Saturday, May 31, 2014

Style Wars: Fuji X-100S vs Ricoh GR Ltd Ed

Taken with Ricoh GR-D IV. 1/50th sec f/4.0 @ ISO 200. RAW image, converted in CS5.


It's been almost a year since I've had both the Ricoh GR and the Fujifilm X-100S at the same time. I love both cameras, and I knew I was going to buy one of them. Which one was 'better' was what I started off thinking; but I realized this was the wrong question to ask. 'Which one is best for me?' was what I ended up asking myself, and I chose the Ricoh GR (well, the Limited Edition kit). Although the Fujifilm X-100S is the 'better' camera (functions, versatility, technology), the GR was better suited for the type of photography I was taking.

However, I never stopped thinking about the X-100S. I love the hybrid OVF-EVF system, the top dials, the dedicated aperture ring, and the on-screen horizontal focus and DOF scale. What did I miss the most about the X-100S? I know its superficial, but I love the look!! It's so sexy!! When I had the opportunity to review the new TCL-X100 tele-converter for the X-100S, I thought it would be great to do another GR vs X-100S again...including style factor!! Which looks better? Which looks like a serious shooting tool? Which do you want to be seen carrying? Who cares?
I think most care. Yes, the look has nothing to do with functionality (most of the time), but how an object looks and how it makes us feel changes the way and how often we use the object. Did you know a survey done on car purchases said the number 1 reason why a person picked a certain car was its colour? Are we surprised? I'm not. How a camera, or a car, a watch, or even a blender looks and feels makes a difference in motivating us to use these items. These tools have to work properly for us to ultimately benefit from its purchase, but the aesthetics and ergonomics play a very important role as well.

The Fuji X-series has done that for many people. It looks great, but it also functions exceptionally well too. The Fuji X-100S is a beautiful looking camera (except I don't like the solitary 'S' on the front), and the TCL-X100 (Tele-Converter Lens for X-100) only further enhances the 'look' and 'feel' of the camera. It looks like an old Leica body with a chrome lens attached, and the converter being all glass (4 elements) and metal gives the weight and feel of a vintage era lens. 


I took a few pictures of both the X-100S and my Ricoh GR Limited Edition and wanted to see which looked 'better' to my eyes, and to the eyes of others. I love the hammered green metallic finish on my GR, as well as the textured adapter with lens hood, matching olive leather strap and case. Just looking at it and touching it makes me want to shoot with it. Putting both side by side, I was struggling to decide which I preferred around my neck while walking around. I did a test and asked a few people which look they preferred, the GR or X-100S. It was close, but I think the X-100S had 1 or 2 more votes. In the hand, the X-100S feels more quality due to all that metal and extra weight, although it's not heavy. The knobby dials and controls helps to make the camera feel more tactile (although not necessarily more functional as I'll reveal in the full review), and that retro look is still very eye-catching.

So the official winner of the 'look-off' for camera design and aesthetics: the Fujifilm X-100S with the TCL-X100 tele-converter attachment. Yes the Ricoh GR Ltd Ed. is also really really good looking, but there's something about the rangefinder style of the X-100S that gives it that extra something-something that the GR doesn't have... now maybe if I had a cool OVF attached to the GR via the hotshoe, the decision would be different? Hmm...

Thanks for viewing another 'not-so-technical' review-comparison. A real review of the X-100S with the tele-converter will be published soon. So far, I'm really liking the 50mm equivalent view with the OVF on the X-100S. It's a killer combo in a reasonably compact package. Check out my Instagram account for more images of the camera and other photographic musings as I wander the streets of Vancouver.

Happy shooting!

Munetake

BHT 


8 comments:

  1. I have an X100 and a Ricoh GR. I find the GR to be a better camera. The X100 just doesn't focus as well. Both have good image quality. When one factors in the significant size advantage for the GR, I just don't reach for the X100 very often. I realize the X100S is better than the X100 for focusing but the larger size issue remains. I use these cameras for interior shots with friends and at work and when walking around. The GR just makes this easier. For whatever reason, more people "notice" the Fuji, while the GR gets mistaken for old point and shoot. That's a big advantage for me.

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    1. Hi fpink3,

      Thanks for sharing your experience with both the GR and X-100. You are 100% that it's easier to just grab the GR and use it in all sorts of situations. It's also more stealth, so those who don't want the extra attention, it's a compact APS-C monster!

