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Ricoh GR Vs Nikon Coolpix A Field Report

Ricoh GR Vs Nikon Coolpix A Field Report - Nikon Coolpix A vs Ricoh GR Field Test by John Riley. How do these two compare in the field, shooting real-life subjects in real-life situations?

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Category : Compact Cameras
Product : Ricoh GR
Price : £599
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Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Ricoh Gr Vs Nikon Coolpix A (2)

In terms of appearance and specification we have here two almost identical cameras, both the new breed of prime lens compacts with APS-C sensors. Both have 35mm-equivalent lenses around 28mm. Both have 16MP APS-C sensors. Both are marketed as premium quality compacts with DSLR performance. The major difference is the £250 difference in cost, with the Nikon being the more expensive.

Read our full Nikon Coolpix A Review
Read our full Ricoh GR Review


We can see the lab results and we can read the spec sheet, so how do these two compare in the field, shooting real-life subjects in real-life situations?

Nikon Coolpix A Vs Ricoh GR Handling

Ricoh Gr Vs Nikon Coolpix A (3)

The first thing to be noted is the very fast switch on time. Both cameras are equally fast and are ready to go with no significant delay. Shots will not be missed because of speed issues on start up.

Moving straight into shooting an image the differences do show up. The Nikon AF is positively pedestrian, the lens doing a small hunting operation as it swirls around the focusing point before locking on. Whether in the standard range or in the macro range seems to make no difference. The lens always hunts. However, it does always find the focus point.

The Ricoh AF is, by comparison, blisteringly fast. It just locks on, with no hunting and no hesitation. The macro setting is equally fast, being accessed by a single button press. The Nikon uses a slider switch to select macro, but the difference is just a matter of style and either works quite happily.

Ricoh Gr Vs Nikon Coolpix A (7)

The field of view of the lenses is not identical, the Nikon being 18.5mm and the Ricoh 18.3mm. The difference can be seen, but it really is very small. The monitor is something else, and here the Nikon screen is quite harsh and garish, looking nothing like the resultant images. The Ricoh screen on the other hand is more subtle and realistic. Both screens gives a 100% view and both are only just viewable in direct sunlight. In duller conditions the Ricoh screen is superb.

Small points separate the two cameras, and on is the provision of a lock on the Ricoh mode dial. This prevents the setting from being inadvertently moved and is a nice touch. Nikon have not provided such a lock.

Ricoh Gr Vs Nikon Coolpix A (4)

The menus of both cameras are fine, as are the methods of selecting ISO and drive settings. They are different in their approach, but either one could easily be adapted to. There are no rights and wrongs about it, it's just a matter of familiarising with the operation of whichever camera we choose. Using both at the same time didn't really cause any confusion.


Nikon Coolpix A Vs Ricoh GR Performance

I used both cameras together, shooting sample images at Bodnant Garden in North Wales and at Ripon in Yorkshire. Both were equally pleasant to handle and both had their particular quirks.

I hate comparisons that conclude that two things are equally placed, it feels like a cop-out, so I was particularly interested in giving these two an extensive workout.

The Nikon wins for having proper hinged doors covering connectors, rather than rubber ones. It also wins for the provision of a proper battery charger. It's a solid well made camera and it produced some lovely results.

Nikon Coolpix A Architecture | 1/200 sec | f/16.0 | 18.5 mm | ISO 200
Nikon Coolpix A Architecture | 1/200 sec | f/16.0 | 18.5 mm | ISO 200
Ricoh GR Architecture | 1/125 sec | f/16.0 | 18.3 mm | ISO 200
Ricoh GR Architecture | 1/125 sec | f/16.0 | 18.3 mm | ISO 200
Nikon Coolpix A Close Up | 1/100 sec | f/16.0 | 18.5 mm | ISO 200
Nikon Coolpix A Close Up | 1/100 sec | f/16.0 | 18.5 mm | ISO 200
Ricoh GR Close Up | 1/125 sec | f/16.0 | 18.3 mm | ISO 200
Ricoh GR Close Up | 1/125 sec | f/16.0 | 18.3 mm | ISO 200
Nikon Coolpix A Colour Pallette | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 18.5 mm | ISO 200
Nikon Coolpix A Colour Pallette | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 18.5 mm | ISO 200
Ricoh GR Colour Pallette | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 18.3 mm | ISO 200
Ricoh GR Colour Pallette | 1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 18.3 mm | ISO 200

Also a solid well made camera producing some lovely results, the Ricoh scores on the quality of the screen, the superior AF performance and the provision of a mode dial lock. It also scores in being considerably less expensive.

