Tiny Second Hand Camera Smackdown: Ricoh GR vs. Sony RX100 IV

Recently I exchanged the Sony 20mm f/2.8 that I bought when I purchased my a6000 not that long ago for the Rokinon 35mm f/2.8. My thinking was that the two lenses were redundant since 35mm (50-ish in full frame terms) was my preferred focal length and the Rokinon seemed barely larger than the 20mm (2.43 x 1.30″ (61.8 x 33 mm) vs 2.46 x 0.80″ vs (62.6 x 20.4 mm)) while gaining another full frame lens in my quiver. No brainer, right? Nope. I really like the Rokinon, but it was not a suitable replacement for the 20mm. Why? Glad you asked:

  • Despite its tiny profile the Rokinon better marries with the full frame Sonys in operation. Where focus speed seems adequate on the A7Rii it is less so on the a6000. No idea why. While not awful on the a6000 it is nowhere near as fast as the 20mm on the a6000. Had no idea how good that lens was until I no longer had it… The framework for an R&B or Country song right there.
  • 0.5″ (12.6mm) does not seem like a huge difference in theory, but in application that turns a very pocketable camera into a somewhat pocketable camera. Also the slightly rounded front edge and metal build of the 20mm meant it went in and out of pocket far easier than the square cornered and plastic Rokinon.

Simple fix. Buy the 20mm again. One problem. Southeastern Camera had two tempting full-blown second-hand cameras (ones I always thought about buying) that barely cost more than the 20mm lens new that would be even smaller than the already petite a6000. The thinking was that for a little more spend than a lens ($350-ish) I could potentially have a whole camera ($500-ish).

 

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Sony RX100II: The frugal photographer scores, or Camera Shop manager knows best.

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Lightly used RX100II picked up for a song. (Click picture for flickr album)

Someone saw a post of mine on instagram using an RX100II I recently acquired and asked if I recommended it (Yes).

Fall. @sony #RX100II Amazing little camera.

A post shared by Eric Woods (@ericlwoods) on

It is at this point that I realized that I had not put up a single post about it. Not because I do not like the RX100II. Quite the contrary. I was distracted. By what? Glad you asked:

  • Distracted by being reunited with Pentax.
  • Still in shock that I traded away a recently purchased Sony A7. Fanboys stand down. Short story: Loved the camera, but reality struck that the lenses I wanted were out of my price range. I am not one to linger on a decision so I traded it.
  • Camera snuck under my psyches radar. With a store credit burning a virtual hole in my pocket the Manager at South Eastern Camera recommended I take a recently traded RX100II home for a test spin when I said I really missed having a pocketable camera (previously NX300, EP5 and EPL5).
  • Main reason is that the camera was immediately at home and I knew it was not going back. Well played Chris, well played.

Day one I happened to have family gathering at a local restaurant to celebrate my grandmother visiting from NY and it performed impeccably.

Pan Pan Diner, Durham

On to the pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Amazing image quality. To say this 1″ sensor performs way above my expectations would be a great understatement.
  • Small. Small like point and shoots of years ago. No one blinks or begins quizzing me on what I am shooting with like my other film and digital cameras which is great since candid shots are my favorite.
  • Quiet. At the restaurant above the camera proved to be quite stealthy with it’s almost completely silent shutter. Allows you to capture quality photos without being ‘that guy’ in casual settings with a solid DSLR tha-thwack going off every few moments.
  • For those, like me, who cannot afford the RX100IV I can confirm that the RX100II is up to the task if you can do without the built in EVF of the RX100III (with it’s shorter reach but larger aperture Zeiss lens) and the 4K video of the RX100IV.
  • Focus. It may be that I never mastered the A7 where others have, but in my experience this RX100II has focus accuracy and swiftness that never seemed attainable with the A7.
  • Control and responsiveness. All the controls are there and despite the small body they are very accessible.
  • Great features. WiFi, NFC, remote shooting, 3 quick recall memory settings, panorama, filters, etc.
  • Built in flash is nice to have and works well. You are also able to hold it back for a bit of bounce flash.
  • Low light. Surprisingly solid low light performance. High ISO has a pleasing grainy ‘film’ look rather than distracting.
  • Image stabilization performs very well. Rarely a missed shot due to camera shake hand held.
  • Video. I was asked to shoot marching band video by the local HS and this camera is perfect for the task.
  • Focus peaking. Always a plus for me.
  • Zeiss lens. Sharp, sharp, sharp with great color rendering and nothing I have found fault with. Pleasing bokeh at it’s widest with f/1.8 and sharp across the frame at it’s longest at f/4.9.
  • While new it is too rich for my blood I was able to pick mine up for nearly a third of it’s original price.
  • Still relevant. Considering this model is 2 versions back and I imagine a RX100V is in the works this camera does not feel dated in the least.
  • Let me restate. The IQ is amazing. It constanty astounds me.
  • Great to have a built in flash.

Cons:

  • Cannot afford an RX100III or RX100IV and I am seriously contemplating securing the overpriced add on EVF. Oh, and now I am trolling used RX1s as a result.
  • That is about it.

Gallery:

-ELW