GR

Two different GR ‘shrooms

Two very different mushroom shots by the Ricoh GR. I love them both. Which one I love most depends on my current mood. At the moment I am quite much in a color-mood because of the fall colors surrounding us.

Signs of autumn

Little white and a droplet
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Aurora borealis

Yesterday we had very nice Aurora borealis here and I tried to capture them with my Ricoh GR. The most difficult phase was to find out where I’ve put my light and cheap tripod! 🙂 I used f/2.8 and shutter speed of 8 secs for the shots below. I was quite pleased for the results as these were the first Northern lights I have photographed.

Northern Lights at our place

More Aurora Borealis

Some thoughts on the Ricoh GR as a travel camera

I had my Ricoh GR and my Fuji X-Pro1 with 35/1.4 lens with me in our Canary Islands vacation. Here are some thoughts on the GR and how I liked it as a vacation camera.

The absolutely biggest asset of the Ricoh GR was its small size. I carried it in my shorts’ pocket all the time and I never needed any special camera bag for it. Very easy and handy. I had the GR in my hand mainly using its wrist strap but sometimes I would liked to have it in a neck strap. Why so? Well, there are many situations, especially with kids with you, in which you would need your both hands. In those moments I had to put my GR in the pocket first and after that help my kids. With a neck or sling-type strap I would have had my both hands free when needed. This strap-question is one important thing to solve out soon. At least I have to think about other options in addition to the wrist strap.

I shot about 90% of shots in snapshot mode with the GR. I used snapshot distance of 2 m and aperture of 7.1 in TAv mode (so the camera decides the ISO value). The shutter speed was somewhere in the 1/250-1/320 s area. I had the back button focusing enabled too and that was a very nice thing because in that way I was able to override the snapshot mode if needed. In addition with the back button focusing the special macro mode button is not needed at all and this feature made the macro focusing much more faster to apply. I also had the ND filter in the auto mode (as I always do) all the time. This is so cool feature because it allows you to shoot wide open in bright daylight if needed.

I did not use in-camera effects at all and shot only RAW all the time. I think that was a good decision because there was heavy sun shine every day and you could easily have some burned areas in the shots.

The most difficult thing for me was the 28mm focal length of the Ricoh GR. I should go closer to my subject! There are many of those vast wide-angle shots which just give you the “blaah” feeling when seeing them on the computer screen. Fortunately, there are also those good ones where I have some foreground subjects and still nice background. I have to learn wide-angle shooting more. I have to admit that there were quite many situations where I missed a zoom lens. Me missing a zoom, oh my.

All in all, I have somehow mixed feelings about the Ricoh GR as a travel camera. My inabilities to use wide-angle lens is the main reason for those feelings. I do not yet have the proper touch and understanding of this camera and wide-angle focal lengths in general.

Fun in the pool Amadores beach - the rocky part Mud master

Back to DSLR?

Here by the beautiful lake my thoughts are wandering around. In fact so much that I've been going through some DSLR option for myself! I have now the fantastic Ricoh GR which is so easy to take with me everywhere and it also has many cool features like TAv mode and snap focus system. Then I have of course my Fuji X-Pro1 which I also love – time to time. X-Pro1 produces wonderful shots if everything goes well. Focus is still hunting quite much in many instances. The only AF lens I have for it is Fujinon 35/1.4 R which of course is a fantastic piece of glass. The two other lenses I have for it are manual focus ones. I can decently focus by them but I've been graving for image stabilization so many times. It is quite a wobbly experience to use longer focal length MF lenses, like 135mm I have.

The GR comes for Pentax Ricoh group and I have thinking to get Pentax K-5 IIs for my DSLR to replace the X-Pro1. K-5 IIs has the TAv mode I love, nice in-body IS to stabilize the longer lenses, some nice MF focus aids, and of course nice set of physical buttons for adjustments. It is weather-sealed and still small in size. IIs variant is without antialiasing filter which is also nice feature. The K-5 IIs body is about 1200 euros and I would be able to purchase one in July. I would also buy an adapter for M42 screw mount lenses then and first test K-5 IIs with my manual focus Super-Takumars (which are Asahi Pentax lenses). Pentax has a very nice collection of prime lenses, e.g 77/1.8 which I would like to buy soon after selling my Fuji.

