“Street” camera review: Ricoh GR

UPDATE (July 2017):

Now this article is some years old now!

HERE I wrote about my “success” with Ricoh and all the amazing events it led me to. Thank you GR! You can also find different sample pictures.

In the meantime, Ricoh discontinued GR I but produces GR II, at the same, crazy cheap price. It is the same camera (same lens, same sensor!) plus wi-fi. If you are going to buy it, please use one of the following links:

Ricoh GR II on Amazon (UK)

Ricoh GR II on Amazon (USA)
 

This is an affiliate link with Amazon, it means that you will pay the same for the camera but Amazon will give me a little bit that will help this blog growth. Thank you and keep reading!

If you love street photography,

If you love to feel invisible,

If you love 28 or 35 focal length,

Then the Ricoh GR is perfect for you.

Let me try to explain why through this review.

It’s been a long time – almost 20 years – that Daido Moriyama started to use the little Ricoh film cameras.

He wanted the camera to be just a “slave” to him and not viceversa.

The old Ricoh perfectly fitted his idea.

The “new” Ricoh GR perfectly fit this idea too.

I am using this camera only from august. It’s a graduation gift and i couldn’t have choose a better camera.

In 4 month i took it with me to Spain, Portugal, Japan and of course Italy.

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THE CAMERA

The camera is very small – smaller than my hand. It has a very useful grip on the right side and feels perfect in your hand. You can use it with only one hand! It gives you a solid sensation thanks to his magnesium body.

It also has lot of button that make possible to change quickly your settings. After you choose your modality, for example Aperture priority, you can change the iso or the F value without clicking, through the lever both on the front and on the back of the camera.

The shutter button is perfectly sensitive both to the half press or to the full press.

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LCD is good and i never had a problem even in sunny situations.

The lens is a 28mm f 2.8 equivalent – but you can use it at 35 or 50mm equivalent.

It’s crazy sharp at every aperture and, more than this, it gives a nice 3d feel to the image.

The camera sports an APS-C sensor of 16 megapixels without anti-aliasing filter. It has very wide dynamic range, and very good high iso performance. To understand what i mean, i don’t even look at what ISO i am using. Just put it to Auto and it will work perfectly from 100 to 3200 or even 6400 if you expose correctly the image.

The Raw file is a .DNG that give a lot of flexibility. You can recover burn highlights or push the exposure a lot without making the picture worse.

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THE SHOOTING EXPERIENCE

Shooting with this little black brick is wonderful. It makes possible to think only about the pictures and not worrying about the camera.

Just set it to your favorite mode and start shooting. You just have to compose and then snap.

AF is crazy fast and it’s very rarely wrong. If you don’t want to use AF (but you basically can use it 99% of the time without regretting it) you can use MF with a pre-setted distance you choose or a Ricoh function called snap focus.

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Snap focus allows you to choose a distance, for example 2 meters. If you full click the shutter button, you don’t have any lag and the focus will be at 2 meters. No shutter lag at all! This is very useful for hyperfocal setting. And you can also use AF and Snap focus together. If you half click the shutter button, the camera will focus,  but if you full click without half clicking before it won’t focus and will shoot focusing at the desired distance. Great!

TAV mode is a particular Ricoh mode where you set both the f value and the shutter speed. Camera will set the necessary ISO. It’s good but i don’t use it. I only use Tv if i’m shooting the day, setting a “freezing” shutter speed like 1/250. Otherwise i use Av mode setting the F value depending on the DoF i want. That’s all – super easy and super efficient!

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As i said, the camera is really small. That means you can always have it with you if you want. It fits almost every pocket. You can put it on your jacket or in the back of your jeans and just go.

It also allow you to use it with just one hand. This is a really liberating experience.

And the camera is really really unobtrusive. Probably the most unobtrusive i’ve ever used. Almost no one – except from some photographers – will recognize it as a serious camera, so no one will curse at you, they’ll just think you are a tourist with a stupid camera. But you aren’t! 😉

Shutter is almost        unhearable. No one will ever hear the click!

This camera has a 28mm lens but it allows you to shoot at 35 or 50 mm equivalent through a digital crop.

Since i bought it, i put and always used 35mm. I like it more and i prefer to compose according to this focal length. Of course i could shoot at 28 and then crop later, but i prefer to compose while shooting as i learned when i shooted film for 6 months with a 50mm lens.

