Sunday 9 December 2012

The Ricoh GRD - Why I like it so much.

Cameras really do come and go. For me this has been a painful and recent reality. There has been a constant. A camera that has a cult, almost fanatical following. (You can see why I like Brompton bikes so much) This is of course the Ricoh GRD.

There are Flickr groups, Facebook groups, blogs, websites, twitter groups all dedicated to the Ricoh GRD. Until you have one you might not get it but I will try to explain.

The first thing to say about it is me build quality. It has a magnesium alloy frame and it solidly put together. All the dials, buttons, hinges and doors are all going to last. It has an attention to detail almost from a bygone age when quality mattered. It is no throw away, upgrade next year camera. Some GRD users don't upgrade as they are happy with there version. When they do, to part company with it either in part exchange or eBay is rare. I have gone down the part exchange/eBay route ruthlessly with some cameras, but not my Ricoh.

I suppose the next big thing is that fixed 28mm f1.9 lens. It is a gorgeous prime lens that is sharp and not having a zoom means that you have to think carefully about the composition of your shots. The fourth version of the GRD costs £400ish now which is a lot but you are getting a great lens that is of better quality and sharper than those in a compact. You can also shoot in RAW which means more of the raw data from the picture files is retained so that you can tweak it in Photoshop or similar.

For street photography or landscapes the GRD really comes into its own. It is understated, stealthy and silent (if you want it to be). All sounds can be turned off to make the GRD one of the best street shooters. Being small and compact means that it doesn't intimidate in the way a DSLR would. It is not going to fire off lots of shots per second or keep up with fast moving subjects but for what it is good at, it punches well above its weight.

Another great thing about Ricoh is that it listens to its user base. Most manufacturers issue firmware updates to fix bugs and that is about it. Ricoh has a very different approach. In addition to fixing bugs they also issue new features that Ricoh users has often suggested in forums and the like. Ricoh is now part of the Pentax group and that can only be a good thing!

Customisation of this camera is a huge feature. There are whole website communities devoted to the sharing of settings. You can go auto but that would be like buying a Ferrari and driving only at 30mph. I have one of my three presets set to shoot in black and white. If truth be told I only shoot in black and white with my GRD. This is not to be arty but because it produces great images. As I like to shoot architecture, landscapes and street subjects it works pretty well for me.

As an unashamed Ricoh GRD fanboy, geek, devotee or whatever you call us I cannot see me getting rid of this little powerhouse...ever. If Ricoh decide to bring out the fifth version of this camera I will look on with great interest but you won't find my existing camera up for sale. I am not alone in this. If you want more information about this camera from someone who actually uses it, make contact with an owner on the many GRD forums, Facebook pages or blogs. You'll find a happy user base and probably someone who endorses Ricoh as enthusiastically as I do!


  1. Mr.O. Now your going to get me into big trouble with K, I'm going to have a look at this camera following your review here and if I get one and end up in the doghouse, you will, of course, be to blame.
    Have a fantastic Christmas and New Year.
    Keep on blogging Mr.O. I look forward to reading them.

    The Brompton Badger.

    1. It isn't a normal point and shoot as it has no zoom. Its 28mm prime lens is great though. For landscapes, architecture and street photograph it is one of the best. The black and white photos I took on the Greenwich Loop were all with my little Ricoh.


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