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Ricoh GR Digital III - Test Shots - ISO Performance

By Cliff Smith



Our Score:


User Score:

Over the next few pages we show a range of test shots. On this page the full size image at the minimum and maximum ISO settings have been reduced to let you see the full image, and a series of full resolution crops have taken from original images at a range of ISO settings to show the overall image quality. These pictures were taken indoors using reflected natural light.


This is the full frame at 64 ISO. Compare the GR Digital III's results with the Panasonic LX3 and Canon G10.


Flawless image quality at the minimum ISO setting.


100 ISO and still nice and clean.


No problems to report at 200 ISO.


Some noise is visible at 400 ISO, but the overall image quality is still very good.


At 800 ISO the red gradient is now very blotchy and there is a lot of noise in the grey area.


The maximum 1600 ISO is pretty terrible.


This is the full frame at 1600 ISO.


Dark of Day

September 15, 2009, 11:22 pm

Nice looking camera, but yes, way to expensive.

On which note; any likelihood of Leica sending you an M9 to play with and tell us about?


September 16, 2009, 12:23 am

It's the daddy ;)

My GRDigital is back from being repaired soon. Cost £120. It's my first camera. I broke it after using it about 3 times. I've now spent the money (including buying it) that I could of afforded the LX3 yet I'm still happy I went with it. Cliff is right, the lack of zoom I think improves your photography (Although I never get a photo showed on the comp each month lol).


September 16, 2009, 2:08 am

Wonderful camera.

Been a fan of the GR series since film days and continue to be so with the GR Digital. They've always had a fantastic lens and a combination of quality & features with its simplicity works fantastically.

The fixed lens does discipline you into thinking more about your composures and the improvement in results offsets the loss of some photo oportunities due to the lack of zoom.

Brilliant little camera (if a little expensive compared to it's peers).

Get over the price and you'll fall in love with it (irrationally? given the existence of the LX3 and promise of the G11 and S90.)

Note for ed - Page 2 and Page 3 of the review are identical.


September 16, 2009, 3:38 am

I don't understand how this gets 10/10 for image quality, 1600 looks terrible, the corners aren't sharp. Can you explain please Cliff? And 2.4 seconds per RAW shot is terrible.

Cliff Smith

September 16, 2009, 7:00 am

jopey - This is going to sound odd, but 10/10 does not in fact mean perfect; within a scale of only 1-10 it only means its better overall than 90 percent of comparable cameras, in this case high-end compacts. As always I urge you not to get hung up on scores, and to read the text of the review instead.

Stewart - Yes, I spotted that. Not sure what happened, it's never happened before. I'll get it fixed tomorrow.


September 16, 2009, 7:30 am

I have to agree with the odd 10/10 for image quality, particularly in respect of noise. ISO800 is not good and ISO1600 is crap. I have had issues with the point rating system before and I think a far more objective method of assessment is required or the point scores should be dropped all together. Such insonsistent scores makes comparative assessments impossible. Based on recent reviews, this camera is at best an 8/10 on IQ.


September 16, 2009, 12:46 pm

@PeterB666: As well as Cliff's points, it's also important to consider how this camera will be used. Yes, the ISO 800/1600 results are poor but with an f1.9 lens the need for such high ISO settings is going to be minimal. I seldom shoot above ISO 400 on either my compact or SLR and neither has lenses anywhere near as fast.


September 16, 2009, 1:15 pm

Both landscapes that can be opened in original size suffer terrible focus problems with only the closest few cabins or pebbles being sharp. Other areas lose on sharpness and detail with distance a great deal and are really blotchy and two-dimensional, tho there isn't any visible sensor noise. Is this due to poor metering, any other camera problems, or were those two shots taken so intentionally? I'm really interested in this cam (would mainly find its use in portrait photography in poor lighting conditions where such fast fixed lens should prove its worth) and would appreciate your reply. Thanks!


September 16, 2009, 2:38 pm

I find it funny how people think that ISO performance is the ultimate factor in judging image quality (it's not), particularly as I'm in the same boat as Ed in not using anything above ISO 400 (though it's hard to say whether I would if the ISO performance was better, most D90 users will tell you that's the case).

If you're solely comparing cameras using the scores on this site then you're doing them an injustice and aren't likely to make the right decision (i.e. an informed one). Read the review and look at the test shots yourself to compare, then make a decision. I always take the x/10 ratings with a pinch of salt and use it as a general guide as to whether the product in question was any good or not, compared to what else is available.


September 16, 2009, 5:14 pm

wise words smc8788 - I always ignore the iso performance on sites like this when assessing a camera. It's like not buying a 50" plasma TV because when you stand 2" it looks pixelated and fuzzy.

This camera will give you great photos if it's anything like it's predecessor, and as joose suggested - it may well make you a better photographer.


September 16, 2009, 5:20 pm

@purephase: Not wishing to contradict myself but ISO performance tests are still very significant and shouldn't be dismissed its just that they're one part of the assessment and should only ever be taken as such.

Also, no camera will make you a better photographer (per se), but this one may open your eyes to more ways to shoot creatively.


September 16, 2009, 7:14 pm

@miha: The blurriness is probably a function of focus distance. Had Landscape mode or infinity focus been chosen (and maybe stopping down further to f/8 or smaller), the picture would be much sharper.

Having said that, I am very impressed with the dynamic range of the GRDIII in the first beach shot. To preserve detail in the sky without clipping highlights as well as shadow detail is pretty impressive, and way beyond the average compact camera. I know that my Ricoh GX100 would have failed in that scenario.

It's a shame that the GRDIII came out at this time, what with Micro 4/3 cameras like the Olympus EP-1 and Panasonic GF-1 around. Although they're still bulkier than the GRDIII, they provide features and quality that the GRDIII can't match. And for those wanting a smaller camera than the EP-1 and GF-1, the Lumix LX3 occupies a much nicer price/performance ratio than the GRDIII. I know that my next camera purchase is probably going to be a GF-1...(waiting for next body/firmware revision).


September 16, 2009, 8:47 pm

Sorry to be picky, it is after all a compact and all that, , , but in some shots the colour of the pebbles seems a bit off, a pinkish hue or very very slight tint seems present, I don't think it's my monitor.

Another good review Cliff, well explained, succint etc, also enjoyed reading all the comments, good exchanges of info,thanks TR and all who sail in her.


September 16, 2009, 9:09 pm

And another thing while I remember ;

Since I always bitch/complain/deride/point out/bring to the attention of. No Viewfinder on most compacts these days, even expensive ones, the additional accessory is at least available for this camera, budget £97:00 though.


September 16, 2009, 9:50 pm

I see what you're saying Ed - I just think that when potential buyers look at pages like yours where the ISO is tested to failing point, they may draw the conclusion that there is some deficiency in the camera (as above), where as in fact it is a pretty much par for the course.

I'd certainly say that using a fixed focus camera, or even an old manual style SLR forces you to really think about what you are capturing and how you are going to do it, which sets good habits which you can then transfer to more complicated equipment.

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