Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Ricoh GX200 Review – Part 6

High ISO Comparison

This part will compare the GX200 to the GX100, GX, GRD I and GRD II at ISO 400 and 1600. The LC1 only goes up to ISO 400 and has therefore been excluded from this test.

The pictures were all taken at 28mm using the widest aperture for all cameras and in A-mode. All JPGs are unprocessed and the cameras were set to the 'Normal' image setting. The RAW files are converted using RAW Therapee 2.4 and the 'Neutral' profile, no noise reduction or other edits have been performed.

GX200 vs. GX100, GX and R10 - ISO 400 - JPG

This is quite surprising, the R10 actually outperforms the GX200 as do the GX and GX100. The GX100 is here best due to the higher resolution it shows the most details without being too noisy. The GX200 shows a color shift and partial desaturation while still having a considerable amount of noise. All cameras do a good job and show quite a lot of details at ISO 400. The biggest difference is the way they handle the noise and with a less agressive noise reduction from the R10 it could actually be much closer to the GX100 here. The GX200 is a bit disappointing so far.

GX200 vs. GX100, GRD I and GRD II - ISO 400 - JPG

Here again the GX200 falls behind the rest, the GRD I has the best contrast and has a considerable amount of details but loses them in some parts to the noise which is the highest here. The GRD II and GX100 are best with an advantage to the GX100 for a crisper image and slightly more details.

GX200 vs. GX100, GRD I and GRD II - ISO 400 - RAW

Using RAW is a different matter and the GX200 looks much better although it has the most noise with the GRD I and still displays the color shift and slight desaturation. The GRD II and GX100 are again very good and aside from the higher contrast on the GRD II there is not much to choose between the two.

GX200 vs. GX100, GX and R10 - ISO 1600 - JPG

Ok, ISO 1600 is not something you would want to use everyday on these cameras so you can't expect miracles but looking at the crops you will see that the GX100 is actually pretty good and quite usable. It is followed by the GX which for some strange reason oversaturates the image but manages to retain quite a lot of detail. The GX200 on the other hand is again the worst in this comparison and aside from desaturating the image it has a lot of noise that is smeared and delivers an unacceptable image. The R10 is again to my surprise very good and more usable than the GX200 although it has a smaller sensor.

GX200 vs. GX100, GRD I and GRD II - ISO 1600 - JPG

Now considering that these are all serious compact cameras you should expect them to perform quite well and at a similar level. From the previous test we know that the GX200 is simply unusable and this does not change here either, it is still the worst camera in the group. It is a similar picture to the ISO 400 test where the GX100 is best and the GRD II smoothens the image due to a very strong NR. The GRD I holds up ok but has a lot of noise to deal with.

GX200 vs. GX100, GRD I and GRD II - ISO 1600 - RAW

Using RAW makes it clear why the GX200 is so bad in JPG, there is simply too much noise from that sensor to deal with. The GRD I does not have RAW at ISO 1600 but the JPG looks a lot better than the GX200. The GRD II is surprisingly not better than the GX100 and the GX100 actually resolves more details but has less contrast.

Overall this test shows that if you need to go over ISO 400 and want usable pictures the GX200 is simply the worst choice you can make. I was very surprised to see this and would not have expected it to perform that bad. It came in last at every test and did not even manage to beat the R10, which is to my surprise very capable.
One thing is clear, the JPG engines got a lot worse after the GX100 and are now producing smeared images. This needs to be changed by Ricoh since it is unacceptable that the GX way surpases the GX200 and the GX100 surpasses the GRD II when it comes to details in the JPGs.

You can download the pictures used in this comparison here.

Continue to Part 7...

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