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CONCLUSION

The Ricoh GR is a solid camera. I mean you can just trust it and concentrate on your pictures. If you shoot at 28 or 35mm, just go for it… It’s the perfect “slave”! 😉

If you are going to buy it, please use one of the following links:

Ricoh GR II on Amazon (UK)

Ricoh GR II on Amazon (USA)

This is an affiliate link with Amazon, it means that you will pay the same for the camera but Amazon will give me a little bit that will help this blog growth. Thank you and keep reading!

 

OTHER PICTURES

15449557229_6c8faaceca_o (1)15158593867_0833094293_oR0010508S GSPALERMO10122014 1 GS+PALERMO+12112014 GS+PALERMO+12112014 3 GS02112014PALERMO3 R0011101s R0011032s R0010529S

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49 thoughts on ““Street” camera review: Ricoh GR

  1. More saturation than I would choose, sometimes, but a great deal of fun and fantastic cropping and composition. Truly excellent photos!

  2. Nice review! A couple of questions: What mode do you use when you shoot? How do you process your photos? Are there any presets you are fond of? Thanks!

  3. Great photos Giorgio! Good job!
    I’m thinking of buying the Ricoh GR myself. However, the GR was released back in 2013 so it’s almost over two years old. Can you still recommend it or should I buy a newer camera like the SONY RX100-3 or the Panasonic LX100? Maybe the SONY A6000? Tell me what you think.

    Thanks.

    Ciao!

    1. Ciao Amir!
      First of all thank you.
      Don’t worry at all about the “age” of the Ricoh. The quality is a lot better than the sony or the panasonic due to the sensor size that is bigger in Ricoh.
      Hope that it helps!

      1. Thank you for your reply, Giorgio. Do you think that the GR is easy to learn for a novice like me? I had a SONY SLT A57 once but sold it because I didn’t use it enough. That was my first real camera.

      2. Ciao Amir! 🙂
        The sony a57 is a very big reflex and can be complex to use. If you feel you are a novice, just put the GR into “P” mode with auto iso: you will just have to think about the picture and nothing else! When you will be more confident, you can still use other modes – if you want. Hope that helps, ask anything!
        Have a great day!

    1. Hey roadpecker! Thank you a lot. I just wrote my experience with the camera. Sounds easy, but most of the review that one can find online are not at all real world – and most of all REAL USERS – reviews. Have a great day! 🙂

  4. Such a great review and even better photographs. I owned the GR for a few months but ended up selling it because I never became completely comfortable shooting street without a viewfinder. Although I loved the images it produced so I was thinking of picking one up again…

    Do you use a viewfinder with the GR or are you okay with the screen for composing? I had a 28mm VF for it but I also liked to shoot in 35mm crop mode, which further complicated things on my end. 😀

    1. Ciao Nicholas!
      First of all thank you a lot for your kind words. I don’t use a VF for the GR. I shoot 35 mm only from about one year, so most of the time i don’t even need to look at screen since i know what the frame will be. I also think that the GR is made for a non-VF experience. Just grab it in your hand, lace on your wrist and go shooting without worrying too much – that’s the GR philosophy 😉

  5. Ciao Giorgio, I really appreciated your review and your photos of course.
    Sono felice di essermi imbattuto nel tuo blog, una sorpresa davvero … in questa giungla di false immagini trovo finalmente un autore.
    Mi sono imbattuto casualmente leggendo una tua recensione su amazon in seguito all’acquisto della tua GR… Sono davvero incerto: GR o X100t??
    Complimenti ancora … ti seguirò ben volentieri.
    Enrico

    1. Ciao Enrico!
      Prima di tutto, grazie mille per i complimenti; sono contento che ti siano piaciute le mie foto. Andando alla tua questione… La scelta è molto personale. Ricoh se: il budget è importante (costa quasi la metà!), la vuoi sempre con te, non vuoi sbagliare un colpo. Fuji se: non puoi fare a meno del mirino, ti piace la fotografia “ragionata”, non te ne frega niente del prezzo che ha 🙂
      In ogni caso, vedi se riesci a provarle entrambe prima di decidere. Caschi comunque bene! Fammi sapere cosa scegli. Buona giornata!

  6. Nice review! A couple of questions: What mode do you use when you shoot? How do you process your photos? Are there any presets you are fond of? Thanks!

