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Comparison Test - Ricoh GR, Nikon Coolpix A, Sony RX100

Discussion in 'Other >= 1" Sensor Cameras' started by LindenW, Jul 8, 2013.

  1. LindenW

    LindenW SC Regular

    26
    Jul 3, 2013
    Hong Kong
    Linden
    I'll begin with a big caveat - I know nothing about setting up proper tests, or professionally reviewing cameras. I'm also new to this forum (and photography forums in general), so perhaps there is also some form required for this and I am well wide of it. But in any case, I thought this might be interesting...

    I posted last week that after much deliberation I had bought the Nikon Coolpix A. I have absolutely no regrets about that purchase. It is a wonderful camera. I also bought the Sony RX100 for its even more compact nature (I have now vowed to always carry a camera), video with camera shake function built it, and zoom (which I doubt I will use much except perhaps to take it up to "normal" 35/50mm, as the long end seems a bit compromised).

    Anyway... things got a little complicated. The day I bought the Coolpix A, I actually put my name down in a different store for the Ricoh GR. They are still a "hot item" as retailers are fond of saying here in Hong Kong. The Store that sold me the Coolpix A actually had the Ricoh GR in store (frustratingly they don't let you try the cameras out in many of these stores because that would make them "not new" - you can't even put the battery in. They hand you the camera so you can look at it while they grimace, and when you hand it back they take a lens cloth and polish it back up to "new" again). Anyway the Coolpix A store had the GR for about 15% MORE than the Coolpix A, and while the Coolpix A came bundled with an SD card, spare battery, case, etc, the Ricoh was offered unadorned...

    So, the other store was offering the normal retail price - no "hot item" mark up... but I had to join the waiting list (this is a city where people queue overnight to get the new iPhone each year). I was told I was third in the queue at that store, and that they expected stock in 3 or 4 weeks, maybe a month, but they might only get one copy, maybe two. Well... the next day I got a call to say someone had dropped off the waiting list and they got 2 cameras in (I don't think this was some elaborate scheme!)... Did I want to come in a buy the camera????.... ....... ...... ... .......... Umm, "yes please", I said, realising this was perhaps the dumbest and most indulgent thing I'd done in a while.

    I rationalised it like this - after a few months I will either settle for one camera or the other, and I can sell one of them for maybe 25% to 30% less than the new price, if I sell it while it is still the latest version of the camera... or I will like both for different reasons and keep them both (that is quite possible!).

    This also sets up a bit of fun, where in my own amateurish way I can compare the results, as I use the camera, and make my own mind up.

    So, in similar light to the picture I took from my balcony the other day with the Coolpix A, this evening I took three shots - one with each camera, with as close to the same settings as I could get.

    All three of these are at 100 ISO, f/7.1, 1/80 second, fine jpegs (the A and GR at 16.1mp and the Sony at 20mp), all auto white balance, all in manual with pattern metering agreeing across the three cameras. The A was at 6.19pm, the GR at 6.20pm, and the Sony at 6.24pm. Twilight is very quick in Hong Kong, so perhaps the Sony suffered a little from falling light.

    Fairer still would have been to get all shots within a few seconds, and all in RAW, I guess. But for a number of reasons I often shoot in jpeg, so jpeg performance is relevant.

    All three shots were dowloaded to Aperture 3. I then exported to Flickr, and also copied the images to a folder on my iMac, resized to post here.

    The Flickr versions are -
    Sony here: Sony RX100 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    Ricoh GR here: Ricoh GR | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    Nikon Coolpix A here: Coolpix A | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    Here are the three jpegs, reduced to 800 x 600:

    Coolpix A
    Coolpix A 001.

    Ricoh GR
    Ricoh GR 001.

    Sony RX100
    Sony RX100 001.
     
  2. LindenW

    LindenW SC Regular

    26
    Jul 3, 2013
    Hong Kong
    Linden
    Here are some centre crops -

    Coolpix A
    Coolpix A - centre crop 001.

    Ricoh GR
    Ricoh GR - centre crop 001.

    Sony RX100
    Sony RX100 - centre crop 001.
     
  3. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    Hey, Linden - I think it's great that you're doing your own testing.

    I've never been a highly technical photographer, though back in the olden days I did develop and print my own color negatives, etc. Certainly when it comes down to it, the bottom line is what each individual likes in using a camera and the results one sees.

    Do you recall your own impressions of the light as you took these? In my opinion the Coolpix looks the best in these examples, but I don't know if the light fell so fast that it had an impact or if it's the jpeg color "engine" of each camera that's causing the darkness, etc.?
     
