the tele end of the zoom.

Image quality suffers considerably at the closest focusing distance at wide angle. Not just the corners but large proportions of the frame are becoming distinctly soft. There is also strong distortion in the image. Both soft corners and distortions are also visible at the long end but to a much lesser degree. Since you are still covering the same image area as with the wide angle setting shooting macros with the Ricoh S10 is more practical at the tele end of the zoom.

Wide macro - 24 x 18 mm coverage
146 px/mm (3708 px/in)
Distortion: High
Corner softness: High
Equiv. focal length: 24 mm
Telephoto macro - 23 x 17 mm coverage
158 px/mm (4008 px/in)
Distortion: Average
Corner softness: Above average
Equiv. focal length: 72 mm

Barrel and Pincushion Distortion

The distortion is fairly well controlled, with a noticeable 1.3% barrel distortion at the wide-angle setting and very little (0.3.%) pincushion distortion at the other end. This is very good for a wide-angle zoom lens on a compact cameral. The S10's distortion correction feature can correct distortion at the wide-angle end further to 0.3%. However, you pay for this with a slight loss of sharpness and some visible correction artifacts in the corners of the frame (see samples below). At the tele end there is so little distortion that correction does not kick in at all.

Correction Off: Barrel distortion - 1.3% at Wide angle
Equiv. focal length: 24 mm
Correction On: Barrel distortion - 1.3% at Wide angle
Equiv. focal length: 24 mm
 
Pincushion distortion - 0.3% at Telephoto
Equiv. focal length: 72 mm
 

Overall Image Quality / Specifics

In a DSLR system lenses are a vital part of the equation and have, depending on what lenses we're talking about, very visible impact on the image quality. The Ricoh GXR's interchangeable lens modules however take this impact to another level. Every lens module has its own imaging sensor, lens and JPEG processing engine, and therefore swapping them is, at least from an image quality point of view, pretty much like using a completely different camera.

While the A12 50mm lens module that we tested a little while ago comes with a sensor that can be found in many DSLRs the S10 24-72mm module features a lens and much smaller sensor with specifications that are typical for an advanced digital compact camera. As a consequence, despite of the 'serious' look and feel of the GXR body, the image results form the S10 24-72mm module are not anywhere near the A12 50mm's DSLR quality but much more in line with what we've seen from other compact cameras.

At base ISO, in good light and in scenes with good contrast the S10 is capable of producing good results that are in line with what we would expect from a decent compact camera. Having said that the camera struggles with with low contrast scenes where a lot of fine detail is blurred away by noise reduction, even at base ISO, with noise reduction set to 'Off'. Distant foliage in landscape shots is a good example for this. Converting the RAW file and applying careful custom sharpening can get extra detail out of the image but it also increases noise in uni-color areas of the image such as the sky.

The default contrast and saturation are pretty low, giving the S10 images quite a muted appearance. On most compact cameras the default output is more vivid, producing better 'out of camera' punchiness, but the Ricoh's more subtle processing means you can give the JPEGs your own treatment in post processing. A curve adjustment and some extra saturation make the S10 output look punchier straightaway and it also responds well to some extra sharpening (although by doing that you will also sharpen some of the noise).

Dynamic range is again more or less what you'd expect from a compact camera and in line with similarly specified cameras. The Ricoh's cautious approach to contrast helps control blown highlights but there is also little shadow detail in the darker image areas.

In low light and at high sensitivities the Ricoh again delivers typical compact camera output. Strong noise reduction blurs at higher ISOs most fine detail away and gives the image an overall soft appearance but at the same time also produces a large amount of unattractive 'noise blobs'. At the two highest settings purple chroma noise can also become fairly intrusive. All in all we would recommend to reserve the ISO 1600 and 3200 settings for smaller prints.

Like the A12 50mm module, due to the construction of its shutter, the S10 cannot use the fastest shutter speeds at the largest apertures. At f2.5 (wide open) 1/1000 sec is the maximum shutter speed. You'll have to stop down to f4.6. to be able to use the S10's fastest shutter speed of 1/2000 sec.This can lead to overexposures if you shoot wide open in bright sunshine, even at base ISO.

Diffraction

Like many small-sensor cameras the Ricoh S10 24-72mm is prone to diffraction at smaller apertures. On a camera with a sensor size of the S10 it is usually best to shoot with the largest possible apertures in order to avoid diffraction.

By shooting in A-mode you can obviosuly control the aperture yourself (although in bright conditions you might un into exposure problems when shooting wide open, see above) but in P-mode we have noticed that the camera occasionally defaults to smaller apertures than would be necessary. When noise reduction is then combined with diffraction the results are pretty unpleasant. The examples below are slightly extreme in so far that they could have been shot at a lower ISO (ISO 400 was set accidentally) but they illustrate the problem. The same effect, albeit less pronounced, can occasionally be observed on images taken at base ISO.

ISO 400, 1/1250 sec, f13.1 ISO 400, 1/1000 sec, f12.6
100% crop 100% crop
100% crop 100% crop
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