Sep 242013

I threw caution to the winds and bought a Ricoh GR. I figured that after all I have been through, I deserved a treat and the only person who is going to treat me these days is me!

I have had the camera nearly two months, sufficient time to put it through its paces. All I can say is that it is a gem of a camera and not difficult to understand why they are so hard to get hold of.

The scarcity of the Ricoh GR is another reason why I decided to take the plunge and buy one. It seems as soon as retailer takes delivery of a new order, the cameras are gone within a matter of days and that happens on both sides of the Atlantic.

I took to the Ricoh GR instantly but I was lucky enough to be familiar with the Ricoh user interface through my work with the GRD III. Someone coming to Ricoh cameras for the first time may be a little overawed initially but Ricoh’s interface is highly intuitive and they will quickly be up and running.

Ricoh GR. ©Calvin Palmer 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Ricoh GR. ©Calvin Palmer 2013. All Rights Reserved.

With Ricoh cameras, one always gets the feeling that the people who design them are themselves keen photographers as well as camera or electronics engineers. Everything is to hand, so much so that it is possible to operate the Ricoh GR with one hand, useful for when taking candid street photography shots.

The absence of an anti-aliasing filter combined with the incredibly sharp 28mm equivalent f/2.8 lens provides stunning high-resolution images. The removal of the anti-aliasing filter can cause problems with moiré. I experienced that for first time on Saturday when photographing some oil storage tanks at the docks in Bootle, Merseyside. I have yet to process the DNG file and am hopeful that Photoshop CS6 will be up to the task.

When the Ricoh GR first hit the streets, some people – probably owners of Sony NEX or Fujifilm XP-1 cameras – suggested it had problems handling reds. Whether that is a problem with the internal processing of JPEGs I don’t know because I shoot exclusively in RAW. I would be happy for the naysayers to tell me just exactly how the Ricoh GR isn’t handling reds correctly in the shot below.

Gate with Chevrons and No Entry sign at Langton Dock, Bootle

Ricoh GR. ©Calvin Palmer 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Where the Ricoh GR has come into its own for me is in stealth street photography. The Snap Mode on the Ricoh GRD III helped in this area but the Snap Mode on Ricoh GR seems so much quicker and precise than the GRD III. It could just be my imagination but I had a greater ratio of keepers using the Snap Mode function on the GR than I did on the GRD III.

Ricoh GR. ©Calvin Palmer 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Ricoh GR. ©Calvin Palmer 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Ricoh GR. ©Calvin Palmer 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Ricoh GR. ©Calvin Palmer 2013. All Rights Reserved.

My only criticism of the Ricoh GR concerns the holster-style case. Quite simply I don’t like it. The case is too open for my comfort, allowing easy access for dust. The case will not accommodate the Ricoh GR with an optical viewfinder attached. The case for the GRD III did.

Fortunately, the GRD III case will take the Ricoh GR with viewfinder attached. It will not close completely but at least I don’t have to carry the viewfinder separately and attach it and remove it every time I use the camera.

I have to admit that I rarely use the optical viewfinder but I like to have it in place for those occasions when bright sunlight can make viewing the LCD screen difficult. The optical viewfinder was always attached to my GRD III and I am a creature of habit.

On a couple of occasions with back-lit scenes, the multi metering has resulted in darker than usual images. In those kinds of situations, it is probably best to switch to center-weighted metering. By and large, the metering has been spot on. In the normal course of my photography I do not use the EV compensation function as I do with the GRD III and my Canon 40D. I would say the greater dynamic range is down to the state-of-the-art APS-C sensor of the GR.

On a trip to Liverpool, my photographic stroll was unexpectedly cut short when the battery became exhausted. It was the spare battery I carried with me and it could be that it was not as fully charged as I thought. I have since activated more of the power-saving settings on the GR to place less strain on the battery. My advice, not only for the Ricoh GR but also any compact mirrorless camera, is to always carry a spare battery.

