The Ricoh GR

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Iksan, South Korea.

I’m going to do something today I don’t usually do anymore. I’m going to talk a little about a camera.

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Iksan, South Korea. Ricoh GR

It is pretty ironic that I planned on talking about the Ricoh GR on this blog post and today it decided to have a problem with its lens mechanism. More on that later.

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Suwon, South Korea. Ricoh GR

I don’t really do reviews. I don’t really know how to explain the good and bad things about a camera. I mean, they all just work right? The Ricoh GR has been the camera I’ve carried around most of the last little while. After I sold my Leica and had a bunch of problems with the Fujifilm X100T.

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Suwon, South Korea. Ricoh GR

It had been some time since I’d used the GR. I originally thought I didn’t like it much. The photos took too much work and were all a little too clean. I think I’m plagued by the idea that no Ricoh digital camera will ever be what the film ones were.

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Seoul, South Korea. Ricoh GR

I think that was my first problem. I expected the camera to be something it wasn’t. This time around I didn’t think much about it aside from the fact that I had really nothing else to use. The first weekend I took it out I forgot I had it set to ISO12800 and shot the whole time like that. Honestly, I shoot with a viewfinder and turn off the LCD. I don’t look at my photos until I transfer them to my phone. I was surprised to see how they turned out at this ISO.

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Seoul, South Korea. Ricoh GR

I really dislike when someone says a photo looks “film-like.” I’m not really sure what that means. Photos are photos. Digital is digital and film is film. That being said, I was pretty happy with how the photos looked after shooting them like this.

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Suwon, South Korea. Ricoh GR

Shooting with the GR the past couple of weeks, I’ve really started to appreciate how great it is to have a camera that requires so little thought. I don’t like to think much no matter what I’m shooting. The Ricoh just sort of works. It doesn’t get in the way. I didn’t miss the shots I missed with the Fuji.

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Suwon, South Korea. Ricoh GR

When I take photos, I take them while I’m on my way somewhere. I talk about this all the time. The Ricoh is probably the best camera I’ve ever used for this type of thing. I wear it around my wrist and forget about it. I just sort of take photos when I feel like it. I hardly even notice I’m doing so.

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Seoul, South Korea. Ricoh GR

Compact cameras in general are best for me. When I’m using a compact camera what I shoot just seems to match my feeling. They cut out the thinking, which is exactly what I like.

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Somewhere between Iksan and Seoul, South Korea. Ricoh GR

I can pretty much say I’m done with film. I know this will be sad for some people. Honestly though, I can’t be bothered anymore. It is just such a pain. I am not the type of person that sees artistry in the process. I could give a fuck about the process. If it takes me three hours to process something I feel as though that is three hours I could have spent doing something else.

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Seoul, South Korea. Ricoh GR

That isn’t even taking into account the cost. I estimated that I had spent almost 1100 dollars on film and the things that go with shooting film over the past year. I don’t even shoot that much. This Ricoh costs 800 new and in theory could last much longer.

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Suwon, South Korea. Ricoh GR

That leads me to processing. With the Ricoh I just shoot in black and white jpg mode. I don’t have time for RAW. I send the photos to my phone when I’ve got a chance and edit them in VSCO. A simple app and a simple process. Now the app lets me do a mass edit so that’s what I do. I don’t really care to tweak further. I spend enough time in front of a computer (or on my phone) as it is. These were all processed on the B1 preset in VSCO for those who are curious.

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Somewhere between Iksan and Seoul, South Korea. Ricoh GR

To this point, right now I can basically travel with just a camera that fits in my pocket and my phone that fits in the other. A small bag for batteries and chargers. No need for a laptop (I wrote this on my phone) or whatever other shit I would normally carry. It’s great. Considering how often I do the trip from where I live to Seoul I am happy to not have to carry much.

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Somewhere between Iksan and Seoul, South Korea. Ricoh GR

Also, I suppose I should mention that I always shoot with the Ricoh in one of its “My” modes. I love these as I can set up the three modes for three different situations. After doing it the first time I flick through them without any thought. Something that I really like about the digital Ricoh cameras.

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Seoul, South Korea. Ricoh GR

Anyway, as I said earlier after spending two weeks shooting with the Ricoh it decided to not want to open the lens flap inside the lens mechanism unless I take a blank frame. Weird problem, but hopefully I can get it fixed.

I really hope so in fact. This is the first time in a long time I’ve felt completely happy with a camera. Even if it did take picking it up again after a long time to find that out.

South Korea.

December 2nd, 2015.

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Seoul, South Korea. Ricoh GR.

37 thoughts on “The Ricoh GR

  1. Mine was great until it just failed to turn on one day. Out of warranty too. Crap reliability / cheap build quality. This was the second problem I’d had with it. In two minds now about whether to get it fixed or just to use the magnificent film GR1V that I’ve got. That’s got an OVF too.

    • Well, reliability was never very good with the film ones either. In fact, I’d venture to say they are even less reliable in my experience. I’ve had so many go bad. Even two GR21s. At least the digital ones are still able to be serviced somewhat ha.

