Ricoh GX200 Review

June 26, 2008 | Mark Goldstein | PhotographyBLOG | 31 Comments |

Ricoh GX200Announced two days ago, the Ricoh GX200 is a compact digital camera aimed at all those photographers who want a similar feature-set to their DSLR cameras. The GX200 certainly fits that billing, on paper at least - 24-72mm, 3x optical zoom lens, RAW mode via the Adobe DNG format, 12 megapixel sensor, 2.7-inch screen with 460K pixels, removable electronic viewfinder, optical image stabilisation, all in a well-built body that’s just 25mm thick. We’ve been testing out the new Ricoh GX200 for the past week, and today we’ve published our full review. Click the link below to find out if this is the professional pocket camera for you…

Website: Ricoh GX200 Review



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#1 Pavel Kudrys

Thank you for this quick and fair review Mark!

It's exactly as I thought it would be. GX200 seems to apply the same JPEG NR processing as in GRDII. If you still have the camera, is there any chance you can try the new "NR OFF" option? GRDII does have the same option, but it still applies certain level of NR. It would be nice to know if it's also the case of GX200?

At least there is now a decent RAW buffer so we can completely avoid shooting in JPEG ;)

4:42 pm - Thursday, June 26, 2008

#2 Mark Goldstein

Hi Pavel.

Glad you found the review useful!

I've still got the camera. All the ISO shots were taken with the Noise reduction menu option set to Off. Is that the option that you're referring to?

4:49 pm - Thursday, June 26, 2008

#3 Mr. Disgusted

this review is far too positive for a camera that produced dull colors, smeary images and is just a plain piece of shit.

5:59 pm - Thursday, June 26, 2008

#4 Prognathous

Thanks for the great review, Mark.

Is there any way we could get access to the ISO 800 and ISO 1600 RAW files you used for the image-quality comparison crops? I'd be interested to see how much it is possible to squeeze out from them using dedicated noise-reduction software (such as NoiseWare).

Prog.

6:02 pm - Thursday, June 26, 2008

#5 Pavel Kudrys

Thanks Mark! Yes, this Noise Reduction option is the same as in GRDII menu. So the result is exactly the same. Well...at least there is RAW and speedy operation ;)

7:26 pm - Thursday, June 26, 2008

#6 RobJ

"The Ricoh GX200's main drawback in terms of image quality is noise."

I would argue that the main drawback isn't noise, but noise reduction, which the author doesn't even mention. Noise reduction is evident throughout the entire ISO range, and the sample photos included look very poor to me as a result. The lack of sharpness mentioned is a direct result of all the noise reduction being applied. Adding additional sharpness via photoshop is not a very good solution.

This would have been a much better camera if Ricoh had limited the megapixel count to 8 or less.

10:09 pm - Thursday, June 26, 2008

#7 Mark Goldstein

Prog, you can download the ISO 800 and 1600 RAW images using these links:

http://tinyurl.com/6xqpel (ISO 800)

http://tinyurl.com/6jcgu9 (ISO 1600)

Let us know how you get on with running the files through Noiseware.

8:46 am - Friday, June 27, 2008

#8 Prognathous

Thanks a lot Mark.

I downloaded the files and processed them. To make it easier to compare the results I created a page that contains the crops and links to the processed files.

NOTE: I added credit to you and a link to this review, but if you want me to remove the page, I’ll do it as soon as I get your message (I’m subscribed to get notifications about new comments).

As for the conversion, I not only reduced the noise (using Noiseware) and changed the tone curves (using PSP X2), but also downsized the files to the DP1 size - 4.7MP. Needless to say, the faster lens of the Ricoh and its IS mean that DP1 at ISO 1600 should actually be compared to the GX200 at ISO 400, or at the very least at ISO 800.

Anyway, I hope you'll find the results interesting. You can find the page here:

http://imapnet.com/boren/GX200_HighISO/

Prog.

3:46 pm - Friday, June 27, 2008

#9 Peter Bardwell

Sorry if I've missed this, but could you give us an indication of how long it is before the zoom and/or other controls can be adjusted after taking a first DNG shot?

This is of more significance to the way I'd use the camera than the time to process a multi-shot RAW burst!

With the GX100, everything's locked up for the 9 or 10 indicator blinks and then comes free again once they've finished - is the GX200 any quicker?

