Ricoh GR II Image Quality


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
About average mean saturation with excellent overall hue accuracy.

ISO Sensitivity
100
200
400
800
In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located toward the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center. Mouse over the links to compare ISOs and click for larger versions.

Saturation. The Ricoh GR II boosts most colors by a small amount or gets them pretty close to accurate. Overall mean saturation is 107.6%, or about 7.6% oversaturated at base ISO, which just below average at default settings. Saturation is quite stable across ISOs, ranging from a minimum of 104.9% at ISO 12,800 to a maximum of 108.1% at ISO 200. Keep in mind these results are with the default saturation setting. (See below for how well the saturation adjustment works.) Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. The Ricoh GR II's Caucasian skin tones look realistic when using Auto white balance in simulated daylight, with a subtle pink cast. Manual white balance is a bit warmer, but still very good. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.

Hue. The Ricoh GR II does shift cyan toward blue and orange toward yellow, but shifts are relatively minor. (The cyan to blue shift is very common among the digital cameras we test; we think it's a deliberate choice by camera engineers to produce better-looking sky colors, and there's hardly any yellow to green shift that we often see.) With an average "delta-C" color error at base ISO of 3.25 after correction for saturation, overall hue accuracy is much better than average when using Manual white balance, and remains excellent across the entire range of ISOs. Hue is "what color" the color is.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Good color with the Manual white balance setting, but very warm results with Auto. About average positive exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance
+0.3 EV
Incandescent White Balance
+0.3 EV
Manual White Balance
+0.3 EV

Indoors, under normal incandescent lighting, color balance was much too warm and reddish-orange with the Auto white balance setting. The Incandescent setting did better, but was still a bit too warm, this time with a yellowish cast. The Manual setting however produced accurate results. The Ricoh GR II required an average amount of positive exposure compensation here, at +0.3 EV. Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.

Outdoors, daylight
Great colors, but with high contrast and mixed exposure accuracy.

Auto White Balance,
Default
Auto White Balance,
Default

The Ricoh GR II struggled a bit with our "Sunlit" Portrait shot, overexposing it a bit at default exposure using multi-segment metering, though perhaps not by as much as the original version did. Most cameras need about +0.7 EV for this shot, however the GR II probably needs -0.3 EV. Colors and skin tone are very good but contrast somewhat high. Our far-field shot was just slightly underexposed but as a result very few highlights clipped. Shadows are deep and although they're pretty clean, very deep shadows have some odd discoloration. Colors outdoors also look a touch on the cool side.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
~2,200 lines of strong detail from JPEGs, about 2,300 lines from ACR processed RAW files.

Strong detail to
~2,200 lines horizontal
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,200 lines vertical
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,300 lines horizontal
ACR processed RAW
Strong detail to
~2,300 lines vertical
ACR processed RAW

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns up to about 2,200 lines per picture height in the horizontal direction, and to about 2,200 lines in the vertical direction, though there was some strong aliasing starting as low as 1,900 lines. Complete extinction of the pattern occurred at about 3,000 lines in both directions. We were able to do a little better with DNG files processed through Adobe Camera Raw, with the horizontal and vertical directions resolving slightly higher at about 2,300 lines per pixel height. As usual, color moiré is more evident in the converted RAW files, though camera JPEGs show some significant color moiré as well, which is no surprise given the lack of an OLPF. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Very good sharpness, though sharpening artifacts can be seen. Minor loss of fine detail to noise suppression at base ISO.

Very good definition of
high-contrast elements,
with moderate evidence of
edge enhancement.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
though detail remains strong in
the darker parts of the model's hair here.

Sharpness. The Ricoh GR II produces JPEG images with very good sharpness, though moderately strong sharpening artifacts can be seen such as the obvious halos around the lines and text in the bottle label crop above left. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows some detail loss due to noise suppression in areas of lower contrast. Individual strands are still distinguishable in the lighter shadows and when they have high contrast, though they begin to merge as shadows deepen, and in places where the tone and color of adjacent strands is very close. Still, pretty good results here, especially considering the small form-factor of the GR II. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.

RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above, the Ricoh GR II does a great job at capturing lots of fine detail in its JPEGs, but more detail can often be obtained from carefully processing RAW files, while at the same time reducing sharpening artifacts. Take a look below, to see what we mean:

Base ISO (100)
Camera JPEG, defaults
RAW via Adobe Camera Raw

In the table above, we compare an in-camera JPEG taken at base ISO using default noise reduction and sharpening (on the left) to the matching RAW file converted with Adobe Camera Raw 9.1 using default noise reduction with some light unsharp masking applied in Photoshop (150%, radius of 0.3 pixels, and a threshold of 0).

