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I am trying to learn the strengths and weaknesses between two Point and Shoot cameras (Ricoh GR II vs Sony DSC-RX100 III).

As I understand it, the real difference between these two is the sensor size difference - The Ricoh being APS-C and the Sony being 1.0-type (13.2 mm x 8.8 mm).

I'm not that an experienced photographer, but what I understand is that a larger sensor is inherently better in low light and allows for thinner Depth of Field. However, the Ricoh lens is slower than the Sony lens (f/2.8 vs. f/1.8-2.8) and does not have IS.

Does the larger sensor in the Ricoh make up for the difference in aperture and lack of IS in terms of general shooting?

Any advice is appreciated...

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    Welcome to the Photo Stack Exchange! Specific product recommendations are off-topic here as this place is not a forum, it's a knowledge-base (and these two model cameras will no longer be relevant in a short while). I've taken the liberty to edit your question to highlight the functional question you had, which will live on for many future camera models. Please let me know if I've missed anything about your question. Thanks! – Hueco Aug 7 at 16:05
  • Well articulated, only that in numerous comparisons, specifically between these two the sony is reported to have significantly better high ISO performance in practice (contrary to dxomark). Baffling to me , but that is the info I gathered. So just saying larger sensor is better than the aperture and IS of the Sony is .... Just saying. – trytometta Aug 7 at 18:06
  • That would be a great fact to mention in the OP. Generally speaking, size does make a difference here. But, differing technology or processing can make a difference here as well. (We have many questions about the benefits of buying old full frame over new APS-C, for example). I may need to check the tech on these and revise my answer. In the meantime, please feel free to add that concern to your question! – Hueco Aug 7 at 18:47
  • "Does the larger sensor in the Ricoh make up for the difference in aperture and lack of IS in terms of general shooting?" The problem with using general shooting as a criteria is that it does not help anyone determine which of these two different tools is better for the things for which you want to use the tool. Cameras and lenses are tools. Different tools have strengths and weaknesses which may make one more appropriate for some tasks and the other more appropriate for other tasks. Asking which is better for everything is like asking whether a Phillips head or slotted screwdriver is better. – Michael C Aug 8 at 4:37
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Image stabilisation is relevant mostly for countering the effects of small rotations around several axes. For the overall picture, the effect of those rotations is roughly proportional to the effective focal length (but for pixel peeping, the effect grows again with the resolution). For larger sensors, one tends to have more and longer glass for the same effective focal length which stabilises by its weight. However, holding large weights when not close to the body tends to cause more of an arm musculature tremor when not using at least a monopod.

I have an old DSC-R1 camera without image stabilisation, an APS-C class sensor (crop factor 1.67 I think), only 10MP of resolution and a maximum effective focal length of 120mm, at a weight of about 1kg. At speeds of about 1/5s you have a moderate amount of success with photographs given enough practice. You can add about 1.5kg for a teleconverter giving an effective reach of 200mm. Arm shake at this weight becomes an issue.

Basically for longer focal lengths foregoing image stabilisation with handheld shots is really going to become problematic in my experience. However, in contrast to my old camera, current large sensor offerings have large usable ISO ranges so you often can use exposure times short enough that image shake is not a significant problem, and as a side benefit object movement is then not a problem either.

So if you are leaning towards a camera without image stabilisation, have a very good look at its high ISO performance and maybe also about the ability to work with external lighting (like on-camera and off-camera flash).

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In looking at any competing camera models, comparing like for like is the best bet. Let's start with focal length.

  • Ricoh: 28mm (35mm equivalent)
  • Sony: 24mm - 70mm (35mm equivalent)

This is actually a big point as these are fixed lens cameras. You have none.nada.zero ability to zoom from the camera with the Ricoh. You can "zoom with your feet" or crop the image to "get closer" but not with the camera.

Next, let's look at the IS spec. Before getting into this, keep in mind that hand-holdable shutter speeds are usually 1/focal length. That's the "safe" range...many shooters with steady hands can go under this. So, for the Ricoh, your slowest shutter speed should be 1/28 second for you to hand hold the shots. And you're right, the larger sensor size will award better image quality in low light. To me, this effectively negates the need for IS in 99% of the situations that you'll be shooting in.

Next let's look at the apertures, f/2.8 vs f/1.8. This is a one and a third stop difference - not huge in the grand scheme of things, especially since the Ricoh will have better high ISO performance.

Recap: At 28mm, the Ricoh is more functional. The larger sensor will allow for higher ISO's at the same image quality such that any benefit of IS or 1.33 stops will be minimal, if not negated.

However...The Sony zooms. Full stop. These are not like-for-like options. If I had to shoot something at 28mm, I'd grab the Ricoh. If I wanted to shoot something at 70mm...the Sony is the only option.

I would urge you to strongly consider this factor. Even in the world of DSLR's and Mirrorless ILC's, many, many people use zooms over fixed focal length lenses due to the trade-off's.

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Image stabilization is good for decreasing the shutter speed without blurrying everything into an abstract work. The same effect exposurewise can be achieved raising the ISO. However, doing this also increases noise.

Because of full frame's bigger area, the same ISO mean less electronic amplification than smallest sensors, and less amplification means less noise considering the same amplificator. However, be aware that this not always means that bigger sensors will have less noise, as camera's circuitry can be better or worse from model to model. I would recommend using Dxomark to help you decide which camera to buy. They tell you at what ISO the images start to look bad from noise.

The depth of field is not affected directly by sensor size, but from angle of view and subject distance. Bigger sensors widen the angle, making you come closer to your subject.

As money matters, usually it is cheaper to get the APS-C camera with wider aperture glass than a narrower aperture full frame setup that has equivalent performance. Also lighter.

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