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Ricoh GR1v Film Camera Review

Ricoh GR1v Film Camera Review

Ricoh’s consumer guide describes the GR1v within the sometimes understated style utilized by many Japanese corporations as an “Extremely Slim 135 Movie Format AF Digital camera.” And it’s definitely all of that. It’s additionally beautiful, solidly made, and exceptionally succesful. If this machine have been made overseas, its guide would inevitably use a extra self-celebratory tone. It will doubtless congratulate its purchaser for being the fortunate proprietor 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.

However 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 incredible digital camera. And like most of the greatest anythings, it does its job completely and with none fanfare. It’s the perfect compact digital camera I’ve but used.

Nevertheless it’s not a simple promote. With its wide-angle lens and a comparatively excessive price ticket, 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 primary digital camera within the now long-running GR collection. It was meant to be a excessive efficiency point-and-shoot digital camera for professionals. That is evidenced in its key design options – a compact and light-weight magnesium-alloy physique, a high-definition 28mm lens, quick autofocus with obtainable 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 launched in 1997. I requested Ned Bunnell, former President of Pentax in america, if he might inform me something concerning the GR lens –

“when speaking to one of many older engineers who’d labored on the unique GR’s […] they realized they’d created a wonderfully corrected but 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 the moment. It was designed out of delight. I clearly keep in mind he stated that they made it in a really restricted amount, so it was actually extra of a proof of functionality assertion than a manufacturing lens.“

Additionally in 1997, Ricoh launched the GR1s, a barely upgraded model of the GR. The key addition was improved optical lens coatings. However the digital camera additionally added an illumination function to the LCD show, and a bayonet-style filter mount system for customers who needed to make use of filters and lens hoods.

The Ricoh GR1v adopted in 2001, and added a handful of considerable and helpful options to the GR formulation. Mainly the addition of an automated publicity 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 personal movie.

It’s this newest model of the GR, the GR1v, that was lent to me by the beforehand talked about 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 movie digital camera. It encompasses a Ricoh GR 28mm F/2.eight lens. Focusing is dealt with by way of a passive multi-autofocus (with out there 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 zero.43x.

The built-in flash routinely adjusts flash energy to obtainable mild ranges, with user-selectable flash modes. Flash information quantity is 7 at ISO 100, and recharge time is roughly 5 seconds.

The digital camera routinely winds the movie when movie is loaded, and with each publicity the movie is rewound into its canister. This preserves uncovered frames within the occasion of an unintentional movie door opening.

There’s a movie body counter, publicity compensation dial, self-timer performance, an LCD show on the highest plate, a wrist strap lug on the right-hand aspect, a tripod socket on the underside, and a date perform on date-equipped fashions (which you’ll need to flip off).

Three Huge Causes to Love the Ricoh GR1v

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

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

Cause One – Measurement

Measurement is goal, making it one of many extra simply measurable parts of a assessment. The Rioch GR1v is a tiny digital camera, measuring simply 117mm (size) x 61mm (peak) x 26.5mm (depth), excluding the grip, which has a depth of 34mm. The digital camera weighs simply 177 grams, with out battery (one CR2 battery).

For these retaining monitor, meaning the Ricoh is smaller in two dimensions than the smallest fundamental line iPhone. Extra related to movie digital camera nerds, it’s smaller than the Contax T2 (and greater than 100 grams lighter). It’s additionally 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 might be 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 bigger than a roll of movie) permits it to slip into any jacket pocket, into any go well with pocket, into any pant pocket with out producing ugly bulges.

Cause Two – Management

Compact movie point-and-shoots with premium lenses are well-liked amongst road photographers and people who want to be road photographers. And amongst this group, there’s a standard set of options that’s often requested for, however offered by only a few cameras. Even the preferred movie point-and-shoot compacts, the Olympus Mju II, the Yashica T collection, the Contax T2 and T3, fail to fulfill the wants of those choose photographers within the areas of consumer management.

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

The flash management is a bodily button with three detents – On, Automated, and Off. Merely slide the management to the specified flash mode and hearth. It can keep bodily switched to whichever mode you want even when it’s turned off after which on once more. No menus to navigate, no fiddly buttons to press a number of occasions, and no unintentional flashing of candid topics on a dimly lit metropolis road. It’s a stealth machine, and the flash modes by no means betray this.

