Compacts have their work cut out in today’s smartphone era, but premium models like the new Ricoh GR III still have their advantages. Michael Topham reviews the latest member in the GR-series
Ricoh GR III: Image quality
The Ricoh GR III was due a new sensor and the 24.2-million-pixel APS-C size CMOS chip it’s now equipped with brings it up to date. Fourteen times larger than the sensors found inside most conventional smartphones, it has considerably larger photosites and offers a a significant advantage when you’re challenged by low light conditions.
Users can confidently push up to ISO 3200 (even ISO 6400 at a push) when dark environments dictate a higher sensitivity setting. The increase in resolution means the crop modes are very useable too, especially the 35mm option, which delivers a 15MP image that’s perfectly adequate for A4/A3 prints to be made.
Ricoh GR III: Resolution
With no anti-aliasing filter, the Ricoh GR III manages to resolve excellent resolution figures from its Raw files. At its base sensitivity setting of ISO 100 we recorded 3,600l/ph, which is preserved up to ISO 400 before it drops slightly to 3,400l/ph at ISO 800.
As to be expected, the level of detail falls off at higher settings, with ISO 3200 producing a figure of 3,200lph and ISO 6400 yielding 3,000l/ph. Push beyond ISO 12800 (2,800l/ph) and figures drop rapidly to 2,400l/ph at ISO 25,600, 2,000l/ph at ISO 51,200 and 1,600l/ph at ISO 102,400.
From the crops below, multiple the number beneath the line by 200 to calculate the resolution in lines per picture height.
Ricoh GR III: ISO and Noise
The GR III delivers satisfying results straight off the bat and gives users excellent choice over the level of high-ISO noise reduction that’s applied to its JPEG images. It can be set to Auto, low, medium, or high. There’s even the option to set it to custom where you’re given the chance to set the amount of noise reduction that’s applied at each sensitivity setting. Our best results were achieved by shooting in raw, with clean, noise-free images between ISO 100-400 and just a hint of luminance noise creeping in around ISO 800.
Noise at ISO 1600 and ISO 3200 is perceptible, but by no means disastrous, and can be easily brought under control by applying a little noise reduction in post. There’s more of a noticeable drop in detail and increased luminance noise at ISO 6400, which is the upper limit I’d be prepared to push the sensitivity to on a frequent basis. ISO 12,800 could be used in an emergency, however the three sensitivity settings above these should be avoided at all costs.