  4. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    Like BB, I'm curious about this. The Nikon seemed to look best... but was it an effect of the lighting, or no?
     
  5. LindenW

    LindenW SC Regular

    26
    Jul 3, 2013
    Hong Kong
    Linden
    Too hard to call it, though the A and the GR were less than a minute apart. I'd say the RX100 - which I struggled to navigate to get matching settings - suffered by comparison being 4 minutes after the first two. But the 'rendering' of the A and the GR above does also seem consistent with what I have seen from the two cameras so far. Early days. The GR seems 'cooler', while the A seems warmer, and more flattering with skin tones.

    I think I'll try to set something up so three shots are taken within 10 seconds or so. I will also contribute to the relevant galleries as best I can.
     
  6. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    From all of the comparative shooting I did with both, the Nikon and the Ricoh have different looks. The Nikon is more immediately accessible to a lot of people, but I came to like the Ricoh's color signature as much, but differently. The different color didn't ultimately have much to do with my decision to ultimately go with the Nikon. The light in those two look the same. The RX100 just looks under exposed, but the colors that do come through look fine and Sony's colors are closer to the Nikon than the Ricoh - check out the blues in the sky....

    I'd say the RX100 is a totally different camera and a good compact alternative to either, for more focal lengths. I'd say the Nikon and GR are almost identically capable cameras, but they're different both in look and controls and its really down to personal preference between them. I think anyone who claims one is "better" has to be on something pretty strong. Like Ken Rockwell who dismissed the Ricoh in about three sentences yet LOVED the Nikon. But the criteria he used to trash the GR are essentially identical on the Nikon...

    Spend some time with both - I suspect one will emerge for you...

    -Ray
     
  7. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder SC Veteran

    383
    Mar 7, 2012
    I have to say that if someone presented all 3 pictures to me without knowing which camera made which, I would pick the Nikon as the best.
     
  8. LindenW

    LindenW SC Regular

    26
    Jul 3, 2013
    Hong Kong
    Linden
    I guess that is the cost of this endeavour. It was impossible for me to get to spend hands on time with either before deciding. So far, I am really impressed with both. It will be several weeks if not months in the field before I know which I prefer, and as I've said in a previous post, I suspect I will like both for different reasons. I saw quite a lot of (comparative) criticism of the Coolpix A out there in webland. To me the camera feels extra well built (okay, not Leica level, but not at all 'plastically'), and as a D800 user, I find the settings intuitive (if just a touch limited - but I'm sure I'd feel the same about the lower end DSLRs too). I find the Nikon colours induce a more immediately positive response fro me. They seem warmer, happier in tone. On the other hand, the Ricoh was less burdensome (slightly) in my pocket today, easier to hold, and almost anything I could think of - there was a menu item for it! I also felt a little less self-concious using it to take pictures of strangers today - it felt stealthier.

    So... my initial impression is that I like both these cameras, and I don't yet have a preference.

    As for Ken Rockwell, like many people I owe a lot to the guy for the enormous resource he has created, and for putting things into layers that make his reports very accessible to novices, yet full of reference information for the more experienced photographer. When I returned to photography in 2008 I read his site extensively, and his reports were very influential in the D200 and lenses kits I bought.

    I've come to see that he has a certain amount of self-contradiction, and quite a few axes to grind ("Leica man", Zeiss, heavy f/2.8 lenses viz light kit lenses), and a lot of personal taste - love of super saturated Disney-like colours (I followed is 'set up' tips for the D200, which involved bumping up saturation and colour and when I look back at those photos, the settings have made things look quite unnatural... to my eye, anyway).

    So I have learned to take Mr Rockwell's views with a pinch of salt, though I do appreciate the work he does, and I always read his report if he has one relevant to what I'm looking at.

    Anyway, thank you for all the work YOU have done on this site. I've only scraped the surface, but your posts on the Coolpix A, along with Ming Thein's were the most influential in that purchase.

    Thanks,
    Linden
     
  9. aleksanderpolo

    aleksanderpolo SC Regular

    112
    Apr 18, 2013
    Polo
    Thank you for the test. It shows some of the signature difference between the A and GR. A has a steeper curve, more punchy in color and contrast, more saturated in red (is the sky purplish at that time)? GR has a lower contrast look and bias towards blue.

    For color I think many would prefer the look of A out of the box, but it would also mean a higher tendency to clip black. Have you tried using D-light or dynamic range setting in both camera or play with the jpg settings? It might be worth trying the in camera raw processing in GR to get a setting that you like, apply it as your default jpg setting, if you are a jpg shooter.
     
