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.

Feb 022011

I may as well come clean now as later. I am a Stoke City fan. I attended my first game as a boy in 1959. For the next few years I saw a handful of games but, in 1963, I was allowed to go to matches on my own and attended every home game for the next 14 years.

Even when Stoke were languishing in the lower divisions of the Football League and I could no longer attend because of work commitments, their result was always the first one I looked for on a Saturday evening. And on Sunday mornings, the first items I read in the Sunday newspapers were the Stoke City match reports.

Stoke City have never won the Championship or FA Cup. For a club that has been in existence since 1863, the only major trophy they have won is the League Cup in 1972.

But with a football club there can be no divorce, your support cannot be annulled. Unlike marriage, it truly is until death do us part.

Since Stoke City returned to the top flight of English League football, I have been able to watch their games via the Internet. This afternoon, they played Liverpool at Anfield and I arranged my day so that I would be free to watch the game.

My usual source of livestream is I clicked on the Web site and was greeted by the following message by AOL: “This domain has been seized by ICE — Homeland Security Investigations.” I wonder what that is all about.

Just as any assignment photographer has a back-up camera in case of mishaps, I have a back-up Web site. I clicked on but the coverage was diabolical, the action kept freezing every two seconds. Matters improved a little after 20 minutes but it was still not an enjoyable experience.

The coverage of the game matched Stoke’s performance. With one man up front, and with a side that is basically devoid of skill, class and guile, it was pretty clear from the start that Stoke were hardly likely to threaten the Liverpool goal.

The team selection by Stoke manager Tony Pulis almost defied belief.

There comes a point in a footballer’s career when they become an embarrassment to not only themselves but also the fans, the club and football in general. That point has been reached by Salif Diao who was later substituted by a player of similar standing — Rory Delap.

Manager Pulis selects Delap week in and week out. One can only assume that Delap holds some incriminating digital photo files on the hard drive of his laptop. He certainly does not justify a regular place in the team based on ability. Even in his cameo appearance this afternoon, Delap was woeful but he will probably be the first name on the team sheet for Saturday’s encounter with Sunderland.

Stoke went into half-time with the score at 0-0 but goalkeeper Begovic’s two outstanding saves were warning of what was likely to happen in the second half.

Liverpool struck early, taking the lead in the 47th minute. A ball into the penalty area was not cleared and Raul Meireles drove the ball home from eight yards out. As far as Stoke were concerned it was game over.

And yet with the introduction of Ricardo Fuller and the ball being played to feet rather than in the air, a better footballing side than Stoke may have scored an equalizer, which would have made for an interesting final 15 minutes.

Liverpool took control when their midweek signing, Uruguay international striker Luis Suarez, came on as a substitute. Suarez, who impressed me during the World Cup, soon latched on to a through ball from Kuyt, rounded the onrushing Begovic and stroked the ball towards the unguarded goal. Stoke’s Andy Wilkinson raced back to make a valiant effort to clear the ball and should have but somehow managed to send it against the upright. The ball flew across the face of the goal and spun into the back of the net.

It was not a happy afternoon from a Stoke fan’s point of view. The only consolation is that Liverpool spared us a goal onslaught. Before the match I believed we were in for a hammering, 4-0 or 5-0.

I don’t mind Stoke losing, but I do mind the manner in which they lose. Like the game at Fulham two weeks ago, they were dire and dismal and made no impact whatsoever. If Pulis presides over more inept performances like today’s I honestly fear for Stoke’s continued presence in the Premier League.