As is usually the case, Adobe Camera Raw delivers finer detail than the camera's processing, and its light default noise reduction does better with our difficult red-leaf swatch, even resolving some of its thread pattern which the camera mostly blurred away as noise. Adobe Camera Raw also produced finer detail in the mosaic, but left behind more noise, as seen in flatter areas such as in the bottle and background in the first pair of crops. Overall, though, the Ricoh GR II does a pretty good job with its JPEGs, but as is usually the case you can extract even more detail (with fewer sharpening artifacts) with a good RAW converter.

ISO & Noise Performance
Very good high ISO performance for its class.

High ISO Noise Reduction = Auto (Default)
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1,600 ISO 3,200
ISO 6,400 ISO 12,800 ISO 25,600

Noise performance is very good at ISO 100 through 400, with only a minor drop in detail as ISO rises. At ISO 800, we start to see stronger luma noise, though it's very fine-grained and leaves most detail intact, while chroma noise is well-controlled. ISO 1,600 is similar, with just slightly higher luma noise and stronger noise reduction, but fine detail is still quite good. At ISO 3,200, luma noise is coarser, but chroma noise is still well under control, and detail is pretty good. Image quality drops of rapidly from here, though. ISO 6,400 shows a larger drop in quality with much stronger blurring and some chroma blotching in the shadows, but it's actually not bad for such a high ISO. ISO 12,800 is quite noisy with a peppered effect, leaving little fine detail. Chroma noise is also stronger, as you'd expect. ISO 25,600 shows a lot of luma noise for a stronger peppered effect, as well as cloudy chroma noise in the form of purple and green blotches, and there's a green cast as well. Still, very good high ISO performance for a camera its size, similar to its predecessor but with improved color.

Of course, the impact of noise and detail loss are highly dependent on the size the photos are printed at, and pixel-peeping on-screen has surprisingly little relationship to how the images look when printed: See the Print Quality section below for recommended maximum print sizes at each ISO.

A note about focus for this shot: We used to shoot this image at f/4, however depth of field became so shallow with larger, high-resolution sensors that it was difficult to keep important areas of this shot in focus, so we have since started shooting at f/8, the best compromise between depth of field and sharpness.

Extremes: Sunlit, dynamic range, and low light tests
High contrast and limited dynamic range in JPEGs. Excellent low-light performance, capable of capturing bright images in near darkness.

0 EV +0.3 EV +0.7 EV

Sunlight:
As mentioned previously, the Ricoh GR II struggled with the deliberately harsh lighting in the above test. Default contrast is quite high and dynamic range is limited in JPEGs, making it difficult to capture the tonal range of this scene. As you can see, even the default exposure (0 EV) overexposed this shot resulting in a lot of blown highlights in the mannequin's shirt and flower, and we unfortunately neglected to take any with negative exposure compensation. Be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.

Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)


Auto mode
Aperture-priority
0 EV
Full Auto mode
0 EV

Here, we can see the effect of the GR II's full Auto mode which Ricoh says can recognise faces. Auto reduced the exposure slightly and selected f/4, ISO 100 and 1/100s versus our standard Aperture-priority shot at f/8, ISO 100 and 1/20s, producing a better overall exposure with less depth of field as well.

Dynamic Range Correction
The Ricoh GR II's Dynamic Range Correction feature attempts to preserve detail in both highlights and shadows in high-contrast situations. The series of shots below show the effect of the various Dynamic Range Correction settings available on the Ricoh GR II on our high-contrast "Sunlit" Portrait scene. Note that it affects only JPEG images though; Ricoh very properly doesn't apply tonal adjustments like this to RAW file data.

Dynamic Range Correction (0 EV)
DRC Settings:


Off
(Default)
ISO 100



Weak
ISO 200



Medium
ISO 200



Strong
ISO 400



Auto
ISO 400



Mouse over the links to see how the various levels of Dynamic Range Correction affects our "Sunlit" Portrait shot with no exposure compensation. Click on a link to get to the full-res image. Note that minimum ISO is 200 (with 1 EV ISO step setting) when using DRC, part of how it works.

