Is that a Ricoh GR in your pocket?

I've been through many cameras in my lifetime. It's not something to brag about but rather a byproduct of searching for the perfect camera. Only, it's a fairytale that doesn't exist (Prince Charming, I'm looking at you).

I've used Canon DSLRs, Panasonic Micro 4/3s, a plethora of compacts... with the exception of medium format and full frame. Throughout the course of this arduous search (truthfully, plain curious geekery), I have come to learn a few things about the style of photography I enjoy and what is important to me in a camera.

If you've noticed by now, I love observing the world around me, so documenting what I see seems to be an extension of that. For my purposes, portability is crucial. I used to think I wouldn't have problems lugging around a huge DSLR for travel. I did a number of times, but discovered it was just too cumbersome. And worse - conspicuous.

I discovered the Ricoh GR on a number of street photography websites and read extensively about it. It's not as talked about as other camera brands are, but it had a number of loyal enthusiasts and a good amount of reviews (hands up if you soak up reviews like a sponge).

I hunted it down at Alan Photo in Sim Lim Square and it has been my constant companion ever since. There are two versions of this camera, the usual all black and the limited edition (forest green). Of course, I purchased the black version.

There are many things I love about this little workhorse.

  • Inconspicuous and an almost silent leaf shutter.
  • 28mm lens (full frame equivalent). Zooming with my feet!
  • APS-C sensor. Just like some Canon DSLRs (and the image quality shows).
  • No anti-aliasing filter. Sharper images!
  • Snap focus. Pre-set your focal length and snap without delays.
  • Quick start up. Essential during crunch time!
  • Option to turn display off during shooting. Ultimate stealth and surprise framing.
  • Macro mode gives delicious blur. Awesome for product shoots.
  • Small enough to fit into my pocket.
  • Built in ND filter. Long exposure heaven!
  • Customisable buttons and settings. Faves at your fingertips!
  • Shoots in RAW!!

The only beef I have with it is that the video quality is average at best, even though it records in Full HD. The Canon S120, while it pales in comparison in terms of image quality (I much prefer the GR), has stellar video recording capabilities. Which is why I have both. And they're compacts. Do we see a trend here?

Now admittedly, I haven't fooled around with settings much, choosing instead to keep things simple. I will probably experiment more at some point, but right now I'm enjoying it right out of the box with settings recommended by some photographers (Eric Kim and BigHeadTaco). There are lots of tips and tricks out there if you care to look and a ton of photos.

The images from this camera are very organic with rich colours. It excels especially in black and white photography, although I enjoy colour as much as anybody (with a little of VSCO Film thrown in).

If you're looking for a camera that's portable with great image quality, the Ricoh GR might be just the ticket, especially if you're into street photography like I am.