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Friday, 15 April 2016


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Cameras, schmameras. Ned, if you read this, say hi to Tony Rose for me! Eons ago, when he made a short sojourn to wine country (Sonoma), he and I worked in the same camera store for awhile.

I still use a phrase he taught me, a synonym for manufacturer's suggested retail price: "Full pop boogie", as in "I wanted that thing so bad I paid full pop boogie."

Thanks for the excellent review, Ned! I've been thinking about trying an X70 myself, so it's almost as if you were reading my mind. My takeaway is that a skilled photographer can get excellent images out of either one, but the Ricoh GR makes the job a bit easier and enjoyable overall.

I enjoyed this review, thanks. The GR has always attracted me but not quite enough for me to justify it as an "extra" camera. I think if there had been a 35mm or 50mm attachment instead of a 21mm I would have bought it. I do hope they update it again without losing its strengths. Now the K1 is attracting me, a far more crazy possible purchase. Perhaps we will see a "first impressions" review of that camera from you soon?

I like Fuji JPEGs but mostly prefer to use a 35mm focal length. Can the X70 be set up so that the 35mm crop mode is the default setting? Is there an OVF with 35mm frame lines that could be used with the camera?

The X70 is one gorgeous little camera, and I'm sure that swivel screen can come in handy! But the the one handed ergonomics and UI of the GR is unmatched. It's not uncommon for a reviewer to state that a camera fits like a glove, the GR truly does- to the point you can forget you're holding it. And the fact that it doesn't look like a traditional camera (ie- less intimidating), makes it that much more stealthy in the field. Throw in its lower price and better all around IQ, and there's no question as to which is the winner.

Very nice review! I was initially interested in the X70 until I realized it did not have an internal finder - that killed it for me. Shoe mount OVFs are a poor substitute for a built-in VF of any kind.

I have a GR and it is one of my all time favourite cameras and the one that gets the most use. It was perfect when I stayed in Cairo a few weeks ago. Attracts less attention than my iPhone, but has wonderful image quality. Also, the DNG files convert beautifully to B&W. And if I forget, by far the best menu system I have yet come across in a digital camera.

@ Ken Ford- Agreed, shoe mount OVF's are a joke. And I refused to buy the much heralded GR since I knew I could "never" adjust to an LCD viewfinder only camera.

Against better judgement, I finally bought one anyway this year- not as my do all camera, but my carry all and "special needs" camera. Even with my aging eyes, I can now appreciate what that lowly little viewfinder can accomplish on the street. It really does provide one opportunities an OVF would not allow.

GR II? Fuji X70? Out here in the "buy used, and well beyond end of life" camp, The original GR Digital is just showing up. Thanks for the great article....it is nice to be able to look seven or eight years down the road.

The X70 is yet another sexy Fuji product. They do know what they're doing.

I, however, remain convinced that the X-Trans sensor has, and continues to be, a major marketing blunder. Fuji's differentiator in the market is really their camera and lens designs which, together, offer a specific gestalt that no other maker matches at the moment. That's what sells. I would wager that the overwhelming majority of Fuji owners would still have bought Fuji if it had a conventional sensor.

After all, Fuji had great conventional sensors and processing prior to the X-Trans. The cost of the X-Trans is a lot of uncertainty and bad press.

I like the fixed lens, ie not extending, of the Fuji. In my 40 years of photography I have had 5 cameras fail or break. One I dropped and it was a write-off. The other 4 all had extensible lens and developed a problem in that part. Cost of repair was typically 1/3 of the cost of new camera. Still, I have 2 GRDs now and had two previous models earlier. It is in so many ways an evolutionally perfected small camera.

I can't go back to a camera without a viewfinder. I love the EVFs now, too. I'm really stumped as to why Ricoh bothered with the updated GR without one. But I was shocked that Olympus released the E-P5 without one, and that was 2013! The GR's lens and ergonomics are supposed to be top-notch, but I'd never know!

That's a great review, Ned.

I've barely touched another camera since purchasing a GR.

Hi Eamon, I'll definitely say hi to Tony for you. And I'll remind him that I don't want to pay "full pop boogie" on my next must-have camera that I buy from him.

Best regards,

Gordon, having never written a review before, unlike Mike or you, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Almost as hard as doing a business plan, but with potentially different consequences. You're absolutely right, I think one could produce equally nice images with either camera.

I'd like to hear some thoughts on focusing performance. I hear Ricoh has a "snap focus" feature that is something like instant hyperfocal focusing? Does the Fuji have anything like this? If you want to use these on the street like "f/8 and be there" which one is faster and why?

Lack of built-in VF killed both of them for me. Sony A6000 with 20/2.8 was nearly as small, nearly as light, less expensive, and vastly more versatile.

Interesting review, thanks. I was in the market for a similar camera and plumped for the Nikon Coolpix A that you can still find in stock. When they were introduced they cost £1000 in the UK but you can pick them up for nearer £300 now if you look about. Stunning camera at that price and the sensor is fabulous. Well worth considering.

