Now I’m not big on writing reviews on equipment, there are others that are more qualified for that, but I will take this opportunity to write a little about the very surprising Ricoh GR.
I’ll avoid the geeky spec detail and try to talk about why I think it’s a great choice for your everyday camera.
I bought this little gem about 3 months ago for less than £300.00 new, it is not the latest wifi model but the one before, so asides the connectivity it’s exactly the same.
I should also say that I shoot street photography style, primarily film, with a Leica M6 but I also own a Fuji X Pro1.
Now I love My Leica as I do my Fuji, and as a firm believer in always having your camera with you, I felt I needed a smaller option, pocket sized to be precise, a phone sized piece of dynamite that would never leave my jacket.
Oh boy have I found it with the Ricoh GR! This camera has an equivalent 28mm lens, no viewfinder (rear lcd screen) but is as fully manual as you’ll ever want a camera to be. Every button on this thing can be assigned to any setting your heart desires and that is something I’ve never been bothered about before now.
Let me explain in a little detail…When I shoot out in the big wide world with a digital I do want some things taken care of, now with my Leica M6 of course this is not an option and shooting this way is my favourite, purest from of taking pictures.
Where was I? When shooting digitally it seems counterintuitive to not take advantage of the technology you have, after all it’s about choice isn’t it?
So here’s how I use the Ricoh – I set the ISO to auto
The front finger wheel is assigned to aperture
The rear finger wheel is assigned to shutter speed
And the Function 2 button on the rear toggles between autofocus and snap focus.
Now, this gives me total control over pretty much all I need as light, subject matter and circumstance changes, and the beauty is, and where this camera comes into its own, it’s all performed with one hand. Is that it you ask? Not entirely but let me tell you, and you’ll know this if you like the street photography thing. For grabbing the shot you really want, quickly and efficiently the one hand control really makes a difference.
There is more, the single most fabulous thing this camera has is snap focus. What is it?
If you shoot manually, with a digital or film camera, then you’ve probably zone focused at some point to give yourself the best possible chance of nailing a shot quickly. For example set aperture to f8, auto ISO and focus to approx. 1.5 – 2 metres and you’ll pretty much guarantee that the subject you want will be pin sharp. That’s what snap focus does, it allows you to concentrate on the image, the composition and any other factors that might mean you miss the shot.
Why not just use auto focus? Well how many times have you lifted your camera, pressed the shutter button, only for the focus to search for a second before snap! And how many times has it missed the subject, or in that split second has the scene changed beyond what it was when you saw it?
With snap focus the picture is taken, the moment is captured the moment you press. No focus searching or missed subject, just bam!
One other thing to note, you’ll need to get right up close and personal to get the best from this feature, 28mm feels pretty wide if you’re used to 35mm or even 50mm on the streets, but really, it’s part of the magic believe me!
Now I told you this wasn’t going to be an in-depth tech review, and to keep to my word I’ll finish by saying, getting the shot you want discreetly on the street is the point for me, and the camera I use or how I get it is secondary.
The Ricoh GR is truly a wonderful, every day camera that really will fit in your pocket and perform in the way you want it. It’s a little thicker but no bigger than my IPhone and thus allows me to snap away with changing the dynamic of the very scenes I’m aiming to document. Any questions please feel free to ask.