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

The guide aperture management, once more, is a bodily dial. Positioned on the best prime of the digital camera, it permits the photographer to manually management the lens aperture in half-stop increments from F/2.eight to F/22. Switching it to any of those numerical values will change the digital camera to aperture precedence autoexposure, a mode by which the photographer chooses the specified aperture and the digital camera selects a shutter velocity that may end in an accurate publicity. Switching this dial to “P” prompts programmed autoexposure, the mode by which the digital camera’s mind routinely selects the right aperture and shutter velocity to make a correct publicity.

One other detent on this dial’s vary of movement 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 publicity compensation, guide ISO management supplies direct management of publicity to educated photographers and people who select to develop their very own movie in pursuit of specialised outcomes.

The guide focus controls are accessed by way of the top-plate mounted “Mode” button. The one artistic management that doesn’t obtain its personal devoted bodily enter, it’s the least nice of the artistic controls to make use of. By urgent the menu button we’re capable of cycle via 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 concurrently urgent the shutter launch button whereas the digital camera is concentrated on the specified distance.

These focus modes work advantageous, they usually retain their setting even when energy is cycled. For my wants, guide focus isn’t essential. Principally it’s because I don’t apply snapshots and I’m not a road photographer. However even for a lot of these shooters I really feel the guide focus modes shall be principally pointless. 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 vast open. With topics roughly six ft away, every little thing goes to be in focus.

Startup time is 1.75 seconds. It’s additionally attainable to carry the shutter launch button whereas the digital camera is beginning, and when it’s prepared it is going to instantly 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 “function” that few individuals will use. However for these few who want a quick digital camera off the road, the Ricoh is the quickest.

As talked about earlier, I discover it baffling that the Ricoh, provided that it presents actually every part that everybody appears to demand of a compact point-and-shoot, fails to earn the fanfare of different extra fashionable compacts. With its distinctive grip and an entire suite of artistic controls, it successfully handles higher than any Contax compact (or another premium point-and-shoot) that I’ve used.

Cause Three – Lens

Measurement and management are main elements in making a profitable compact point-and-shoot. However the main purpose to like and select the Ricoh GR1v (or its earlier progenitors) declares itself once we hit the On button. Doing so causes the GR 28mm F/2.eight lens to quickly extract from the physique, and it’s this glass that makes the GR1v really stand out.

Made from seven parts in 4 teams, and that includes multicoated and aspherical parts, the GR 28mm F/2.eight lens is with out query among the best lenses ever packed right into a compact digital camera. It’s even probably the greatest 28mm lenses outdoors of this class, outperforming one of the best interchangeable lenses for rangefinder and SLR techniques. It’s an unimaginable assemblage of glass.

Punchy pictures, zero distortion, excessive readability and determination, wonderful flare and ghost management, barely any vignetting, sharpness from nook to nook in any respect apertures – photographs made with this lens are merely flawless.

Its nature as a wide-angle lens additionally units it aside from most different compact, premium point-and-shoots, most of which have 35mm or 38mm lenses. As such, photographs from a Ricoh GR1v are intrinsically totally different from these made with, for instance, a Contax T2 or T3, or a Yashica T collection digital camera. Wider angles may 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 reasonably extensive lens, even brushing up towards the lengthy finish of ultra-wide (which technically begins at 24mm when exposing the 24x36mm picture space of 35mm movie or a full-frame digital sensor). Whereas this vast lens brings all the advantages and curiosity talked about earlier, it additionally brings a handful of compromises.

Extensive-angle lenses have robust personalities. Not everybody will get together with robust personalities.

The quickest instance – 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 near our topic. For a few of us, this requirement will fall beneath the umbrella of “uncomfortably shut.”

It’s additionally true that wide-angle lenses aren’t ideally suited for typical portraiture. Whereas they’re good for making contextual portraits, through which the primary topic shares the body equally with different topics (different individuals, an setting, and so forth.), they wrestle at the usual headshot-with-subject-isolation portrait. If we do determine to buck the development, set the aperture to f/2.eight, and hearth some frames on the minimal focus distance to realize a semblance of the historically shut portrait, filling the body with our topic would require such closeness that faces will invariably distort. Ears will look distant, eyeballs will stretch away from the nostril, and the nostril will look gargantuan.