I'm a bit confused by his comment "Note: you can't control noise reduction" in the review, on all the X cameras I've used you can turn the NR down to minimal, although not turn it off completely - to say you have no control is incorrect.

FWIW I agree about X-Trans, the files from my original X100 are stunning with excellent high ISO even by today's standards. I think there would be less concern about the Fuji sensor if Adobe could actually perfect their processing.

I've been looking to get a fixed f/l, large sensor compact (28 or 35mm) for some time. For me, the Fuji's flip screen, allowing for more discreet waste level shooting, is winning the argument. I do agree that X-Trans is somewhat over-egged though.

An excellent article, neatly highlighting the pros and cons of the two cameras under consideration. But the article, and some of the comments, highlight the contradiction in the Fujifilm system: top notch lenses, good ergonomics, class leading sensors with an infuriating non-Bayer filter. I have 3 Fujifilm digital cameras, X100, X-Pro 1, XT10, and the one that gives me the best acuity, contrast and colour is the 12Mp Bayer X100, regardless of RAW file conversion software, or even the built-in RAW converter in the cameras. X-Trans - a solution in search of a problem?

Ned: Your excellent article is remarkably coincident with my own current experiences with, and impressions of the Fuji X70 as compared to my Ricoh GR (1st version). I've been a bit of a fan of the Ricoh G- cameras since film (and have a collection of them).

My film Ricoh G cameras

Your remarks about the detail and color quality of the GR's images are right-on. The only fixed-lens cameras I have to rival (or best) it in that department are my Sigma DPx Merrills. That plus the Ricoh's 20+ year history of refinements as a silent quick-shootin' street demon, and its go-anywhere pocketability make it very hard to beat.

But that Fujifilm X70 sure looked intriguing to me, too. Same size APS-C sensor as the GR. Same focal length lens. I easily augmented its lack of an evf with a lovely Voigtlander 28mm shoe-mount optical viewfinder I already had. It's a bit more compact that the Fuji or Ricoh. (The focus confirmation light is just -barely- in my peripheral view when using this viewfinder, unlike the GR's light which is thoughtfully much closer.) The X70's tilting lcd really gives it high marks for me, as I most often shoot below eye level or need to shoot 90 deg. up or down. It's touch-to-focus/shoot feature is outstanding. (When is Sony going to implement this in its A7 series?!)

My own results and impressions after a couple of weeks with the X70 are very similar to yours, Ned. On overall image quality the Ricoh GR takes the crown for all the reasons you've cited. The GR also takes the award for being the smaller, lighter and more pocketable camera.

But the X70 takes my own award for being more generally versatile and usable. Just this past week I used my X70 in two very different environments - on a large construction site and in some very dim natural history museum galleries - where its tilting touch lcd made both shoots more effortless than the GR might have. Plus the X70's low-light chops are pretty good!

In brief, my X70's staying put even though I find myself with more fixed-lens/single focal length cameras than I really need. I really like this camera's gestalt. It produces an image file completely on-par with my other X-Trans APS-C cameras, as I suspect it uses the same sensor. Frankly, its smallness and tilting lcd make it much more usable and practical for me than my X100T. So far I love the X70!

But no way is my Ricoh GR going on sale! It will continue to get use, albeit perhaps a bit less.


Tip: The Fujifilm's LH-X100 lens hood (for the X100 cameras) fits the X70 perfectly. I've found I often prefer using this accessory without the main outer hood attached. The inner ring attachment provides just enough edge depth to prevent lens bumps and also gives me a bit of finger grip while carrying. (The much less expensive JJC version of this hood would probably be just as good.)

Tip: I tried using the X100's 50mm teleconverter lens on the X70. While it fits perfectly it produces far too much distortion to be usable. Perhaps Fujifilm will provide a future firmware update to accommodate this lens, just as they did with the X100?

I haven't directly compared a GR to the X70 (yet), but I will just echo Keith B's comments that if one is processing Fuji X-Trans RAW files, one really has to use Capture One, Iridient Developer or Photo Ninja to observe the detail the X-trans cameras are actually capable of producing. ACR or LR is not sufficient, and in this case, not the right tool for the right job. I plan to get my own X70 soon, and will rent a GR and do some analysis; one of the key tools I am going to use is RawDigger, which allows one to really and accurately observe the true RAW files with respect to sensor performance across the range of exposure values.

I like the controls of the Fuji and I'd prefer the sensor in the GR but since neither has a viewfinder, no sale. I suppose that's why the Leica Q had such demand, even at it's higher price of entry.


Either camera seems to be the perfect cellphone camera replacement; the one that's always with you. The lack of viewfinder is no big deal to me, mostly because I wear glasses which would necessitate a large 20mm+ eyepoint viewfinder. Still, the best pocket camera I ever owned was the 35mm Olympus Stylus Epic, even better than my Sony RX100mIII.

Ken, thanks for your feedback. I didn't say much about the X70's tilting LCD other than it was quite responsive and could clearly be a reason someone might pick the X70 over the GR. I agree it's useful in shooting situations where I was taking time to carefully compose the photo.