Thanks,
Peter

9:56 am - Saturday, June 28, 2008

#10 Mark Goldstein

Peter, less than a second, and about 2 blinks of the status LED. That's shooting a DNG and the best-quality JPEG together.

3:48 pm - Saturday, June 28, 2008

#11 Sanghoon

Thanks for good review.

I got this curiosity- Change camera settings bewteen 12M and 5M pixels would make a different noise appearance throughout the whole sensitivity values?

3:22 am - Sunday, June 29, 2008

#12 gilw

Thanks for the review and thanks for the additional ISO 800 and 1600 images. The comments by the one fellow that mentioned the NR in previous Ricoh cameras is true with jpg images. This seems to occur even when NR is turned off (GRD II), as some NR appears to still be present. It's more like "NR, Low". However by looking at the ISO 800 and 1600 shots that it is much better in the GX200. Perhaps the new engine is a good improvement.

5:18 am - Sunday, June 29, 2008

#13 Michael Cross

The smearing of the reds on the cranes and boat at the bottom of the picture in ricoh_gx200_14.jpg is just awful - obvious at just regular screen resolution. Is this a low ISO shot?

4:28 pm - Tuesday, July 1, 2008

#14 Mark Goldstein

Image 14 was shot at ISO 64.

4:41 pm - Tuesday, July 1, 2008

#15 Michael Cross

Do you know if the smearing of the reds in ricoh_gx200_14.jpg is from the jpeg/noise reduction processing, or is it in the raw files too? (I would love to see the raw file of this photo!)

PS: Thanks for the comprehensive review and samples - very informative!

4:51 pm - Thursday, July 3, 2008

#16 Mark Goldstein

Michael, comparing the DNG and JPEG versions in Photoshop reveals that the DNg file is markedly better, with much less smearing than in the JPEG.

9:54 am - Friday, July 4, 2008

#17 Dave Taylor

Your description of 2nd curtain sync seemed a bit strange!

7:34 am - Tuesday, July 15, 2008

#18 Mark Anderson

Enjoyed the review, especially access to the JPEG and RAW files. It was nice to be able to get in and tweak the RAW files, almost like taking a few test shots myself. Thanks. Are any of the sample images taken with the 19mm? Would like to take a look at the sharpness and distortion with that adaptor.

8:37 am - Saturday, August 23, 2008

#19 David P. Robinson

Mark, A very welcome review, thankyou.

Having been seduced into the "dry darkroom" of raw files via my bulky Nikon D70, the time has now come to replace my old 4MP Pentax Optio 430 with an equally discrete "raw compact" camera.
My principle choice is between a Canon G9 and the Ricoh GX200. The Canon is bulkier, has a narrower wide angle lens, but a larger sensor area - which gives slightly better resolution than the Ricoh. My preference leans towards the Ricoh despite it's inferior sensor and concomitant problems (if these really bother me I will use the D70 for difficult shots!).
Progs' use of the "Noiseware" program on your images still does show a vignetting effect from chromatic and spherical aberration at the high ISOs. This brings me to look at the size of the sensors of the Canon - 1/1.75" diameter. Image size 7.6x5.7mm.
Ricoh - 1/2.3" diameter. Image size 6.16x4.62mm.
The Ricoh sensor is actually smaller owing to ALL manufacturers deceptively using the antiquated video tube size which is obviously not related to the actual image size. See: http://www.photoreview.com.au/tips/buying/unravelling-sensor-sizes.aspx
The concomitant problem with the Ricoh, which leads to some of the puzzlement and indeed acrimonious replies above, I suspect is due to the loss of peripheral pixels on this small sensor being used up in the CCD image stabilisation system (this ensures that light remains centered on the image sensor to maintain image clarity but loses pixels. This pixel loss is more obvious at the high ISO values
The Canon uses an optical system which does not detract from the sensor size and does not lose pixels.
Now that Sony has entered the field with "backlit" CMOS sensors (http://www.sony.net); for DSLRs, which have twice the sensitivity and better signal to noise ratio, we will see them spread very effectively to the small sensor of the "Ricoh GX300"!

8:48 pm - Sunday, October 12, 2008

#20 Craig Lyle

completely unrelated to previous posts - I am a keen novice and looking to purchase a high(er) end compact as opposed to either a point and shoot or indeed DSLR.

