28mm Point and Shoot Ricoh

Ricoh GR1v Film Camera Review

Ricoh’s consumer guide describes the GR1v in the sometimes understated trend used by many Japanese corporations as an “Ultra Slim 135 Film Format AF Camera.” And it’s definitely all of that. It’s additionally beautiful, solidly made, and exceptionally capable. If this machine have been made overseas, its guide would inevitably use a more self-celebratory tone. It will probably congratulate its buyer for being the fortunate owner of the best, smallest, and greatest compact digital camera ever made. And when that purchaser pulled the digital camera from its plastic pouch, they’d consider the fuss.

But the Japanese don’t fuss, and the guide doesn’t say any of this. As an alternative, Ricoh bows humbly and arms us a digital camera. An awesome digital camera. And like most of the greatest anythings, it does its job completely and without any fanfare. It’s the perfect compact digital camera I’ve but used.

However it’s not a simple sell. With its wide-angle lens and a comparatively high price tag, the Ricoh GR1v won’t be the compact digital camera for each photographer.

What’s a Ricoh GR1v?

The Ricoh GR1 debuted in 1996 and was the first digital camera within the now long-running GR collection. It was meant to be a high efficiency point-and-shoot digital camera for professionals. This is evidenced in its key design options – a compact and light-weight magnesium-alloy body, a high-definition 28mm lens, fast autofocus with out there fastened focus, a built-in flash, and helpful consumer controls for artistic images.

It was an immediate basic. In reality, when Ricoh engineers realized they’d made an almost good 28mm lens, they shortly moved to recreate the GR lens in Leica Thread Mount. The ensuing GR 28mm F/2.eight LTM lens released in 1997. I requested Ned Bunnell, former President of Pentax in the USA, if he might inform me anything concerning the GR lens –

“when talking to one of the older engineers who’d worked on the original GR’s […] they realized they’d created a wonderfully corrected yet very small 28mm lens, and this drove them to make a restricted version Ricoh 28mm LTM lens for Leica. If I keep in mind it’s about half the dimensions of Leica’s Elmarit at that time. It was designed out of satisfaction. I clearly keep in mind he stated that they made it in a very limited amount, so it was actually more of a proof of capability statement than a production lens.“

Also in 1997, Ricoh released the GR1s, a slightly upgraded model of the GR. The most important addition was improved optical lens coatings. However the digital camera also added an illumination function to the LCD show, and a bayonet-style filter mount system for users who needed to make use of filters and lens hoods.

The Ricoh GR1v adopted in 2001, and added a handful of considerable and useful features to the GR components. Mainly the addition of an automated exposure bracketing mode, extra versatile guide focus modes, and importantly, guide ISO management. This final function allowed customers to override the DX coding of loaded movie, a way favored by road shooters and people of us who develop our own film.

It’s this newest model of the GR, the GR1v, that was lent to me by the previously mentioned Ned Bunnell final month. I’v been capturing it since then, and it’s stunned me in some ways.


The Ricoh GR1v is a compact 35mm point-and-shoot film digital camera. It contains a Ricoh GR 28mm F/2.8 lens. Focusing is handled by way of a passive multi-autofocus (with obtainable guide management and focus lock), and is provided with an auxiliary AF mild for low-light circumstances.

Exposures are made by an digital shutter able to firing in full program mode or aperture-priority autoexposure modes. Shutter speeds vary from roughly two seconds to 1/500th of a second, plus a timed publicity mode.

The viewfinder is a reverse Gililean sort with LCD body strains and in-finder illumination for low mild circumstances, and a magnification of 0.43x.

The built-in flash mechanically adjusts flash energy to obtainable mild levels, with user-selectable flash modes. Flash guide quantity is 7 at ISO 100, and recharge time is roughly five seconds.

The digital camera routinely winds the movie when movie is loaded, and with every exposure the film is rewound into its canister. This preserves exposed frames in the event of an unintentional movie door opening.

There’s a film frame counter, exposure compensation dial, self-timer performance, an LCD show on the top plate, a wrist strap lug on the right-hand aspect, a tripod socket on the bottom, and a date perform on date-equipped fashions (which you’ll need to turn off).

