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The Camera for Cycling

Get Ricoh GR or Sony DSC-RX100 digital camera at B&H Photo
Also: Ricoh GH-3 Hood & Adapter for Ricoh GR Digital Camera

My cycling season is in full swing. My first double century is planned for March 7, though I am troubled by hints of a cold, so I am forcing myself to sleep amply (my daughter has been sick for 10 days, arggggg kids bring home the school germs).

So which camera to take for a cyclist? Specifically, which camera of high image quality whose ingress and egress from a cycling jersey pocket is low risk (not snagging or tight), and it must have a built-in flash (to combat harsh lighting), and a decent grip and wrist strap.

The lens must offer a wide angle (equiv) of 28mm, because nothing else will do for selfies while riding and/or of the angle needed for certain road shots. Sensor quality must be high, because dawn and dusk are dim and yet have the best light.

There are few good choices as per the above.

Sony RX100 (20 megapixels, sort of)

The Ricoh GR (240 grams) has a good built-in grip, leaf shutter flash sync to any speed, and its 28mm (equiv) lens is so razor sharp I’d place it against any Leica M lens for sharpness, not to mention autofocus and close focus and as I said early on, camera of the year in intelligent design. It still reigns supreme in the compact camera category. Dang I wish it also had sensor stabilization, why does Ricoh sit on its hands there.

The Sony RX100 is also a fine choice (250 - 290g, depending on which generation). But it must have the Richard Franiec grip added because it’s holding ergonomics suck without it. It’s lens is not nearly so sharp as the Ricoh GR across the field, but its Zeiss-designed lens offers very pleasing imagery distinctly superior to most all other compacts (but not necessarily better than the Ricoh GR).

Fujifilm models are either too low in resolution (X10) and/or too heavy and bulky (we’re talking about a cycling jersey pocket here!). The Canon Powershot lineup is compromised in several ways for my specific purposes but might serve for some. Even the Sigma DP1 Merrill can just (barely) fit*, and I have used it while cycling, but the DP Merrills are agonizingly slow for multiple quick shots while cycling. Besides, It’s no fun processing 100 or even 50 DP Merrill images in Sigma Photo Pro.

Decision: I’ll take both the Ricoh GR and Sony RX100 v1 with me when I head to my double century. The Ricoh GR is a bit larger so if jersey pocket space is just too tight, I might have to go with the RX100 instead (cold weather if it happens demands more clothing and that needs stow space). Either camera will suffice, but holding the GR is easier and the lens is sharper (a lot more detail in its 16MP vs the 20MP of the RX100). So it’s down to little details to make the decision.

Cyclists who carry stuff in bags on the bike have more choices. I’m not that kind of cyclist; I’m hard core so it has to be as described, within tight constraints.

* The new Sigma dp Quattro is jolting step backwards to a Frankenstein form factor and is completely impossible as a pocketable camera, in practical “carry” terms.

The Ricoh GR is a real deal right now. At $573 effective (4% rewards), free shipping and 32GB card and optical viewfinder (sometimes useful), it’s a go-anywhere camera capable of very high quality results. To keep the camera compact, I generally shoot it as-is, but the Ricoh GH-3 Hood & Adapter for Ricoh GR Digital Camera is a worthwhile addition.

Ricoh GR: 16 razor-sharp megapixels, 28mm (equiv), built-in flash
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