But. I am not sure yet about this. I mean not 100% sure. Only 95% sure.

It would be very nice to hear your opinions on this, dear readers.

Three recent shots and why I like them

Decided to pick three shots I photographed lately and tell few words about them. There will be some emotional and technical aspects included.

This is a shot of our oldest dog, border terrier Herkko. He is the best dog in the world and that's why the perfect subject for photography. Nowadays he is sleeping on the couch quite a much like in this shot. I tested here my new Ricoh GR camera and its fantastic high contrast in-camera B&W preset. I tweaked the preset little bit and I find this tweaking possibility very nice feature to have. Sharpness of the paw area is fantastic as is the bokeh even if his head is next to the paw (this was shot at f/2.8). I really love the subtle grain which ISO 1600 offers here. The overall looks is quite rough but I really like it.

The above shot was taken in a cloudy day and I was really surprised how nicely Ricoh GR managed the exposure. The colors are spot on here. It is just a rusty grain mill but somehow it got new life in this shot. For this I mean that I have passed it many times but now it has a different meaning to me. Quite difficult to explain actually but I know many of you readers may know what I mean. The GR is a compact camera with a big heart and soul. That I can say.

Third shot is about APS (Advanced Photo System) film cartridge I found from a box when I was going through my things. Then I realized that my Fuji X-Pro1 (well, the GR too) has an APS-C sized sensor. So, I saw a duel here. Film-age APS vs. digital-age APS. It was a concept to me which I wanted to shoot. For this shot I used a 50 year old lens, Asahi Pentax Super-Takumar 55mm F 1.8 wide open. I just love how it renders and how beautiful bokeh it produces. And it is so fantastic to focus manually, so smooth. The above shot is a JPEG B&W from the camera. Have to say that the X-Trans sensor makes some beautiful JPEGs.

I love this hobby.

Customizing the GR

Ricoh GR is a nicely customizable camera having dedicated buttons where you can register functions you want. The customization is a very nice feature but it will take some time to realize which kind of tweaking your shooting style needs. Here are some of my customization for the GR at the moment:

For the Fn1 button I registered AF/Snap function. Snap focus is so cool in this camera that I feel it has to be activated quickly if needed (I know there is also Full Press Snap but I like it to be activated separately). When I am in the Snap focus mode I’ll adjust the desired focus distance by pushing down macro button and turning the up-down dial simultaneously. Very handy.

As I like to use Pinpoint AF as my main AF mode, I assigned Multi AF/Pinpoint AF adjustment into Fn2 button. Sometimes (e.g. for casual snapshots) I feel that Multi AF is just fine and it uses 9 focus areas (in maximum) to achieve the perfect focus.

The Effect button I decided to assign to select FA/Move Target. In that way I am able to change the position of the Pinpoint AF target whenever I need it to be somewhere else than in the middle. I think this is the only way to move the AF target in the GR but I may be wrong.

So, as you see, I have reserved lots of buttons for focusing functions but that suits my shooting style and I am very happy that this camera has enough programmable buttons to do this.

ADJ./ISO button has four functions in my present set-up. I have included Picture Size (to quicly change e.g. between RAW and JPEG), Aspect Ratio (sometimes I like to shoot 1:1 JPEGs in-camera), Exposure Metering (I feel that Multi metering is doing its job nicely but in some situations I’ll need e.g. Spot metering), and Effect (to change in-camera effects when shooting JPEGs because I changed the function of Effect button).

I have also utilized My Settings in my current configuration. My1 is now TAv mode with high contrast B&W effect (which I have slightly modified from the standard one) in JPEG. My2 is TAv mode in RAW (I put this in My2 because then it is very fast to change between these two; notice that TAv mode position is quite far away from My positions).

So, those are my customizations at the moment. It would be very interesting to hear which kind of tweaks other GR users have.

In the end of this post I’ll add three latest shots with GR. Color ones are RAWs with very minimal LR processing, and the B&W is in-camera high contrast B&W in JPEG.

Delicate flowers Strawberries soon High contrast B&W with Ricoh GR