However, I found as I was walking around with the X70 doing more casual, spontaneous shooting, it took more time to bring the camera up towards my eyes to select the focus point than just quickly moving the GR's single spot around using the four way controller which you quickly perfect without even having to look at the LCD. It's probably just habit, but I prefer holding the GR by my waist and only bringing it up when I'm ready to capture the shot. For street shooting, I still think the GR is the ultimate stealth tool of choice, but I'm sure I could become just as invisible to my subjects after shooting with the X70 for awhile.

KeithB, just to clarify, my Fuji RAF files were processed using Adobe DNG converter (9.4). I was aware that Adobe ACR had some issues, but I read they addressed them in DNG 9.4. Nonetheless, if you look at my Flickr album, the majority of my sample images were shot with the X70 using the standard OOC jpegs since I didn't want poor RAW conversions to cloud my impressions.

I'd like to say that I've been advising a friend on which camera to buy but it has been more a act of highlighting the characteristics of different models. My constant theme has been 'All cameras are capable of producing superb photos. It is more a case of how much do you want to pay'.
The decision has still not been made.
At one point I started to explain that there was one aspect which overwhelmed the relative minor differences between cameras - post processing. Where the concept of camera comparisons is difficult for my friend, post processing is like learning another language.
I'm also looking for a new camera and the comparison stage is not easy. Take Canon, like most other makers there is so much overlap it is impossible to pick out the one that directly meets my needs. I have an old S95 and a Nikon D800 and so something in between could be useful at times but it is hard to separate them out. It was illustrated by a friend recently highlighting how, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he reorganized their confusing mix of products, into a range of stepped products with clear differences.
Might I go on?
Another aspect of Apple is that their Marketing approach is not based on the competition, instead they look ahead at what they do best and how they can translate that into a product. Tesla do the same.
An off beat example is the English rugby team. Last year culminated several years of bad performance with almost immediate ejection from the World Cup. They changed the manager but more or less kept the same players. Within seconds of starting their first match the difference was obvious, they weren't obsessed with what the competition was doing, they instead concentrated on what they could do best and have since won all their matches.
So, Fuji, Canon, Nikon, Panasonic and everybody else stop being obsessed with the competition and producing a barrel full of cameras where it is hard to tell the difference and instead, ignore them and do what you are good at. At least then we al might find it easier to make a decision and buy another camera.
My apologies if this has rambled on too much.

Longtime Ricoh GR and Fuji user here. The GR has a significant advantage with its one handed operational use for street photography. Bypassing the hipster wave the GR is extremely functional and looks like a 1990's film camera. Both are major advantages when not trying to stick out of the crowd i.e. tourist or street photographer.

"Note: you can't control noise reduction with the X70’s X-Trans filter, versus the GR, which has no AA filter."

The X-Trans is a color filter array. The GR has a Bayer filter array. This is independent of whether or not a camera has an AA filter, too. The statement about NR is confused.

I bought an X70 a month ago and so far it's been terrific. I've been looking for a camera which is genuinely jeans-pocketable, preferably wide-ish angle, that I can take out in the evening and use in dark restaurants (etc) at ISO 1600, without a flash, and get clean files out of. I don't expect it to be my only camera - it isn't and won't be. But for the purposes I want it for, it's been great. It's still early days but so far my iphone usage has gone down dramatically and the file quality in those situations has gone up dramatically. In fact ISO 3200 has produced some decent files. I wondered about the 28mm equiv. rather than 35 but frankly it makes little difference - I'm not so precious as to believe 7mm is denying my artistic vision. As for the ergonomics, I can only say that I've found them excellent. The left cursor is a bit tight but you can swipe the screen when reviewing images and it's the only quibble I have - in many other ways it's a delight to use. Bonuses are the charging via USB cable (one less block to carry) and the option of Wifi file transfer to iDevice. Hope this is of use to others looking for such a camera.

As if on cue, DPreview has just published a review of the X70 that compares it with the GR II. The lens quality difference that Ned noted represents a key markdown for the X70. The X-Trans sensor didn't help, either.

You heard it here first!

I too agonized over the lack of the OVF in the Ricoh GR, but strangely enough it grew on me. Now I wouldn't have the GR any other way. I think being OVF-Less suits it just fine.

I thought it was interesting that dpreview's final word/conclusion on the X70 had a similar view to mine on the camera's image being ready for Instagram.

"The X70 is a lot of fun to use. It comes ready to go right out of the box. It produces JPEGs that can make anyone's images on social media more pleasing to look at..."

TOP review:
"Therefore, the X70’s film simulations, which are ready to upload and post on social media, could actually be more important to a prospective buyer than the GR’s superior files and better ergonomics."

So, I read the depreview review again, then this again, then the dpreview review again... Yesterday, I took delivery of a (pristine looking) second user GR (1st gen), from a German eBay seller. I think it was the lens that won it (and the snap focus feature - I guess I can f8 and be there, always).

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