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Video

Next to some of the competition the S10 module's movie mode looks a little outdated. Its maximum resolution of 640 x 480 pixels and lack of any manual control means it is good enough to capture a quick YouTube clip or record social situations but it cannot keep up with the HD movie modes that can now be found on many advanced compact cameras and DSLRs.

Video specification

The S10 24-72mm's video specification isn't anything to write home about. At a time when 720p HD video has more or less become a standard for upper-level compact cameras the Ricoh's VGA resolution seems a little outdated. Furthermore the recorded footage is stored in the somewhat inefficient Motion JPEG format (the files are high quality but also very large). Monaural sound is recorded via a built-in microphone, there is no connector for an external mike, nor is there a wind-cut function. Video recording is completely automatic, you cannot intervene manually.

Sizes 640 x 480 (VGA) at 24 fps
320 x 240 (QVGA) at 24 fps
Audio Mono (Internal Mic)
Format MJPEG (.AVI)
File size 1.9 MB/sec (VGA)
Max file size per clip 4.0 GB
Running time 90 min or until SD card is full

Using Movie Mode

Despite of the fairly different movie specifications of the two currently available GXR lens modules video operation is more or less the same. There is no dedicated video-button on the GXR body but you can access the movie mode pretty quickly by rotating the mode dial to the 'Scene' position. Movie mode is the default scene mode and you can start recording video immediately by pressing the shutter button. A second press of the button ends recording. While recording you cannot change any settings at all. Shutter speed, aperture and ISO are all selected automatically and you can't apply any exposure compensation either.

Before starting the recording you have to prefocus. This can be done using the AF or manually. During recording you cannot focus at all - not even manually. However, with the depth of field of a small sensor camera on the S10 module this is much less problematic than on the A12 50mm APS-C module. Optical zoom is not available in movie mode. You can use the digital zoom but we would advise against it as it is very jerky.

When you are in movie mode the shooting menu options are significantly reduced. You can set the movie quality, focus mode (for pre-focusing), white balance and white balance compensation. You cannot take a stills shot while recording a video. Like the A12 the S10 24-72mm module's movie mode is very simple and easy to use but it also does not offer any flexibility at all. It's good enough for the occasional quick clip but nothing more.

Video quality comments

The S10's VGA video output is, compared to the now ubiquitous HD modes, small with little detail. At close inspection you can also find a comparatively large amount of artifacts (often on diagonal lines) in the image. At low light the camera automatically increases sensor gain and noise and grain appear but not any more than on similar systems. We also observed a slightly staggered response to harsh changes in lighting. The transition is not as smooth as on other cameras we've seen before.

There is no connector for an external microphone and sound is recorded by an internal mic which is quite prone to wind noise. On the plus side, since the S10 uses a CCD rather than a CMOS sensor video footage does not suffer from distortion caused by a rolling shutter. The image stabilization helps keep things steady when panning.

The S10 module's small sensor does not allow for the same shallow depth of field effects you can achieve with the GXR A12 50mm module and while the footage is more or less on par with the VGA output of other compact cameras it's more suitable for spontaneous clips in social situations rather than shooting an art house movie.

Sample video 1

This video with panning was shot in 640 x 480/30fps mode in good light. Some subtle but slightly jerky shifts in exposure are noticeable. At close inspection you'll also be able to spot some demosaicing artifacts. As this video demonstrates the GXR is a little susceptible to wind noise.

640 x 480, 30 fps. AVI (MJPG) file. 12 sec. 17.9 MB

Sample video 2

This video shows the S10 24-72mm module's performance in low light.

640 x 480, 30 fps. AVI (MJPG) file. 6 sec. 8.8 MB

Sample video 3

This video shows some faster motion. Motion is smooth but the footage is slightly underexposed.

640 x 480, 30 fps. AVI (MJPG) file. 17 sec. 25.0 MB

Sample video 4

This is another video in bright condition and shows a problem that we've encountered in a number of videos. When an area of the footage is extremely overexposed (like in this video the reflection on the window of the boat) this can result in a purple vertical 'sensor-saturation-streak'.

640 x 480, 30 fps. AVI (MJPG) file. 8 sec. 11.7 MB
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