Three Huge Reasons to Love the Ricoh GR1v

The success of compact point-and-shoot cameras depends inevitably on three major factors – portability, picture quality, and consumer management. The primary and second of those factors may be immediately and objectively measured. The last, consumer management, is extra subjective. However I feel the Ricoh satisfies even this final notoriously tough demand handily. After capturing a dozen rolls via the Ricoh, I’m a bit baffled as to why this digital camera isn’t the preferred movie compact available on the market at this time.

This product photograph was made by my four-year-old daughter. Impressed?

Purpose One – Measurement

Measurement is objective, making it one of many extra simply measurable parts of a assessment. The Rioch GR1v is a tiny digital camera, measuring simply 117mm (length) x 61mm (peak) x 26.5mm (depth), excluding the grip, which has a depth of 34mm. The digital camera weighs just 177 grams, without battery (one CR2 battery).

For these preserving monitor, meaning the Ricoh is smaller in two dimensions than the smallest principal line iPhone. More related to movie digital camera nerds, it’s smaller than the Contax T2 (and greater than 100 grams lighter). It’s also smaller and lighter than the Leica Minilux, and the Contax TVS, the Yashica T collection cameras, and a lot of the different fashionable compacts.

In contrast to these “small” cameras which are truly fairly cumbersome when stuffed right into a pocket, the slimness of the Ricoh separates it from the pack. An extremely shallow depth of simply 26.5mm (just some millimeters larger than a roll of film) allows it to slide into any jacket pocket, into any go well with pocket, into any pant pocket without producing ugly bulges.

Purpose Two – Management

Compact film point-and-shoots with premium lenses are in style among road photographers and people who want to be road photographers. And amongst this group, there’s a standard set of features that’s ceaselessly requested for, but offered by only a few cameras. Even the preferred film point-and-shoot compacts, the Olympus Mju II, the Yashica T collection, the Contax T2 and T3, fail to satisfy the needs of those select photographers in the areas of consumer management.

The Ricoh doesn’t fail. It has every thing that these road shooters need – zone focus, guide control of flash which retains its settings even when the digital camera is switched off after which on again, ISO control, aperture control, and publicity compensation. The Ricoh, remarkably, presents all of this, and it does so in elegant ways.

The flash control is a physical button with three detents – On, Automated, and Off. Simply slide the management to the desired flash mode and hearth. It should stay bodily switched to whichever mode you like even when it’s turned off after which on again. No menus to navigate, no fiddly buttons to press multiple occasions, and no unintentional flashing of candid topics on a dimly lit metropolis road. It’s a stealth machine, and the flash modes never betray this.

The exposure compensation control, mounted on the highest left of the digital camera, is a bodily dial. It rigidly clicks by way of half-stop increments from +2 to -2 publicity worth. Like the flash mode, it additionally doesn’t reset with every power cycle. This makes the Ricoh GR1v ultimate for pushing/pulling movie.

The guide aperture management, once more, is a physical dial. Positioned on the fitting prime of the digital camera, it permits the photographer to manually management the lens aperture in half-stop increments from F/2.8 to F/22. Switching it to any of these numerical values will change the digital camera to aperture precedence autoexposure, a mode through which the photographer chooses the desired aperture and the digital camera selects a shutter velocity that may end in a correct exposure. Switching this dial to “P” prompts programmed autoexposure, the mode by which the digital camera’s brain mechanically selects the right aperture and shutter velocity to make a correct exposure.

Another detent on this dial’s vary of motion is used for ISO management. Change the dial to “ISO” and the photographer is ready to manually set the sensitivity of the digital camera’s metering system. Primarily a extra versatile exposure compensation, guide ISO management supplies direct management of publicity to educated photographers and people who select to develop their own movie in pursuit of specialized results.

The guide focus controls are accessed by way of the top-plate mounted “Mode” button. The one artistic control that doesn’t receive its personal dedicated bodily input, it’s the least nice of the artistic controls to use. By urgent the menu button we’re capable of cycle by means of infinity focus, single AF, snap focus mode, and glued focus mode. We’re additionally capable of set the snap focus mode to a desired distance by urgent and holding the Mode button and simultaneously pressing the shutter launch button while the digital camera is concentrated on the desired distance.

