New camera: Ricoh GRD V

I was wandering through Cheltenham earlier this week, and found myself standing outside a real camera shop. I buy most of my photographic bits and pieces online these days, so this was a rare opportunity to browse.

I had no intention of buying anything, but the diminutive Ricoh GR on the shelf behind the counter caught my eye (I'd read about it briefly on Ming Thein's blog).

Ricoh GRD V

I asked if I could hold it.

It was light. It felt nice in the hand. And I liked the UI.

I had no intention of buying one (I've got a Fuji X100 which is excellent and a Panasonic GF1, which is knocking on but takes superb pictures).

A few key points had stuck with me from Ming's blog post:

  • There's a very sharp f2.8 28mm lens (35mm equivalent). The lens retracts when powered off, making it significantly easier to get it in a pocket than my Fuji.
  • The body is well designed and easy to hold, with a decent rubber grip and buttons that are in just the right place.
  • The sensor is the same one that's used in the Nikon D7000, and recent Sony mirror-less bodies. It's a great sensor, and Ricoh have have built the camera with no anti-aliasing filter (which means it produces very sharp images).
  • It has a snap focus mode that focuses the lens to a fixed distance if you mash the shutter button. If you've set the aperture appropriately, you'll get a decent depth of field in the resulting shot (often referred to as focusing "hyperfocally"). It's ideal for street photography, or surreptitiously photographing your friends when they're not looking.

I've been working away from home a lot for the last month or two, and realised I hadn't taken a photo since I'd started. My other cameras were just big enough to make it that little bit too hard to squeeze them into my overnight bag.

I thought nothing of it, left the shop, and went about my day. The Ricoh was nice, but I didn't need one.

Somehow the topic came up that evening when I was chatting about my day with my girlfriend. It was clearer to her than I that I rather fancied buying the camera, and she asked me two questions:

  1. Do you want one?
  2. Is there enough money in your bank account to pay for it?

I went back the next morning and bought one. Obviously.

In camera effects

I'm not normally a fan of in-camera effects, but Ricoh's are worth exploring.

The B+W High Contrast effect is a little overdone with very high contrast and plenty of grain, but you can dial back the severity a bit if you prefer (though this shot used the effect at full whack).

From the office

There's also a normal black and white mode (without the grain) with which you configure contrast and sharpness. I'll use that a lot while shooting in RAW to give me a preview of how things are turning out, before processing the (colour) RAW file myself later.

The Positive Film effect produces nice colours. I've not used it much yet, but here's a picture of Monty the cat.


If you look at the largest version of that image on Flickr you'll see some great detail in his left eye. The file on Flickr is significantly smaller than the full size image I got out of the camera, which is sharp as a tack.

I think I'm going to rather enjoy this little Ricoh.

Configuring everything

If you've got one I heartily recommend taking a look at Matthew Robertson's review of the controls. Pay particularly close attention to how he's used the three custom settings (MY1, MY2 and MY3) to:

  • Ensure that the settings are always set back to his preferred defaults, every time he powers the camera up or dials in MY1.
  • He can switch to sensible street shooting settings (a fast shutter speed, high ISO and the continuous drive mode) on MY2.
  • He can easily do long exposure photography at night with a mini tripod and MY3 (with f16, the ND filter and a 2 second self timer implicitly enabled). The camera will automatically choose the longest shutter speed that it can get away with, but you need to enable 'Shutter Speed Auto Shift' in Tv mode before saving the settings to MY3; see the discussion in the comments on his blog post for more.