As you can see from the thumbnails and histograms, the Weak setting reduced the number of clipped highlights while leaving midtone and shadows roughly the same. The Medium setting reduced highlights even further so that almost none are blown, while the Strong setting simultaneously boosted shadows and reduced highlights. The Auto setting in this case behaved very similar to the Strong setting. Because of the boost in ISO, noise is more visible in the shadows, but remains low enough not to be much of a concern.

Far-field Dynamic Range Correction (0 EV)
Off

Above, you can see the effect of Dynamic Range Correction settings on our Far-field shot.

Dynamic Range Analysis (RAW mode)
While we once performed our own dynamic range measurements based on in-camera JPEGs as well as converted RAW images (when the camera was supported by Adobe Camera Raw), we've switched to using DxO Labs' results from their DxOMark website. As technology advanced, the dynamic range of modern high-end cameras in some cases exceeded the range of the Stouffer T4110 density scale that we used for our own measurements. DxO's approach based on RAW data before demosaicing is also more revealing, because it measures the fundamental dynamic range of the sensor, irrespective of whatever processing is applied to JPEGs, or to RAW data by off-the-shelf conversion software.

In the following, we use DxO's "Print" dynamic range results, which are scaled based on camera resolution. As the name suggests, this scaling corresponds to the situation in which you print at a given size, regardless of how many megapixels the camera might have. (In other words, if you've decided to make a 13x19 inch print, that's the size you're printing, whether the camera's resolution is 16 or 300 megapixels.) For the technically-minded, you can find a discussion of the reasoning behind this here on the DxOMark website. Also note that DxO Labs uses a signal-to-noise (SNR) threshold of 1 when defining the lower boundary of acceptable luminance noise in their dynamic range measurements, which corresponds to the "Low Quality" threshold of the Imatest software we used to use for this measurement.

Here we decided to compare the Ricoh GR II to its predecessor, as well as to its closest competitor, the Nikon Coolpix A. You can always compare to other models on dxomark.com.

As you can see from the above graph (click for a larger image) the Ricoh GR II performs very similarly to the GR up to ISO 400, with a maximum dynamic range of 13.7 EV at base ISO. However at higher ISOs, the new model offers improved dynamic range over its predecessor, by up to about 2/3 EV at the ISO 6400 setting.

The Nikon Coolpix A still does a bit better at base ISO (13.8 EV) and especially at ISO 6400 (8 vs 7.5 EV), however they are pretty closely matched otherwise, to the point where differences in dynamic range would likely be difficult to distinguish in real-world images.

Overall, excellent dynamic range for its class, with a slight improvement over its predecessor at higher ISOs. Click here to visit the DxOMark page for the Ricoh GR II for more of their test results and additional comparisons.

  1 fc
11 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
1/16 fc
No NR
ISO
100

2s, f2.8

30s, f2.8

30s, f2.8
ISO
3200

1/15s, f2.8

1s, f2.8

1s, f2.8
ISO
25600

1/125s, f2.8

1/8s, f2.8

1/8s, f2.8

Low Light. The Ricoh GR II performed well in terms of image quality in our low-light tests, capturing clean, well-exposed images at the lowest light level (1/16 foot-candle) with the lowest sensitivity setting (ISO 100). As you'd expect, noise is higher at ISO 3200 but it appears well-controlled and fine-grained. Unsurprisingly, the maximum ISO of 25,600 is quite noisy with noticeably less detail, and is probably best avoided except for small prints and in emergencies.

Color balance with Auto white balance was quite good which isn't always the case, with just a slightly cool bias. At the highest ISO tested (25,600), though, color balance in shadows and lower midtones shifts towards green.

There are a few hot pixels here and there but nothing to be concerned about, however there are some bright pixels in deep shadows which could be an issue if the shadows are raised significantly in post. We did not detect any significant fixed pattern noise or heat blooming.

The Ricoh GR II's contrast-detection autofocus system was able to focus on our test subject down to below the 1/16 foot-candle light level with its AF assist light turned off, which is excellent. And it was able to focus in complete darkness with the AF assist lamp enabled, however that will obviously vary depending on the subject and distance.

How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) Thanks to their phase-detect AF systems, digital SLRs tend to do much better than point & shoots, but you still shouldn't expect a quick autofocus lock with moving subjects. The Ricoh GR II uses contrast-detect autofocus, as is found in most point & shoot cameras, so its low-light focusing ability is less than that of most SLRs with phase-detect systems. That said, though, the larger, more sensitive pixels of the GR II's sensor do better under dim lighting than do the tiny pixels of most point & shoots, (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)

Output Quality

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.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Ricoh GR II Photo Gallery .

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Ricoh GR II with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!



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