Comparing the Ricoh GR III and Fujifilm XF10

When the Ricoh GR III was announced, I did not make extensive reference to the competition. Similar models include the Fujifilm X100F and the Sigma dp1 Quattro. The Leica X and Nikon Coolpix A are also in this group, but are no longer listed by their manufacturers. Ricoh’s current model (until the GR III is released to market), the Ricoh GR II, is currently priced around $600, while the X100F would set you back $1200.

specfight

But Fujifilm has another card in its hand, and that is the specced-down XF10, retailing at $500, and so we’ll compare that considerably cheaper camera to the GR III here.

Resolution and angle of view

Both cameras have 28mm/4.2 equivalent lenses and 24 megapixel resolution. Both cameras also digitally zoom to 35mm and 50mm in full frame terms (50mm is almost a 1.8x crop, so there will be 7.6 megapixels of image detail; 35mm gives 15.5 megapixels of detail).

Shutter speeds

The XF10 has an electronic shutter that goes down to speeds of 1/16,000s as well as a mechanical one that goes to 1/4000s. The GR III has a mechanical shutter that also reaches down to 1/4000s. Beyond this, the Ricoh GR III also includes a two-stop built-in ND filter. Since its shutter is limited to 1/2500s when f/2.8 is selected as the aperture, its conventional shutter can comfortably operate wide open in conditions over twice as bright as the Fujifilm model.

By using the ND filter, the GR can get exposures four times as long as the Fujifilm in the same light and with the same aperture, or with two stops higher image quality (two stops less noise). Both cameras have a 30s limit for long exposures.

Image stabilisation, aliasing and flash

The GR III also includes three-axis optical stabilisation. The manufacturer has not published claims of how many stops of stabilisation this provides, but the possibility of deploying both the ND filter and image stabilisation may offer interesting creative opportunities. Because it includes a sensor shaker, the GR III can simulate an anti-aliasing filter and does not include or require an optical low pass filter, unlike the XF10, whose images will be slightly less sharp and detailed as its OLPF filter adds a small amount of blur to reduce aliasing and moire. Other anti-aliasing simulating cameras offer about 5 stops of stabilisation, so this may be what the GR III has, or close to it.

The Ricoh GR III has a hotshoe that allows external flashes to be attached as well as a viewfinder accessory. The XF10 has a small built-in flash instead.

Optics

The lenses of both cameras are identical in focal length and aperture range. The GR III includes a macro mode that alows focusing down to 6cm rather than the 10cm normally and in the XF10. The GR III has a reputation for excellent sharpness, yet in terms of elements and groups, both cameras’ lenses are constructed of seven elements in five groups,* with two aspherical elements, so performance may be similarly competitive in both. The XF10’s focal length is given as 18.5mm, while the GR III is slightly wider at 18.3mm – arguably this is compensated by the XF10’s lens protruding a shorter distance from the body, which slightly widens the available view at close distances.

* I also found a spec sheet from Ricoh giving the GR III’s optical formula as having six elements in four groups. This is the old formula of the GR II. Hopefully, this will be corrected. The information I have from Photokina suggests the optical construction has been changed to a formula having seven elements.

Focusing

While both cameras seem to have “fake pixel” phase detection autofocus systems, the XF10 has 91 focus points, while the GR III’s details have not been disclosed. Earlier GR models rely on contrast detection only, which means there are no fake pixels.

The XF10 has a “Snapshot mode”, which essentially allows you to select between f/8 and f/5.6 hyperfocal settings. Past Ricoh GR models have had a more flexible implementation called Snap Focus, which allows you to select hyperfocal focus from 1m, 1.5m, 2m, 2.5m, 5m and infinity – admittedly, this may be too much choice for some who may prefer just setting one of two options and be done. Since the manufacturer gives “Snap” as one of the focus modes, I would expect the GR III to have this feature.

Performance

Both cameras principally offer RAW capture.

As performance data (frames per second continous shooting, buffer depth) and movie modes (resolutions, frame rates, codecs) have not been announced for the GR III, I’ll refrain from trying to guess them. Continuous shooting, though, is limited in the XF10 – 6fps and 3fps modes are available, but the buffer fills in 2 or 4 seconds respectively, the only available (or sensible?) format seems to be JPEG, and the buffer clearing rate seems to be low.

User interface

The GR III offers more buttons and its interface is widely highly regarded and often described as intuitive. By contrast, the XF10 offers a touchscreen that among other things allows for focus point selection, and seems to work well, so this one may come down to user preferences.

Conclusion

All in all, I would say the GR III is the more thoroughly engineered camera of the two, even with some details not fully announced yet. The XF10 offers the advantages of an electronic shutter, touchscreen and built-in flash. The GR III  though has image stabilisation, anti-aliasing simulation, no OLPF, a built-in ND filter and a hotshoe, which in my opinion makes it the much more compelling package. However, depending on your priorities, the cheaper camera may still be tempting.

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