Nikon Coolpix A Flower Study | 1/160 sec | f/16.0 | 18.5 mm | ISO 200
Nikon Coolpix A Flower Study | 1/160 sec | f/16.0 | 18.5 mm | ISO 200
Ricoh GR Flower Study | 1/350 sec | f/11.0 | 18.3 mm | ISO 200
Ricoh GR Flower Study | 1/350 sec | f/11.0 | 18.3 mm | ISO 200
Nikon Coolpix A Intense Red | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.5 mm | ISO 400
Nikon Coolpix A Intense Red | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.5 mm | ISO 400
Ricoh GR Intense Red | 1/100 sec | f/8.0 | 18.3 mm | ISO 400
Ricoh GR Intense Red | 1/100 sec | f/8.0 | 18.3 mm | ISO 400
Nikon Coolpix A Portrait | 1/100 sec | f/5.6 | 18.5 mm | ISO 200
Nikon Coolpix A Portrait | 1/100 sec | f/5.6 | 18.5 mm | ISO 200
Ricoh GR Portrait | 1/60 sec | f/5.6 | 18.3 mm | ISO 200
Ricoh GR Portrait | 1/60 sec | f/5.6 | 18.3 mm | ISO 200

So finally, the most important is the image quality. How do the two lenses compare? Both have 7 elements in 5 groups, almost identical fields of view and  both deliver DSLR-quality results. This is of course the key issue and after several days shooting my preference wavered from one to the other. The cameras do meter slightly differently, but with minor adjustment in Photoshop the results can be made to look very similar.

Users of either camera will not be disappointed. Both lenses produced generally sharp images and both were commendably free from flare. The colours were accurate and I doubt that many photographers would easily separate them for general use. Being very critical I felt though that, in subtle ways, I was preferring the look of the GR images. They did seem to have the edge and it ended up being the camera I reached for first.

Nikon Coolpix A Vs Ricoh GR Verdict

The cameras do handle differently, and if the photographer is a dedicated Nikon user then it could be logical to go for the Nikon. No doubt its colour performance and style of operation will suit better those used to Nikon.

If that is not a factor, then without doubt it's the Ricoh GR, in terms of both handling and performance. I was especially pleased with the crisp lens and the fast, positive AF performance. When Ricoh see to that charger omission, they will get full marks from me.

Nikon Coolpix A Pros:

Charger supplied
DSLR quality
Proper access to connectors
 

Ricoh GR Pros:

Slightly ahead on lens quality
Much better screen
Much faster AF
 

Nikon Coolpix A Cons:

Slow AF
Garish screen

Ricoh GR Cons:

No charger supplied
Rubber connector covers

Read our full Nikon Coolpix A Review
Read our full Ricoh GR Review


Comparison Table

Nikon Coolpix ARicoh GR
ManufacturerNikonRicoh
Lens
Max Aperturef/2.8f/2.8 - f/16
35mm equivalent28mm28mm
Optical Zoom0x0x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels16.2Mp (Megapixels)16.2Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)49284928
Pixels (H)32643264
Sensor TypeCMOSCMOS
Sensor SizeAPS-CAPS-C
Sensor Size (width)23.6mm23.6mm
Sensor Size (height)15.6mm15.7mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in3in
Screen resolution921k1230k dots
Touch ScreenNoNo
Focusing
Min Focus10cm10cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
  • Snap
  • Infinity
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec300sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Program Variable
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Program Variable
Metering
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 25600100 - 25600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Bracket
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Bracket
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
Exposure Comp+/-5+/-4
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting4fps4fps
Video
Movie modeYesYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
  • 1280x720 720p
  • 1920x1080
Video FPS30p, 25p, 24p30/25/24
Stereo SoundYesYes
Optical Zoom with VideoNoNo
Other Features
Image StabilisationNoNo
Interface
HDMIYesYes
USBUSB 2USB 2
Wi-FiNoNo
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium-IonLithium-Ion
CIPA Rating230290
Box Contents
Box ContentsCamera strap, Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL20 (with terminal cover), Battery Charger MH-27, Accessory Shoe Cover BS-1, USB Cable UC-E16, ViewNX 2 CD-ROM, Reference Manual (CD-ROM)Ricoh GR, Rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery, USB power adapter, Power plug, USB cable, Cd, Hand strap, Hot shoe cover
Dimensions
Weight299g215g
Width111mm117mm
Height64.3mm61mm
Depth40.3mm34.7mm
View Full DetailsView Full Details

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Photographs taken using the Ricoh GR

 la plage ( part trois )Calm la plage ( part deux) la plageYou talking to me?Mountain Shoppinga tear rolled down my cheekthe artist with his violas da gamba sitting in a chair , the cable reel & the flaggingboy's don't crystatuesquebe left out in the rain......evening stillness....Wading.....catalinathe field
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Comments


josa 2 25 Czech Republic
13 Aug 2013 11:52AM
I got Ricoh GR and love the shapness and less saturated colours....PS. Do you have sale # for these cameras? Thanks.

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