PAD photography, photo a day, stroll photography, Wouter Brandsma, Ricoh GR

OMG A gear blog post

2017, gear, Photography

PAD photography, photo a day, stroll photography, Wouter Brandsma, Ricoh GR

I have a love and hate relation with cameras. Some are just great, others just pieces of crap. Older film cameras were build to last, although I sometimes wished some broke down so I had a good reason to replace them. My Ricoh GR1 was great, simple, light. I could use it with one hand and just loved it. I still have that camera, but stopped using it. Film is just simply not an option for me anymore.

PAD photography, photo a day, stroll photography, Wouter Brandsma, Ricoh GR

When I finally decided to go for a digital camera I bought an Olympus. It was a decent camera, something with a four digit number. At some point the lens got stuck and the camera never worked again. Then I got myself a Ricoh point and shoot. It reminded me of my GR1. Had that camera only a year. Some dust issues kept coming back and Ricoh replaced it with a follow up. Hated the sensor of that replacement. Swapped my Ricoh for a GRD instead. Awesome camera, not that well built, and eventually the AF and snap focus played tricks with me.

PAD photography, photo a day, stroll photography, Wouter Brandsma, Ricoh GR

Again Ricoh replaced that camera and I got a GRD3. It was reasonably constructed, still light, easy to handle. So the lens got misaligned, the AF went bogus. Ricoh kindly replaced it for another camera. Had that one some six months and then the same problems occurred. Got another GRD3. I still have that one, but the AF and snap focus is not perfect either. The thumb grip on the back came off, the front grip is slowly coming of too. I think I gaffer tape it so I can keep using it while it lasts.

PAD photography, photo a day, stroll photography, Wouter Brandsma, Ricoh GR

I got myself a Panasonic GF1 a couple of years ago with that illusive 20mm lens. Fine camera, a bit plastic results, and a loud shutter. I might be using it more though. Got a Canon dSLR from a friend, still thankful for that. which still works. The camera is almost 14 years old now and I don’t use it anymore. Tried a Pentax K3, too big for me and that is that. Used a friend’s Leica M8, loved that camera. Besides my experience with my compact cameras and my iPhone the best camera experience I had. Still dream of owning a Leica someday. Got a Pentax Q which is small. I mean small. Don’t use it anymore, although I wished to came with a proper prime wide angle lens. It wasn’t bad either.

PAD photography, photo a day, stroll photography, Wouter Brandsma, Ricoh GR

I sometimes use a friend’s X100 (Fuji cough). Nice camera, but I keep doing something wrong with that camera. Everytime I put this camera in my bag I accidentally switch it on. I just hate the on and off dial. It drains batteries and by the time I want to use it, the battery is almost dead. It also doesn’t like my SD cards. I should be using newer SD cards, they’re cheap, but my cards are OK for me. They’re almost nine years old, 2Gb in size, and they still work.

PAD photography, photo a day, stroll photography, Wouter Brandsma, Ricoh GR

Eventually I got a Ricoh GR. In fact I became a Ricoh ambassador too. Don’t expect cool outtakes like the Fuji guys receive. I guess Ricoh knows their customers. Never asked me anything. Don’t mind too, I stopped asking questions too. I still have and use this GR. Last year there was a follow up, but I really don’t care about that. I had dust on the sensor of my GR. Was apparently not the only one. Many had their problems too. Received concerned questions from other photographers, but I dunno how to help them. The dust on my camera eventually was gone, though I don’t know how.

PAD photography, photo a day, stroll photography, Wouter Brandsma, Ricoh GR

The thing is, this GR ain’t a perfect camera. I think this camera wasn’t ment to last long. When I use this camera I forget about that though. It works, I can operate it with one hand and it is just so much to use. It is a tool. Unlike my Philly friend I don’t name my cameras. I don’t play nice with it. I just keep it in a pocket, don’t protect it when it rains. If it brakes down I might eventually get myself another GR. I don’t want to have a camera with knobs reminding me of some retro style with features that might as well be hidden in a camera menu. And if it brakes and I’m not able to replace it I’ll keep using my iPhone instead. That works for me too.

PAD photography, photo a day, stroll photography, Wouter Brandsma, Ricoh GR

I wrote it before, but I think smartphones have come a long way. And so often I find it adequate for my purpose. It is absolute simplicity and surprisingly fast. Especially when I compare it with my GRD3. And I like it that I can edit and post process on my phone whenever I have time available. Keeps me away from my notebook.

