"My Ricoh GR-D has a very sharp top quality lens, possible better than the DPI lens (though that is also good), but the images are nowhere near as good at large sizes due to the sensor size."
Thanks for the informative review Chris. Your above comment highlights (for me) something which is often overlooked - a certain indefinable something that goes way beyond spec or sensor size. What i'm talking about is the combination of spec, design, useability, output etc and how everything conspires together to create a camera that simply excites the user in a way that causes them to want to go out and take pictures. If you are buying a camera so that you can print out massive prints then I would concede with your above comment but how many of us actually print out beyond the ubiquitous 10 x 8? I have printed up to 20 x 24 with the GRD with fantastic results, even when using higher ISO's.
Having used the DP1 I personally found it a frustrating experience and I'm at a loss to explain why. It simply did not flow and I was decidedly underwhelmed. My experience with the GRD (and the GR1) has always been extremely enjoyable and the camera has even inspired me to 'see' in a variety of new ways. How does one then define such an experience? How do we then quantify what is 'good', 'better', or (god forbid) 'best'?
My main point here is that a truly 'great' camera can become an extension of the user and can inspire the user, through a collaborative endeavor, to take new and exciting images. For me the Ricoh GRD and earlier GR1 have done this for some years. Unfortunately the DP1 never did. Under these circumstances spec has to be viewed in a wider context. Personally I find it disheartening when so many photographers become bogged down with spec. When the simplest of pinhole cameras can produce images that have a profound visual and emotional impact and when the plastic lenses of the Holgas can do the same then surely it is not spec that produces an interesting image?
My suggestion is that we take a step back and evaluate what makes a good image and a good camera and try to re-evaluate what is sometimes a slavish obsession with spec. A great camera is one which you want to use and inspires you to take images that excite you. For some that might be the DP1, for others it might be an old polaroid, for me it's the GRD.
I don't believe that there can be an objective standard of what makes a great camera (inspite of what the numerous photography magazines try to tell us). Photography, as an art, is all about how we see and much much less about the spec of the tools we are using. There is, for example, currently a strong interest in low-fi imaging (largely attributed to the increased use of the Lomo's and Holgas). Objectively one might argue that the images people are producing are 'bad' because of leaking light, vignetting, blurred edges etc BUT some of these images on the aesthetic level are wonderful to look at because of the way the user is seeing. The GRD produces a fair amount of noise at high ISO's and yes, objectively, that might be considered 'bad'. The DP1 does far better at low ISO's but to my eyes the noise of the GRD can be used to great effect. It has a photographic quality which I missed with the DP1. Each camera will have it's own qualities which can be utilised if we extend the way that we see.
I think i'm done and I hope my point is clear despite rambling!