Today I went to town to take some test shots to compare the Panasonic FX36 (FX35 ) 25-100mm with the Ricoh G100, 24-74mm. When I got there I found out that the Sigma DP1 had arrived, so it turned out to be a three way test.
Please keep in mind that there are much better "scientific" test on the NET, however this is my impression.
The Sigma DP1 is indeed closer to "SLR" quality than it is to a compact camera. By that I mean that it has a better dynamic range and more detail.
It looks and feel like a cheapish compact, but it delivers. The downside: fairly slow and it does have a somewhat strange color cast that changes from purple to green from the center to the corners( some have reported cyan..) but it is only noticeable (to me) if you take a monochromatic shot, like a gray wall. In other words, I cannot see it on my real life shots. The built in flash is almost useless.Apart from that it is the best compact camera I have tested so far.
The Ricoh picks up more detail than the Pana, however on some shots it's hard to tell on a computer screen. I would guess that you will need a bigger than 8"x10" to see the difference. My advice : if you are after full manual control, get the Ricoh. If you like a very clever Auto mode, get the Pana. The new Intelligent Mode works well (it chooses the ISO,focus point "scene mode" and even boosts the ISO level in the shadow areas to get a more even exposure)
Frankly, I am amazed at the quality of the 25mm wide end of the FX36: straight lines with almost no loss of detail and exposure from the center to the corners.In low light the Pana still cannot match the Fuji F series, but it is much better than last year's models.
I have decided that my next camera will have at least a 28mm lens, but I love the 24/25 mm versions.
Now Panasonic have announced the FX500 with a 24-125mm lens. From 100mm to 125mm it's not a big deal.
Anyway here are a couple of shots. First the Sigma and then the Pana. I did not have the Ricoh there, but it is somewhat in-between but much closer to the Pana.
As a comment, this is a fairly difficult shot with mix lighting and a lot of detail. It has been the standard shot that the retail shop I used to work for has used for years.