Ricoh GR II Low Light Performance Tests & Sample Images at High ISOs

I’ve been out shooting with the Ricoh GR II and testing how well it performs under challenging shooting conditions like low light at high ISOs. Here’s a collection of sample images I’ve taken with it.

Text & Photos By David Coleman
Last Revised & Updated:

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The Ricoh GR II is a unique camera and has quite a cult following. While it doesn’t necessarily have the same bells and whistles as some other cameras on the market, it brings a very distinctive approach and has some unusual settings and features that aren’t easily found elsewhere.

I’ve been shooting with one since 2015, so it’s not a new model. And it’s just about to be replaced by a new version, the Ricoh GR III.

So why am I posting photos from the GR II when the GR III is just around the corner? Two reasons. Firstly, I have high hopes for the GR III, and one of the things I’ll be most interested in seeing is whether its low-light performance is improved. It’s one area that I’ve always had a little nagging disappointment with the GR II–I just feel like there’s room for improvement, especially since, in this particular area, the GR II didn’t offer much improvement over the even older GR. And when I’m out and about with a camera like this, chances are I’ll be wanting to use it in less than ideal lighting conditions. So I wanted to gather together some examples to establish a reference point to compare with. Secondly, I would expect there to be some good deals on the GR II when the GR III comes out, and I suspect there will be people who are still interested in seeing how the GR II performs in real-world shooting conditions.

UPDATE: Since I originally posted this, the GR III has come out. I’ve been shooting with it and have posted some high ISO examples here. And you can find my other Ricoh GR III posts here.

So here’s a collection of images I’ve taken in the past few years with the GR II at high ISOs in low light conditions. The GR II has an APS-C sized CMOS sensor (23.7 x 15.7mm), which is basically the same size as cameras like the Fujifilm XT-3, Nikon D7500, Sony a6500, or the Canon 80D.[1] It produces images up to 16.2MP; they measure 4928 by 3264 pixels.

And it has an ISO range from 100 to 25600. I’m focusing here on the upper end of that range, starting with ISO 1600. (If you’re looking for a more general collection at a broader range of ISOs, I posted some sample images here some time ago.) I’ve included the ISO at which each photo was taken in the captions.

High ISO Sample Images with the Ricoh GR II

These were all originally shot in RAW and have been processed in Lightroom (and some in Color Efex Pro 4). You can click on each image to open a full-resolution version for a closer look.

Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 8000
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 1600
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 2200
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 3200
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 5000
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 4500
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 4500
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 2000
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 4000
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 16000
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 9000
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 9000
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 25600
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 1600
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 2000
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 3200
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 4000
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 2000
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 3200
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 1600
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 25600
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 1600
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 4500
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 4500
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 1600
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 1600
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 1600
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 2200
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 12800
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 1600
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 18000
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 1600
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 25600
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 4000
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 1600
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 2500
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 3200
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 20000
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 6400
Ricoh GR II High ISO Sample Image
ISO 2200

Fixing Image Quality Problems in Editing

The general rule of thumb in photography is that it’s better to get the shot right at the time of capture rather than trying to fix it later. That’s a great aspiration, but it’s not always possible to do if you’re shooting in especially challenging conditions or bumping up against limitations or flaws in gear, conditions, or technique.

But it’s worth mentioning that there are some excellent tools available to help address common image quality issues with digital images. And they’re getting better and better all the time as the power of AI ramps up. They can deal remarkably well with anything from sensor issues like high-ISO image noise to lens issues like distortion, softness, vignetting, and chromatic aberration. (Note: I’m focusing here on corrections related to image quality, not image enhancement tools—that’s a different kettle of fish.)

All-round image processing apps like Lightroom Classic and Capture One have solid tools built in that are very good places to start. But it’s also possible to take it much further with more specialized tools. If you shoot in challenging conditions regularly and find room for improvement in the image quality coming out of the camera, these might well be worth a look (and they have free trials). Some are stand-alone apps; some integrate into image editing suites such as Lightroom Classic.

UPDATE: In April 2023, Adobe released an update to Lightroom Classic that added new AI-powered noise reduction for RAW files. It’s a powerful tool that rivals some of the dedicated apps below. If you’re already using Lightroom Classic for your image editing and organization, it’s well worth trying out—look for the Denoise tool under the Detail panel.

Fixing Image Noise & High ISO Artifacts

  • DxO PureRAW 3. Like Lightroom Classic’s Denoise tool, it only works on RAW files. But since was updated to version 3, it has become my go-to app for this kind of thing. I’m consistently amazed at how it can rescue photos with otherwise dodgy image quality from noise. It can also help with lens distortion, lens vignetting, and lens softness.
  • DxO DeepPrime. This is the noise-only offering using the same denoising technology as PureRAW.
  • Topaz Labs’ DeNoise AI. This is another excellent option for specialized denoising. It works alongside Lightroom or as a standalone app.

Fixing Lens-Related Optical Issues

  • DxO PureRAW. Again offers an impressive suite of automatic fixes that are applied before you start editing the images.
  • DxO ViewPoint. Correcting for lens distortion and geometry skews. Lightroom Classic and Capture One also have excellent built-in tools for this.
  • Topaz Labs Sharpen AI. In addition to standard unsharp tools, it includes focus correction and shake reduction.
  1. While APS-C refers to a pretty standardized size, there can be minor variations in the precise physical measurement.[]
Profile photo of David Coleman | Have Camera Will Travel | Washington DC-based Professional Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a professional photographer based in Washington, DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and many places in between. I've been shooting for 30+ years, and my photos and time-lapse videos have appeared in a bunch of different publications, from major newspapers to magazines and books, billboards, TV shows, professional sports stadiums, museums, and even massive architectural scrims covering world-famous buildings while they're being renovated. You can see some of my travel photography here and here.

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