Wednesday, 10 March 2010


GF1, f4, 1/2000, ISO 400, RAW, 40mm

A lot of people don't understand the GXR concept, especially if you look at the DP Review forum. I mean, why mate a sensor to a lens when the sensor is going to be outdated in 6 months yet the lens will always be excellent and deliver the same quality.
They are quite right in a lot of ways, especially considering just how much better the Ricoh lenses really are compared to the competition. Also when looking at the relatively poor m4/3 lenses which just don't have the optical quality of a Ricoh or Leica lens. They look great because the camera software is great and correcting for most issues but not because the lenses are any good technically.

So at the moment you have the choice of going for the GXR and have excellent optics done by Ricoh or going for m4/3 and have great software fixing any lens faults in camera.

This picture is a great example of how poor optically the highly praised Panasonic 20mm f1.7 lens really is. The bars were all straight and from a 40mm lens I expect them to be straight, as they are in the JPG but not when looking at the RAW file.
At the same time I much prefer the image quality of the 4/3 sensor to that of the APS sensor in the GXR which is too clean and digital looking, here I have some noise and some character. I will never understand people shouting for less noise in pictures and who are looking or perfect pictures. Perfection is boring and looks fake and digital, there is no life or character in technically perfect images.


  1. Cristian thanks for pointing out the difference in the way files are handled between the brands. I am still afraid it is a dilemma for me as to which way to go, maybe I will just keep using the DP1 and push the files in low light. Have you used a DP1 or 2 by chance?


  2. Kind of funny that you describe m4/3 as looking less digital than APS sensors. To me m4/3, just like small sensors, inherits all the distinctive marks of pure digital captures, like blocking shadows, the highlight clipping, and limited mid tones. To me the highlight handling of APS sensors reminds me more of film, not still there yet, but certainly much better than smaller sensors.

    Does this ( looks imperfect and characterless, because I used the GXR with the APS sensor?

    The less you understand THEM, the more likely THEY will not understand you.


  3. In-camera software correction of lens distortion seems to be a controversial issue. In my opinion, whether the image files are corrected or not is irrelevant as long as the final corrected files (out-of-camera JPEGs or corrected RAW) are good. And if distortion correction allows the lenses to be more compact and brighter than they would otherwise be, then all the better.

    Ricoh's GXR A12 33mm lens module doesn't require any distortion correction, but neither does Panasonic's Leica 45mm which is also a macro lens. So perhaps future, wider GXR modules will also opt for software correction of distortion in order to minimize lens size.

  4. Interesting. The issue of in-camera lens correction came up also on the LX3. I think it's ok to correct lens distortion and CA in software but if you can do without that is even better. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Bruce, it is not easy which camera to go for but if I can offer some piece of advice, go for the one you think feels best to use.
    The image quality difference is really not that big to be noticeable most of the time and there is more to photography than pure IQ in my opinion.
    If you look at my 'Focus on Imaging' reports you will see my opinion on the DPx cameras. I like the character of the images but really dislike the handling and speed of the cameras. I can't help but think how much better the Foveon sensor could have been utilized by a manufacturer who knows how to build and design a camera.

    Wouter, you are an excellent photograoher and this picture is simply amazing but thi is less due to the dynamic range or the sensor but due to your eye and talent.

    I understand APS sensors but dislike them as they offer more disadvantages than advantages to me. I am also not a big fan of the APS sensor used in the GXR but think the RD1 and D70 sensor is the best APS sensor I have used. The sensor in the GXR is too clean and I would prefer it to have some more noise.
    Highlight clipping and limited dynamic range are not really an issue for me since I prefer a higher contrast in my images.
    One thing I need to have though is some noise in my pictures or they just don't feel right. Another thing is to have a distinct character and not simply the same IQ as every other camera.

    Björn, I am not a fan of lens correction in software and think this is cheap and an easy way out if you are not good enough at designing lenses. This for me is the biggest problem with m4/3.

    Marco, I think manufacturers should look at improving the lenses and not just fix things in software