PAD photography, photo a day, stroll photography, Wouter Brandsma, Fuji X100

I don’t get myself a camera to do the things I might want to do. I just use it for what I need. Sure I can be a more competent and complete photographer, but I just don’t care. Flash, I don’t bother with it. Tele lenses, not my cup of tea. In the end, it should be about the photographs and my photography. Ain’t it? Instead I want to do more with print again. Maybe a small book, a zine, or small packages with a couple of prints. Because I feel granted for the things I can do and the moments I see and feel. I don’t know if I’m anything special. I don’t think I lead a special life, but I think that what I do matters. Like your life matters too. So many thanks for that. I go through my moods and I don’t believe I’m the only one. I try to be grateful for what I can do instead of being disappointed for what I couldn’t do. Therefore I’m thankful that I have a camera. A camera that helps me to better understand what I’m doing and what is happening around me.

PAD photography, photo a day, stroll photography, Wouter Brandsma, Ricoh GR

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

32 thoughts on “OMG A gear blog post

  1. WTG Wouter! I commend you for keeping faith in Ricoh despite all those break downs.

    I just got a Ricoh GR1 (still strongly into film, you see) despite all the bad talk on the net and severe warnings. Worked like a charm…. for 5 rolls. Now it plays up. Won’t start unless I unload and load the battery.

    Wrote a small piece about it and it’s current colleagues on my shelf here: https://whyfilmcameras.com/2016/12/24/compact-film-cameras/

    Don’t know if I’ll have it repaired if that is still possible or if I got me a very expensive paperweight.

    That said, if I crossed over to the dark (digital) side, on paper the GR seems like the ideal camera. But that bad rap you hear about it….

    Anyways, your photos are amazing! Though they are color 😉

    1. I’ve been using my GR1 since 1996! Never had any problems. The last time I used it, was – I thought – 5 years ago. I know that many had problems with the LCD indicator on top. Difference though is that I know what happened with my camera. I’ve been the only user. Despite the bad rap of the GR I will likely keep using a GR. It is the only camera that works for me.

      The nineties brought many great high quality compact cameras. You mention the plastic Nikon L35AF, but what about the 35Ti and 28Ti? Basically these cameras had similar tech stuff like the plastic compact cameras, but with titanium or magnesium bodies. Still, these cameras were good enough to use with slide film.

      I think I keep doing color for now. Probably will go for a WiFi SD card and use the GR and the positive film mode effect. Even the jpegs are pretty good.

      1. Sure the Ti28 and 35 are gorgeous cameras too… like the Contax’es. More solid and reliable-feeling than the Ricoh though you can’t beat the GR for compactness. Unless the Only XA2….. different price class there, less automated bus equally excellent lens.

  2. The GR II seems to solve the dust problem although I can’t say for sure. I’ve had one for over a year and no dust that I know of. I too find the Ricoh GR series to be one of the best cameras for falling into the background and allowing me to just do my thing without fighting with the tool. This I like very much and it remains the most important part of buying new tools for me, all kinds of tools. I have a Fuji X70 which is also an excellent camera but for what I do, I can’t stand lens caps and any camera that uses one immediately has a negative on it for me. Of course, the guillotine lens closure on the Ricoh and on many Canon point and shoots can get stuck so they’re not perfect either.

    By the way, I too hate the Fuji on/off lever. It stinks.

    1. That is good to know Richard. This year a new GR will come, maybe a good time to look for a replacement and keep my GR for spare. Does the on/off lever of the X70 compare of that of the original X100?

      1. Yes, the X70 on/off switch is a lever that’s easily moved accidentally, and less easily moved on purpose. It stinks. If there could be a hybrid that had the best features of the Ricoh GR and Fuji’s build quality I’d buy it. Or, if Canon got their act together and made their point and shoot cameras better, I’d buy one of those (again). For what it’s worth, B&H has the GR II at a discount now. I doubt it’s because a replacement is coming but you never know.

          1. My problem with Canon’s point and shoot cameras isn’t ergonomics, it’s the way they process high ISO jpegs. I see quiet a bit of smearing in images and it bothers me, looks unnatural. I don’t see this in RAWs but I’ve been attempting to simplify my process and just shoot jpegs with the X70 although with the Ricoh GR I shoot both RAW and jpeg with the jpeg having a high contrast black and white filter. The bottom line is I need to shoot more with any camera but I’ve been so depressed about our election it’s stopped me in my tracks.

