Gear

5 Talking Points: Sony RX100 IV vs Ricoh GR II (…and Fuji X100T)

Sony RX100 IVRicoh GR IIFuji X100T
Sensor20.1 MP 1″-type stacked CMOS sensor16.2 MP APS-C size CMOS image sensor16MP X-Trans CMOS II sensor
Average Price (USD)$899$650$999
Lens24-70mm equivalent f/1.8-f/2.828mm equivalent f/2.835mm equivalent f/2 lens
ISO Range125-12800100-25600100-51200
Weight (inc. batteries)298g251g440g
Weather SealedNoNoNo
LCD Size3″3″3″
Video3840 x 2160 (30p)1920 x 1080 (60p)1920 x 1080 (30p)

I added the Fuji X100T for comparison*

1) Do you care about video?

If you do, buy the Sony.

It can record in 4K, but more importantly, it has slo-mo…

2) Ergonomics or features?

“This is a freight lift lady!” / Ricoh GR II @ f/2.8, 1/60, ISO 1000

On paper, the Sony RX100 IV wins almost hand down. More megapixels, 4K video, greater flexibility with the zoom range, and a much better LCD screen.

Yet as you may have read in an earlier article, I can’t help but admire the Ricoh GR II for its simplicity. The GR series body is a well thought out beast with years of trial and error behind the design—it’s generally unchanged since the original GR1 in 1996 with good reason.

So while the video capabilities of the GR II clearly do lag behind, the intuitive ergonomics for me clearly outweight all the extra features of the Sony. Megapixels especially aren’t really a huge concern, since honestly both 16- and 20-megapixels are enough for most people’s purposes.

In perfect conditions, both cameras obviously can produce great images. But having held and used both cameras, the Ricoh wins for me due to its greater flexibility while on the move.

5) Form over function?

The Sony is definitely more pocketable, but it cuts too many features in an ill-informed pursuit of elegance.

What do Santa Claus, unicorns, and the RX100’s macro button have in common?

Oh yeah. They don’t exist.

I’m not sure why Sony did this. In the past, pretty much the entire point of a Cyber-shot was so that you could buy one in desperation the day before a long summer holiday with the kids, and then use it to take close-up pictures of all the food you would eat to annoy your co-workers and Facebook friends.

By straddling the line between ‘pro’ point-and-shoots and a ‘consumer’ camera, they’ve made it difficult to please either audience. The Ricoh GR II isn’t meant for a casual consumer due to its lack of zoom, but a DSLR-user might appreciate many of the details Ricoh have remembered. On the other hand, a DSLR-user might not care too much for 4K video if their main cameras have it, but the RX100 IV’s design will most likely frustrate them.

4) Are you a street photographer?

Hong Kong Hazmat suit is always in style / Ricoh GR II @ f/4.5, 1/500, ISO 800
Concrete doesn’t provide enough protection from the sun / Sony RX100 IV @ f/2.8, 1/160, ISO 500

The zoom of the 24-70mm lens enables a better depth-of-field and reach than the Ricoh. For family snaps or holiday poses this is better. But for quasi ‘action photography’ on a point-and-shoot, zoom isn’t very relevant, which is why this round goes to Ricoh.

Ricoh’s wide-angle is all you need; it’s easier to get things in focus when moving, and also the lens is a bit faster. The Sony is only f/1.7 when set at the widest zoom, but it can’t maintain that across every focal length.

Also, as you may have noticed, my photo with the Sony is a bit blurry from motion. Sure it’s my fault, but I also blame the RX100 IV because it took too long for me to change my settings. The Ricoh only required a quick click and push to up the shutter speed—no menus to delve into like the Sony.

5) Which camera is a better deal?

Ricoh GR II @ f/2.8, 1/125, ISO 2200

To be fair to Sony, the RX100 IV is a nice camera—but it simply costs too much. If all these features were available (even in the same body) for a hundred or two less, the RX100 IV would be a decent choice. I’d still take the Fuji X100T, but at the moment it’s hard to ignore the great value of the GR II.

Conclusion:

Lok and the mannequin / Sony RX100 IV @ f/2.8, 1/160, ISO 4000

At this price, Sony is demanding that the RX100 IV be treated like a high end point-and-shoot. But with this body and all these attention grabbing features, it really doesn’t do any one thing particularly well. Rather, it attempts to impress people with the specs inside, while failing to address the most important aspect of a small camera: maintaining high quality with maximum convenience.

Ricoh kept their eye on the prize, even though their relatively low-powered sensor has prevented many photographers from being more enthusiastic.

With Fuji due to release their long-awaited sucessor to the X100T soon however, it may be prudent to wait. Many blogs out there have rumoured that there will be a new lens design and a slightly upgraded sensor. If Fuji do indeed bring in these changes, they’ll blow Sony and Ricoh both out of the water and make a strong claim for the best premium point-and-shoot.