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Compared to...

Studio scene comparison (higher sensitivities)

We've already looked in detail at the Ricoh GXR/S10 24-72mm's high ISO performance in our noise section of this review; here we're just taking a quick look at how it compares to the Canon G11, Panasonic LX3 and Panasonic GF1 (at their default settings) when shooting our studio setup at higher ISO settings - particularly in the shadow areas.

ISO 800

Ricoh GXR/S10 24-72mm
Canon G11
Panasonic LX3
Panasonic GF1

ISO 1600

Ricoh GXR/S10 24-72mm
Canon G11
Panasonic LX3
Panasonic GF1

ISO 3200

Ricoh GXR/S10 24-72mm
Canon G11
Panasonic LX3
Panasonic GF1

With its larger Micro Four Thirds sensor the Panasonic GF1 does, as you would expect, by far the best job in this comparison. There is some visible noise in its output at the highest settings but crucially the GF1 maintains much more fine detail than its small-sensor competitors. Its JPEG engine simply does not need to apply as much noise reduction to achieve acceptable noise levels.

However, despite a price tag that is pretty close to the GF1, from a specification point of view the Panasonic LX3 and Canon G11 are more obvious competitors to the GXR S10 24-72mm. The noise reduction philosophies of these two cameras are quite different. While at higher ISOs the Canon produces quite clean output by blurring all noise and fine detail away the Panasonic attempts to maintain some detail by allowing much more luminance noise in its images. What you prefer is pretty much a matter of taste.

However, the camera we're really interested in here is the Ricoh GXR S10 24-72mm. Even with noise reduction set to 'Off' the camera still applies quite a lot of it. Its noise reduction 'recipe' is located somewhere between the Canon and Panasonic. However, looking at the results, what the Ricoh ends up with is the worst rather than the best from the two approaches. The images are even softer and more blurred than the Canon but there are also a lot of unattractive blurred noise 'blobs'. Considering that at least the Canon sensor is very similar to the Ricoh's, the GXR JPEG engine is handling the captured RAW data clearly in worse way than the competitors.

All in all, with the S10 24-72mm you should try and not go higher than ISO800 if you are planning to print a display your images at larger sizes. The higher settings are still usable for smaller prints but especially at ISO 3200 you also get a lot of color noise creeping in that will be visible even at small image sizes.

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