      The X-100S functions very different than the X-100. I had it for review but decided not to post my review (I only post reviews of cameras I like...). The autofocus and manual focus was too tiresome. The X-100S is much, much better, especially the manual focusing. With focus peaking and less turns for the full focus range, it's much quicker. Manual focus on the GR is a joke, unless you're scale focusing. Even then, I wish the focus bar went horizontal like the Fuji, and also gave you the choice of meters or feet (again, the Fuji is great!).

      This playful comparison was more about aesthetics than functionality, and I think both look beautiful. The Limited Edition is pretty flashy, although it's still very compact and is no 'threat'. The X-100S is an attention-getting camera. I'll go into further detail on my review of it and the tele-converter lens.

      Thanks again for your comments. Much appreciated! Happy shooting...

      Munetake

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  2. Just got a Ricoh GR recently to go with my X100s as well. I find the Ricoh noticeably better for being more anonymous and street shooting of people discreetly. It is extremely fast to turn on as well - I've rarely missed a shot. And the snap feature is excellent. The x100s is still great for more composed shots but one thing that annoys me is to switch between shutter priority for street and a more static shot takes a lot of switching around - the custom button settings are useless for big changes unlike with the ricoh. And the manual focus dial is horrible to use on the x100s. A snap feature would be better - maybe snap distances on the ring or something. The x100s does look cool, but it's great that the Ricoh looks so discreet- people think you are just a tourist with it. But the quality of the shots is great. Overall they are a great combo I think.

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    1. Hi Dave,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Yes, the GR series is excellent for street style photography, and always has been since the original GR film cameras came it. Every GR has had snap focus mode, and it's an excellent way of shooting street. The X100S is a fantastic camera too, buy you're right about custom settings... it's not so good. However, I don't know any camera that is as customizable as the GR camera. It's great that you have both. You should try the TCL-X100 converter. Having a 28mm equiv with a 50mm equiv for street photography is very powerful. At least that's what I've found.

      Thanks again for commenting. Happy shooting!!

      BHT

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  3. Hi BHT,
    Do you have any information in this?
    http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/54520985
    As an owner of both I thought maybe you could help me sort it out?
    Many thanks,
    Ron

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ron,

      I'm no optics expert, but even if you could make the threads work by using a male to male adaptor, I don't think the teleconverter from the Fuji will work on the Ricoh GR. Remember that the attachment lens was made specifically to work within the limits of the lens design of the Fujinon 23mm f/2 lens that's built into the Fuji X-100 series. To attach it in front of another lens and another brand... I'm not saying it won't work, that you couldn't get something from it. But everything from focal length, light fall-off, focus point, etc would all be wacky. Unless the lens design of the Ricoh matches the design of the Fuji (which it won't) and you can work out the exact distance the adapter is from the lens, I don't think you're going to get what you're trying to get ( 50mm equiv on the Ricoh).

      Let's see if someone pulls it off and then posts the results. But this does bring up a good point: should Ricoh come out with their own 50mm equiv adaptor for the GR? I think it would be cool. 21mm, 28mm, and 45-50mm would be awesome! Thanks for the link and including me into this debate.

      How do you like both your Fuji and Ricoh? I'm surprised you have both, but very jealous too! I love the Fuji X-100 series. I'll be getting the X-100T to review soon.

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    2. Hi BHT, I am sorry I missed your reply ( i thought gmail would have notified me)
      Thanks for getting back to me! I guess I wasn't clear: I only own the GR not the Fuji. But my understanding was that you happen to own both (incl. the tele converter, hence my inquiry) I understand what you say about the lens being tailored for Fuji. You are most probably right...I will still try to see if somehow it can be adapted, and will surely report back! best regards, Ron

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    3. Hi Ron,

      I only own the Ricoh GR and GR-D IV. I'm a camera reviewer so Fujifilm (and other brands) sends me cameras, but I eventually have to ship it back. I still feel that you can't even put the Fuji teleconverter on another Fuji lens, let alone attaching it in front of another brand. Converters are customized to work within the limits of the lens it's adapting. It doesn't only magnify the image, but it corrects for distortion, light fall-off, colour, etc. As I mentioned, I just use the digital zoom on the GR and accept the loss in resolution. I rarely need an image full rez anyway, even when printing. I rarely print over 8 x 12. Let's see if Ricoh adds a 47mm equiv adapter for the GR on the next upgrade. I think it'll be cool.

      BHT

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