Meet the camera with interchangeable...cameras
S10 Wide-to-Tele Unit
A sensible entry point into the GXR system, at 24–72mm (fullframe equivalent) the S10 covers a versatile range of focal lengths, while its maximum aperture range of f/2.5–4.4 makes it faster than most DSLR kit lenses.
But unlike DSLRs, and the newest ILCs from Samsung and Sony, the S10’s 10MP CCD sensor is a small 1/1.7-inch type, similar to the size used in many compact cameras. The APS-C sensors used in most consumer-level DSLRs have more than 8.5 times the surface area of this one.
The difference really showed when it came to noise performance, where the S10 scored an unimpressive Moderately Low rating at ISO 100, increased to a Moderate rating at ISO 200, and ranged well into Unacceptable from ISO 400 through its top sensitivity of ISO 3200. This is on par with most compact cameras, but compared with ILCs it comes up short—all Micro Four Thirds cameras to date have scored acceptable noise results through at least ISO 800. For more detailed ILC test results, see our Shoot-Out.
In our resolution test, the S10 turned in average results for a 10MP camera with 1850 lines per picture height. Color accuracy scored an Excellent rating with an average Delta E of 6.7 from RAW files converted to TIFFs using Ricoh’s Irodio software (included).
Outside of all the controls and capabilities of the GXR system, what sets the S10 apart from most compacts is its ability to shoot RAW files. Midlevel and advanced shooters will thus find the GXR more to their liking, particularly in postprocessing. While most RAW shooters will be less than enthusiastic about the unintuitive Windows- only Irodio software, Photoshop users can always opt for Adobe Camera Raw, as the Ricoh uses Adobe’s DNG file format for RAW capture.
In the field, the S10 module handles much like a compact. While autofocus speed is on par with Micro Four Thirds cameras from Olympus—quick compared with most compacts—it’s still slower to lock on than a DSLR.
We were impressed, though, by its ability to track a subject moving toward or away from the camera. Once it locked focus for the first shot (we highly recommend prefocusing), the S10 was able to hold focus as the subject moved.
Taken on its own, the S10 doesn’t significantly outperform a compact camera. Many compacts have greater zoom ranges, are just as sharp, and give you similar noise performance—though they tend not to have color reproduction this accurate, and very few of them capture RAW.
The S10’s biggest benefit comes from being a part of the GXR system, with more advanced controls than most compacts, a nice LCD screen, and more solid construction. So if you like the luxury of the GXR feel, then the S10 kit could make sense.