This is a “first look” preview of a pre-production unit of the Ricoh GR, which I have been fortunate enough to get my hands on — for a day. My time with it is limited to the half-day of shooting I had, and I am only sharing my init...
This is a “first look” preview of a pre-production unit of the Ricoh GR, which I have been fortunate enough to get my hands on — for a day. My time with it is limited to the half-day of shooting I had, and I am only sharing my initial impressions of it.
The images are selected to demonstrate the fast response of the Ricoh GR, and not the noise performance because it will not be fair to make any judgment based on a pre-production unit. Most of the images are in monochrome because I prefer black-and-white in street photography. None of the images have been cropped, to demonstrate the focal length effect of the Ricoh GR.
I shall not be comparing it with the Nikon Coolpix A as there are detailed specs comparisons out there already, and without a production unit of each side-by-side, comparisons are frankly quite futile. As I was shooting with a pre-production unit, I would not like to go into too much detail about stuff like image quality, as quite understandably the final production unit will show improvements. You will however read about my impressions of it as a street camera in terms of usability and functionality.
The Ricoh GR
The Ricoh GR has an impressive lineage, starting from the film Ricoh GR1 introduced in 1996. The camera set the tone and direction for the GR series, focusing on delivering the best image quality with a fast 28mm prime lens in a compact chassis. The series ended on a high with the Ricoh GR1V, which was made famous by the legendary Japanese street photographer Daido Moriyama who used it for his grainy monochromic depiction of the streets of Japan.
Nine years later, the series went digital with the Ricoh GR Digital, maintaining the GR-series’ trademark sleek body and 28mm prime lens. However, the sensors used were of the 1/1.7-1.8” variety and users clamoured for the day Ricoh will deliver a large sensor GR-series, and Ricoh responded in 2013 with the launch of the Ricoh GR…
The Ricoh GR’s crowning achievement is squeezing in a 16MP APS-C sensor into that supermodel body, making it possibly the smallest APS-C sensor camera in the world. It retains the GR trademark 28mm focal length, although maximum aperture has been reduced slightly to f/2.8. Ricoh claims a maximum ISO rating of 25,600, which sounds groovy but I’ll believe it when I see the proof in the pudding. The Ricoh GR even pumps out 1080p movies at 24, 25 or 30fps, but I hardly think HD movies are the reason why anyone buys a Ricoh GR. Because at speculated USD800 retail price, you have to want this camera for its sole purpose in life – as a street photography camera.
“Made for the Streets”
Hold on to your horses, I am told. Who died and made you the God of Photography to pigeonhole the Ricoh GR as “street photography” tool? Seriously, an Apache is stealthy, silent, armor-plated, seats only two, and armed with 30mm cannon and Hellfire missiles. It is obvious that its only mission in life is to destroy and annihilate. A Ricoh GR is compact, matte black, silent and fast, and that makes it the weapon for hunting down street photos. Sure you can use a Ricoh GR for your holiday snaps, but that will be like buying your own fully loaded Apache to take you from one board meeting to the next.
The Ricoh GR is impressively small. Small because it fits into your jeans pocket easily, and impressive because the engineers shoe-horned a APS-C sensor in that Kate Moss body. The dimensions of the Ricoh GR hardly budge compared to my classic film GR1V, which means it is very pocketable as a dinner or travel camera as well. With that size and weight, it’s perfect for prowling the streets the entire day and never feel fatigued. See the perfect shot? Run for it! Let’s see you try that with a DSLR. And by the way, the Ricoh GR should be bundled with great shoes, because you would need to run a lot, thanks to the 28mm lens.
Robert Capa Shouldn’t be Taken Too Seriously
The great photojournalist Robert Capa famously said, “if your photos ain’t good enough,