These focus modes work advantageous, they usually retain their setting even when energy is cycled. For my needs, guide focus isn’t important. Principally it’s because I don’t follow snapshots and I’m not a road photographer. However even for most of these shooters I really feel the guide focus modes shall be principally unnecessary. That’s as a result of the autofocus system is excellent, and the 28mm lens produces pictures with pretty deep depth-of-field, even when capturing extensive open. With topics approximately six ft away, every little thing goes to be in focus.

Startup time is 1.75 seconds. It’s also potential to hold the shutter release button while the digital camera is starting, and when it’s prepared it is going to immediately autofocus and hearth. This takes 2.5 seconds. If the digital camera is about to “Snap Focus” mode it takes even much less time. This can be a “feature” that few individuals will use. But for those few who need a fast digital camera off the road, the Ricoh is the fastest.

As talked about earlier, I discover it baffling that the Ricoh, provided that it presents literally every part that everyone seems to demand of a compact point-and-shoot, fails to earn the fanfare of different more widespread compacts. With its distinctive grip and an entire suite of artistic controls, it effectively handles better than any Contax compact (or another premium point-and-shoot) that I’ve used.

Purpose Three – Lens

Measurement and control are major elements in creating a successful compact point-and-shoot. However the major purpose to love and select the Ricoh GR1v (or its earlier progenitors) proclaims itself once we hit the On button. Doing so causes the GR 28mm F/2.8 lens to rapidly extract from the body, and it’s this glass that makes the GR1v really stand out.

Product of seven parts in four teams, and featuring multicoated and aspherical parts, the GR 28mm F/2.eight lens is with out question among the best lenses ever packed into a compact digital camera. It’s even among the best 28mm lenses outdoors of this class, outperforming one of the best interchangeable lenses for rangefinder and SLR methods. It’s an unimaginable assemblage of glass.

Punchy pictures, zero distortion, extreme readability and determination, wonderful flare and ghost management, barely any vignetting, sharpness from corner to nook at all apertures – photographs made with this lens are simply flawless.

Its nature as a wide-angle lens additionally sets it aside from most other compact, premium point-and-shoots, most of which have 35mm or 38mm lenses. As such, pictures from a Ricoh GR1v are intrinsically totally different from those made with, for example, a Contax T2 or T3, or a Yashica T collection digital camera. Wider angles may also help add dynamism to what may sometimes be an in any other case boring shot.

[Shots in the samples gallery below were made with Kodak T-Max 100]

One Small Drawback

The 28mm lens of the Ricoh GR1v is a fairly extensive lens, even brushing up towards the lengthy end of ultra-wide (which technically begins at 24mm when exposing the 24x36mm picture area of 35mm movie or a full-frame digital sensor). Whereas this broad lens brings all the benefits and interest talked about earlier, it additionally brings a handful of compromises.

Broad-angle lenses have robust personalities. Not everyone gets together with robust personalities.

The quickest example – wide-angle lenses are likely to push backgrounds into the space, which may depart some varieties of photograph feeling empty and vacuous. For road photographers particularly, the 28mm lens will demand that we get very close to our subject. For some of us, this requirement will fall beneath the umbrella of “uncomfortably close.”

It’s also true that wide-angle lenses aren’t superb for typical portraiture. Whereas they are good for making contextual portraits, through which the primary subject shares the body equally with different subjects (different individuals, an setting, and so on.), they wrestle at the usual headshot-with-subject-isolation portrait. If we do determine to buck the development, set the aperture to f/2.8, and hearth some frames on the minimal focus distance to realize a semblance of the traditionally close portrait, filling the body with our subject would require such closeness that faces will invariably distort. Ears will look distant, eyeballs will stretch away from the nose, and the nose will look gargantuan.

For somebody like me, who principally shoots a 45mm or 50mm lens, the 28mm lens of the Ricoh GR1v is a perfect accompaniment to the longer lenses sometimes mounted to no matter digital camera I happen to be using as we speak. However to say a 28mm will work for everyone, or will work as an everyday lens in common software, can be to lie. Regardless of how particular it is, the GR 28mm is a specialty lens. And that gained’t work for everybody.

One Greater Drawback

Electronic cameras are a danger. Readers acquainted with basic cameras and the digital department of this tree that is the pastime images could have been knowingly ready for this caveat. Its mention is unavoidable, even if my private fears are less acute than most commentators.

