Ricoh GR II Image Quality Comparison

Below are crops from our laboratory Still Life target comparing the Ricoh GR II to its predecessor, the Ricoh GR, as well as to some other fixed-lens cameras: the Fuji X70, Nikon Coolpix A, Panasonic LX100 and Sigma DP1 Merrill. All cameras in this group have APS-C sized sensors except for the Panasonic LX100. That camera also has a 3.1x zoom instead of prime lens like the others, but we wanted to include a camera with a smaller sensor for comparison purposes. And we choose the Sigma DP1 Merrill over the newer Quattro series because the image size is much closer to that of the Ricoh GR II.

NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera.

For those interested in working with the RAW files involved: click these links to visit each camera's respective sample image thumbnail page: Ricoh GR II, Ricoh GR, Fuji X70, Nikon Coolpix A, Panasonic LX100 and Sigma DP1 Merrill -- links to the RAW files appear beneath those for the JPEG images, wherever we have them. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Ricoh GR II to any camera we've ever tested.

Ricoh GR II vs Ricoh GR at Base ISO

Ricoh GR II at ISO 100
Ricoh GR at ISO 100

As expected, very similar image quality from the two Ricohs, as they share the same or very similar sensor and processor. We do however see minor differences in color, contrast and noise processing which are likely the result of firmware tweaks. Color is better from the newer model, and while both cameras apply strong default noise reduction in the red channel, the older one does a bit better with fine detail in our tricky red-leaf fabric whereas the newer one produces better contrast in that swatch. Both show subtle moiré patterns in the red-leaf fabric and elsewhere, thanks to the lack of an anti-aliasing filter.

Ricoh GR II vs Fujifilm X70 at Base ISO

Ricoh GR II at ISO 100
Fujifilm X70 at ISO 200

Here we compare the 16-megapixel Ricoh GR II with its traditional Bayer-filtered APS-C sensor to the 16-megapixel Fuji X70 which uses an X-Trans-filtered APS-C sensor. Both produce excellent quality images at base ISO, but there are obvious differences (and be aware that the Fuji's base ISO is higher). The Ricoh does a little better with fine detail in the mosaic crop as well as in the pink fabric, while the Fuji does better with fine detail in the red-leaf fabric and produces less obvious sharpening halos around high-contrast edges. Colors are also warmer and brighter from the Fuji X70.

Ricoh GR II vs Nikon Coolpix A at Base ISO

Ricoh GR II at ISO 100
Nikon Coolpix A at ISO 100

These two rivals share the same sensor size and resolution, and similar lenses as well. The Ricoh however produces a sharper, crisper image, while the Nikon's is a little soft, with warmer colors as well. The Nikon however does much better with our tricky red-leaf swatch, and it produces fewer sharpening halos.

Ricoh GR II vs Panasonic LX100 at Base ISO

Ricoh GR II at ISO 100
Panasonic LX100 at ISO 200

The Panasonic LX100 uses a smaller 16-megapixel 4/3"-type sensor, and on top of that, it doesn't use as much of its sensor area as most cameras at a given aspect ratio, yielding an effective resolution of only about 12.7 megapixels here. Thus, the Ricoh GR II is able to resolve a bit more detail. The Ricoh also produces slightly lower noise (but keep in mind the LX100's higher base ISO), as well as much better color. The LX100 does however do better with our tricky red-leaf swatch, smoothing out noise and fabric threads but retaining better contrast detail, and it produces lower sharpening artifacts.

Ricoh GR II vs Sigma DP1 Merrill at Base ISO

Ricoh GR II at ISO 100
Sigma DP1 Merrill at ISO 100

At base ISO, the Sigma DP1 with its full color Foveon APS-C sensor produces phenomenal detail and crispness with no color interpolation artifacts, and the fine detail in our troublesome red-leaf fabric is outstanding. The Ricoh however produces slightly lower noise already here at base ISO, and its overall color is more accurate.

Ricoh GR II vs Ricoh GR at ISO 1600

Ricoh GR II at ISO 1600
Ricoh GR at ISO 1600

Again, very similar images from the two Ricohs at ISO 1600 with minor differences in color and contrast, but like we saw at base ISO, the older model does a bit better with fine detail in red-leaf swatch, though both blur much of it it away.

