The Ricoh GR vs. Fujifilm X100s: Which is Better?

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The last few years have seen the development of some amazing and revolutionary cameras based upon larger sensors and fixed lenses.  These new group of cameras are the result of the efforts of Ricoh, which is an imaging company that owns Pentax and Fujifilm, which is more well known as a film manufacturer.  The Ricoh GR and Fujifilm X100s are two of the very best on the market and are extremely popular with photographers of all capabilities ranging from amateurs to professionals.

Just the Facts, A Side-By-Side Comparison

Item Ricoh GR Fujifilm X100s
Year Introduced 2013 2013
Format APS-C APS-C
Crop Factor 1.5X 1.5X
Megapixels 16.2 16.3
Processor GR ENGINE V EXR Processor
Sensor Type CMOS X-Trans CMOS II
Lens 18.3mm F2.8 (28mm Equivalent) 23mm F2.0 (35mm Equivalent)
Zoom No No
Image Format RAW or JPEG RAW or JPEG
Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.7mm 23.6 x 15.8
Sensor Cleaner No No
Autofocus Contrast Detect, Multi-area, Selective Single-Point, Single, Continuous, Live View Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual Focus
View Finder Coverage N/A Optical View Finder – 90%

Electronic View Finder – 100%

Frames Per Second Up to 4 Up to 6
ISO 100 – 25,600 200 – 6,400
Expandable ISO N/A Low- 100 / High-12,800
Shutter 1/4000 -300 Seconds 1/4000 -30 Seconds
Built In Flash Yes Yes
Card Slots 1 1
Card Type SD, SDHC, SDXC SD, SDHC, SDXC
LCD Size 3” 2.8”
LCD Fixed or Swivel Fixed Fixed
Modes Auto, Program Shift, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Shutter / Aperture Priority, Manual Exposure, Bulb Mode, Time Mode, Movie and My Settings Mode Programmed AE, Shutter Priority AE, Aperture Priority AE, Manual
Scene Modes Bleach-Bypass, Cross-Process, High Contrast B&W, High-Key, Miniature Effect, Monochrome, Positive Film and Retro N/A
Live View Yes Yes
Video Yes Yes
Video Format MPEG-4 MOV
Video Type HD 1080p (30,25, 24 FPS) 1920 x 1080 (30 or 60 FPS)
GPS No No
Wireless No No
Wi-Fi No No
Battery DB-65 NP-95
Unique Features Magnesium Alloy Body  Hybrid View Finder
Size   4.6” x 2.4” x 1.4” 5.0” x 2.9” x 2.1”
Weight Including Battery and Card 8.6 Ounces 15.7 Ounces
Included Accessories DB-65 Li-ion Rechargeable Battery, USB Power Adaptor AC-U1, USB Cable, Hand Strap, Hot Shoe Cover Np-95 Li-ion Battery, BC-65N Battery Charger, Shoulder Strap, USB Cable, Lens Cap, CD-Rom (Viewer Software, RAW File Converter), Owner’s Manual
Manufactured In China Japan
Cost $599.00 (Check out the latest prices and discounts.) $1,079.00

*Information from both Ricoh and Fujifilm websites, including pricing.

The Similarities

While totally different cameras, the GR and the X100s share a number of similarities including format, total number of megapixels, card slots, card format, rear LCD, the absence of some technology and the ability to shoot video.  The biggest similarity is that the Ricoh GR and Fujifilm x100s both use the APS-C format, which is normally found in larger DSLR cameras.  The larger sensors in both cameras are responsible for excellent image quality, as well as outstanding low light performance.

Effective megapixels in both cameras are almost identical with the GR being 16.2 megapixels, while the X100s being 16.3 megapixels.  Both cameras are capable of capturing images in RAW or JPEG format.  In both cameras there is a single slot for a SD, SDHC or SDXC card.

The GR and the X100s both share a fixed rear LCD, with the GR having a 3” display and the Fujifilm having a slightly smaller display at 2.8”.  Interestingly both cameras do not have WIFI, wireless or GPS technology built in to the cameras, although later versions of the cameras have incorporated some of the technology. A final similarity between the two cameras is the ability to shoot high definition video, but the main strength of both cameras is still images.

