Just some stuff about photography


Hello (again) Ricoh

you’ve been gone, too long

in Ricoh , Monday, November 10, 2014

Just under 2 years ago I became unwillingly separated from my Ricoh GRD4 due to a bit of carelessness in Buenos Aires and some anonymous Argentinian who doubtlessly is now roasting in hell for his/her misdemeanours. This interrupted something like 14 years of continuously using Ricoh GR series cameras. Although I had (and still have) a GRD2, it was falling apart and frequently refused to work. I adored the look of the “new GR” when it first came out, but it was a bit too expensive for me.

But no more. Thanks to a very low special offer from Digitec here in Switzerland, I am now the new owner of an APS-C sensor Ricoh GR, quite a different proposition from the GRD4 from an image quality point of view (although not always necessarily better) but with the same fantastic usability, design and build quality. And I’ve got it just in time for our next Latin America jaunt, to Colombia, where discretion is highly advisable. Hopefully it won’t get “liberated” like its predecessor.

Ricoh group

GRs old and new - the GR1S film camera, GRD2 digital, and new GR.

Due to the large sensor and subsequent shallower depth of field, it isn’t quite as forgiving in use as the the GRDs.  Closer in a way to the film GR, and also closer in size.  But from my first hurried attempts in grim weather, it gives great results. And it fits in my pocket.

All the photos here are pretty much straight from camera…no time for faffing around right now.



revisiting Ricoh

in Film , Sunday, April 21, 2013

I’ve been a long-time fan of the Ricoh GR series of cameras. This dates back to the late 90s, when I went into a shop in Central London looking for a replacement for my Minox GT, and was convinced by the salesman to try the then-new GR1 instead. Well, I was convinced, and duly took it on a tour of Venezuela, where it was scandalously mistreated (including being dropped in a river) and yet worked just fine. It also opened my eyes to the difference that a high quality lens could make, and was a major contribution to me taken photography a bit more seriously. A few years later it was joined by a GR1v and the two of them went to India with me. Eventually I gave away the GR1. I still have the GR1s, but it is fairly infirm. Ricoh introduced a digital take on the GR - logically enough, the GR Digital, or GRD, around 2004. I passed on this, but bought the follow-up GRD 2. Unfortunately, despite their very high build quality, in my experience Ricoh GRs, both film and digital, have never been all that reliable, and the GRD 2 carried on the tradition with the lens extension mechanism getting very unreliable when it was just out of warranty. Eventually I gave up on it, and bought the latest version, the GRD 4, which had a better sensor, faster lens, superb screen and sensor stabilisation.  It worked, until, largely due to brain fade on my part, it got stolen in Buenos Aires back in January. I doubt it found much interest from the fences. I was in a mind to replace it, but I couldn’t find one at a good price in this part of the world, and then the tempting Nikon Coolpix A came along.

But before I could succumb to temptation, I came across an Olympus XA for sale in a local market.

This, it turns out, was a stroke of luck in more than one way, because as well as reconnecting me with the joys of the XA series, it also saved me from spending a lot of money on a Nikon which I can now save for the imminent new Ricoh GR. While there had been some wishful thinking on various fora that a GRD 5 might turn up sometime, maybe towards the end of the year, the sudden appearance of a model that looks like it trumps the Coolpix A in every department, apparently for a lower price, is quite a surprise.

I also questioned if I really like shooting with a 28mm field of view, or if in fact I just like the fact that the GRs are wonderfully engineered and fit in my pocket.  After all, conventional internet wisdom decides that 28mm is for “street”, whatever the hell that is, or “landscape”. Well, I don’t really do street, and the only people who think that landscape exclusively means wide angle either don’t do landscape or make very boring photos. So, just to reassure myself, I had a go at resuscitating the GRD 2, and this has been partially successful. And I found a cheap secondhand Lumix 14mm (28mm equivalent) to put on the front of my Olympus PEN, for good measure. And I decided that yes, I do like 28mm, which really should not have come as a surprise.

So, in anticipation of a new Ricoh GR, here are some recent shots, all taken during lunchtime walks in the last week or so, with an old, battered and recalcitrant GRD 2. Hey, it still seems to work.

Drm 2013 03 27 0012798
Drm 2013 03 28 R0012812
Drm 2013 04 09 R0012815
Drm 2013 04 09 R0012817
Drm 2013 04 09 R0012818
Drm 2013 04 10 R0012823
Drm 2013 04 10 R0012826
Drm 2013 04 14 R0012829
Drm 2013 04 14 R0012830
Drm 2013 04 14 R0012840
Drm 2013 04 16 R0012845
Drm 2013 04 17 R0012848
Drm 2013 04 17 R0012853
Drm 2013 04 17 R0012861



La Centrale

Beneath the grid

in Photography in Ticino , Thursday, October 11, 2012

Just a short walk today. But time enough to revisit a potentially photographically rich location, hidden away at the back of the village of Giubiasco. This is where my current favourite pipe ends up, feeding the old power station by the river. I believe it contributes something like 0.0002% of local electricity needs. Still, it’s a very clean 0.0002%.

beneath (the grid). Ricoh GRD IV, processed in FilterStorm Pro

See the alternative edit in Aperture


Grey is the colour

in Photography in Ticino , Tuesday, October 09, 2012

A grim morning in downtown Giubiasco. Helped along by another good dose of high contrast black & white (not to mention underexposed) Ricoh grit.

Black, white, and grainy

Feel the noize

in Photography , Monday, October 08, 2012

On a well known photography gear forum, which I imagine I’m not the only one to far too regularly seek out as a displacement activity, yesterday I came across a question asking “is the Ricoh GRD any good for anything other than grainy black and white ?”. It’s a valid question - the vast majority of GR photos you find on the web are indeed black, white, grainy and often gritty. Auteur street photography dominates. And yet as far as I recall, I’ve only ever published low ISO colour stuff. Probably another reason why my genius is chronically ignored and overlooked.

So I thought I’d give it a spin. Using a “recipe” suggested by another contributer to the same forum, I made a settings set with ISO 1600 (gasp!), hi-contrast black & white, with a pinch of classic square format to taste.

The first three photos here are taken at the “Ala Pelera” watchtower above Camorino, part of the Fortini della Fame built in the early 19th Century in reaction to political instability in Lombardy, as well as famine in Ticino.

Ala Pelera detail 1. Ricoh GRD IV

Ala Pelera detail 2. Ricoh GRD IV

Ala Pelera detail 3. Ricoh GRD IV

The next two were taken in the woods a little way from the watchtower, same general area as my previous post.

Tracked. Ricoh GRD IV

Pipeline. Ricoh GRD IV

So, there we go. I’ve now joined the Ricoh GRD grainy black & white club. Lavish praise cannot fail to follow.

Resizing and framing done in Filterstorm Pro on the iPad. Otherwise straight from camera. Filterstorm is a pretty amazing application, but it’s fairly complicated, and I’m not sure if I’ve got the workflow properly sorted out yet. The uploads seem to be very compressed.

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