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Style Wars: Fuji X-100S vs Ricoh GR Ltd Ed

Taken with Ricoh GR-D IV. 1/50th sec f/4.0 @ ISO 200. RAW image, converted in CS5.

It’s been almost a year since I’ve had both the Ricoh GR and the Fujifilm X-100S at the same time. I love both cameras, and I knew I was going to buy one of them. Which one was ‘better’ was what I started off thinking; but I realized this was the wrong question to ask. ‘Which one is best for me?’ was what I ended up asking myself, and I chose the Ricoh GR (well, the Limited Edition kit). Although the Fujifilm X-100S is the ‘better’ camera (functions, versatility, technology), the GR was better suited for the type of photography I was taking.

However, I never stopped thinking about the X-100S. I love the hybrid OVF-EVF system, the top dials, the dedicated aperture ring, and the on-screen horizontal focus and DOF scale. What did I miss the most about the X-100S? I know its superficial, but I love the look!! It’s so sexy!! When I had the opportunity to review the new TCL-X100 tele-converter for the X-100S, I thought it would be great to do another GR vs X-100S again…including style factor!! Which looks better? Which looks like a serious shooting tool? Which do you want to be seen carrying? Who cares?
I think most care. Yes, the look has nothing to do with functionality (most of the time), but how an object looks and how it makes us feel changes the way and how often we use the object. Did you know a survey done on car purchases said the number 1 reason why a person picked a certain car was its colour? Are we surprised? I’m not. How a camera, or a car, a watch, or even a blender looks and feels makes a difference in motivating us to use these items. These tools have to work properly for us to ultimately benefit from its purchase, but the aesthetics and ergonomics play a very important role as well.

The Fuji X-series has done that for many people. It looks great, but it also functions exceptionally well too. The Fuji X-100S is a beautiful looking camera (except I don’t like the solitary ‘S’ on the front), and the TCL-X100 (Tele-Converter Lens for X-100) only further enhances the ‘look’ and ‘feel’ of the camera. It looks like an old Leica body with a chrome lens attached, and the converter being all glass (4 elements) and metal gives the weight and feel of a vintage era lens. 

I took a few pictures of both the X-100S and my Ricoh GR Limited Edition and wanted to see which looked ‘better’ to my eyes, and to the eyes of others. I love the hammered green metallic finish on my GR, as well as the textured adapter with lens hood, matching olive leather strap and case. Just looking at it and touching it makes me want to shoot with it. Putting both side by side, I was struggling to decide which I preferred around my neck while walking around. I did a test and asked a few people which look they preferred, the GR or X-100S. It was close, but I think the X-100S had 1 or 2 more votes. In the hand, the X-100S feels more quality due to all that metal and extra weight, although it’s not heavy. The knobby dials and controls helps to make the camera feel more tactile (although not necessarily more functional as I’ll reveal in the full review), and that retro look is still very eye-catching.

So the official winner of the ‘look-off’ for camera design and aesthetics: the Fujifilm X-100S with the TCL-X100 tele-converter attachment. Yes the Ricoh GR Ltd Ed. is also really really good looking, but there’s something about the rangefinder style of the X-100S that gives it that extra something-something that the GR doesn’t have… now maybe if I had a cool OVF attached to the GR via the hotshoe, the decision would be different? Hmm…

Thanks for viewing another ‘not-so-technical’ review-comparison. A real review of the X-100S with the tele-converter will be published soon. So far, I’m really liking the 50mm equivalent view with the OVF on the X-100S. It’s a killer combo in a reasonably compact package. Check out my Instagram account for more images of the camera and other photographic musings as I wander the streets of Vancouver.

Happy shooting!