            1. With my GRD3 I shouldn’t get above ISO 400. One way to overcome the risk of camera shake was to use the camera in continues mode and keep the shutter pressed. I do so too with my iPhone. That way many point and shoot cameras might work with reasonably low ISO in fair darkness.

              I feel for you, Richard. Your election outcome will affect the lives of many Americans, but might directly and indirectly do so to for many people elsewhere. It worries me too.

              1. Over many years I developed a RAW process that worked well for me through many different types of cameras but lately I’m finding it a drag and would rather do less processing. Frankly, I’d love to get Adobe Lightroom off my computer but alas, Apple’s entry in this area is awful so I’m sort of stuck at the moment. But, if I could find another way to process images that I liked I think it would make me happy and clear the way for more picture taking.

                I think our election outcome will have ripple effects for a generation, the world over. It’s extremely sad that my country is so short sighted although we’re not alone (Brexit, Le Pen, etc.).

                1. I only use Lightroom for some basic adjustments and organizing my images. After using the iPhone I’m back to a jpeg workflow and using my iPhone or iPad more for post processing my photographs.

                  You’re right. People have no idea what is happening. Many countries in Europe, including my country, will have elections and populists are on the rise. Both these groups and a silent majority is what really worries me.

    1. Ive just come across your work Wouter, these photos have so much depth and knockout compositions. Im inspired
      keep capturing the moment.

      Thanks, good work!

  3. A point on the dust issues. Whenever I get a new camera the first thing I do is put electric-tape over any areas where dust may get into the camera. (speaker holes, HDMI-AV ports etc, I never use these anyway), and up to now I have never had a dust issue. Most of this dust comes from pockets I believe, so if you keep your camera there it may be worth trying this. Nice post by the way.

    1. It is an idea to tape it. I personally think though the flaw in the Ricoh designs are the retractable lenses. These form a unit with the sensor and when the lens extracts and contracts it, in my opinion, sucks in dust. I know of people who protected their cameras a lot better and still got dust issues.

      1. Yeah, fair point, Wouter. I guess it would be nice if they designed these cameras so that you could remove the lens if necessary for cleaning.

  4. Ha, yeah good point, Frank. I was thinking more of a GR where you could remove the lens if needed, still small and compact but with the versatility of a a interchangeable system for gaining access to the sensor for cleaning purposes.

  5. I never followed the mantra “The best camera is the one you have with you.” For me the best camera is the one that [1] is actually working and [2] suits my mood and the specific situation.
    Sometimes that’s one of my film cameras (when I want to relax by taking pictures for a few hours), a dated Fuji X-E1 (for “tricky” photos), or my iPhone (when I just want to point and shoot). It’s a great time for photographers, we can choose from different media (film, digital, smartphone).

    But it really feels like film cameras were built to last a lifetime, and digital cameras are mainly sold to be replaced after a year or so. In that respect, they are not that different from – let’s say – microwave ovens or vacuum cleaners.
    Recently I got a Konica Hexar AF, and it’s kinda weird to see how solid this more than two decades old camera is. And in many ways (AF, handling highlights, silent mode) it easily outperforms my modern Fuji.

    1. The Hexar AF is a great camera Robert. When I eventually bought the GR1 in ’96 it was either the Hexar or the GR1. I went for the GR1 cause it was smaller. Size of the camera is what really matters to me. My strolls are limited to my daily work related commutes so I just want to have a camera with me that I can put in my pocket.

  6. with all my understanding now, photographic equipment is more or less like fashion. polaroid died and came back again, and it evolved into instax. Kodak film discontinued and is coming back again. Who would have thought our dad’s camera from their closet is a gem..when there’s the new coolest technology released in the digital world (although I don’t see any just yet), people will flock back to it again. Drone is a good example.

  7. I still shoot my 2013 GR… sometimes it got dust, then the dust disappeared, but still going strong. Still I havent found a replacement for it. I can only hope Ricoh keeps improving this amazing cameras, which to me, are the only true ‘serious digital compact’ camera there is out there, even on 2017.

    Love your work Wouter as always…its been a while since I visited, Im glad I did today.

  8. Wouter, it’s been a long time since I visited. Great post, great pics. Still have my GRD IV (never use it anymore), GR (use it occasionally) and now have the Fuji X70. But have started to depend more and more on my iPhone. Despite all this, I still feel that for pure camera (great image quality, great handling, intuitive controls) the GR is still the best.

    Keep sharing.

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