For somebody like me, who principally shoots a 45mm or 50mm lens, the 28mm lens of the Ricoh GR1v is an ideal accompaniment to the longer lenses sometimes mounted to no matter digital camera I occur to be utilizing right now. However to say a 28mm will work for everybody, or will work as an on a regular basis lens in common software, can be to lie. No matter how particular it’s, the GR 28mm is a specialty lens. And that gained’t work for everybody.

One Greater Drawback

Digital cameras are a danger. Readers conversant in basic cameras and the digital department of this tree that’s the pastime images could have been knowingly ready for this caveat. Its point out is unavoidable, even when my private fears are much less acute than most commentators.

All cameras (even the absolutely mechanical ones) will ultimately fail. Shutters must be readjusted, rangefinder optics de-silver, coatings separate. Within the case of digital cameras, issues are much more difficult. Restore of electronics requires specialised information, advantages from expertise, and calls for a provide chain of more and more harder-to-find spare elements. Because of this, many individuals advise that shrewd consumers ought to keep away from digital cameras totally, saying definitively that they may break, and that once they do they merely can’t be repaired. I don’t essentially supply this similar recommendation, however I perceive why others do.

I’ve a Nintendo Digital Boy, a stereoscopic 3D online game console that innovated in some actually fascinating methods, however failed spectacularly within the market. Launched in 1995, it’s almost twenty-five years previous. My unit’s shows stopped working final week as a consequence of ageing adhesive on a ribbon cable. I heated it up and reapplied the glue, which fastened the unit. It should break once more sometime, I’m positive. I’ll not have the ability to repair it subsequent time.

However right here’s the rub with the “don’t purchase one thing that’ll ultimately break” argument – I’ve gotten twenty-five years of intermittent pleasure from that ridiculous online game console. Twenty-five years of enjoyable that began with pleasure and marvel, later aged to nostalgic revisitation, and lately matured into true curiosity and an actual appreciation of the distinctive historical past and wonderful design of a unusual gadget that’s nonetheless giving me pleasure (when it’s not giving me occipital neuralgia).

That a factor will ultimately cease working and that the restore of that factor may cost us extra time and cash than one other factor that may even ultimately cease working for various causes just isn’t trigger sufficient for me to disclaim myself the short-term (is twenty-five years short-term?) enjoyment of that factor. Particular person customers might really feel in a different way. I understand how I really feel about it. Earlier this week I purchased a backup Digital Boy. Later, I’ll purchase a backup Ricoh.

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

Purchaser’s Information

The GR1v was the final of the road (a GR21 was additionally launched, however this digital camera contains a wider 21mm lens), and as such, it’s probably the most superior and the most recent. This makes it the most secure purchase in the present day, although these advantages include an elevated worth. The GR1v is the costliest 28mm lens-equipped GR, and potential consumers might want to decide whether or not or not the advantages of the made-in-2001 warrant the upper 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 makes use of the identical optical method of the later GR1v. Although the lens coatings of the unique GR1 are technically inferior to the later digital camera’s coatings, this can hardly present in sensible software.

The one customers who will definitively require the GR1v over the sooner cameras are customers who want guide ISO management, auto-bracketing, or who merely need the most recent attainable unit.

In comparison with different premium point-and-shoots, the GR1v is an effective purchase, if that purchaser is in search of a 28mm lens. Amongst wide-angle point-and-shoots, it falls on the reasonably priced finish of the worth spectrum, and amongst these it’s probably the most succesful digital camera obtainable. If 28mm is just too extensive, nicely, search for a special machine.

Remaining Ideas

I’m notoriously selective of the cameras I hold. My assortment is tiny (a shock to individuals 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 house within the show case of my everlasting assortment is an unattainable dream. They gaze longingly on the unoccupied areas between the Nikon SP Restricted Version and the Rollei 6008 Skilled or the Pontiac Tremendous Lynx and the Kodak Ektra, and attain in useless as I carry them by, to relaxation of their short-term spot on the stock shelf for cameras that shall be bought to clients of my digital camera store.

However this Ricoh is an exception. If it’s not modified 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 discover to be refreshing. The readability of its design is equally refreshing. Its ease of use clears the thoughts. Its measurement and subtlety make it an ideal visitor.

I’m going to see if Ned will promote it to me. If he does, you possibly can anticipate to see the Ricoh GR1v in my Instagram feed, right here and there, till the day it dies. When and if that day arrives, I’ll purchase one other. It’s that good.

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