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?

13/08/2013 - 09:27

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 A Ricoh GR
Lens
Max Aperture f/2.8f/2.8 - f/16
35mm equivalent 28mm28mm
Optical Zoom 0x0x
Image Sensor
Pixels 16.2Mp (Megapixels)16.2Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W) 49284928
Pixels (H) 32643264
Sensor Type CMOSCMOS
Sensor Size APS-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 Monitor 3in3in
Screen resolution 921k1230k dots
Touch Screen NoNo
Focusing
Min Focus 10cm10cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
  • Snap
  • Infinity
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest 1/2000sec1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest 30sec300sec
Bulb mode No DataYes
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 sensitivity 100 - 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 shooting 4fps4fps
Video
Movie mode YesYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
Video FPS 30p, 25p, 24p30/25/24
Stereo Sound YesYes
Optical Zoom with Video NoNo
Other Features
Image Stabilisation NoNo
Interface
HDMI YesYes
USB USB 2USB 2
Wi-Fi NoNo
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery Type Lithium-IonLithium-Ion
Battery Life (CIPA rating) 230shots290shots
Box Contents
Box Contents Camera 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
Weight 299g215g
Width 111mm117mm
Height 64.3mm61mm
Depth 40.3mm34.7mm

Related Photos

chilka

Link Posted 13/08/2013 - 17:38
I don't know about the Nikon as I've not used it but I do own and use the Ricoh. I particularly like the wide angle adaptor lens and the results from it. It sounds so trivial but I can even forgive the lack of charger in the package, that's the shape of things to come with all cameras, it's just that you cannot put the camera on a shoulder strap! Or can you?

johnriley

Link Posted 13/08/2013 - 18:05
It's interesting that different users have different minor requirements. I need a charger, you need a neck strap. I think I'm right in saying that both are available as optional extras (see the GR accessories list on the Ricoh website) but finding a supplier is a bit more tricky at the moment.

Maybe manufacturers should market their minor accessories a bit more aggressively?
Best regards, John

chilka

Link Posted 15/08/2013 - 13:29
Point taken but with regard to the neck strap for the camera I don't see how it can be fitted as there appears to be no way of securing it? Just looking at the photos of the two cameras above the Nikon clearly is fitted to use a strap but not so the Ricoh? I'd love someone to tell be I'm wrong !

johnriley

Link Posted 15/08/2013 - 15:36
The GR has two small eyelets similar to the way that a wrist strap might be attached. These are at the top corners each side. It looks to me that the two neck straps illustrated have accordingly thin attachments.

The Nikon has more conventional attachments, although they are arguably rather large on such a small camera.

Personally I don't use straps for small cameras as I feel they get in the way. But if you want them they are in the list of GR accessories.
Best regards, John

chilka

Link Posted 17/08/2013 - 09:57
Thanks for the information, I'll take a look.

By the way that wide angle converter is very good, not too sure if you have tried it out yet?

johnriley

Link Posted 17/08/2013 - 14:29
Yes, I do find the quality is very good, although the means of attachment is a bit Heath Robinson in design terms.

I didn't mention it in this comparison, which I kept to a strict like-for-like look. I felt the strength of these cameras was compactness, quality, speed and ease of use and the wide angle front converter doesn't fit that profile too well.
Best regards, John

paulyrichard

Link Posted 22/08/2013 - 10:36
Great review, John. I was surprised to hear about the Nikon A's focus hunting but at the same time I was smiling...you would have thought they'd have 'nailed' this sort of thing at this price. No 'snap focus' either...
I personally think that the GR is a better camera by a 'country mile', just for these two reasons alone...
"Ifamericatoldthetruthforjustonedayitswholeworldwouldfallapart "
"All the technique in the world doesn’t compensate for the inability to notice." - Elliott Erwitt

http://paulyrichard.wordpress.com/

tyronet2000

Link Posted 23/08/2013 - 10:31
A good comparison review for anyone looking for a compact camera. The biggest snag for me (and probably most people) is the viewing screen in sunlight. On this review I'd probably opt for the Ricoh. I'd like to try out a WG type too though.
Regards
Stan

PPG
Last Edited by tyronet2000 on 23/08/2013 - 10:32

johnriley

Link Posted 23/08/2013 - 17:37
Thanks Pauly, I'm seeing some great GR photos from you in the forum.

Stan,fair comment. However, we went to Port Sunlight on a viciously sunny day and coped very well with the GR. My technique is to cup the screen with my left hand, effectively making a hood. In that way it's visible enough to use. Once it becomes "bright cloudy" it's no problem.

The WG are about the same in terms of brightness, but the GR screen is better as a screen, with its increased dot count.
Best regards, John

TomDuffey

Link Posted 25/03/2019 - 08:34
Very inspiring and it makes only the positive impact for me to write the great articles like online casino canada real money guide so thank you very much for such the contribution! I appreciate that!
Add a Comment
You must be registered or logged-in to comment.