Ricoh GR vs. Nikon Coolpix A Review

General Image Quality

Nikon and Ricoh managed to make their new flagship compact cameras very small without making any compromises in terms of image quality.  Having an APS-C sized sensor in such a small form factor is already very impressive, but both manufacturers decided to take things further than that, focusing on perfecting their sensors and optics.  The GR and the Coolpix A are capable of delivering sharp, clear images no worse than those from a APS-C (DX) format DSLR.  Their state-of-the-art 16-megapixel sensors are designed without low-pass anti-aliasing filters; this approach maximizes sharpness while increasing the risk of moire artifacts.

The Coolpix A's 18.5mm lens and the GR's 18.3mm lens are both very sharp, as our test photos will show on the pages to come.  You will also be able to observe how big of an improvement the GR is over its predecessor when it comes to resolution and clarity.

Metering and JPEG Quality

We found the metering performance of both cameras to be accurate.  When shooting in JPEG mode, the Nikon and the Ricoh feature a number of presets that control how colors are rendered.  You can also manually customize how you want your JPEGs to look or choose from a variety of artistic presets, such as sepia or high-key.  While both cameras let you customize contrast, saturation, and sharpness, hue and brightness are unique to the Nikon, while vignetting control is unique to the GR.

Out of the box, the Coolpix A produces JPEG files that are more vivid and contrasty than those of the Ricoh, which takes a more orthodox approach of delivering neutral color tones in its standard JPEG setting.

For users who prefer to shoot in JPEG rather than RAW, both cameras include expanded dynamic range settings that can help product HDR-like images.

GR 35mm Crop Mode

The native 28mm (full-frame equivalent) focal length of the GR offers a wide field of view of approximately 67 degrees (horizontally).  For those who enjoy the 35mm focal length, Ricoh have included a built-in crop mode in the GR that crops the image as shown below and outputs a 10-megapixel image:

GR 35mm Crop Mode

The camera's RAW files only include the cropped area when this mode is selected.  The same result can be obtained by cropping the original RAW via a Photoshop action, batch task, etc.

The Coolpix A does not have a cropped shooting mode.

Stabilization

Neither the Coolpix A nor the GR offer any form of image stabilization.  Fortunately, this isn't a big deal, as the light weight of these two cameras means they are very easy to hold steadily, even at slow shutter speeds.  We were able to capture sharp hand-helds at 1/20s and above.


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