Ricoh GRD III Review – Part 5

When the GRD I came out most people only ever used it in b&w mode and still a lot of people are using the GRDs mostly for b&w. Thus it’s important to look at how the different cameras perform in b&w mode.

This part will look at the low ISO b&w mode and compare the cameras at ISO 64/80 and 200.

Part 5 – Image Comparison GRDs – Part 3 (b&w: ISO 64 and 200)

Like before the usual information. All cameras have been set to A-mode, EV -0.3, ISO 64 (80 for the GRD II), and 200 respectively (I have left ISO 100 out this time), b&w image parameters with NR off (GRD II and III) and Contrast +2 and Sharpening at +1. The JPGs are unprocessed and the RAW files were batch processed with RAW Therapee 2.4 using the default profile and then just changed to b&w using the Faststone grayscale option. This test will be based more on the JPGs though.
The pictures have all been taken without a tripod.

Lets start with a picture taken at ISO 64/80 in JPG.

Looking at the first picture you can see the different contrast which looks more pleasing on the GRD I and the picture looks more crisp at 50%.
The GRD I seems to also have retained more details in the hair, which is even more evident in the 2nd picture. Overall the difference at such a low ISO is not big between the cameras though.

Now it’s time to see if the RAW file shows any significant difference at ISO 64.

Looking at the RAW files shows again the GRD II having the most noise while the GRD I and GRD III compare very well with each other. I prefer the GRD I look since the GRD III looks too “digital” and clean, something which is not a benefit for b&w pictures.

The next picture is taken at ISO 200 and first is again the JPG version.

Looking at the first crops shows the noise reduction smearing of the GRD II very well and the lost details in the leaves, even the GRD III shows enough signs of noise reduction but it does not lose details. The GRD I crop shows noise but the noise is not objectionable at all and it also does not smear away any details.
The 200% crop shows the effects of the noise reduction in the GRD II even more but it also shows how good the JPG engine in the GRD I really is by still having a fairly crisp image.
The GRD III fares well both times by delivering a clean image with plenty of details.

Lets move on to the RAW file.

The RAW file shows surprisingly a similar level of noise and details between the GRD I and GRD II, the GRD III has again the cleanest picture. Looking at this RAW file though I have to say that I prefer the GRD I JPG for this picture.

The conclusion this time is that at low ISO and b&w all 3 cameras perform well in RAW but the GRD I performs almost better in JPG. The GRD III produces clean looking results in both JPG and RAW but in my opinion this looks to “digital” and I prefer the GRD I look. Looking at the ISO 200 shot it becomes clear how much NR the GRD II does to the JPGs and even the RAW file does not really offer an improvement over the GRD I.

As usual you can download the files any look for yourself here.

Continue to part 6. Part 6…

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