  10. LindenW

    LindenW SC Regular

    26
    Jul 3, 2013
    Hong Kong
    Linden
    Very useful advice, thank you!
     
  11. trisberg

    trisberg SC Veteran

    251
    Jul 5, 2011
    New Hampshire
    Interesting comparison, thanks for posting this. To me the Ricoh looks to have the edge in resolution to the extent that there is some color moire on the buildings in the distance. The Nikon has higher contrast and more punchy colors and still is very sharp. I'd say the Sony looks really good and holds up well in this competition and based on sensor size it's the winner here. Maybe some higher ISO tests next :wink:

    -Thomas
     
  12. retow

    retow SC All-Pro

    Jul 24, 2010
    It`s rare to have two directly comparable makes which are so neck to neck IQ wise. The wide angle adapter and Ricoh`s history of constantly releasing FW upgrades even years after a product has been launched could be two reasons to choose it over the A. Other than that, it looks as if personal preferences concerning UI, haptics, looks and maybe some nostalgia for Ricoh (I had about 5-6 Ricohs myself) will decide.
     
  13. LindenW

    LindenW SC Regular

    26
    Jul 3, 2013
    Hong Kong
    Linden
    Okay, same view this evening in the last few minutes of light - lovely weather here in Hong Kong these days. Hot, for sure, but blue skies mean a little less mugginess, and there have been some nice breezes.

    This time - to get them all super quick, I just grabbed the cameras and shot in auto focus, in each camera's "auto" mode (the green camera icon), and let the camera do what it wanted. Here is what they chose and here is what I got:

    Coolpix A - it selected to use: ISO 800, f/3.5, 1/40 second.
    Dusk Coolpix A.


    Ricoh GR - it selected to use: ISO 1100, f/4, 1/40 second.
    Dusk GR.


    Sony RX100 - it selected to use: ISO 320, f/2, 1/30 second.
    Dusk RX100.

    What do you think? For me the only disappointment is the Ricoh GR. There is a little bit of graininess here that is lacking in the other two (which is impressive in itself for the RX100 with its much smaller sensor). Why did it choose f/4 in that light, when it had f/3.5 and f/2.8 at its disposal? It also underplays the intensity of the red-blue colours of the sunset. I think the Nikon got the colours closest. The RX100 I think underexposed just slightly, and overdid the colours - making them a touch more dramatically blue - I would have this somewhere between the Nikon and the Sony if I was playing around with the files.

    Again, this really is not scientific - just me trying to discover how these cameras prefer to behave and 'render' images. In the end all this can be intervened in camera and in pp.

    The camera geek within was curious!
     
  14. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    This confirms my love of the RX100. So much more versatile, and close enough to those APS-C sensored cameras. :)
     
  15. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    TBH -- the Ricoh seems to have a green cast in both the day and evening pics.
     
  16. blue_quartz

    blue_quartz SC Rookie

    23
    May 29, 2013
    Singapore
    The fact that GR likes the number 4 is described in other forums e.g. dpreview and even explicitly mentioned in a section of the user manual in the form of a graph, if you missed reading that... Also, it tends to focus in f/4 if you peer into the lens close enough. Some suspect f/4 is simply the best aperture that the engineers arrived at...
     
  17. LindenW

    LindenW SC Regular

    26
    Jul 3, 2013
    Hong Kong
    Linden
    Here are the centre crops:

    Coolpix A
    Dusk Coolpix A - centre crop.

    GR
    Dusk GR - crop.

    RX100
    Dusk RX100 - crop.
     
  18. LindenW

    LindenW SC Regular

    26
    Jul 3, 2013
    Hong Kong
    Linden
    ...and finally, here is how my D800 read the light with a Nikon 105mm f/2.5 AI-S attached, stopped down to f/5.6 and shot in aperture priority - D800 selected 1/30 second at ISO 1600. This was about 4 minutes prior to the other three shots with the compacts. Image resized, but no cropping or adjustments.

    D800 + Nikon 105mm f/2.5 AI-S
    D800 105 2.5.
     
  19. wt21

    wt21 SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    try the RX100 again set to P mode, and select "natural" for the color. It looks like it picked vivid on iAuto.

    Why is the D800 so hot in the red channel in the clouds? Though maybe a few minutes later, and the sun is beaming stronger right there. Tough to tell.
     
  20. LindenW

    LindenW SC Regular

    26
    Jul 3, 2013
    Hong Kong
    Linden
    wt21 - the D800 shows it close to how it was to my eyes. The sunset was striking enough for me to dash for the camera. This image - with the D800/105-2.5 was taken 4 minutes before the trio of compacts.