Saturday, 24 March 2012
A16 Zoom First impressions
Today, I got a sample of the new GXR A16 Zoom module. It is a 'kit-lens' module for the GXR sporting a 24-85mm lens and a 16MP APS sensor without AA filter, unfortunately the lens is not very bright at f3.5-5.5 and the APS sensor only has a max. ISO of 3200.
Still, let's look at how it actually performs since specs alone are meaningless in actual real world use.
This is just a first hand impression and I have simply taken pictures with it so it will not be very analytical.
The first thing you will notice is how incredibly light but also how big this module is at the same time. Now there is no big secret how Ricoh managed to make it this light and unfortunately it means the module is almost fully made out of plastic so from a build perspective it is the cheapest feeling Ricoh product so far. The good news is that it will be easy to just throw in a bag and not know it is there and you can also shoot it one handed.
And one handed you will be shooting it since there are no controls at all on the lens, no zoom ring or a manual focus ring, this is very, very disappointing and I did not expect an aperture ring on the lens but seriously, not even a manual focus ring!?!
Once you get over the build and lack of controls around the lens and turn it on, it gets better. Not much if you see how far the lens still extends once you start zooming with it but when you see the pretty quick AF Ricoh has managed to implement. The AF is not always accurate and misfocuses quite a bit but from experience it is not worse than other AF cameras I used (GF1 with Olympus v1 kit lens for example).
My first pictures with the lens were inside of a restaurant and thanks to the slow lens it was necessary to shoot at very high ISO. Here I was both impressed and disappointed. Impressed with how good and clean ISO 3200 looks (especially when compared with the M module I had along) but disappointed of Ricoh's decision to limit the ISO at 3200, the camera can certainly go much higher than that.
Taking it outside, it appears to also have a higher dynamic range compared with the A12 modules. The new sensor here certainly does a very good job despite being a bit crippled with the high ISO.
The lens while not GR labelled has a pleasing bookeh and does not show any fringing even wide open. It also seems pretty sharp but here I am not sure if it's the lens as much as the lack of AA filter on the sensor.
Removing the AA filter is certainly a great idea and I hope Ricoh will make this a standard for their cameras. The downside is that with this module moireé seems to occur a lot more than on the A12 Mount.
If you have read my thoughts on this module before you will know that I was not really keen on it nor did I think much of it's specs but after using it I can see it appealing to people who want a kit lens but don't want to use the smaller sensors in the S10 or P0 modules.
I will use it more over the coming weeks and post my thoughts on it so if you have any questions let me know.
I plan to write a review of the GXR 'kit zooms' and compare the A16, S10 and P10 modules to see which one makes most sense.
Final word for now, I have read of people having problems with soft corners or de-centred lenses but my sample appears fine although the corners are not super sharp at 24mm. I will keep an eye on this and report more when I can do some tests.
All pictures are out of camera JPGs without any processing.