This is the first post of the user's impression of GRD III. Along with discussions about the camera, photos epitomising the character of Hong Kong will be featured in the series. This first post is related to rhapsody in terms of the snappiness of the GRD III, equipped to let the photographers to really improvise their works in any occasions any time.
Photos here feature the old fruit wholesale market which operates in the heart of the city in a haphazard but orderly way.
First things first, let us look at some facts about the GRD III.
The GR series of Ricoh boosts a long and glorious past in the camera history. As any other camera maker, Ricoh has charted the correct course of pursuing digitalisation of its cameras. Unveiled in July and officially launched some two weeks ago in Hong Kong, the GRD III is the flagship camera of Ricoh. Until the rumoured Ricoh camera with interchangeable lenses (I will bet on the digital version of this) sees the day of the light, that is.
Despite it is neither with a APS-C heart nor an interchangeable lens, the GRD III has many checkboxes ticked. The improvements are multi-fold as compared to the hugely popular GRD II, including a sexier lens, a sleeker sensor, smarter imaging engine and smoother controls which already score full marks in GRD II. And the improvements are great in effect and magnitude.
The GR Lens
The biggest leap from the II to III is in respect of the lens. The GR series has been around for five years. The 28mm F2.8 sounds an inadequate parameter in the increasing competitive market segment for serious compacts. The GRD is much welcomed to sport a new 28mm (35mm-equivalent) prime lens improved from the previously 6 element in 5 groups to 8 elements in 6 groups, with a much faster speed at F1.9.
It should be noted that for 135 format SLRs, a prime lens is usually fitted with a large maximum aperture. However, there are more limitations in digital cameras for achieving the same. Also, for the tiny sensor of the GRD III, just because the aperture is two steps wider, doesn’t that a blurred background is readily achievable in the final image. What’s more, as a rule of thumb, the image quality is softer at the widest opening of the lens.
The good news is the lens given to the GRD III is sharper than its old mate, not by much but by just enough. The improvement is evident in comparison shots taken with the II and III by Pavel of Ricohforum. The following MTF charts of the II and III give some scientific cue as well.
Excellent Image Quality
To decipher the charts, you may wish to pursue a further reading here. In a nutshell, a MTF chart tells how well a lens reproduces contrast and achieves sharpness.
Generally, the higher a point is on the chart the higher the contrast transfer capability, and the further to the right one is the further from the centre of the image.
Also, the higher up the chart the 50/mm line is (specific to this case, the blue line), the higher the contrast reproduction capability of the lens will be.
The higher up the chart the 150 /mm line is (specific to this case, the red line), the higher the resolving power and thus subjective sharpness of the lens will be.
Generally speaking, a lens whose blue lines are above 80% on the chart should be regarded as having excellent image quality. Above 60% is regarded as "satisfactory". Below 60% is, well, below. (Adapted from Luminous Landscape)
So, as you can see from the chart, the new GR lens has excellent image quality.
(to be continued)