Recently I had a comment on a YouTube video of someone telling me that my Blogs on the Ricoh GRD 4 made him want to buy one. It surprised me a bit because as I said before, I basically write for myself. This Blog is a personal diary of my photographic journey. I almost started it at the same time that I discovered Street Photography in 2016. I’m always amazed by the reach that some of my articles can have.
I spent 3 weeks on vacation in Reunion Island to shoot exclusively with the Ricoh GR. But as soon as we got back to Jouques, I had put the GR away and had pulled out my old GRD 4 for my work in the street. It took big problems with my GRD 4 for me to dust off my GR. Basically, the GR was a backup camera in case of glitch with my GRD 4. It must be said that the GRD 4 was my only camera for 2 years. I only bought a second hand GR just recently. While in Bristol, I had recovered a brand new GRD 4, but I still wanted to use the GR there. Why ? It was the opportunity for me to actually test this camera in the street. I had used it 3 weeks in Reunion, but it was for the holidays. It was in Bristol that I began to realize the potential of the Ricoh GR.
Let’s talk about annoying things right away. Some will say that I drool, but the GR is really lame in low light. The auto focus is really bad when the light is lacking. It changes me from the GRD 4 which excels with its hybrid AF. Beyond ISO 6400, the files are really awfull in color but still remain exploitable in B&W. In general, the rise in ISO is not great on the Ricoh GR … Beside that, the GRD 4 is much better with its small sensor. In narrow streets with little light, keeping the same depth of field and the same speed, I am at ISO 400 max while the GR easily climbs to ISO 1600 or 3200. It is 2 to 3 Diaph difference.
Since my return from Bristol, my opinion on the GR has changed. I know his weaknesses, but I also know his strengths. Compared to GRD 4, the buffer is incredible. No need to wait 2 seconds between two shots. But what changes especially is the APS-C sensor. I’m losing depth of field, but I’m gaining dynamic ! Normal tell me, I go from a small sensor 1 /1.7 “to an APS-C sensor. Why does that change the game ? With the GRD 4, I have to pay close attention to light conditions because the dynamics of the camera is not great. It’s hard to recover things in the highlights and save information in the dark … The GR on its side has a better dynamic range and allows me to pay less attention to the light conditions in the street. I do not change my settings when I go from shadow to light. What I was doing constantly with my GRD 4. Casually, getting rid of it allows me to focus more on what is happening in the street.
It’s been over a month now that I only use the GR in the street. I learned to cope with its lower depth of field. When we get used to not worry about this element, it’s quite disturbing to see that some elements in the photo are not in focus. I have to be careful about the focus. Which I absolutely did not do with the GRD 4 which was for me a Point & Shoot ! The GR demands more discipline on that side. To get rid of it, I would have to shoot at f16, but in this case the ISO would go up inexorably … My settings on the GR are quite basic: f8 | 1/500s. If the ISOs rise too much, depending on the situation, I degrade the aperture, the speed or both !
The GR has become over the weeks my only one camera for my work in the street. I was scalded by my misadventures with my GRD 4. The pinnacle was reached when I had problems on my two GRD 4 in Paris. Like an idiot, I did not want to take my Fuji XE2 with me during this trip. The GRD 4 was released in 2011. Even though Pentax still provides the Ricoh GRD 4’s service, the parts are starting to run out and it’s not at Leica’s level. These cameras are not made to last. I’m at my 4th Ricoh GRD 4 in not even three years. I know that the GR is not free of defects too (dust on the sensor …). But the small difference is that there are plenty on the market opportunity in case of problems.
I know that my work is very much related to the Ricoh GRD 4. I think that many people have discovered my Blog through my articles on this device. Michael Ernest Sweet told me at the time that this Ricoh GRD 4 was a Street Legend. Just that. I totally agree with him. No other camera will allow me to photograph so close people in the street, no other camera will offer me this crazy depth of field … But there is also the rendering of photos with this CCD sensor ! It’s organic and really beautiful. Besides, the GR has a very digital renderfing. Even by working on the RAW files, I can not get the quality of Ricoh GRD 4.
By switching to the Ricoh GR, I know that some will not understand. I am one of the apostles of the Ricoh GRD 4 … I have always boasted the superiority of the GRD 4 ! So what, I return my jacket ? I’ll be honest on that. The GRD 4 is really good, but the GR allows me to worry less about my settings in the street. I also wanted to stop this Ricoh GRD 4 addiction. These cameras even if we continue to find them on eBay, are increasingly rare. And buying them secondhand carries risks. My last two GRD 4 had besides had problems shortly after their purchase … I know that the GR can also have problems, but by switching, I have the embarrassment of the choice with the GR, the GR 2 and even the brand new GR 3 (all APS-C Sensors) !
That’s why I stop using GRD 4 for my work on the street. Well not completely, but it’s not my main camera anymore. During the last two weeks, I still wanted to shoot with the GRD 4. After several weeks spent with the GR, I found myself clumsy in the street, spending a lot of time modifying my aperture or my ISO according to the available light. There are also situations where I regretted the GR. These outputs have confirmed my choice to move on the APS-C sensor. I have always considered the camera as a tool that serves my vision. The GR is the device I need on the street today.
I have grouped you in a slideshow, a collection of photos taken in the last two weeks with the Ricoh GRD 4. Kind of Tribute to this camera that had accompanied me this last two years in the streets of Aix-en-Provence. All photos were taken with the Ricoh GRD 4.