Ricoh GR vs. Nikon Coolpix A - quick impressions

Andrewteee

All-Pro
Jul 8, 2010
I wish only one of them had been released - I'd be absolutely out of my mind thrilled with either and it would have saved all of this choosing!
Ray, very true. The GR was much anticipated and by itself it would have been well received and loved. But along comes the A, just a few weeks before...

When I test new cameras like I did this weekend I come to dislike taking pictures. So I dive into my photobook collection to remind myself why I love photography and outside of gear analysis what I hope to achieve before I move on. In the end the gear is just a tool and all else comes from our mind and our eyes. The art is the hard part, the part that requires openness, sensitivity, vision and diligence.

My mind might choose the A, my heart will choose the GR. And soon I shall forget all about this and simply take pictures. Actually, last night, after the kids went to bed, I snuck up to Tilden Park for a few moments, and the birds were singing their goodnight song and I realized that, for me, how much taking pictures is mostly about being out in the natural world. And today the family took a Jewel Lake Loop walk and it was therapeutic for all. Caught some nice family snaps.

I shall soon post a picture or two.
 

Isoterica

Hall of Famer
Dec 6, 2011
I've been accused of creating all sorts of drama around what I'm gonna choose over on the DPR Ricoh forum where my positive points about the Nikon were, ummmm, NOT terribly well received. What I end up buying should have absolutely no influence over what anyone else buys - I'm just trying to compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of both cameras. And where I have a preference for a particular feature, I'll explain how it applies to my shooting, but not someone who shoots differently (which lets face it, is damn near anyone else). So, I guess at some point it'll become clear which I kept, but I'm honestly not quite certain yet - I'm leaning hard in one direction. And I just don't want MY little decision to be any sort of topic discussion again.

I wish only one of them had been released - I'd be absolutely out of my mind thrilled with either and it would have saved all of this choosing!

-Ray
Fair enough, it was only curiosity that made me ask. And.. we aren't the DRP forum.. we're the nice guys :D You're evaluations have been wonderful thanks again.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
Well, Ming Thein made his decision known, and already pissed off (one?) Nikon A fans... The internet is a scary place...
Just saw that too. There really only seem to be a couple of rabid Nikon A fans around (one factor I find mildly alluring about it, if I'm honest), so I think I know who that one is. I was kind of wondering about Ming after some of the things he was worried about with the Ricoh turned out to be non-issues.

-Ray
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
Fair enough, it was only curiosity that made me ask. And.. we aren't the DRP forum.. we're the nice guys :D You're evaluations have been wonderful thanks again.
You're right. I'm sure I'll mention it here once I own one. Just no need for that to be too much of a focus in any of this...

-Ray
 

serhan

All-Pro
May 7, 2011
NYC
His decision is based on:
At the moment, for my personal work, I’m shooting a lot of black and white, and a lot of squares – blame that on the Hasselblad. It seems to be the way I see right now; logically, I’d like something that’s an extension of this for the times when I can’t carry around the ‘Blad, or want to shoot colour squares, or am carrying the ‘Blad with a longer lens and would like something complimentary and fast to use…you get the idea. The Ricoh GR excels at this kind of shooting, but isn’t quite so good at color – though the latest version of ACR remedies this considerably. There’s the low-light-slow-AF issue, but I don’t think that’s a big deal if Snap Focus works as advertised, and the distances are easy to change (they are). I admit I also prefer the way the GR series feels in my hand compared to the A, though the A is perhaps a little more solidly put together.

Coming to the conclusion of the topic, I’ve decided to go with the GR.
Pluses or minuses haven't changed much from his first review to Ray's detailed comparisons. It is a personal shooting choice plus the $300 difference which unbalances the equilibrium...

Well, Ming Thein made his decision known, and already pissed off (one?) Nikon A fans... The internet is a scary place...
 

aleksanderpolo

Regular
Apr 18, 2013
Polo
Ha ha, but without that many A users you will likely be hanging out with that one Nikon A fans...

