Image quality

Images: There is image noise at ISO 3200, but not nearly so much to make the setting unusable.  Minimal shutter lag helps when shooting moving subjects

Ricoh has achieved very good image quality with its APS-C sensors in the GXR and the 12.3-million-pixel model in the Mount A12 steps that up again.

There is no low-pass filter in this camera unit, so the potential for detail capture is higher than we might usually expect – as too is the potential for moiré patterning. In the event, though, the Mount A12 proves itself very well and has achieved some exceptional readings on our resolution chart.

Reaching 26 with a 12-million-pixel sensor is quite an achievement – Nikon’s D3100 managed 22 in JPEG mode, while the Olympus Pen E-PL3 peaks at 24. I found that in use, in both high- and low-contrast situations, plenty of detail can be drawn from any scene, with any patterning occurring only in rare conditions – and easily corrected in-camera in the JPEG processing and in software for DNG files.

There is a definite grid pattern to the unit’s JPEG files that only becomes visible when images are viewed at magnifications of 501% and upwards – but not at 500%!

I can only assume this is a function of there being no low-pass filter, and it actually has no impact on images day to day.

Something more pleasing is that noise is controlled in a much more defined way than I have become used to in Ricoh cameras. At ISO settings beyond 1000, noise does become part of the image, but actually the levels are well controlled and the noise is of the type that can be reduced effectively in software. With chroma noise gone we are left with a grain pattern not too unlike that which we enjoyed with film.

Colours are nicely controlled, and while contrast and saturation can be played with, I found the default settings moderate and well balanced. There is no one colour that jumps out and the contrast position seems set to ensure maximum use of the unit’s dynamic range.

Resolution, Noise & Dynamic Range:  These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured using the Voigtländer Ultron 35mm f/1.7 Aspherical lens. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution at the specified sensitivity setting.  

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