    1. Ciao Dan and thank you for stopping by!
      I use mostly Shutter priority mode setting shutter speed to about 1/400 in daylight. I process my pictures with lightroom and photoshop. I use VSCO presets for color photography.
      Hope that i helped, ask if you have any question and have a great day!
      Giorgio

    1. Ciao Paul and first of all thanks for stopping by. I really enjoyed the little fuji X10 and now i’m still loving my Ricoh GR V. Perfect camera for street photography!
      Have a great day!

  7. I agree with you, Giorgio. Ricoh GR is a wonderful camera. Sadly, today I received news from the camera hospital that my Ricoh GR won’t make it. The motor on the lens barrel is broken, and it’s going to be costly to repair — may better use the money to fund a new camera.

    Noting at how small and light it is, I brought this camera everywhere with me in my bag. Over time (probably 1.5 years), it may get some impact or dropped (inside my bag). Apparently, this great camera is not as robust as I thought.

    For those who has this camera, I suggest to use a better/proper way to carry this camera, rather than just throw it in your bag.

    Now, I need to save up money to get a replacement… probably a used Ricoh GRD4, as used Ricoh GR is still too expensive for my budget.

    1. Ciao Goma,
      I think that Ricoh GR is a very well built camera. That’s true especially talking about the magnesium body. Btw the lens is quite fragile because of the “extracting” mechanism. Mine is travelling with me along the world and is still well alive after about one year and half. Good luck for finding a nice replacement of your ill camera !
      Have a great day,
      Giorgio

    1. Thank you a lot mate! I just shot raw and edited the pictures in Lightroom with some good presets. I never used filter effects from the camera!
      Have a great day,
      Giorgio

  8. The first thing I like in GRD IV is the look of grain. It is against the trend of making pictures smooth and noiseless. That trend somehow is disconnecting us from real photography. So, in my opinion the images from GRD I to GRD IV are more authentic.
    The second to me the move from GRD IV to GR with APS-C sensor is move to mass production, camera that will appeal to more people. Personally I think the quality of GRD IV is better more reliable than GR 2 APS-C.
    The third is the price. I prefer to have 2 GRD IV (one as a back up) plus 21mm lens than the new GR 2 APS-C.
    The fourth – the GR2 APS-C is just a different camera.
    The fifth is the focus speed. I find GRD IV much faster and as you have mentioned GR 2 APS-C quite flustrating in macro mode too.
    The last one is the work of other photographers. When I buy a camera I always check the sample photos, try to find photographers who are consistently doing a good job with a camera.
    So, whilst Daido Moriyama have a good deal with Ricoh to advertise GR 2 APS-C I think he would choose GRD IV if he would have to, the same as Josh White https://jtinseoul.wordpress.com/
    If I would need to have a smooth like bigger image resolution for larger prints I would go for Fuji X-Pro1.

    rwanderman has answered
    “That trend somehow is disconnecting us from real photography.”

    Sorry, you lost me there. That’s matter of taste and style, totally subjective. If you want to really get back to it, go back to film, or, large format film.
    Grain in the GRD series isn’t from the small sensor, it’s added by software so it’s nothing like film at all, it mimic slow film.
    But, all of this is a matter of taste and I do like low resolution photography as well as high resolution photography. One isn’t better or truer, they’re both photography and each is suited for different types of work.
    I doubt Ansel Adams would have made a name for himself had he been shooting grainy low res stuff. His camera and technique were well suited for the landscape work he did. He did use a red filter to add drama so one might say that was his high contrast, grainy bow.

    For the work I do, I want a big sensor and big photo sites with high dynamic range, very different from the typical street photographer.

    To each his own.

    Peace.

    myself
    You have really good thoughts, but grain in GRD is because of sensor type, and more because of pixel size. As there is less photons coming through you will get more noise when recording using your software.
    I was talking more about the camera producers trends. I would advise anyone wanting to do a project to try a large or medium format film camera when suitable.
    Cheers.

  9. BTW I really like the photo of a hairy gentlemen. I guess McCurry would remove the people from your picture that are close to the right hand of that man.

    1. Ok, now I understand better. I can clearly see your points, but I never tried a GR IV. So I can’t really speak. Btw I saw grainy pics from GR I and they do look great. I will try!

  10. Love the blog, I have been debating back and forth to get another film camera or invest in a new digital shooter. I am hooked on the Ricoh and the 28mm lens. Think I can get some creative shots in this small town I am in.

    1. Ciao Boscoe and thanks for stopping by! Film and digital are two very different mediums so…the choice is yours and mostly depend on what you are planning to do with your new camera! Have a nice day!

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