Large sensor compacts

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And here is Ming’s view of Ricoh’s quirks and other notes…

Unique to Ricoh is the snap focus mode, where the lens will default to a certain distance setting if the shutter is jabbed straight down past the intermediate position and the camera isn’t given time to find focus.  

The trouble is, unlike the previous cameras, I can’t help but feel the GR V actually needs its snap focus override. 

The reason is inconsistent AF performance. In bright light or high contrast situations, it’s extremely fast indeed; matching the Olympus OM-D – fast enough to make you half-press the shutter again because you weren’t quite sure it nailed focus the first time. The minute light falls to moderate indoor levels, focusing slows down to be merely average; if your target has little contrast, things become downright glacial. Review: The 2013 Ricoh GR (digital V) – Ming Thein | Photographer

The GR’s program mode is rather strange: it won’t ever choose to shoot wide open, even if light is low; it will prefer to go to very high ISOs (assuming auto-ISO – with customizable thresholds for ISO and shutter speed – is enabled) and open no wider than f4. Presumably this is a hold-over from the days when AF wasn’t that accurate and lenses weren’t at their best wide open; I can’t imagine why it’s needed now given we have subject-specific CDAF and optics that were designed to be used at maximum aperture. Review: The 2013 Ricoh GR (digital V) – Ming Thein | Photographer

The optics of the lens are as-claimed, for the most part: resolution is excellent across the frame at all apertures and geometric distortion appears to be relatively low, but there are caveats. Performance degrades slightly at minimum focusing distance (10cm); the center remains excellent, but you start to see coma and smearing towards the edges of the frame. What the MTF charts don’t show is that lateral CA is a bit of an issue, especially in the corners; though they’re sharp, they can occasionally appear smeary especially if there’s a high contrast subject there. Review: The 2013 Ricoh GR (digital V) – Ming Thein | Photographer

High ISO performance is excellent through 1600, very good at 3200 and 6400 – and I personally wouldn’t go higher than this. Review: The 2013 Ricoh GR (digital V) – Ming Thein | Photographer

And his comparison with the $300 more Nikon CoolPix A (as an aside, he went with the GR and just doesn’t like the X100s):

In favour of the Coolpix A:

  • AF in low light (indoors and darker) is considerably faster and more accurate, overall AF speed consistent regardless of brightness – easier to anticipate shot timing
  • Better AWB and colour accuracy, especially in the reds (there was a problem with the Adobe ACR profile)
  • Images just seem to have slightly more pop
  • More accurate matrix metering, doesn’t blow highlights as often
  • LCD shows focus better
  • Lens has better close range performance, less CA at all distances and better flare/ coma control. It also feels like there’s slightly more overall contrast, giving better ‘bite’ to images out of camera – it’s a combination of both macro and microcontrast
  • Dedicated manual focus ring
  • Compatible with GPS and wifi accessories
  • Made in Japan (though this has little impact on immediate build quality, it may or may not speak for longevity)

Battle of the 28mm compacts: Ricoh GR vs Nikon Coolpix A – Ming Thein | Photographer

Working against the GR

  • Low light focusing is very slow and not very accurate
  • In RAW, reds shift to pink without a profile to correct them . (there was a bug in the Adobe ACR profile). Oddly JPEG colors are fine – identical to the A
  • Exposure meter settings are only shown after half pressing the shutter – not permanently live. In manual focus mode, the spot metering box isn’t shown, nor is the central AF target (you can use the AE/AFL button to focus with MF selected)
  • Exposures tend to be a bit hot; highlights clip
  • Very odd program mode operation – seems to stick within a narrow range of apertures (f4-f8) regardless of light; won’t open up brighter than f4 in low light. If you use this with Auto ISO and shift the program, it will increase shutter speed rather than decrease ISO even if you’re already above the selected minimum threshold
  • Multiple button presses required to move focus point
  • LCD is rather dim in bright light, making judging exposure and focus difficult unless you want to clutter the screen with magnification boxes and histograms – this affects composition

Working against the A

  • $300
  • AF isn’t that fast
  • Ergonomics and odd button/ menu behaviour – e.g. auto ISO switching, self-cancelling timer
  • Menus have different options in different places and aren’t very intuitive, resulting in slow practical operation if you have to change a setting
  • No DOF scales in any focusing mode

Battle of the 28mm compacts: Ricoh GR vs Nikon Coolpix A – Ming Thein | Photographer

Focus had simply come a long way in the X100 and the X100s clearly improves on that. But that improvement feels less dramatic than Fuji seems to suggest.  The OM-D still feels faster, as does my D800, though the difference is less relevant than it was before. Fuji X100s Review – Fallin’in Love All Over Again

I am thrilled to report that Fuji has totally fixed the glitch in their previous cameras which did not allow the photographer to chose the minimum shutter speed.  Auto ISO is now fully user-configurable, and works perfectly. Fuji X100s Review – Fallin’in Love All Over Again

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