Ricoh GR vs. Nikon Coolpix A - quick impressions

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
So Ray, which camera did you eventually decide on (or are you still on the fence)? I got the Ricoh GR (mostly because I love Ricoh cameras in general and the GRD in particular). The Nikon looks nice as well but not $300 nicer than the Ricoh. Frankly, even if they were the same price, I would have still gotten the GR because it just works best for me and how I photograph.

Paul


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
Hi Paul,

As noted above, I went back and forth a couple of times but decided to go with the Nikon.

The funny thing is, if the Ricoh had been announced first, or before I'd actually spent nearly a month with a review copy of the Nikon, I doubt I'd have even given the Nikon a serious look. I go back a few years with Ricoh too, had a GRD3 and am on my second GXR and have been happy with them. But having gotten very comfortable with the Nikon I gave them both a real solid look - spent waaaaay more time with this comparison than any I've done because I was so invested in this particular brand new category of camera. And what it came down to was a general feeling and a couple of key features that I preferred. The biggest things that kept pulling me back toward the Ricoh, aside from price (I know Nikon will lower the price of the A as soon as my 30 day return period runs out) were snap focus and the feel of the camera in my hand. It feels as nice to me as the GRD3, which disappeared in my hand like nothing else I've ever used. So its just wonderful in that respect. And snap focus is, of course, one of the two easiest and most convenient ways of accessing zone focus that I've seen in a modern camera (the Olympus and Fuji "clutch" ring lenses being every bit as quick and way more tactile IMHO). But these weren't determinative because the Nikon felt fine in the hand too and I can be in manual focus and ready to shoot at 2 meters in about a second or two with the Nikon. While not as instant as the Ricoh, its quick enough for the way I shoot, which tends to be in blocks of street and blocks of non-street, rather than lots of quick transitions.

The two key features that mattered to me on the Nikon were the way the EV comp works (a relatively small deal, but I find the Ricoh pretty irritating and occasionally even confusing in this regard) and the availability of a minimum shutter speed in auto-ISO of up to 1/1000 of a second (which makes a huge difference in how I shoot for reasons explained in WAAAAAAY too much detail a couple of posts above). The more general feeling is that for all of its customizability, the Ricoh's interface is actually overkill for me. Having a couple of programmable buttons and a couple of savable my-set type of user settings on the mode dial is more than enough for me to have what I need quickly available at all times. And there are ways that, for all of that power, the Ricoh interface sometimes gets in my way that I realized I actually had come to DIS-like somewhat in comparison. Like just about any button or "bank" of custom options on the Ricoh brings up a temporary list or menu that you have to hit OK to set or you can just leave it open and active. Which I've done just often enough to occasionally go to change something else and end up re-changing the thing I'd left open and knocking my settings all out of whack. This is what bugs me with the exposure comp setting on the Ricoh, BTW. Ricoh had a shutter button over-ride feature on the GXR that reduced or eliminated that potential problem, but they left if off of the GF. This approach contains a lot of potential power but I usually found it to be more of a pain than a benefit.

The Nikon interface is a slightly scaled down version of their DSLR interface, which, like the Ricoh interface, has gone through years of evolution and refinement and works incredibly well. But its simpler on its face and for my personal set of shooting needs, provides all of the customizability I need without the level of confusion the Ricoh could occasionally cause me. As I said, I'd have been very happy with the Ricoh if it was the only option or if it had showed up first. Quantitatively there's almost no advantage to either camera in ANY area - performance wise they may as well be twins. So it just came down to feel and a few key features for me.

But no bad choices here...

-Ray
 
Jun 3, 2012
Melbourne. Australia
Joe
Ray....a big thanks again to you for posting your extensive A & GR reviews, I realise you had a vested interest here since both cameras were of significant interest to yourself, none the less, it's mighty generous of you to post your thoughts.

I just took hold of my GR late yesterday afternoon and have had a chance to go through the manual this evening and tinker with some of the key settings, if the heavy rain we're having here eases off tomorrow I hope to get out and take a few snaps.
Shame that the ISO implementation in TAv mode isn't ideal for yourself, going through the manual on my sofa tonight I see p58 detailing some of the 'full press snap' info and it states that if in the [shooting] menu i go to sub-menu [Full Press Snap] and choose "Auto-High ISO" rather than "Off" or "On" it will apparently respect
the Auto-High ISO limits i set in the [setup] menu ...mine is set at 6400 max. I put it to the test but ISO went through the roof, odd given that on p58 it reads as if it will respect that setting. I must be reading it wrong ????
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
Ray....a big thanks again to you for posting your extensive A & GR reviews, I realise you had a vested interest here since both cameras were of significant interest to yourself, none the less, it's mighty generous of you to post your thoughts.

I just took hold of my GR late yesterday afternoon and have had a chance to go through the manual this evening and tinker with some of the key settings, if the heavy rain we're having here eases off tomorrow I hope to get out and take a few snaps.
Shame that the ISO implementation in TAv mode isn't ideal for yourself, going through the manual on my sofa tonight I see p58 detailing some of the 'full press snap' info and it states that if in the [shooting] menu i go to sub-menu [Full Press Snap] and choose "Auto-High ISO" rather than "Off" or "On" it will apparently respect
the Auto-High ISO limits i set in the [setup] menu ...mine is set at 6400 max. I put it to the test but ISO went through the roof, odd given that on p58 it reads as if it will respect that setting. I must be reading it wrong ????
Hi Joe,

Missed this the other day. There's a bit of discussion happening over on DPR trying to figure out just exactly HOW TaV is supposed to work. It does not appear to respect any ISO settings from any other mode and no ISO settings are available (or even visible on the menu) in TaV. So it seems it just uses a straight "Auto" ISO without auto-high or any of the other limits. You set the shutter speed and aperture and it'll venture forth anywhere from 100-25600 to get you the right exposure. The one thing that seems to be possible is that if you set Shutter/Aperture Auto Shift to "on" you can then get the mode to start dropping the shutter speed or opening the aperture (your choice - there's a sub-menu for that) to protect your exposure level. If you could set a maximum ISO with that it would be just about perfect (and I'd have probably bought this instead of the Nikon), but the only ISO limit it seems to see in TaV mode is 25600...