I think that if A has not been priced at this level, it would be very well received. I also think that without A's pricing GR would not have appeared to be such a bargain... (I know that GR is more expensive than A in Japan, etc...)

Just saw that too. There really only seem to be a couple of rabid Nikon A fans around (one factor I find mildly alluring about it, if I'm honest), so I think I know who that one is. I was kind of wondering about Ming after some of the things he was worried about with the Ricoh turned out to be non-issues.

-Ray
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
My mind might choose the A, my heart will choose the GR. And soon I shall forget all about this and simply take pictures.
The funny thing is, my head has firmly decided on the GR, but for reasons I don't fully understand, my heart is keeping the Nikon in the game. I just seem to have a really simple flow with the Nikon. I know from the past with other Ricohs I can do the same with the Ricoh, but there are always so many options beckoning, at your fingertips, that I sometimes find it a bit distracting.

But objectively, even assuming Ricoh didn't have a $300 price advantage, its got enough clear advantages:

Slightly better corner sharpness (which really means nothing to me, but still)...
Faster AF in good light and equal in poor light
Snap focus which is always sticky and instant switching between AF and snap - this should close the deal by itself, for how I shoot...
ND filter, which functions automatically
Just feels right in the hand, more than almost any other camera ever, except preceding GRD models - totally subjective, but I'm firmly in the Ricoh camp on this one...
Somewhat better/brighter rear screen in the sun...

And the Nikon brings these relatively minor advantages to the table:

Better metering - probably the only substantive one and easy enough to adapt to the Ricoh's not quite as good meter
Focus Ring - this I really like but I mostly use it because the MF distance isn't sticky and I have to every time I restart the camera. It pleases me but in use its actually more of a negative than positive, if I'm honest...
Nicer, easier, quicker startup switch - a very small thing
Rear screen more resistant to smudges and fingerprints - an even smaller thing
Quieter shutter - such a small thing as to be an absolute non-issue to me...

That's all I've got for the Nikon. Slightly better metering is really the only substantive advantage I can come up with against several positives for the Ricoh. So, BRAIN chooses Ricoh and its not even close...

BUT... With the Nikon I have two basic "MY" settings, one for street, one for everything else - and these only differ in terms of maximum auto-ISO and minimum shutter speed. I've got one button and one dial that gets me what I need to do about 98% of the time. I've got another button with bracketing on it and I only put THAT there because I couldn't think of anything else to assign to it that I'd ever use, not that I use bracketing very often. And anything else I need to change is a click of the "I" button away. Which I do so rarely I sometimes forget its there. And it turns out tremendous shots so easily. Mostly its out of the way and I just shoot - I don't have to think about anything but the light and the shot. With the Ricoh, I've got the same two "MY" settings on the mode dial (one for street, one for everything else) and I've got the fn1 button which I use a lot to shift between snap and AF. But then everything else is spread around between the fn2 button, the effects button, and five banks of stuff on the ADJ control. The exposure comp control is great except that if you've got some other list armed, from either one of the buttons or one of the banks of the ADJ control, it takes over all the controls and the exposure comp rocker and the front control dial switch over and suddenly control whatever THAT is. And if you change exposure comp and don't hit the OK button to kill the exposure comp "menu" (for lack of a better term), it stays open and everything else controls THAT. All of this can be simplified to some degree if you choose, but then you have to go into the menus to change stuff, so I like having it available. But sometimes it all just seems a little too complex, like where did I leave that metering control laying around? Or why did the metering method change when I hit the exposure comp rocker (because you'd just adjusted metering and left it open, dummy). So, there is something really appealing about just having a couple of controls that you use a LOT, and one other depository for all the stuff you only use a little.

Sorry to put you guys through this, but it's actually sort of clarifying to me to write it down. So now I DO better understand what's keeping the Nikon in the game. That's the part that appeals to the heart, at least mine.

And I keep remembering that I still have a GXR-28 that I don't think I'd be able to get much at all for, now that the GR has been released and the GXR has apparently been discontinued and sold off at bargain basement prices. So if I keep that, I'd have some of that Ricoh mojo for when I wanted it AND the Nikon's simplicity - kind of the best of both world. Ahhh, who am I kidding, I'd probably never grab the GXR regardless of which of these I choose...