This is based on the fact that i have had some experience of point and shoot and want to develop this but feel a leap to DSLR would be an advantagous one. My quesiton really is would the GX200 be suitable in your opinion in terms of developing or would i find my self out of depth early on. Can the GX200 'if so desired' be used as a point and shoot i.e. auto everything..

12:21 am - Saturday, February 21, 2009

#21 Greg

Mark: Do the downloadable DNG photos have a JPG embedded?

The reason I ask is because I am looking at them in Aperture and wanted to make sure that I'm seeing the RAW image and not something else. The text with the photos suggest not.

Thanks for providing the images

6:10 pm - Friday, March 20, 2009

#22 Mark Goldstein

Greg, no, they don't have an embedded JPEG, just the plain DNG files.

6:18 pm - Friday, March 20, 2009

#23 Greg

Thanks Mark. Guess if I'd read the specs closer I'd seen that there isn't a JPEG+DNG mode. And you were polite enough not to point that out.

5:11 am - Saturday, March 21, 2009

#24 Ray Baddeley

I have read reviews of two top of the range digital compacts. I have found these to be extremely comprehensive and enlightening. Just what I was hoping for before comitting myself to a purchase. Congratulations to all concerned!

9:44 pm - Thursday, April 16, 2009

#25 Joshua

interesting to read the comments above... some quite acrimonious! I kinda wish I'd read them BEFORE shelling out $3xx.00 for a used GX200 VF kit.. maybe I should have allocated that money to a different camera, perhaps the S90?... or the LX3? Is the Gx200 really as sub-par as people here are writing?

2:58 pm - Saturday, December 26, 2009

#26 Prognathous

As long as you are fine with using low-ISO the GX200 is a great camera. If anyone told you otherwise, they probably never used the camera.

Prog.

3:14 pm - Saturday, December 26, 2009

#27 Joshua

Hi Prog,

Thanks for your response. low-ISO meaning under 400? 200?.. ???

Is there a set standard for 'low ISO'...

I'm sincerely asking... I don't know much.

4:14 pm - Saturday, December 26, 2009

#28 Prognathous

By low-ISO I'm referring to ISO 64 or ISO 100. Medium ISO (in a compact) is 200 and 400. High ISO is 800 and above.

I almost always use the GX200 at base-ISO (ISO 64). If I need to shoot indoors, I can always use a small external flash such as the Metz 20-C2. Sized like a pack of cigarettes, it's much more useful indoors than using high ISO, as you don't need to worry about noise (thanks to the low ISO) or motion-blur / handshake (thanks to the short duration of the flash). And unlike direct flash which produces very harsh and unnatural light, using bounce flash (which the 20-C2 supports) allows you to get flattering and natural light.

For nightscapes it's possible to use a small pocket tripod and use base-ISO and long exposure, so again no need for high ISO.

If you do need high ISO in a compact, then the S90 is a much better option, it's also a very cute camera. Just keep in mind that it has many disadvantages compared to the GX200 - higher cost, no 24mm lens, poor macro, lower optical quality (a lot of CA and distortion), poor ergonomics and user interface, no hot-shoe, no EVF option, no accessory lenses (Ricoh offers high quality 19mm and 135mm lenses), no intervalometer, no remote release, etc...

Prog.

5:27 pm - Saturday, December 26, 2009

#29 Joshua

Thank you again, Prog, for sharing your insight and expertise. Since I don't have lots of extra $$ to spare I think I'll stick with the GX200 for the next few years and maybe kit it out a bit more to get more out of it.

It's replacing a very reliable and beloved Lumix DMC-FX9 which, apart from the fact that it doesn't have the wide-angle features of newer lumix compacts, is, in many other ways a really beautiful little 6MP camera (in my humble opinion).

J.

6:50 pm - Saturday, December 26, 2009

#30 John

Many thanks for an excellent and helpfull review and blog. The December comments on noise are particularly useful, and put things in perspective.

I am on the point of buying a GX200, but just wonder if a new version may be in the pipline, as the present one is about 18 months old now.

Can you comment please?

12:54 pm - Tuesday, January 19, 2010

#31 prognathous

The consensus in most Ricoh forums is that the Ricoh GXR + S10 module is the true successor of the GX200 and that GX-series cameras without interchangeable lens+sensor modules are a thing of the past. Only time will tell, but it seems likely. Too bad the GXR is currently so expensive, but its price is bound to drop eventually.

Prog.

5:54 am - Wednesday, January 20, 2010