Two months have gone by since I received my GR (pictured above) and a few thoughts come to mind. I’ll talk about the pros and cons of this wonderful small package.
Let’s start of with the good and in no particular order just as they come mind. Folks, the sharpness of this lens is truly outstanding. I’m not an optical engineer and don’t know for sure but I would guess that lack of AA filter has something to do with end results. This puppy cranks out some amazing images. In the end, I think Ricoh did the right thing in debuting with the GR with out the AA filter.
The way the GR handles is another point worth mentioning right of the bat. Its slightly bigger than the previous models and just the right size, you really have to hold it to know but trust me when you hold it you’ll probably feel the same way I did ― amazingly surprised. I wished Ricoh would have included a more heavy duty wrist strap and a neck strap in the package considering the price of entry into this exclusive professional compact market but luckily, there are a few companies which produce some amazing accessories ― DSPTCH and Lance Straps, I’ll be reviewing them both within the next couple of weeks and will show plenty images.
The Ricoh Files, it almost sounds Hollywoodish reminiscent of the famous TV series the X-Files which had kind of like a cult following much like Ricoh itself. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, these files are so malleable and really bend in all ways shape or form. They convert and lend themselves easily to BW conversions either in Lightroom itself, Silver Efex, or Photoshop. In this regard, to each his own, and there are proponents of all camps, some favoring one over the other, I’ve used all three and I’m quite happy with all of them but sometimes for simplicity I stick to Lightroom but to be honest, it all depends in my mood. Do I have time 15 minutes, do I have 5 minutes, etc, you know what I mean.
Color, let’s talk about color. Much has been said in the inter galactic cyber worlds of the forums that the GR reds are a bit of and some have even importing setting into previous versions of Lightroom so that ACR is updated with the correct profile and yadda and yadda yadda. To me, they look just fine and I actually prefer the Fuji Velvia type of punchiness which I get out of these RAW DNG files of the Ricoh but what I would want is X-trans sensor color on this type of body. With that said, I’ll let the forums go and on. In the end, ask yourselves a question, do you like what you see on your screen. If you have a modern monitor then you’ll be better able to judge color and tones and all that stuff so you want to keep that in mind. Furthermore, I’d like to add that the presets from the Really Nice Images are excellent match for the GR. I recently discovered them and have been very happy with them. The shots in this post are processed with forked version of “All Film” package also VSCO 04 just came out and its causing quite a stir already so you may want to check that out as well.
Now let’s shift gears towards the aspects of high ISO which in my opinion is the possible achilles heel of this camera. I find the GR usable up to 1600 and sometimes maybe even 3200 but in the latter the noise is certainly there but the good thing is that it doesn’t smear and degrade itself as others do. To my surprise, its a very organic and film like appearance a look I sometimes like in my photography. I have friend who prefer the gritty dark look and luckily for him the GR provides that quite well. For me, I do prefer cleaner files at high ISO because I can always post process them to make them look as gritty and organic as I want them to be. One thing to note is that sometimes I’m asking a lot of out this sensor, an aps-c sensor, physics are physics and the amount of light gathering capabilities of these pixels are governed by those laws. Another interesting thing worth mentioning is that the files from the K5 IIS are a lot cleaner than the GR despite them having a very similar sensor. DXO ranks the K5 IIS with an ISO score of 1200, very nice for an aps-c sensor, and the GR at a mere 850. I ask myself, what happened here. I think that if the GR had reached at least 1100 I would have been even happier with its high ISO results. Its all a compromise and sometimes decisions have to be made but overall the GR produces files which are excellent and malleable. There is no perfect camera.
I have to mention White Balance, I love the GR’s WB its a bit on the warm side for AWB but its easily shifted in any direction with a “what you see it what you get” via the LCD. Ricoh really does handle this well. Its very customizable and tweakable. One thing, I have not figured out is if there is a way to setup a custom WB like any dslr. Shoot the white or grey card take it from there. Right now, I’m basically just photographing the grey card and matching it in Lightroom but I wonder if I’m missing something here (chime in if you know please).
I’m not going to talk about the effects and all those features, they are filters, some are kind of cool and some are so so but you know how it goes. I like “cross process” the most (tweaked). Ah the lens, well, its probably one of the sharpest 28mm lenses that exists or have existed, the sharpness is almost clinical and to me sometimes a little disturbing as I want to tone it down a bit but that’s just me but I’m sure the lens performance of this lens will be loved by many.
The GR has proven to be quite the camera, its versatile, its powerful and feature rich and will serve many just fine if you prefer the 28mm view. I actually use the 35mm crop mode quite extensively as well and I much prefer 35mm over 28mm. The 28mm field of view is quite forgiving for street photography but I prefer the challenge of 35mm. To buy or not to buy that is the question. Well, its really this simple. If you have $800 or more because I believe you need to add a viewfinder of some sort ie. Ricoh GV1/GV2 or Voigtlander 28mm, then the price creeps up to a 1,000 USD at today current market price. and you prefer the 28mm field of view, then by all means go for it, I approve. The camera is that and much more, its one of those things you really have to experience for yourself. I hope my ongoing Ricoh GR review (one of a kind) has helped you in some way as to what this little camera can do and based on that, then make your own informed decisions. I’m constantly replying back to folks who email me privately with an opinion and I’m always happy to do so when time permits but I think I’m pretty open on this blog about all the pros and cons of any camera I blog about. The GR is a one of a kind camera, a classic in my opinion already, and I enjoy it very much. With that said, its not my only camera just because I can’t be limited to a single field of view and I just dumped my dslr kit with fast glass for another system that will surely be my little baby as they say the topic of many blog post to come in the near future. So get your GR, enjoy it, treat it well, and I’m sure it will provide you with many years of service.