The Differences

While the GR and the X100s share a number of similarities, they are a number of differences between the two cameras including lens, viewfinder, frames per second, ISO range, shutter speed, scene modes, size, weight and where they are manufactured.  Both the GR and the X100s use fixed lens, however the GR uses a wider and slower 28mm equivalent, f2.8 lens, while the X100s uses a classic 35mm equivalent f2.0 lens.  Optically both lens are excellent, but the 28mm equivalent lens is a bit too wide for some photographers.  While some may be concerned about both cameras having a fixed lens and no zoom capabilities, it is important to keep in mind that the images can be cropped easily to mimic an image shot on a moderate zoom.  At 16 megapixels, there is enough resolution in the image to allow this.

A big difference is the lack of a viewfinder on the GR, while the X100s uses a hybrid viewfinder that allows the photographer to switch back and forth from an optical to an electronic finder.  The optical finder offers 90% coverage, while the electronic finder has 100% coverage.  In addition, information on aperture and shutter speed is displayed in the viewfinder as well.

The Fujifilm X100s is capable of shooting at 6 frames per second, while the GR can only shoot at 4 frames per second.  Another big difference is the ISO range of the two cameras with the GR being capable of 100-25,600, while the X100s has a normal range from 200-6,400 and is expanded down to 100 and up to 12,800. While this appears to be significant, it is important to keep in mind that the X100s also has a faster lens, which allows lower ISO settings to be used in low light conditions.  Also, shooting at high ISO settings can result in pictures that are soft, as the noise reducing software in digital cameras tends to remove noise, as well as detail.

Another difference is in the shutter speed of the two cameras with the GR being capable of 1/4000 to 300 seconds and the 1/4000 to 30 seconds.  The GR also has a number of scene modes built into the camera, while the X100s does not have any set up in the camera.

Other differences between the GR and the X100s are related to the size and weight of the two cameras.  The GR is noticeably smaller at 4.6” x 2.4” x 1.4” when compared to the X100s, which is 5.0” x 2.9” x 2.1”.  It also weighs almost half of what the X100 does, with the GR being 8.6 ounces and the X100s being 15.7 ounces.  In many ways the GR feels and handles like a large point and shoot camera.

Finally, the GR is made in China, which is partially responsible for the significant price difference between the GR and the X100s, which is made in Japan.

Pros and Cons

The biggest pro for the Ricoh GR is the value that the camera offers as the pricing is extremely competitive, especially when compared to the Fujifilm X100s.  At $599.00 the GR is a steal for a camera capable of so much.  Another thing going for the GR is the various scene modes available in the camera.  Another plus is the construction of the GR, which includes a magnesium alloy body, which will help protect the camera.

The biggest con to the GR is the lack of a viewfinder, which is a big miss for a camera like this.  Another con is the fixed lens, which is a bit too wide at a 35 mm equivalent of 28mm.  At 2.8, it is a bit low as well, especially when compared to the Fujifilm X100s.  Also, despite its capabilities, the GR feels like a point and shoot camera, while the X100s feels like a classic rangefinder camera.

The biggest pro to the Fujifilm X100s is the entire user experience with the camera.  It starts with the retro look of the camera, continues with the hybrid viewfinder, the classic and fast 35mm equivalent lens and the back to basics settings and controls.  The camera really puts fun back into photography!

The biggest con to the Fujifilm X100s is the cost, however given the overall positives of the camera this is minor.

The Final Frame: My Overall Recommendation

While both the Ricoh GR and the Fujifilm X100s are both great cameras, I much prefer the entire experience with the x100s.  Specific reasons include the hybrid viewfinder, which is bright and very functional, as well as the excellent lens found on the camera.  I also love the retro / classic rangefinder styling, particularly the black and silver version of the camera.  Best yet is the back to basics with the elimination of all of the scene modes, just a camera with a fixed lens and a photographer looking to capture an image.  In many ways it reminds me of when I got into photography many years ago running around with a Canon Ae-1 Program, a couple of rolls of film and a fast 50mm lens!  Nothing wrong with getting back to basics and putting fun back into photography!

Robert Alexander
 

A camera geek and freelance photographer, Robert (Aka "Rob" or "Bob") spends way too much time examining the finer points of cameras.

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