Ricoh GR III review
|Out-of-camera JPEG | ISO 100 | 1/125 sec | F5
Photo by Barney Britton
Broadly speaking, the Ricoh GR III offers at least comparable pixel-level image quality to the best 24MP APS-C cameras in its class. This isn't damning with faint praise - the 16MP sensor in the GR / II was really showing its age, but the GR III's sensor on the other hand is very competitive. Ricoh's 'Std' color profile still isn't great, but a range of 'image control' picture modes offer considerable versatility for JPEG shooters.
- Modern 24MP sensor offers excellent JPEG and Raw image quality
- Noise reduction is applied to Raw files, but dynamic range is very competitive
- JPEG shooters will appreciate suite of 'image control' color modes
- Redesigned lens offers excellent sharpness across the frame
Against other 24MP APS-C cameras, we can see that the GR III easily holds its own, with excellentacross the , often resulting in . It holds up very well against the in the center of the frame, and the increased resolution of the new 24MP sensor versus the 16MP sensors of the older X70 and GR II is noticeable. And though this scene is primarily designed to evaluate image quality based on a camera's sensor - which is why we use standard lenses for each interchangeable lens system - it can be useful to get a broad idea of uniformity for fixed-lens cameras as well. You can see evidence of at outside the center of the scene.
It's worth noting that shooting our studio scene on a 28mm equivalent lens is a real 'stress test', in the sense that wide-angle lenses generally aren't well-suited for shooting flat targets at close distances. Despite this, the GR III's lens looks great.
On to noise performance: just as with detail capture against other 24MP interchangeable lens cameras, the GR III holds its own as the. At least part of this is due to noise reduction applied to the Raw at all ISO values 200 and up. As that ISO value climbs , we begin to clearly see evidence of this noise reduction on the GR III's Raw files (it's that sort of 'cross-hatching' pattern). Whether this Raw noise reduction matters to you is really, well, up to you, though it can trip up third-party noise reduction software. All cameras here start to fall apart by the time you hit .
Let's transition to the JPEGs. In terms of, the GR III looks a bit softer than the Sony and Fujifilm while still showing hints of moiré patterning from the Raw capture. The visible around these gray boxes on our ColorChecker indicates somewhat high-radius sharpening, when the camera is at its default values. In terms of in its 'Standard' picture profile, well, we have reservations. The red patch in particular is muted and skewed more magenta than we'd like, and the yellow patch is dull and slightly greenish. The is likewise desaturated. In fact, shows all colors from red-orange to yellow are muted with fairly unpleasant hue shifts.
Of course, the Ricoh GR III comes with a variety of different JPEG scene modes, of which we'll have a look at the real-world impact below.
JPEG Color modes
The GR III offers nine 'Image Control' color modes (shown below), plus 'HDR' and two user-customizable settings. Between them, they provide the JPEG shooter with an impressive amount of 'one click' control over the look of their images.
Of the five color modes, I find that 'Positive Film' works well for shooting sunny scenes (especially with a bit of positive exposure compensation) while four 'monotone' modes offer a lot of versatility in black and white, from the tonally rich 'soft' to the aggressively contrasty 'Hi'.
Raw dynamic range
As with most other cameras that have modern 24MP APS-C sensors, our ISO invariance test shows that the GR III performs very well. There isn't much of a difference between shooting a scene at the base ISO of 100 and pulling the shadows up by 5-ish stops, versus shooting at ISO 3200. For advanced users, working this way can help keep the brightest highlights you want to preserve from clipping to white and being unrecoverable.
Now on to exposure latitude, in which we use the camera's base ISO and try brightening increasingly dark exposures to see how much noise is being added in the deep shadows. Here, you can see that the GR III performs similarly in terms of noise to the Sony a6400, which also has a 24MP APS-C sensor. The color shift between the two cameras is due to the nature of these pushes in Adobe Camera Raw, and is not relevant for this test.
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