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08-02-2013, 01:32 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: NL
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Getting to know the Ricoh GR: day one

My choice and why.

I am a casual shooter, a web/graphics designer, and an amateur photographer-wannabe. I bought the Canon EOS 300D when it was launched to replace my analog Rebel. After a few years of happy shooting DSLR-style I wanted something more portable and lighter; the Ricoh Caplio R4 followed everywhere I went inside my pocket and handbag.

But being in love with DSLR quality, of course I wanted the same quality and zoom versatility of my 300D. So a few years later I bought the Panasonic Lumix FZ28, mainly to run, and point and shoot, after my young children; and RAW! Yes, super-duper holy-grain lossless compact RAW power! The FZ28 has been by my side for about 4 years now, it is starting to show it's age (err, my search for perfection).

What I wanted, well let's see. RAW power, more mega-pixels, a bigger sensor, zoom. Yes, DSLR quality, sharp, but light and fast and pocket-able.

First in sight was the Sony RX100, then the Nikon Coolpix A, any mirror-less system (NEX6), and my first choice, the Ricoh GR (yes, I do have a soft spot for Ricoh).

Hmm, do I really need all that zoom?

Turns out, no. I have been shooting pictures with my Oppo Find 5 smart-phone for about 4 months, and about 4GB later, I concluded that I did not need al that zoom; if I want to zoom in, I'll take the FZ28 with me. I only shoot in RAW anyway.

I am a pixel peeper, thought you should know...

I want absolute perfection, I want to be able to zoom in 100% and not run into any fuzziness. Well, the Sony RX100 won't do; the sensor is just not big enough for the level of detail I want. This is purely a personal choice. I can certainly see why people like the RX100 so much, it is just not for me.

APS-C sensor size seemed the way to go. A full blown big DSLR is just too big for my pockets anyway.

That left the Nikon Coolpix A and the Ricoh GR. I had long dismissed the mirror-less system, just because I do not want multiple lenses anymore (again a personal choice). And the Sony RX1 is just way too expensive for me.

Well, APS-C sensor, not a lot of zoom but wide angle, portable, pocket-able, high sharpness and overall image quality, RAW support, good B&W in-camera, lot's of manual control. If I really want to zoom in, I just crop the image during post processing anyway.

It was a tough choice between the Coolpix A and the GR.

I kept going back and forth between them. I liked the manual focus ring on the A. But I also wanted the quality/sharpness of the lens on the GR. I don't care much for the vignetting on the A (out of the box). However, I do like having a ND filter, which the GR has. Also, the Ricoh is just a tad lighter than the A. And one-handed control just seems easier with the GR (according to some youtube reviewers).

I am aware that the main public will be street shooters. For me, mostly, it will be running after my kids, just to take that ONE candid snapshot, that ONE moment of laughter. For me, right now, it seems that the Ricoh GR in snap mode will do just that!

I know both camera's have their pros and cons; I am well aware of them, I hope I can work around them. Time will tell.

The GR won, on cost; it is about 100 euro's cheaper.

I ended up importing the Ricoh GR from Germany, since it is so rare here in the Netherlands. It arrived today!

First shots and impressions

I took it out of the box, excited to start taking pictures. First the battery needed recharging. Personally I think it is nice to have just a USB cable and charger, nice to travel light when on holidays.

I also took out my trusty old Ricoh Caplio R4, battery and charger. Looked closely at the R4 charger (BJ-6), and the battery for the GR fits inside the R4 charger! Recycling at its best. So now I can use my old R4 external battery charger to charge the battery for the new GR as well! Nice surprise.

But unfortunately the battery for the R4 does not fit inside the GR, it is just one mm too big; the battery door won't close. That's a shame, but to be expected.

I have about 10 micro SD cards, ranging from 2Gb to 32Gb. I thought I would try them inside the GR. With a converter to regular SD, I have, so far, successfully tried the 8Gb ones. It is just nice to know that a simple converter will work. Now I could start snapping away.

I used to underexpose the R4 by -1/3 EV but that does not seem necessary with the GR. The images are clear and bright out of the box. I like it actually. I really thought the color would be less saturated/vivid/clear than the sample photo's I have seen from the Coolpix A; I was pleasantly surprised with the colors from the GR.

Black and white. Wow, what a surprise. I mean, I... I really like it. Not much post processing needed. Just my personal opinion of course.