  2. I shoot pretty exclusively with mine. It’s starting to show it. One thing that has always bothered me about the GR/GX digital series, they are not very well sealed to dust. Eventually dust will work its way onto the sensor. I know many people that have complained to Ricoh/Pentax about this through the years. I don’t know why they haven’t fully sealed the camera, since the original GRD had this problem.

    • Yeah there was some dust on the sensor of mine. It just went away on its own. I don’t worry about it too much since it just kinda looks like dust on film or whatever. Honestly the X100T I had for just two weeks had so much dust in the viewfinder that I couldn’t take it. Even got dust into the LCD in that short of a time. Sad really since I don’t live in a dusty environment. Shows that Ricoh isn’t the only one that shares that problem. My other camera that I use for some serious stuff is an OMD EM5 Mark II. That is sealed much better and I haven’t seen any dust make its way anywhere.

    • One is set to TAV with the shutter speed set to 1/250 and the aperture f/8. The other is set to TV and the shutter speed to 1/250. The ISO is set to 12800. The third is set to shoot portraits with flash. Flash on full, aperture priority with the aperture set to f8. Basically like that ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Alway enjoy reading/watching your blog. Thanks heaps. I’m just wondering about your flash setting (Flash on full) as I found the the flash on this camera is surprisingly strong. My setting is usually 1/8 in Av mode. Just curious how you can manage full strength flash on f/8.

      • Thanks! The camera is out for service now I’ll let you know as soon as I get it back. I’m not very technical so I’d have a hard time remembering unless I could see it.

  3. Great ideas Josh. I think I need to retire the film Leica, and shoot in Jpeg. I like your idea about enjoying the process, who cares if film or digital. A photo is a photo. Thanks for your honesty and ideas always.

  4. Not a lot of digital cameras are likely to become “classics”, the GR compacts seem to be one of the exceptions. I had one a few years ago (GRD III), but the wide angle just didn’t suit my shooting style. Personal taste, of course.

    Like you, I’m done with film. I was kinda depressed when I sold my film gear a few months ago, but now I really feel how much money I’m saving (even as I didn’t shoot that much). And I recently put together a new “portfolio”, mixing film and digital shots, and nobody can tell the difference. So why bother.

  5. I am shooting with my GR for 2 1/2 Years now. I took 20’000 frames with it. I dropped it ten times and it starts to fall apart. Once I had the dust-on-sensor-problem but that was fixed on warranty. I really used to be a gearhead and wanted a new camera every other month. The Ricoh GR is the first digital camera that I’ve been owning for such a long time and I still love it. The day it stops working I will order another one. As I feel there is no other camera on the market that would suit me better than the Ricoh. And the image quality is still impressive. If it had an EVF it would be just about perfect.

    Your pictures and your blogposts are always really inspirational to me. They are simple and true. Because of you I totally simplified my photographic process which helped me so much to enjoy it again.

  6. Out of interest which optical viewfinder do you use & have you tried many on the GR? I’m looking at the 24mm Lumix VF myself as I hear it is quite accurate for the 28mm, but worried it may be too big… Thanks

    • Hi! I just use the regular monochrome setting. I don’t use any of the special effects. I turn the sharpness down as low as possible, that’s the only other thing I do.

  7. I strongly relate to your words Josh. Two years ago you wanted this camera, but were probably mentally not ready for it. It is the only camera that makes me forget I’m actually carrying a camera when I’m strolling the streets. If this one fails, I’ll get another one. No other camera suits my style of photography.

  8. Definitely useful to have a silent shutter if you are going to take pictures in public toilets ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I had the GRD4 and enjoyed it, but found it to be surprisingly fragile. Sadly. Didn’t keep it. Get tempted to try the gr all the time.
    Thanks for sharing your current MO, I think many were curious.

    • Haha, I suppose so. It’s funny, I haven’t disabled the shutter sound. I dunno, I don’t like to be secretive when I take photos. Although, for that one I’m glad the dude didn’t notice. I only took it because I had seen a Daido Moriyama photo in a similar situation on instagram that day ha.

  9. Lol about the ISO 12800 shooting. Last week I was messing around with my Sony at 6400. Then forgot to set it to Auto and shot 40-50 shots over next few days. So terribad…

  10. Hi, I follow you for awhile now and really like your style. I remembered this post because I have the same problem with my GR it seems. When I turn it on and shoot the first image (sometimes the first and the second) will be blank because it seems the lens/shutter doesn’t work right. Did you get your GR back from the service? Best, Sabine

    • Hi Sabine. Unfortunately when I took it to Ricoh I was told it wasn’t worth it to fix it because the price was so high. They told me to use it like that. I actually prefer the older ones like the GRD3 /4. I use one now instead of this. Don’t trust the new one at all.

      • Hey, thanks for the fast reply. Sorry to hear that for you and for me probably ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I had this little camera with me nearly every day for the last three years while traveling a lot. Did they say if it will make it even worst to “use it like that”?. I didnยดt use mine since then. Started to shoot film instead and fell in love with it, but miss having the GR in my pocket, too ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • They actually said it wouldn’t get worse. And yeah, I also shoot film mostly. And if I’m perfectly honest I much prefer the grd4 to the GR anyway haha.

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