As yet I have not pushed the GR above ISO 800 but the results I have obtained at that setting suggest that ISO 1600 and even ISO 3200 should provide images that can be worked with, especially in B&W where any noise will be reflected as grain. I am not sure I would go as far as ISO 25600 in the ordinary course of my photography but if it was a question of being in a situation where a photograph of the scene before me would go viral and earn me a six-figure sum. it is comforting to know that capability exists.

Ricoh GR at ISO 800. ©Calvin Palmer 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Ricoh GR at ISO 800. ©Calvin Palmer 2013. All Rights Reserved.

The Ricoh GR has become my camera of choice. It is unobtrusive on the streets, making street photography just that little bit easier. It is certainly a lot lighter to carry than a DSLR and my urban strolls tend to cover upwards of three miles on any given occasion. Best of all is the quality of the images it produces. It is small wonder that it is a camera in such high demand and is already being hailed as a classic.

Ricoh is once again to be applauded for designing and producing such a superb photographic tool. I have no regrets about my purchase, only a smile of satisfaction at the great results the Ricoh GR provides.

Ricoh GR. ©Calvin Palmer 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Ricoh GR. ©Calvin Palmer 2013. All Rights Reserved.

  9 Responses to “Ricoh GR has quickly become my camera of choice”

  1. Nice shots and well written text. I fully enjoyed this article.

  2. Nice concise article. Do you ever find the fixed lens limiting? Or do you find less is more? I’m thinking of replacing my existing m/43 kit in favour of this as I get fed up changing lenses and the GR would then be my main camera.

    Great photos by the way.

    • Thanks Jerry.

      I think less is more with regard to the Ricoh GR. I also think with age comes a more laidback attitude where I no longer feel I have to capture everything that I see. I walk round with the Ricoh GR and sometimes see a shot that would be great with a 100mm or 200mm lens. In years gone by, if I did not have such a lens to hand, I would be annoyed that I missed the shot. These days, I shrug my shoulders, accept it probably would have been a good shot and move on to taking something where the 28mm equivalent lens of the Ricoh GR is perfect. I also think a lot depends on the type of photography you are into as to whether a fixed 28mm equivalent lens is limiting. For my photography, I have found the Ricoh GR to be liberating.

      • I get it. I’m tired of carrying tons of equipment. If I miss a shot due to lack of a higher MM lens then so be it. Seize the moment if it presents itself.

  3. nice pics and article–just got the GR and finding I am already used to the fixed lens, just like “back in the day”—got a Canon VF (not briteline) that works well with the GR–still learning about the camera..I
    need a good processing for the RAW files though

  4. Nice shots and nice writing that was a pleasure to read. I love the Ricoh GR too. I sold my GRDiii a year or so ago and instantly regretted it. As soon as I had some spare cash, I bought the GR. Fantastic camera for enthusiasts who love street photos and just being creative with a carry anywhere camera. The focussing is a lot quicker than on the GRDiii, so I have started using it instead of snap quite often. I bought a GXR with 28m and 50mm APSC modules when they dropped in price a while back. The sensor on the GR is so much better. I’ve processed DNG shot at 1600 as colour images and think a well exposed 3,200 will be usable too. It’s not on a par with Fuji’s APSC but I used to shoot on film so colour at 1,600 still seems very fast to me! I’ve recently become disabled and I’ve actually been shooting “street” candids from a mobility scooter whilst steering with the other hand, it is so agile and nice to use! Thanks for the great post 🙂

    • Thanks for your kind words, Miles. I see you have discovered how suitable the Ricoh GR is for street photography. And I agree with your comments on the sensor. A few months back I took some shots at night and got away with ISO 6400 converting to B&W. I too loved the GRD III but the GR is a cut above and a gem of a camera. It kind of makes me wonder what Ricoh may come up with next.

  5. Hey guys — Could anyone comment on the capability of the GR for portraits, bokah, and stuff other than wide angle/street? I am bored and frustrated to tears with DSLRs and am going to take the plunge to a fixed. Looking at Fuji x100 but really want a GR. Am I ought of my mind to think a GR is better than the much more expensive Fuji?

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