Any experience? S95 vs GRD iii

Discussion in 'Open Gear Talk' started by wt21, Oct 14, 2011.

  1. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    I'm thinking of doing a project around my town, of taking shots in all our local eateries. Many of them are pretty colorful joints.

    To do this, I'd like to use an unobtrusive camera with a bright wide angle, and that is fairly quite. I'd like to go smaller than my EPL2, so I'm looking at the pocket cams/small sensor.

    I'm consider the GRD iii vs. Canon S95.

    The GRD iii because of what I've read about in "snap focus" and also the excellent lens quality and nice B&W rendering. Also, one side of me says I'll be forced to be creative with only one focal length.

    The S95 because I can get one pretty cheaply (more than $100 cheaper than GRD iii), I think it's still a bit smaller than the GRD iii, and because it would seem more flexible with a zoom lens (though see my comment above about single FL on GRD iii).

    Has anyone used both? If so, can you comment on the B&W rendering of both for wide angle, indoor shots (even with a bright lens, I'm assuming I'll need 400-1600 ISO). Any thoughts on speed of on/off, lens extension, focusing, quietness and general operation for taking candids in various eating establishments?

    btw -- I've already begun asking permission from the owners. I realize it's private property.
     
  2. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I had an S90 (pretty much identical to the S95 for stills) and have a GRD3. For stationary subjects, there's no real downside to the S95 - its almost as fast at the wide end as the GRD3, the quality of the images is quite good for a compact, and its very flexible. For moving subjects, like street shooting trying to catch people at the critical moment, the GRD3 is overwhelmingly better. Between the snap focus feature and the absolute lack of shutter lag makes it about the best little street camera I could ever imagine. The IQ of the GRD3 is arguably a bit better, given the fixed lens matched to the sensor, but both are very good and you're really into deep pixel peeping territory here, which neither camera really holds up to. Both of them are absolutely dead-silent, so that part's a wash. The S95 is probably a bit smaller, but both easily fit in a pants pocket, unlike the LX5, XZ1, etc.

    For me, the GRD3 is a much better compact camera, but I have specific wants/needs. For many, the S95 is a pretty great little package. I travelled through Europe in summer 2010 with a full m43 setup but set out with just the S90 for a couple of days when I figured I didn't want to focus on photography so much and would be doing a ton of walking. I ended up with a disproportionate number of my favorite shots from that trip with the S90. Its a great little camera and is certainly more versatile than the GRD3 given the zoom range. So, it really comes down to what you want....

    -Ray
     
  3. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    Thanks Ray. One question on shutter lag. I believe you had an EP1 (??). I still have one, so I was wondering if you are able to comment -- I find the EP1 shutter lag (time from when I push the button to when it snaps the photo) to be outside the acceptable range for moving subjects. Would you say the S90 approached EP1 shutter lag delay? Or is it just that the GRD is really fast, and the S9x just a little less so?
     
  4. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I had an EP2, which I don't think improved on lag from the EP1, and, no, I didn't find it acceptable either. I USED it a lot and got plenty of decent street shooting results from it, but I always felt like I was fighting it to some degree. The new Pens are just so many orders of magnitude better...

    The S90, IIRC, was worse. It had a manual focus mode and a distance scale so you could set it up for zone focus or hyperfocal (although it was difficult compared to the LX5 and waaaaaay difficult compared to the GRD3), but even when pre-focussed, there was a ton of lag. I think I took the S90 out and tried to shoot on the street with it twice before giving up. And this was when the EP2 was my only other alternative, but I found it a lot more useable than the S90. Both the LX5 and the GRD3 have essentially NO lag. You might actually want to add the LX-5 to your list. Its every bit as versatile as the S90 (trading off a little bit more wide angle for a little less telephoto in the zoom range), but is a much nicer camera to shoot with, IMHO. The only downside is that the lens doesn't retract into the camera body so its not as easy for fitting in a pants pocket as the other two (although it'll do fine in any jacket pocket I've ever tried). But although its not quite as nicely specialized as the GRD3, it really combines a lot of the best from both the GRD3 and S95. For what you're looking at doing, I might choose that one, personally.

    -Ray
     
  5. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    Thanks again Ray.

    I had an LX3 before. Lovely camera, and got some great shots, but to me, it's not any practically smaller than my EPL2. I'll ponder on the GRD a bit more, and maybe keep looking for a lower price.
     
  6. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Once the GRD IV hits the streets in any volume, I'm sure you'll see the 3 come down quite a bit. I don't know if that's a matter of a week or two or a month or two, though, so if its time critical, you might not get much of a break.

    If the LX5 isn't smaller enough for you, I don't know that either of the others will be either - the only dimension where they're notably smaller is thickness because the lenses fully retract into the body, which the LX4 doesn't. You mght want to go with the EPL2 for that matter - the primary disadvantage is the shutter sound, if that matters. If the people know you're gonna be shooting and you have permission, that might not be an issue?

    -Ray
     
  7. jazzle

    jazzle SC Regular

    33
    Oct 14, 2011
    I had a S90 and just got a GRD III. as similar as they are in term of size and pricing, I feel they are quite different cameras.

    Although there may be minimal difference in IQ imo, their targetted audience is very different. GRD III imo is more suitable people who value controls and usability from a Still photography point of view (there is more customizations you can do to the buttons) and do not care about anything else like HD video, zoom, Image stabilisation. I'm not saying the S95 is hard to control though (the control ring around the lens is very useful) but it is certainly not as good. Also the ricoh has a Hot shoe where you can put a flash or Viewfinder on and that is one reason why I think S95 is not as 'photographer-minded' as the GRD III.

    in terms of portability, S95 wins hands down, it is so small I could put it in any pockets of my jeans. I think GRD III is very close to LX5 in term of size so if you think that is a bit big then you will probably feel the same way with a GRD.

    Also the price of GRD III has come down a fair bit in where I live (sydney), I bought mine this thurs for 400 aud which is cheaper than S95 :D :D :D.
     
  8. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    Is the snap focus feature going to be of any use for the project you are describing? The feature sounds great if you can control the distance to your subject at which you are pressing the shutter (which would be applicable if you are moving around on the street), but I'd imagine inside a restaurant/cafe you'd be photographing the scene around you from a stationary position, with varying distances to your subjects. Thinking about it a bit further, would a 24mm equiv. lens (a la LX3/5) be of benefit in what might be a small interior space?
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    It's a reasonable point on the 24mm. And I bet I could find an LX3 cheap. I'll have to review some old LX3 shots. It's a bit bigger than I was thinking, but if the GRD isn't much smaller. Hmmm...
     
  10. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Snap focus is just a very quick shortcut to zone focussing - with decent DOF I'd think it could be useful inside of a restaurant. Whether it'd really be necessary or helpful for this project is another question.

    As for the size, Bill, I don't think the LX5 is at all large except in terms of thickness, since the lens doesn't retract. The GRD3 may be similar length and height, but with a retracting lens, it's much narrower and more pocketable. I guess it's a bit larger than the S95, but it feels very similarly pocketable to me, where the LX5 clearly doesn't.

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    That's what I remember on my LX3 -- didn't quite fit in a pocket, so once the Pen series was released, I just went with an EP1 and sold the LX3.

    I've been looking at S95 samples on pbase vs. LX3. LX3 is a pretty clear winner. I'd say the S95 samples are actually a little weak. The GRD samples seem closer to LX3, but I haven't found enough on pbase. I'll check Flickr as well.