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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All photographs by Wouter Brandsma