-Ray
 

Isoterica

Hall of Famer
Dec 6, 2011
That's all I've got for the Nikon. Slightly better metering is really the only substantive advantage I can come up with against several positives for the Ricoh. So, BRAIN chooses Ricoh and its not even close...

BUT... With the Nikon I have two basic "MY" settings, one for street, one for everything else - and these only differ in terms of maximum auto-ISO and minimum shutter speed. I've got one button and one dial that gets me what I need to do about 98% of the time. I've got another button with bracketing on it and I only put THAT there because I couldn't think of anything else to assign to it that I'd ever use, not that I use bracketing very often. And anything else I need to change is a click of the "I" button away. Which I do so rarely I sometimes forget its there. And it turns out tremendous shots so easily. Mostly its out of the way and I just shoot - I don't have to think about anything but the light and the shot. With the Ricoh, I've got the same two "MY" settings on the mode dial (one for street, one for everything else) and I've got the fn1 button which I use a lot to shift between snap and AF. But then everything else is spread around between the fn2 button, the effects button, and five banks of stuff on the ADJ control. The exposure comp control is great except that if you've got some other list armed, from either one of the buttons or one of the banks of the ADJ control, it takes over all the controls and the exposure comp rocker and the front control dial switch over and suddenly control whatever THAT is. And if you change exposure comp and don't hit the OK button to kill the exposure comp "menu" (for lack of a better term), it stays open and everything else controls THAT. All of this can be simplified to some degree if you choose, but then you have to go into the menus to change stuff, so I like having it available. But sometimes it all just seems a little too complex, like where did I leave that metering control laying around? Or why did the metering method change when I hit the exposure comp rocker (because you'd just adjusted metering and left it open, dummy). So, there is something really appealing about just having a couple of controls that you use a LOT, and one other depository for all the stuff you only use a little.

Sorry to put you guys through this, but it's actually sort of clarifying to me to write it down. So now I DO better understand what's keeping the Nikon in the game. That's the part that appeals to the heart, at least mine.

And I keep remembering that I still have a GXR-28 that I don't think I'd be able to get much at all for, now that the GR has been released and the GXR has apparently been discontinued and sold off at bargain basement prices. So if I keep that, I'd have some of that Ricoh mojo for when I wanted it AND the Nikon's simplicity - kind of the best of both world. Ahhh, who am I kidding, I'd probably never grab the GXR regardless of which of these I choose...

-Ray
Sometimes it helps to write it down, whether you choose to share it or not. Your sharing it helps other people so your courage vs the possibility of being criticized is appreciated. And what I am reading out of this above is..

Just because you have the buttons, doesn't mean you have to use them all, just because you have the options of assigning things until the Ricoh becomes a Hocir, in other words you've totally reworked where everything is, doesn't mean you have to.. Assign what you use most-- like with the A. It can be simple, yes? So don't let it be more complex. I say go for what feels right.. the other will find a good home, whatever you decide the other is. Or.. give it to your wife ;)
 

Andrewteee

All-Pro
Jul 8, 2010
Sorry to put you guys through this, but it's actually sort of clarifying to me to write it down. So now I DO better understand what's keeping the Nikon in the game. That's the part that appeals to the heart, at least mine.
No apologies needed! I completely understand and sometimes do the same thing myself. That's partly why I enjoyed my photo blog so much - because of the writing. And your methodical contributions of the GR/A are informative, enlightening and helpful. I would much rather read about someone's personal journey as they get to know cameras than test charts and dry, too-matter-of-fact analysis.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
Sometimes it helps to write it down, whether you choose to share it or not. Your sharing it helps other people so your courage vs the possibility of being criticized is appreciated. And what I am reading out of this above is..

