Ricoh GRII (Digital)

I’ve gone through handfuls of cameras in my life, well, many handfuls.. But it’s always hard to find something that sticks. The two I’ve always held on to have been the Leica M6 and Ricoh GR1, both 35mm cameras. 

The other night before heading into the studio to assist on a quick shoot, I realised I didn’t have a camera in my bag. With my GR1 loaned out to a friend, I decided to borrow the Ricoh GRII from work and take it for a spin. I’ve always loved the form factor of those cameras, the layout, and overall handling is nothing short of perfect. 

I previously owned a Fuji X100s, now with an X-T1 and still holding on to Canon gear, the size of the Ricoh really puts it above the rest in my eyes. A perfectly good 16MP APS-C sensor with an equivalent 28mm 2.8 lens, really providing the same as the original GR system. I was blown away with the image quality straight out of the camera. For some reason, my expectations were quite low. That changed quickly when I started shooting some portraits under simple constant lighting. 

The files are incredibly sharp, and convert well to black and white. I did set up the camera to shoot RAW+ using the B&W JPEG preset, but ended up converting all of these from RAW quickly in Lightroom. I love the 28mm focal length, for myself, it feels very natural. I think less about what I’m doing with the camera and more about what’s in front of me. I’ve always liked my images from the GR simply for the slightly different composition. Along with that, the size is less confronting when shooting people, on the street or portraits. It’s a far less intimidating size than almost any other cameras. 

There’s a ton of menu options, and I was surprised by how much functionality is packed into the little camera. But more on that another time. The only thing I miss is the viewfinder, if it had a small optical finder built in even as a guide, it would be that little bit nicer. I understand a viewfinder of that size negligible in the digital age of cameras. Maybe I would try it with the GV-2 external viewfinder, it’s still reasonably compact.

Overall, a perfect pocketable camera. I know Fuji have just announced the X70, so maybe I’ll have to take a look at that before making any rash decisions. But who knows, maybe one of these will end up in my pocket in the near future!

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