I’ve bought a Ricoh GR (V – the APS-C version), and I’m very much in the honeymoon phase – the little beast is remarkable.
The GR is something of a coming full circle for me. My first ‘serious’ camera when I got into photography was a GRD1, way back in 2005. At the time I knew bugger all about photography, certainly not enough to take proper advantage of a P&S with a fixed wide-angle prime, and on reflection I’m not sure why the salesperson thought it’d be a good idea, but nonetheless I have fond memories of the camera.
Since then I’ve gone through all the standard photographic enthusiast’s phases. I got a dSLR and kit lens and never took it off that green spot on the mode dial. I started learning a bit and decided I ‘needed’ a weathersealed body and an f2.8 zoom. Then I got a longer f2.8 zoom and a fancy pants macro prime. Then I decided my current system wasn’t serious enough and decided to switch to something with ‘pro’ in the marketing text. I bought in with another couple of big zooms. Looking back I’m not sure why I thought I needed a 100-400/f2.8-3.5 equivalent tele, and definitely not sure why I had to carry it everywhere (can’t miss those long distance cat shots…), but pros shoot with pro bodies and two big zooms so thats what I needed.
After a while I started to become more comfortable with my own style and gear preferences, and decided to ‘down-scale’ to Micro Four Thirds. Around this time I also discovered primes, and after a few years my collection of lenses has evolved to being almost prime only (I just can’t let that 7-14mm go…).
After a while though, I also started to get frustrated. I realised that I wasn’t taking my camera everywhere any more, not even the little EM5 and pancake prime. For a bit I thought I was falling out of love with photography, but then I realised that I was still passionate about documenting the world around me, but that the majority of my shots were coming from my iPhone. I’m not saying iPhones are a replacement for ‘proper’ camera gear (anyone else read the NYT article?), but the fact is it was with me, all the time, in an unobtrusive, ‘just shoot’ kind of way.
Unfortunately, I despise the thing as a camera – it’s slippery and slow and has crappy IQ and there’s no tactility to fall in love with. I began looking for a simple, high-quality fixed-lens compact. It’s a bloody good time to be in the market for such a machine and the X100s, RX1, Nikon A and the oddball Sigmas all had me tempted.
…and then I finally found a real camera store with a real GR than I could actually touch and fondle. And it turns out that that had it for $240 off.
So now I’m in the honeymoon phase, and it’s only getting better.
It’s tiny. The footprint is the same as my 5s, and about three times as thick. It fits in the pocket of my jeans without looking weird.
It’s light. Despite the magnesium body and excellent build, it’s much lighter than it looks. Meaning that while looking un-weird it also avoids pulling your pants down.
It’s comfy. Ergonomics are stellar. Like really really stellar.
It’s intuitive. The first film GR came out in 1996 and the user interface has been steadily evolved since. That’s 18 years to get it right and it shows. The addition of a few Pentax tricks (TAv) only makes it even better.
It’s unobtrusive. Essentially silent shutter and snap-focus make it remarkable as a waist-level candid shooter.
The lens, oh the lens. I’d read a few user reviews commenting on the remarkable clarity of the 18.3mm lens, and assumed they were just in their own honeymoon phase. They weren’t. Despite it’s so-so f2.8 aperture, this helps give the files a dimensionality, especially when combined with…
The sensor, oh the sensor. All the standard stuff – excellent high-ISO, excellent base-ISO, excellent dynamic range. This is also the first sensor I’ve used where the lack of AA filter is really noticeable, especially when combined with that lens…
And then there’s the battery – it sucks. Sorry honeymoon…
I’ve started a one year – one camera project with the GR. Check here for regular updates.
Here’s my first collection, wandering here and there around Sydney.