Macro-mode is also nice, but a bit slow at times. I always found this a strong point for the Ricoh Caplio R4, it is very nice to see that Ricoh is still strong at macro-mode.

Auto-focus is a bit hit and miss, but acceptable. I have to figure out which setting works best for me and my photographing style.

Steep learning curve though. You really need to READ the manual. Actually read it. Yes, I don't read manuals either, but this one, I did read. There are so many possible configurations and possibilities that you get lost easily; just point, shoot, look, edit, tweak and learn :-)

This camera is really a tool, an extension; to me. Even after a day, the GR makes me want to be more involved again. Looking at the composition, the controls, what works for me (settings that work for others do not necessarily work for you), etc. I have to see how I feel in the long run.

There are a few small negative points; the "Effects" button is placed awkwardly on the side, just below the flash pop up button. I had to search for it. I guess I will get used to this in time.

The Ricoh GR got warm in my hands while shooting for about an hour strait. It got only warm, not hot, but noticeable. Again, I will keep an eye on the temperature of the battery/grip.

When comparing to the Ricoh Caplio R4 (not really a fair comparison) the controls of the Ricoh GR felt familiar and nice. Of course the image quality is not compatible (I bought the R4 in 2006). But I felt mediately at home with the controls of the Ricoh GR.

Happy snapper (photographer)

Overall, I am happy. I like the built in filters, but I don't know which ones I will be using the most. I did have fun with the black and white and the 'miniaturize' filters. I like the look and feel of the camera in my small female hands; it feels solid and well balanced. I can actually shoot one-handed, that is nice. I love the detailed RAW files (DNG), it opens up lots of creative outbursts.

I have to re-read the manual, to fully understand it's potential. I want to learn how to work without zoom again.

In the late '80s I got my first ever analog compact camera, red and black, 35mm fixed focus and an external flash. O boy, did I love that thing! I still have it.

So for me, it is like coming home to my roots; to where I started on my 10th birthday. No zoom, but fixed focus, simple and elegant, sleek and portable, ready to be loved, and it's owner eager to learn (again)!

Last edited by Magica; 11-04-2013 at 06:15 AM.
08-18-2013, 08:32 AM   #2
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wullemaha's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Tokyo
Posts: 503
Hi Magica,

I just put my K-30 out for sale, also not wanting to carry around all that gear anymore.
Your reasons for the GR sound about like mine.
I find the idea of having a fixed focal length thrilling.

Are there more parts coming after "day 1"? ;-)
Would be nice to know how you are doing now...

08-19-2013, 03:42 AM   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: NL
Posts: 9
Original Poster
I think I will be doing a follow up soon :-) I hope within a couple of weeks :-)
09-05-2013, 01:11 AM   #4
newmikey's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 1,699
Hey Magica, great story. Like you I'm having trouble finding the GR in the Netherlands. Care to share the German store you used? I'm thinking of downgrading my kit going back to my old and trusted K20D which has been in use by my daughter for the last year or so and getting rid of the K-5. I still love its form factor, it just seems to fit in my hands a bit better than the K-5 does and with a shutter count of almost 50K clicks it is hard to sell anyway.

I'll need a high-ISO powerhouse to fill in the gaps left by the K20D and the GR seems to fit the bill. The K20D doesn't leave much on the table at ISO100 landscape which is 90% of my shooting. The sale of my K-5 will go someway towards paying for the GR.

09-05-2013, 08:23 AM   #5
New Member

Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: NL
Posts: 9
Original Poster

I ended up getting my GR from RICOH GR schwarz |

Please note shipping is not free to the Netherlands.. Also if you pay with PayPal, you have to pay the 'hidden' paypal charges yourself. But still cheaper then from ebay, and in stock (well, at the time I ordered it was in stock...)

Perhaps you will get more luck with this thread :-)

good luck!
11-15-2013, 02:36 PM   #6
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 48
Brilliant post. More please!
11-15-2013, 02:44 PM   #7
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Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 27
Excellent write up. I carried a variety of micro 4/3's gear for a while and after my girlfriend took my Pana GX1 I began looking for a smaller camera in the 28mm range (the GX1 always had a 14mm lens on it). After reading up on numerous GR reviews I pulled the trigger and can't be happier. I did just pick up a new K50 for use with longer lenses as well as shooting in inclement weather and I love this too however the GR is the camera that is in my bag at all times. Such a pocketable camera that is able to take exceptional photos.

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