All cameras (even the absolutely mechanical ones) will ultimately fail. Shutters have to be readjusted, rangefinder optics de-silver, coatings separate. In the case of electronic cameras, issues are even more difficult. Repair of electronics requires specialized information, advantages from expertise, and calls for a supply chain of increasingly harder-to-find spare elements. Because of this, many people advise that shrewd buyers should keep away from digital cameras solely, saying definitively that they’ll break, and that once they do they merely can’t be repaired. I don’t necessarily supply this similar advice, but I perceive why others do.

I have a Nintendo Virtual Boy, a stereoscopic 3D online game console that innovated in some really fascinating ways, however failed spectacularly within the marketplace. Released in 1995, it’s almost twenty-five years previous. My unit’s displays stopped working final week on account of getting old adhesive on a ribbon cable. I heated it up and reapplied the glue, which fastened the unit. It is going to break again sometime, I’m positive. I’ll not be capable of repair it subsequent time.

However here’s the rub with the “don’t buy something that’ll eventually break” argument – I’ve gotten twenty-five years of intermittent pleasure from that ridiculous online game console. Twenty-five years of fun that started with pleasure and marvel, later aged to nostalgic revisitation, and just lately matured into true curiosity and a real appreciation of the distinctive history and wonderful design of a unusual gadget that’s still giving me pleasure (when it’s not giving me occipital neuralgia).

That a thing will ultimately stop working and that the restore of that thing may cost us extra time and cash than one other factor that may even ultimately stop working for different causes shouldn’t be cause sufficient for me to deny myself the momentary (is twenty-five years short-term?) enjoyment of that factor. Particular person customers might really feel in a different way. I know how I feel about it. Earlier this week I bought a backup Virtual Boy. Later, I will purchase a backup Ricoh.

[Shots in the samples gallery below were made with Cinestill 800T]

Buyer’s Information

The GR1v was the last of the line (a GR21 was additionally released, but this digital camera includes a wider 21mm lens), and as such, it’s probably the most advanced and the most recent. This makes it the safest buy at this time, although these benefits come with an elevated worth. The GR1v is the costliest 28mm lens-equipped GR, and potential consumers will need to determine whether or not the benefits of the made-in-2001 warrant the higher worth.

The GR1 or GR1s, made between 1996 and onward till the discharge of the GR1v, supply an almost similar package deal. The 28mm lenses on these cameras uses the same optical method of the later GR1v. Although the lens coatings of the original GR1 are technically inferior to the later digital camera’s coatings, this can hardly present in practical software.

The only users who will definitively require the GR1v over the sooner cameras are users who want guide ISO control, auto-bracketing, or who simply want the most recent potential unit.

In comparison with other premium point-and-shoots, the GR1v is an effective purchase, if that buyer is on the lookout for a 28mm lens. Amongst wide-angle point-and-shoots, it falls on the reasonably priced finish of the worth spectrum, and among these it’s probably the most succesful digital camera out there. If 28mm is just too vast, nicely, search for a special machine.

Last Thoughts

I’m notoriously selective of the cameras I hold. My collection is tiny (a shock to people who comply with this website and know what I do for a dwelling). If a machine has one function that annoys me, or an unexceptional lens, or an unappealing design, it’s gone.

For compact, digital point-and-shoot movie cameras, a home within the show case of my everlasting assortment is an unattainable dream. They gaze longingly at the unoccupied spaces between the Nikon SP Limited Version and the Rollei 6008 Skilled or the Pontiac Super Lynx and the Kodak Ektra, and reach in vain as I carry them by, to relaxation in their momentary spot on the stock shelf for cameras that shall be bought to clients of my digital camera store.

But this Ricoh is an exception. If it’s not changed my thoughts about compact, digital point-and-shoot cameras, it’s at the very least opened it. Its lens is actually unimaginable at making pictures, and with its 28mm focal size, it provides a perspective that I seldom use elsewhere and find to be refreshing. The readability of its design is equally refreshing. Its ease of use clears the mind. Its measurement and subtlety make it an ideal visitor.

I’m going to see if Ned will sell it to me. If he does, you’ll be able to anticipate to see the Ricoh GR1v in my Instagram feed, here and there, till the day it dies. When and if that day arrives, I’ll buy another. It’s that good.

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