What was the targeted picture quality?
"How our design team viewed the legitimate evolution of the GR DIGITAL was higher picture quality," speaks design team leader Tomohiro Sakaguchi. That is, the picture quality proposed in product planning was to deliver the same quality found with ISO100 on the GR DIGITAL at ISO400 on the GR DIGITAL II. "This meant enhancing sensitivity 4 times. We saw it as a major target," admits Sakaguchi. The design team first came up with a few possibilities. Then, they tested and verified them one by one as design work went ahead.
Basically, what does "4x" mean? With a film camera, it means to change ISO100 film into high sensitivity ISO400 film. Even pictures taken in the evening or in dimly lit rooms come out with the same quality as pictures taken outdoors on a clear afternoon. "It also means delivering the same quality as before with 1/4 the lighting. So, a picture of someone running taken until now came out blurred, but with the GR DIGITAL II, it can be taken with 1/4 the exposure time, therefore images can be obtained with minimal blurring," explains Sakaguchi.
How to balance noise reduction and resolution
"What was the most troublesome was balancing noise processing and resolution," says Sakaguchi. If processing is provided to just reduce noise, resolution decreases and images come out blase. For example, if a picture is taken of someone wearing a black and white pinstriped suit, high resolution renders sharply contoured pinstripes, though some noise occurs. In this case, excessive noise processing eliminates the noise, but the stripes become unidentifiable and the suit comes out gray. So, the design team pursued images that delivered sharply detailed pinstripes with minimal noise.
"Two big reasons why we were successful in enhancing picture quality are the development of the new 'GR ENGINE II' image processing engine and layout efforts inside the camera," tells Sakaguchi.