Ricoh A16 24-85mm f/3.5 - 5.5 APS-C Review - Joshua Waller reviews the new 16 megapixel APS-C sensor, wide angle zoom lens unit for the Ricoh GXR system, equivalent to 24-85mm. Find out how it performs in our review.
The Ricoh GXR A16 15.7-55.5mm Lens / sensor unit, is the latest unit for the Ricoh GXR system, and slots into the cameras body as shown below. It features an APS-C sized sensor, as well as a wide-angle 15.7-55.5mm lens equivalent to 24 to 85 mm in 35mm terms.
One of the benefits of this system is that you can use the same camera body and simply upgrade your lens and sensor when you feel the need to upgrade, without having to learn a new camera system or change any accessories you may have. Another potential benefit of this over a Digital SLR or Mirrorless camera is that the sensor and lens are in a sealed unit, so should not be affected by dust on the sensor.
One dis-advantage of this system is that the built in pop-up flash does not raise high enough to clear the lens whether at wide or telephoto settings, making the built in pop up flash mostly superficial, unless you only want the top half of your photos illuminated.
Handling - The lens unit is very well made - with an extremely solid metal body with metal lens surround. The lens does not feature manual zoom control, instead it's controlled with the zoom buttons on the back of the camera. There is also a large front and rear rubber grip to help keep the camera steady. At the very front is a level that you use to "eject" the lens / sensor unit from the camera body. The mode dial is locked in position until you press the release button, and a front command dial lets you quickly alter settings.
The tripod socket is on the GXR body, instead of the lens, which means it's not possible to change the memory card or battery when mounted on a tripod. If they do release an updated body - a side slot for the memory card would be nice, as would a raised flash unit, and with heavier lens units as this one, perhaps a tripod socket on the lens would be useful.
Menus – The menus are very logically laid out and the high resolution screen makes reading them easy as the text is very clear. The menu system is split into three main areas: photo shooting menu, key custom options and the setup menu. The key custom options menu lets you customise what the ADJ menu options are, what the Function, Up, Down and Zoom buttons do. The ADJ button can also be set to quickly change the ISO setting without having to press it down. The menus are the same across the GXR cameras regardless of what sensor / lens unit you use, however some of the features and options alter slightly depending on the module, for example some have extended ISO settings, or high speed shooting and HDR (in the case of the P10 28-300mm VC). The direct button gives you a quick overlay of options making it easy to change settings whilst also seeing the effect on the image.
Battery life - The battery life is rated at 400 shots according to CIPA standards. We took over 550 shots before the battery went flat, with very little flash use.
Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
Shutter response is quick, and focus is reasonably quick. The camera features a snap focus mode that can improve focus speed. Continuous shooting is average at 2 to 3 fps depending on whether you are shooting JPEGs or RAW, and to get the higher speed noise reduction must be switched off.
Ricoh A16 24-85mm f/3.5 - 5.5 Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Ricoh GXR A16 24-85mm f/3.5 - 5.5 Sample Photos
Sample Photos - Colour reproduction is good with bright colours when shooting in sunny conditions. Colours aren't as saturated as some cameras, with images looking more neutral in comparison. Skin tones are also slightly de-saturated, and using the flash isn't a particularly good idea, as the lens obstructs it noticeably.
Ricoh GXR A16 24-85mm f/3.5 - 5.5 Lens test images
Lens Performance - The images show slightly soft corners when shooting wide-angle. Purple fringing is well controlled and there were no signs of other chromatic aberrations. Macro performance is a little disappointing, with the closest focusing distance 25cm. Detail is good, although images could benefit from being sharpened slightly. Barrel distortion is high at the wide end of the lens, and distortion correction can help improve the results slightly, but does not entirely remove it from the image. Pincushion distortion is visible at the telephoto end of the lens although not as strongly noticeable as the barrel distortion. It was difficult to product any lens flare, even shooting with the sun in the frame, and dynamic range is good, even when shooting JPEGs, with additional detail in RAW images.
Ricoh GXR A16 24-85mm f/3.5 - 5.5 ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - Very low at ISO100, 200. Low at ISO400. Quite low at ISO800. Reasonable at ISO1600 with some noise visible. Noise is most noticeable at ISO3200, where there is also a drop in levels of detail, however results should still be usable. Noise reduction options: Off, Auto (Default), Weak, Strong, Max. Noise reduction ISO: All, Over ISO201, Over ISO401 (default), Over ISO801, Over ISO1601, ISO3200.
Ricoh GXR A16 24-85mm f/3.5 - 5.5 White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) produces a warm result under tungsten lighting. The tungsten preset does a much better job under tungsten lighting. AWB performs well under fluorescent lighting. The fluorescent preset does little to improve results, instead giving a magenta cast.
Ricoh GXR A16 24-85mm f/3.5 - 5.5 Digital filters
Digital Filters - Digital filters can be found under the scene modes dial, where there are a number of options including skew correct, miniature, toycam, cross process, soft focus, high contrast black and white. Another set of colour modes are available, where you can also setup your own custom colour settings, with options for vividness, contrast, and sharpness. The camera has dynamic range expansion with options of off, low, mid and high. A panoramic mode is not available.
Video - The camera will record 720p video with mono sound. Unfortunately it's not possible to use the optical zoom while recording.
Value For Money
The Ricoh GXR body is £249, while the A16 24-85mm lens unit is £419, making the total price around £668. Alternatively the Samsung NX1000 is available for £599, with twin kit lens, including the 20-50mm and 16mm wide-angle lens, similarly you could get the Sony NEX-5N for £489 with twin lens kit, including the 18-55 and 16mm wide-angle lens.
If you already have the Ricoh GXR body, this is a very nice lens unit, however the total price makes you wonder whether you would get better value from a Sony NEX or Samsung NX mirrorless camera system, the Samsung NX1000 is available for £599, with twin kit lens, including the 20-50mm and 16mm wide-angle lens, similarly you could get the Sony NEX-5N for £489 with twin lens kit, including the 18-55 and 16mm wide-angle lens - the benefit of these systems are that there is more choice of body available and the regular updates and economies of scale mean you can quite easily and cheaply change the camera body and keep the lenses. These other cameras also benefit from Full HD video, high speed shooting, and other options such as Wi-Fi on the Samsung, and a tilting screen on the Sony.
Ricoh A16 24-85mm f/3.5 - 5.5 Pros
Wide angle 24mm lens
Excellent build quality
Good camera body, screen, menu system, and handling
Regular firmware updates with many enhancements
Good battery life
Ricoh A16 24-85mm f/3.5 - 5.5 Cons
Lens blocks built in flash, regardless of zoom amount
Larger than other mirrorless camera systems
More expensive than other mirrorless camera systems
Strong barrel distortion (built in correction helps resolve this)
Lacks image stabilisation