Unconventional and completely new, the Ricoh GXR camera system may change the way we think about the relationship between cameras and sensors. Richard Sibley examines the new system
Resolution, noise and sensitivity
Looking at the images produced by the two units, the differences in the type of sensor become very clear. Images produced by the S10 camera unit look like those produced by high-end digital compact cameras. It manages to reach around 20 on our chart, which is respectable. However, due to the severity of the noise reduction in JPEG files, this number falls to around 14 by the time ISO 3200 is reached.
The severity of the noise becomes apparent when looking at the unedited DNG files produced by the S10. Colour noise is vivid, particularly in shadow areas, and is still present when the Colour Noise slider in Adobe Camera Raw is set to its maximum.
As you would expect, the A12 camera unit with its larger APS-C-size 12.3-million-pixel sensor produces less luminance and colour noise. It is also capable of reaching nearly 26 on our resolution chart, putting it on a par with most 12-million-pixel DSLRs. Noise is virtually indistinguishable at the minimum sensitivity of ISO 200.
The in-camera noise reduction does an excellent job of producing printable JPEG files even at ISO 3200, although there is a slight softness at this maximum sensitivity.
Looking at an ISO 3200 DNG image from the A12 shows very little colour or luminance noise. Both of these are easily controlled in Adobe Camera Raw, with little reduction in detail resolution.
With the noise being so well controlled in the A12 unit, I wonder why Ricoh hasn’t tried to push the sensor further? I feel it could be capable of being pushed to ISO 6400 and still produce images that would be comparable to those found in the extended settings of some DSLRs.
Oddly, despite numerous attempts, our image analysis system has been unable to generate meaningful noise figures for the S10 camera unit, so only the A12 is included here. We will continue to investigate what is causing this unusual anomaly.
These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart and still-life scene. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution is at the specified sensitivity setting. The section of the still-life image contains the emblem on a standard-sized matchbox.