Ricoh GR vs Nikon Coolpix A vs Fujifilm X100s Review

Take your pic.

Take your pic.

It’s been a while since our last comparison of large sensor compacts. But this one will focus on fixed lens variants.

The market has seen a rash of new APS-C compact cameras with fast primes – great news for enthusiast photographers who prefer fast apertures and good image quality that fits in your pocket. Lets have a look at 3 of the latest and most popular models, so you can decide which is best for your needs.

To begin, here’s side-by-side chart with only the things that really matter.

Features

Ricoh GR Nikon Coolpix A Fuji X100s
Sensor/Resolution

16mp APS-CMOS

16mp APS-CMOS

16mp APS-CMOS

Lens

28mm f2.8

28mm f2.8

35mm f2

Viewfinder

No (optional)

No (optional)

Optical/Electronic Hybrid

FPS

4fps

4fps

6fps

Aspect Ratios

1:1, 4:3, 3:2

3:2

1:1, 3:2, 16:9

Min/Max Shutter

1/4000 to 300s

1/2000 to 30s

1/4000 to 30s

Flash Sync Speed

1/2000s

?

1/2000s

Built-in Flash Range

5.4m

11.5m

9m

Video Resolution

1080p (30/25/24 fps)

720p (60/50/30/25/24fps)

VGA (30/25/24 fps)

1080p (30/25/24 fps)

720p (30 fps)

VGA (30/25/24 fps)

1080p

(60/30 fps)

LCD Size/Resolution

3” 1.2 million dots

3” 921k dots

2.8” 460k dots

Exposure Compensation

+/-4 EV

+/-5 EV

+/-2 EV

Battery LIfe

290 shots

230 shots

330 shots

Weight

245g

230g

330g

Volume

250cm³

284cm³

507cm³

Price

$699.00

$1,099.00

$1,299.00

Ricoh GR

ricoh gr front ricoh gr back ricoh gr

First up is the new kid ont he block – the $699 Ricoh GR, a succession to its popular GR digital line. Continuing tradition, it sports a 28mm lens, this time at f/2.8 rather than f/1.9. But don’t worry, with the larger sensor, you get more separation of foreground and background for greater DOF control. One thing that sets this camera apart is the 300 second minimum shutter speed. Even Canon and Nikon don’t offer this in their highest level DSLRs. I think it’s about time they took note. It also incorporates a unique timelapse mode, whereas other cameras must rely on remotes to accomplish the same. If you were eyeing the Coolpix A, you might want to reconsider and look at the GR. If 28mm isn’t exactly your thing, there is a 35mm crop mode which will give you a slightly more “normal” FOV. An exciting new camera, without a doubt.

Nikon Coolpix A

nikon coolpix a front nikon coolpix a back nikon coolpix a top

Nikon thought they were making a splash when they introduced the Coolpix A. I mean, a DX sensor in a compact body with a fast 28mm prime lens? Sounds great. Except for the price that is, coming in at $1,099. Nikon’s prized noise performance will certainly be on display here, though lens sharpness appears to be less than satisfactory in this comparison. If you want an optical finder, you’ll have to shuck out an extra $450. Bearing the “Coolpix” moniker, it’s clearly targeted for amateurs and enthusiasts. But will they be willing to shell out so much cash? It’s not usual that I’m so negative in my analysis, but in light of the competition, the A leaves a lot to be desired. Just check the comments on any other website. Cut the price in half, and you’d have a winner. Fat chance.

Fuji X100s

fuji x100s front fuji x100s back fuji X100s top

Fuji had a hit with the X100. But there were some niggles. Apparently, they listened to the critics, because just about everyone is saying how great the X100s is. Problems such as unresponsive buttons, bugginess, slow startup, low buffer size, and a basic movie mode were ALL improved upon. You still get the same great 35mm f2 lens, the fastest in the bunch, and Fuji’s signature smooth skin tones and incredible AWB performance in mixed lighting. So what’s it missing? A bunch of scene modes, low rez video modes, and a high rez LCD screen. You can live without em. Oh yeah, and the X100s’ trump card – that incredible hybrid electronic/optical viewfinder. It’s the only camera with a finder in this comparison, and a groundbreaking one at that. The only thing that might hold you back…its’ hefty price tag.

Conclusion

As I see it, you’ve got two distinct choices here – a moderately priced slower 28mm vs a premium priced faster 35mm. The GR is a joy to use with myriad custom options, while the X100s operates more like a traditional film camera, with plenty of knobs, wheels, and dials like cameras of yore. To Fuji’s advantage, it will probably edge out Ricoh on noise performance, you’ll be able to shoot in lower light with the faster lens, and the viewfinder will be a joy to use. To Ricoh’s advantage, it has a nifty 35mm crop mode (two lenses in one), is significantly smaller and lighter, and can shoot for a staggering 300 seconds. Both can sync flash at a mind-blowing 1/2000s, shoot multiple aspect ratios, and fit in your (jacket) pocket.

As I see it, the choice is simple. If you are short of cash and prefer the 28mm FOV, go for the Ricoh without a doubt. If you have deeper pockets and prefer a more normal 35mm FOV, go for the Fuji without hesitation. Both will make incredible street photography tools for the engaged photographer who likes to use their cameras to maximum potential.

 

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