The Ricoh GR II and Why I Always End Up With a Ricoh

Ricoh GR II

So, I just wrote about the Fujifilm X-Pro 2. It is a nice enough camera. I used it over the past six months. The fact of the matter is though, I never felt much of a connection to that camera. It worked just fine, but it never made me want to take photos. It was just, well, there.

Leica M3, 50mm Canon f1.4 LTM. (Shot with the Ricoh GRII)

For reference, here is a picture of my Leica M3. It is probably the most lovely camera I’ve ever used or seen. It had spent much of its time in a closet. When this camera finds its way into my hands I just want to take photos. The Fuji never made me feel that way. For the amount of photos I took with the Fuji I would have been better off just carrying the M3 around. It is certainly sexier 😉

Hi-camera checking out my Leica M3. Ricoh GR II. 

Last weekend I brought my M3 to get checked since it had been sitting for a while. While Pyeonghoon (pictured) was looking at it he handed me a Ricoh GR II he had for me to use. He said he always thought I was “supposed” to use a Ricoh.

Interesting thought, that.

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Ricoh GR. Seoul, South Korea.

First of all, I’ve come to the conclusion that I use a lot of cameras and I’m not going to fight it anymore. It is what it is. Whether I take better photos with a certain camera, I dunno. I think all my photos are intrinsically ‘mine’…

Ricoh GR.

To be fair, I’ve always loved Ricoh cameras. I loved the GRD from 2006. I loved the GRD3 and 4. I even loved the GR from 2013. The problem with any Ricoh camera is reliability. Every one I’ve ever had has broken. They basically feel like disposable cameras to me. I love using them, and the GR felt to me very similar to using something like the GR1V I had loved for a long time.

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Ricoh GR.

The beauty of a Ricoh camera is of course, size. There were many times in the last six months where I just didn’t take a camera because I didn’t want to carry the Fuji around. When I own a Ricoh, it always is around. No point for it not to be.

Ricoh GR.
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Ricoh GR. Seoul, South Korea.

Because of this, I have more “keeper” photos from Ricoh cameras than any other. It is simple math. I carry and use them more therefor they yield more results.

Ricoh GR II.

I have a friend who swears by the newer Ricoh cameras. He, like me, doesn’t trust them though. He always has two in case one breaks. When one breaks he buys another. For him, it is literally only about the results. These cameras are tools, nothing more or less. He figures even if he buys 4 a year it is cheaper than a Leica. I suppose he’s right.

Ricoh GR.

Any Ricoh camera basically replaces my phone. As much as I love to shoot with my iPhone, I rarely do when I own a Ricoh camera. There just isn’t a point if I have a Ricoh with me. During the past couple of days with the Ricoh GR II I haven’t taken a single photo with my phone.

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Ricoh GR. 

More than any other kind of camera, Ricoh cameras always seem to allow me to take photos that most closely match my feelings. I don’t like to think much when I take photos and they work well to this end. Probably why I end up with lots of my favorite photos from them.

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Ricoh GR. Seoul, South Korea.

When I say ‘match my feelings’ I basically mean the process of taking a photo never gets in the way of my emotion when I use a Ricoh compact camera. They just take photos when I need them to. They simply are there when I need them to be there.

Hopefully, working, ha.

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Ricoh GR II. Seoul, South Korea. 

I wish I had something more interesting to say about the GR II. It is a lovely camera, considering it is working perfectly at this moment. When I use it, I love using it. Like with any Ricoh I set the three ‘my’ settings for certain situations and never use anything else.

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Ricoh GR. Seoul, South Korea. 

The GR II is basically the GR from what I can gather. Seems the autofocus may be a little better, it is hard to tell. I kind of like the new hump on the top, even if I’m the only one.

Ricoh GR.

I’m really happy he got me this camera to use. I think I’ll probably take a lot more photos in the next couple of months because of it. Also, hopefully put a few rolls through my M3 😉

On a side note, the photography ‘group’ I co-founded called @wearethestreet is starting a blog in the next couple of days. The members include Junku Nishimura, Sean Lotman, Chulsu Kim, Aik Beng Chia, and Nicholas Dominic Talvola. We are going to start by introducing ourselves on the blog and then eventually have some behind the scenes stuff about what we are up to. Stay tuned 😉

Ricoh GR. Seoul, South Korea.


  1. Thanks for your thoughts and pictures – I keep my fingers crossed that there will be no issues with your GR for a long time! Have one since more than two years now, used it a lot and it works fine so far. Really looking forward to the upcoming blog – many regards from Germany

  2. It did not matter what camera you are using your pictured are always inspiring! Congrats for the new blog, im sure it will be great.

  3. I bought a mirrorless Fuji after years of using a DSLR and I use it almost all the time now. Having a camera you can and will take anywhere is so important, as you say. Thanks for sharing these photos and your thoughts.

  4. The GRs are great. It is not just the size, but also the handling, the configurability and the image quality.

    BTW, one advantage of the GR IIs “hump” is that you can more easily find the power switch without looking.

  5. I sold my GR II about a month ago and have another one coming tomorrow. There may be newer cameras with improved features but there is just something about a GR. Unless you’ve shot with one, that doesn’t make any sense. Once you’ve shot with one, it just clicks, no pun intended.

  6. Hi Josh, great images as usual.
    Yep, Ricoh is addictive… It’s great at BW conversions, too. My GR images never ever make me feel I should have had my Monochrom with me that night. (Because indeed I mostly use the GR at night, when being unobtrusive is a bonus). My only gripe is that the settings are extremely confusing in their mutual interaction, and that Auto-ISO still tends to favor lower ISO against higher speed when I’d like instead to minimize shake, noise be damned…
    Looking forward to your new group blog…

  7. I couldn’t stand the newer GR cameras. Most of my b&w photography has been with the original GRD1 camera at maximum iso and contrast. I love the camera so much that I own four of them along with 21mm and 40mm lenses. The grd3/4 would be my second choice.

    1. Amazing photos, Michael, and thanks for the comment. You (and some other like jt) made me so curious about the GRD1 that after more than two happy years with a new GR I just bought one…

  8. had a GR , sold it a year ago.. But it itched , bought another one second hand. Nice price, including a Lumix optical viewer. And what great fun it is again to use it, basic but refined. A wolf disguised as a sheep. A trustworthy tool, you only have t concentrate on the subject. No one on the street will feel “attacked”by this camera. When they announce the GRiii I will be probably one the first on the list 🙂

  9. awesome photos! I have been thinking about getting a GRII for my street. I just want to get closer. I am kind of shy and I think the focal length will help me break that if I want to make great compositions in my photos with that camera. Thanks for the blogs, love your writing style.

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