Ricoh WG-4 GPS Review

June 2, 2014 | Jack Baker | |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel Best JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

The Ricoh WG-4’s 16.0 megapixel, 1/2.3” CMOS sensor is carried over from the WG-3 so it should come as little surprise that the new camera’s image quality is much the same as its predecessor’s.

Photos taken at ISO400 and below stand up well to fairly close scrutiny, with vibrant yet natural colours and decent detail. Shoot a landscape scene with distant foliage and things can get slightly smeary thanks to overzealous noise reduction processing, but the remaining amount of detail is on a par with many other cameras packing the same pixel count and sensor size.

Ramp the sensor sensitivity up to ISO800 and detail takes a marked turn for the worse though, and by ISO1600 colour speckling and blotchiness are plain to see. The noise levels aren’t terrible at this sensitivity, but these days many compact cameras with similar sensors are capable of cleaner results.

You won’t have to worry about getting accurate exposures though, as the WG-4 invariably strikes a good balance between highlight and shadow detail, even if the overall dynamic range is nothing special. It’s a pity the auto white balance isn’t so dependable, being occasionally prone to producing an overly warm colour cast in high-contrast lighting.

The WG-4’s 4x zoom lens is also a little disappointing. Sure, its impressive f/2.0 maximum aperture allows for faster shutter speeds without the need for high sensor sensitivities, but less impressive is the obvious amount of chromatic aberration (purple fringing) visible in high contrast areas. Corner sharpness is also somewhat lacking when compared to detail levels in the centre of frame.

Noise

The WG-4 and WG-4 GPS have seven sensitivity settings available at full resolution ranging between ISO125 and ISO6400. Auto ISO can be capped at lower sensitivities if you’d rather avoid the high level of image noise at higher ISOs.

ISO 125 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso125.jpg iso200.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso800.jpg
   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

 
iso1600.jpg  

File Quality

Three JPEG compression quality options are available to accompany all image sizes: Good, Better & Best. The ‘Best’ setting produces images 4-5MB in file size. ‘Better’ will drop this to between 2.5MB and 3MB, whilst the ‘Good’ option reduces images to around 1.5MB at maximum resolution.

16M Best (4.34Mb) (100% Crop) 16M Better (2.62Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_best.jpg quality_better.jpg
   
16M Good (1.58Mb) (100% Crop)  
quality_good.jpg  

Focal Range

The camera’s 4x internally-zoomed lens boasts a focal length range of 25-100mm when converted into a 35mm camera format. The lens is also capable of a maximum aperture of f/2.0 at wide-angle.

25mm

100mm

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are just a little soft at the default sharpening setting. You can change the in-camera sharpening level if you don't like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Chromatic Aberrations

The Ricoh WG-4 GPS handled chromatic aberrations excellently during the review, with very limited purple fringing present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the example below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg

Macro

The WG-4 will macro focus down to 1cm and in Digital Microscope mode six LEDs around the lens illuminate extremely close subjects.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg

Flash

Five flash settings are available: Auto, Flash Off, Flash On, Auto + Red-eye, Flash On + Red-eye. Our testing showed the flash produces some vignetting at wide angle from a distance of 1.5m, but the camera successfully eliminates any trace of red-eye.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (100mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (100mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, both the Flash On or the Red-eye-Reduction settings caused a tiny amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg
   

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Night

The Night Scene shooting mode holds the shutter open slightly longer than normal to capture brighter shots in low light. ISO sensitivity is still kept high so a tripod isn’t essential, however you’ll need a very steady hand. If you’d rather a longer exposure with less noise, the new Tv Shutter Priority mode is a better bet but is more likely to necessitate using a tripod.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Digital Filters

The WG-4 and WG-4 GPS contain 12 effects filters: B&W/Sepia, Toy Camera, Retro, Color, Extract Color, Color Emphasis, High Contrast, Starbust, Soft, Fish-eye, Brightness, Miniature Filter. However, these can only be selected and applied to saved images in playback mode.

B&W

Sepia

effects_01.jpg effects_02.jpg
   

Toy Camera

Color

effects_03.jpg effects_04.jpg
   

Extract Color

Color Emphasis

effects_05.jpg effects_06.jpg
   

High Contrast

Starburst

effects_07.jpg effects_08.jpg
   

Soft

Fish Eye

effects_09.jpg effects_10.jpg
   

Brightness

Miniature

effects_11.jpg effects_12.jpg