Ricoh GR II vs Fujifilm X70 at ISO 1600

Ricoh GR II at ISO 1600
Fujifilm X70 at ISO 1600

At ISO 1600, the Fuji X70 produces slightly higher luminance noise but lower chrominance noise, yet it still manages to reproduce much better detail in our red-leaf fabric. The Fuji image is also brighter and crisper looking, with more "pop".

Ricoh GR II vs Nikon Coolpix A at ISO 1600

Ricoh GR II at ISO 1600
Nikon Coolpix A at ISO 1600

The Nikon produces a much brighter-looking image at ISO 1600, but colors are warmer and details are fuzzier than the Ricoh GR II, except in the red-leaf swatch where the Coolpix A holds on to a lot more detail.

Ricoh GR II vs Panasonic LX100 at ISO 1600

Ricoh GR II at ISO 1600
Panasonic LX100 at ISO 1600

The Ricoh GR II pulls further ahead of the Panasonic LX100 at ISO 1600, with lower noise levels as well as better detail and color in most areas, but the Panasonic arguably continues to deliver a better rendering of the red-leaf swatch, even though it is quite smudged.

Ricoh GR II vs Sigma DP1 Merrill at ISO 1600

Ricoh GR II at ISO 1600
Sigma DP1 Merrill at ISO 1600

Here, we see the Achilles' heel of the Foveon full-color sensor: Very poor high ISO performance. While detail is still pretty good, noise is high and colors are drab with some odd discoloration at well. You can get much better results by processing the RAW file using Sigma's proprietary software, but noise is still quite a bit higher and colors muted compared to the Ricoh GR II.

Ricoh GR II vs Ricoh GR at ISO 3200

Ricoh GR II at ISO 3200
Ricoh GR at ISO 3200

Again, slightly better contrast, colors and detail from the Ricoh GR II versus slightly better rendering of our red-leaf fabric from the GR at ISO 3200. Noise in flatter areas also looks more even and natural from the GR II.

Ricoh GR II vs Fujifilm X70 at ISO 3200

Ricoh GR II at ISO 3200
Fujifilm X70 at ISO 3200

The Fuji X70 produces a slightly cleaner image with brighter colors and much better detail in the red-leaf fabric, though the GR II arguably does a bit better with fine detail in the mosaic, while producing fewer demosaicing artifacts.

Ricoh GR II vs Nikon Coolpix A at ISO 3200

Ricoh GR II at ISO 3200
Nikon Coolpix A at ISO 3200

The Ricoh produces a cleaner, sharper, more detailed image with more neutral colors while the Nikon produces warmer, brighter colors. The GR II blurs away almost all detail in our red-leaf fabric at this sensitivity, though, while the Nikon manages to produce a reasonable facsimile.

Ricoh GR II vs Panasonic LX100 at ISO 3200

Ricoh GR II at ISO 3200
Panasonic LX100 at ISO 3200

Here at ISO 3200, the Ricoh is the clear winner with better detail and brighter, more accurate colors. The LX100's strong noise reduction produces a smoother image, but a lot of fine detail is lost or distorted as a result.

Ricoh GR II vs Sigma DP1 Merrill at ISO 3200

Ricoh GR II at ISO 3200
Sigma DP1 Merrill at ISO 3200

Again, it's no contest between the traditional Bayer-sensored Ricoh GR II and the Foveon-sensored at ISO 3200. The Sigma just can't compete at high ISOs, producing very noisy images with terrible color. Even the RAW file conversion suffers from high noise and dreadful color reproduction.

Ricoh GR II vs. Ricoh GR, Fujifilm X70, Nikon Coolpix A, Panasonic LX100, Sigma DP1 Merrill

Ricoh
GR II
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Ricoh
GR
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Fujifilm
X70
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Nikon
Coolpix A
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Panasonic
LX100
ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Sigma
DP1 Merrill
ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. High-contrast detail is also important, pushing the camera in different ways, so we like to look at it, too. Here we see the Sigma DP1 Merrill is the clear winner at base ISO, easily crushing the others in contrast and fine detail at base ISO. The others do fairly similarly to each other, however you can see the Fuji X70 struggles to make out the small red text due to demosaicing errors, no doubt thanks to its unique X-Trans sensor. Contrast and detail drop-off gradually as ISO rises for the Bayer-filtered models, however you can see it more rapidly degrade from the Sigma. The Ricoh GR II performs about the same as its predecessor here in terms of detail, perhaps just a bit better, and colors are more saturated.