Hope that helps... Have fun!

-Ray
 
Jan 31, 2011
Newcastle, Australia
Sue
I don't know if there is *any* similarity between Tav on Pentax DSLR and the GR, but on my K-5, it does respect the ISO limit. Have you tried it in something other than Full Press Snap? Perhaps its the way snap focus functions, that the engineers who designed it decided that under those circumstances a wider ISO range might be needed? Just guessing.
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
I don't know if there is *any* similarity between Tav on Pentax DSLR and the GR, but on my K-5, it does respect the ISO limit. Have you tried it in something other than Full Press Snap? Perhaps its the way snap focus functions, that the engineers who designed it decided that under those circumstances a wider ISO range might be needed? Just guessing.
There's been a lot of discussion of this on the DPR Ricoh forum and some level of disappointment in TaV relative to the way Pentax does it. There is one guy who's convinced it's merely a bug and it'll be fixed any day now in firmware. He points to some footnotes in the manual that seem somewhat contradictory and, as with any Bible, interprets it as he likes. I hope he's right but think if there was ANY intent for user input into the ISO functions of the mode, all references to ISO wouldn't have been wiped off of the menus available while in that mode.

Time will tell what Ricoh wanted to do with that mode, but for now, the only nod to user input seems to be after you've topped out at 25600.

-Ray
 

huub77

New Member
Aug 23, 2013
Great work Ray and all other contributors! These discussions are really helpful and I am up to make my final decision. I am a Nikon D700 user (the bulky one combined with the at least as bulky 24-70 lens. Great camera but so huge and so heavy) and looking for a good camera that fits in the pocket and that can be used for street-photography, holiday trips and the like. I do have some speedlights and am also very much used to the Nikon DSLR ecosystem. On the other hand it seems that the Ricoh outperforms the A in several aspects (I standard shoot in RAW and use LR4 as entry point in the workflow so the color issue would be no problem). I was afraid for the (relative) slow AF in the A, especially for pedestrians/street photography but somehow I get the feeling that although the A is indeed somewhat slower (in daylight circumstances) compared to the GR but that the differences are minimal and that the A is not really disturbing/distracting in this respect. (As far as I can see in the manual the A has also the possibility of the full-time servo AF which I don't see in the discussions).
Also the prices are comparable now. Here in the Netherlands I can get the A for 795 euro and I can get the GR for 749 euro in Germany. (GR is not available (yet?) in NL but I live close to Germany so crossing the border is no issue at all).
This all makes me believe that the A is (for me) the best choice, unless ...... (I will think it over one more night and take the plunge tomorrow).

-Huub
 

Ray Sachs

Legend
Sep 21, 2010
Not too far from Philly
you should be able to figure it out...
Great work Ray and all other contributors! These discussions are really helpful and I am up to make my final decision. I am a Nikon D700 user (the bulky one combined with the at least as bulky 24-70 lens. Great camera but so huge and so heavy) and looking for a good camera that fits in the pocket and that can be used for street-photography, holiday trips and the like. I do have some speedlights and am also very much used to the Nikon DSLR ecosystem. On the other hand it seems that the Ricoh outperforms the A in several aspects (I standard shoot in RAW and use LR4 as entry point in the workflow so the color issue would be no problem). I was afraid for the (relative) slow AF in the A, especially for pedestrians/street photography but somehow I get the feeling that although the A is indeed somewhat slower (in daylight circumstances) compared to the GR but that the differences are minimal and that the A is not really disturbing/distracting in this respect. (As far as I can see in the manual the A has also the possibility of the full-time servo AF which I don't see in the discussions).
Also the prices are comparable now. Here in the Netherlands I can get the A for 795 euro and I can get the GR for 749 euro in Germany. (GR is not available (yet?) in NL but I live close to Germany so crossing the border is no issue at all).
This all makes me believe that the A is (for me) the best choice, unless ...... (I will think it over one more night and take the plunge tomorrow).

-Huub
Hi Huub - Welcome!

I'd suggest that the best way to shoot either of these cameras for street photography is generally using zone focus, rather than auto-focus. The Ricoh is so dedicated to this proposition that they created a whole "snap-focus" mode as a short-cut to zone focus. The Nikon doesn't have this, but it has a nice focus ring and distance scale that make zone focussing a breeze on it too, if not quite as instant as on the Ricoh. To me the Ricoh's advantages are primarily this snap focus mode and the wonderful shape and way it feels in the hand. Some people love the highly customizable menues and controls, but I find it more than I need - the Nikon is customizable enough for my use. The Nikon's biggest advantages are metering and, for ME (I have to qualify this because most people don't feel as strongly on this), the auto-ISO setup is the best I've run into and makes the whole interaction between ISO and maintaining adequate shutter speeds something I can now automate and not have to think about while I'm shooting. Both are great cameras. Already being familiar with Nikon's menus and controls and being invested in their flash system sounds like a plus for the Nikon, but plenty of other Nikon users have chosen the GR, so I wouldn't say that's an overwhelming consideration...

Good luck with whichever you choose,

-Ray
 

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