Just because you have the buttons, doesn't mean you have to use them all, just because you have the options of assigning things until the Ricoh becomes a Hocir, in other words you've totally reworked where everything is, doesn't mean you have to.. Assign what you use most-- like with the A. It can be simple, yes? So don't let it be more complex. I say go for what feels right.. the other will find a good home, whatever you decide the other is. Or.. give it to your wife ;)
You're right to some extent, but also not. Yeah, you can set up the Ricoh more simply to be sure. BUT, the Ricoh doesn't have anything like the Nikon's "I" button, the Fuji's "Q" button, the Olympus' "Super Control Panel", etc. There's no place where all of those occasionally used controls just ARE. So, it's up to the user to PUT them somewhere. which is great if you have real particular ideas about what you want to reach most quickly and where you want each one. You can put five of 'em on the ADJ control and one on each of three buttons. And you can do these all differently in three different MY settings (and yet more "boxed" MY settings), so you have a lot of possibilities. But you can't just put them all in the same place, accessible with one button, as is done on the Nikon, Fuji, Olympus, etc. So then you have to remember which one you put where. Which isn't really that tough if you do them the same in each MY set, but then you're limited to 8 of them.

And the way these choices' pop up lists function can't be changed. If you pull up the focus or metering sub-menu, once you make a selection, you either lock down your selection by hitting the OK button, or you leave it "active", so you can take a few shots and then change it again without having to call it up again. Which can be convenient. But whenever you leave one of these sub-menus open, ALL of the controls now control THAT function. With most such controls, hitting the OK button is a no brainer for me. But with the exposure comp adjustment it's not. I don't like to hit the OK button every time I change the exposure comp, but if I don't, suddenly I can't change anything else because other controls either now also control exposure comp or are disabled. Again, not a bad thing - this can be very flexible - but it can also cause confusion and inadvertent adjustments. At the very least, it's more to think about.

So I think the Ricoh is the overwhelmingly obvious choice for someone who wants a lot of flexibility and options and control. But if what you want is relative simplicity and don't need or want all if those options, I'm not sure you can really get there very well on the Ricoh - the way some of the power is built into the interface is actually kind of inevitably complex.

In terms of giving one to my wife, uhhhh, NO! She'd hate the fixed focal length with either and I can just imagine handing her thenRicoh and saying, here - figure THIS out! The DVR is already my life insurance policy - she has to keep me around to run it... :biggrin:

-Ray
 

Isoterica

Hall of Famer
Dec 6, 2011
You're right to some extent, but also not.

In terms of giving one to my wife, uhhhh, NO! She'd hate the fixed focal length with either and I can just imagine handing her thenRicoh and saying, here - figure THIS out! The DVR is already my life insurance policy - she has to keep me around to run it... :biggrin:

-Ray
As I haven't had time to tinker with mine yet I'm not as aware of all one can do or possibly cant with it. It's highly unlikely I'll need so many settings though so I'm not too worried about it. Just learning will be a task in itself-- definitely a camera to read the manual on. And if after using it I don't like it then someone here might have a nice little GR available to purchase. Right now though I seriously need a charger and a couple batteries. Vacation without battery backup and a way to charge quickly will cause me problems.
 

Archiver

Top Veteran
Jul 11, 2010
Melbourne, Australia
Ray, I know you don't do as much video shooting as some, but I'm willing to bet that the Nikon A's video is much better than the GR's. I've just got my GR and while the picture quality is tremendous, and honestly more than I was expecting, the video quality is awful. It's blotchy, jerky and noisy, and the sound is just as muffled and fuzzy as the GRD III. In fact, despite being full HD, I think the video quality of the GR is about as bad as the GRD III, and that is saying something.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
Ray, I know you don't do as much video shooting as some, but I'm willing to bet that the Nikon A's video is much better than the GR's. I've just got my GR and while the picture quality is tremendous, and honestly more than I was expecting, the video quality is awful. It's blotchy, jerky and noisy, and the sound is just as muffled and fuzzy as the GRD III. In fact, despite being full HD, I think the video quality of the GR is about as bad as the GRD III, and that is saying something.
Now that the kids are out on their own, I do approximately none. It's a total non-consideration for me.

-Ray
 

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