B&W with the Ricoh GX100
(in low light)
The Ricoh GX100
The Ricoh GX100 digital camera presents an interesting concept...It is a compact digital camera that also allows an experienced photographer the options to control the image-making process.
Not to say that this camera is perfect (whatever that means). There are a few factors to consider:
Did you notice the mention of "color photography at ISOs 400 and above" in the last bullet above? That's the point of this page: Looking at how the GX100 behaves as a B&W camera. Several reviewers and users have commented on the film-like qualities of the GX100 when the black and white mode is selected. That especially goes for the results at higher ISOs. (When you shoot RAW and B&W, the RAW file is full color, and the JPEG is rendered in B&W inside the camera.)
Update 1: Since this page was written, Ricoh has marketed the GX200 12MP camera. There are several feature changes, but moving up to 12MP did nothing to reduce the noise at higher ISOs -- especially when shooting color.
Update 2: Ricoh recently announced their revolutionary GXR camera. It is unique in utilizing lens/sensor modules. The initial offerings will be a small chip zoom lens (essentially the same zoom range as the GX100/GX200 cameras) and a 50mm field of view equivalent using an APS-C sensor.
(Product photo from Ricoh website)
Background: I like to informally test new digital cameras (or software) in a controlled low-light situation. One location I've found quite handy is the Gallery Place - Chinatown station on DC's MetroRail.
The large photos below have had no corrections. The only thing done to them was "Save for web" in PhotoShop CS3, sized down to 20% of their original size and the quality set to "60". Contrast, curves, and all the rest of that stuff are straight out of the camera. I selected two shots where the same guy is waiting, and where both trains are blurred. In-camera image stabilization was turned on, the the JPEG quality was set to "high".
ISO 1600: 1/15th @ f/2.9; center-weighted aperture priority; 5.1mm lens setting.
ISO 1600 100% Crops: 5 in. x 5 in. marquee crop @ 72 ppi; saved at JPEG setting "12".
ISO 400: 1/4th @ f/2.9; center-weighted aperture priority; 5.1mm lens setting.
ISO 400 100% Crops: 5 in. x 5 in. marquee crop @ 72 ppi; saved at JPEG setting "12".
Conclusion: I think the GX100's B&W capabilities are certainly worth exploring, especially as a street camera. I'd guess the "pixel peepers" out there can find evidence of in-camera noise reduction, but most of the comments I have read regarding the GX100's B&W performance compare it to film shot at the same ISOs. You have the choice of shooting RAW (with the associated B&W JPEG image, or getting faster in-camera performance by just shooting in JPEG mode. That gives you the option of taking those RAW images and post processing the heck out of them.
12 December 2009