 

Ricoh GR II Print Quality

Very good 24 x 36 inch prints at ISO 100/200; ISO 1600 capable of a good 13 x 19; ISO 12,800 prints a nice 4 x 6.

ISO 100/200 images are excellent at 24 x 36 inches, with good color rendition and rich detail. The only exception is a general loss of contrast in our rather tricky target red-leaf swatch. Wall display prints look great all the way up to 30 x 40 inches.

ISO 400 prints look quite good at 20 x 30 inches, crisp and clean, with wall display prints possible up to 24 x 36 inches.

ISO 800 yields a nice 16 x 20 inch print. All detail is lost in our target red-leaf swatch but the print is otherwise very good, even in shadowy areas prone to noise as ISO rises.

ISO 1600 is capable of a good 13 x 19 inch print. There is minor noise apparent in some shadowy areas, but a good print overall for this ISO.

ISO 3200 prints are good at 8 x 10 inches. 11 x 14s here are OK for less critical applications but have some blotchy areas from noise reduction in some spots.

ISO 6400 produces a nice 5 x 7. The 8 x 10s here are just a bit on the noisy side to merit our "good" ranking.

ISO 12,800 prints a reasonable 4 x 6. Colors are a bit on the muted side, but still a good performance for such a high ISO.

ISO 25,600 does not print a usable 4 x 6 and is best avoided.

The Ricoh GR II, like the original GR before it, lives up to its APS-C sensor in the print quality department, producing very nice prints at large sizes up to ISO 1600. Beyond this point, you'll need to sacrifice on print size for acceptable quality, but for a camera this compact, results are still very good as high as ISO 6400. ISO 12,800 is useful in a pinch, but we'd recommend giving the ISO 25,600 position a pass.

About our print-quality testing: Our "Reference Printer"

Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which we named our "Printer of the Year" in our 2015 COTY awards.

The Canon PRO-1000 has a lot of characteristics that make it a natural to use for our "reference printer." When it comes to judging how well a camera's photos print, resolution and precise rendering are paramount. The PRO-1000's more than 18,000 individual nozzles combine with an air feeding system that provides exceptional droplet-placement accuracy. Its 11-color LUCIA PRO ink system delivers a wide color gamut and dense blacks, giving us a true sense of the cameras' image quality. To best see fine details, we've always printed on glossy paper, so the PRO-1000's "Chroma Optimizer" overcoat that minimizes "bronzing" or gloss differential is important to us. (Prior to the PRO-1000, we've always used dye-based printers, in part to avoid the bronzing problems with pigment-based inks.) Finally, we just don't have time to deal with clogged inkjet heads, and the PRO-1000 does better in that respect than any printer we've ever used. If you don't run them every day or two, inkjet printers tend to clog. Canon's thermal-inkjet technology is inherently less clog-prone than other approaches, but the PRO-1000 takes this a step further, with sensors that monitor every inkjet nozzle. If one clogs, it will assign another to take over its duties. In exchange for a tiny amount of print speed, this lets you defer cleaning cycles, which translates into significant ink savings. In our normal workflow, we'll often crank out a hundred or more letter-size prints in a session, but then leave the printer to sit for anywhere from days to weeks before the next camera comes along. In over a year of use, we've never had to run a nozzle-cleaning cycle on our PRO-1000.

See our Canon PRO-1000 review for a full overview of the printer from the viewpoint of a fine-art photographer.

*Disclosure: Canon provided us with the PRO-1000 and a supply of ink to use in our testing, and we receive advertising consideration for including this mention when we talk about camera print quality. Our decision to use the PRO-1000 was driven by the printer itself, though, prior to any discussion with Canon on the topic. (We'd actually been using an old Pixma PRO 9500II dye-based printer for years previously, and paying for our own ink, until we decided that the PRO-1000 was the next-generation printer we'd been waiting for.)

 



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