Ricoh GR Digital Compact

Mid to long focal lengths have been my preferred lenses to reach for when heading out to see what is out there to photograph. My absolute favourite (which will probably change next week – like my fave camera of the week) is 135mm on 35mm. Long enough to get closer, and still short enough to let some of the background into the shot. Seeing people’s faces and how they are responding to the environment around them is a very popular subject on my photostream.

A lot of my photographer pals are into wide angles. Sometimes down to 14mm and below, to capture some wonderful images. Being a slave to art fashion, the idea of having a crack at wide angles took a deep hold in my mind about 6 months ago – but instead of going out and buying a 17mm or similar lens, I wanted to make it even more interesting by taking a less well trodden path.

Go with a compact digital point and shoot.

Fuji X100 cameras seem to de rigueur at the moment. Lovely stainless steel metal, Leica look, and a great lens – who wouldn’t want one? If I was going to do something different, I needed a camera that wasn’t same same (anyone who owns an x100 or x100s please know I am still a big fan!). Enter the Ricoh GR.

A camera with a famous film heritage – and pocketable to boot! If you want to read more about why the Ricoh GR film versions are one of the best compact 35mm cameras ever – you can read more about the GR film cameras here.

The new Ricoh GR digital has some great positives :

  • Small, inconspicuous camera. One that the eye is not naturally drawn to.
  • The GR must have smoked a lot as child as its growth has been seriously stunted. It has an APS-C large-size CMOS sensor underneath the stealthy matt black finish. That is probably the same size as the sensor in your DSLR at home unless you spent over 2k on your happy snapper.
  • Contrary to what Ken Rockwell says (he slammed it without even picking one up), the GR has mostly manual controls. A command dial for aperture or shutter, and two “+ and -” buttons for expsoure compensation ISO control. Hmmm, works just like my DSLR. It is easy to learn to love the intuitive controls on this camera. Update Since writing this,  I have spent a little more time with the manual. The toggles and dials are very nicely positioned – I wish my DSLR was as easy to change up!
  • F2.8 lens – a prime lens on this camera can really help get the job done.
  • Quick focusing, and focus tracking. It also has (inherited from it’s film DNA) a setting for “Snap Focus” to predetermine focus distance so the shutter fires as soon as you press the button – no focus lag, just K-Pow, ready or not.
  • After dragging around some kit that feels like it was designed by a bricklayer, the GR is virtually weightless. Walking around with the GR is a very different experience to schlepping around a big ass Hasselblad.
  • Feels like it would stop a bullet – which is handy if you are not a particularly popular photographer…
  • Something I have not come across before is T/AV function. Very, very useful. You can set your aperture and shutter speed, and the camera changes the ISO to suit. Shifting the aperture of shutter can be done simply using the great command dial or toggle. I often get frustrated using Aperture Priority when a slow shutter speed is selected without me realising it – and delivering a blurry result.

Downsides : So far only a couple of gripes.

  • Battery life is crap, just as the reviews said it would be – the battery exhausts itself on one of my regular length walks. That said, when on the digital teat, I can take up to 300 shots in two or three hours… I never claimed to be a good photographer – I am a better curator than one-shot Ansell Adams. And no battery charger – only a charger that you plug into the camera. Cheap.
  • I need to go back and look at the manual. Gasp. The flash is tending to overexpose, and I still haven’t figured out the best way manage demanding contrasty light conditions.

gv2 connectedThe great lens, pocketability, and sensor got me over the line. Oh yeah, that combined with it being a bit of an uncommon camera. There won’t be too many GRs parked on the table next to the beers at the next Melbourne Silver Mine function – well, probably more so because MSM is all about film cameras.

If you can score one in a deal, the optical viewfinder adds some street cred – although there is zero information shared in the viewfinder. It ain’t a fancy one like the Fuji!

Can it take an OK photo? Here is my favourite so far from the Ricoh…


18 Responses to “Ricoh GR Digital Compact”

  1. By far my favorite camera!! Perfect ergonomics, very compact and its lovely snap mode!! This camera is a masterpiece!!


  2. Nice little review of this grat camera!

    What strap are you using with it? This one looks really nice!


    • It is a little crumpler strap – I find them awesomely comfortable Manu! I just tried to look it up on their websites but it looks like they don’t sell them anymore… bummer!


      • Thanks for your quick reply! With your hint I found the strap, it’s called “The Boom Simple Camera Strap” and B+H Photo seems to still sell them. Sadly the shipping to Germany is way to expensiv, I will look for another source maybe.

        Crumpler makes nice products, but they only sell them for one year or so. It’s not the first time I came to late for some Crumpler product ^^


      • If I see one in Melbourne I will let you know – happy to pick one up and mail it to you. There might be some old stock here still.


      • Cool, thanks for the offer!


      • After a while of looking for an alternative to the nicely compact Crumpler strap I had some success that others may also be interested in. I found the Nikon AN-CP23 strap to be perfectly fitting the Ricoh GR, it can be ordered online at the national Nikon websites, for example:


  3. Hey, I know this post was ages ago but I was wondering where you found your rangefinder ?


    • Hi Jennyy – I have picked up rangefinders both on Ebay and Gumtree in Australia. Gumtree is a bit more risky, as there is not a lot of buyer protection. But if the price is right… Ebay is my preferred source though, as the paypal buyer protection has come in handy on two occasions to help sort stuff out with sellers. Which specific camera of mine were you interested in? I can go back and look up where I bought it for you.


      • Hey sorry I didn’t realise what I wrote lol, I meant viewfinder* for your ricoh gr. I’ve looked on ebay and they are like 200+ so expensive.


      • I found a second hand one on Ebay – but it was still pretty pricey… There are some cheaper ones now that Ricoh make.



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