The Sleeper Camera

Or.. the Camera most photographers don’t consider because they don’t know it exists. A short review on the Ricoh GR I/II

One of my photography philosophies is do not put yourself in a position where you can come up with excuses not make photos.

For me, cost of film gives me an excuse not to shoot, camera size gives me an excuse not to shoot, my lack of “creativity” gives me an excuse not to shoot.

You know what everyone photographer and non photographer alike shoot with because they don’t have an excuse not to use it? Their phone.

I’ve had a two Ricoh GR’s through my photography career and honestly don’t know why I got rid of it the first time. It has become an indispensable tool that I slip in my coat jacket or toss in my bag. There isn’t a reason not to bring it with me everywhere. This lies in the fact that it’s small and has the functionality and image quality of a DSLR with a 28mm prime lens.

For me and probably most of you 28mm is a perfect focal length for a day to day camera.
We are conditioned to shooting 28mm because the iphone (or android) in our pocket has trained us to see and work with that focal length.
You can get decent separation for portraits, you can get plenty of depth of field for layered photographs, the dynamic range beats out any phone and is comparable to most cropped DSLR’s, the tactility of the buttons and dials makes it insanely practical for one handed use and can almost be adjusted blind once you get your camera set to your preference.

It is just a tool that makes sense.

Set it, carry it, use it, abuse it.

Make photos wherever you are, when your eyes catch something interesting, without feeling limited or burdened by the tool.

The GR is my notebook, it’s what I use because I don’t have to think. I make the snapshots and sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. I crop aggressively if I feel like it. I don’t have to think about how many photos i’m wasting or if I’m making a worthwhile photo like I do with film.

You see something that peaks your curiosity, you walk there and snap and keep snapping.

When I carry my GR, I’m a tourist, a beginner, not worth questioning.

Nobody bats their eye, your friends, your family, the stranger on the corner.

You will not have any clout when you carry this camera amongst most other photographers. You may even feel inadequate if you’re around other people with fat DSLR’s or a nice looking film SLR. But ignoring your insecurities, that camera in your jacket pocket- it does work. You’re the only limitation.

It also doesn’t hurt that Ricoh GR’s retail for less than half the cost of that Shiny new i-phone everyone’s talking about.

PS: This is a great camera for on set photography or photography in sensitive environments. It makes little to no sound.

The only technical specs you really need to know:

  • APS-C sized sensor
  • 16 megapixels
  • RAW + JPG capability with wifi transfer
  • A really sharp lens
  • The best button layout on a digital point and shoot out there, slightly eeking out the fuji cameras because you only need one hand to change all your settings.
  • Snap focus mode. It’s so helpful for quick street photos or if your autofocus is acting up in darker environments

Photographers who frequently use and most likely carry at least a Ricoh GR out everyday.

Kyle Myles, Chase Castor, Cameron Wiley, Matt Gomes

Using Format