Ricoh GR II, the perfect compact camera?

My previous ‘every day walking around camera’ was a lovely Fuji X100T in black and I enjoyed using it. Looks nice. Great lens. Great sensor and worked well etc but was too damn big. And the focus really annoyed me, even in the later models. I wrote a bit about it at the time as well as a first few shots from the GRII.

Having used it for around 18 months almost daily I feel I’m probably qualified to say why I like and how I shoot with it as well as any downsides. There is a newer model with more megapixels but I’m led to believe it has sacrificed some of the manual controls for touch screen driven ones.

In terms of how I use it. I have it set to Aperture priority and then have configured the rear rocker to adjust the ISO (I don’t really like auto ISO) the front rocker then controls aperture. Generally somewhere between f2.8 and f4, I like shooting wide open with it (there’s another reason for this too). I shoot with it a third of a stop under exposed as can blow out the highlights a bit. Really bright days I’ll do more. In terms of ISO I quite like the grain of the files at higher ISO and it’s safe well up to ISO 2000 if used carefully – most of it can be pulled back in Lightroom of course. The main thing about this camera is the lens – it’s just gorgeous. There’s just something so special about it and I’ve completely fallen in love with the look of the files from it.

When I first got it it felt too small in my hand and like it would fall out. I guess this was mainly due to using DSLR’s with a grip and big chunky ergonomics. To solve this I got a little thumb grip which I found on eBay for £10 I think. The only downside to this is that it digs in to your arse when you keep it in your back pocket as I do regularly. Talking of back pockets that’s the biggest advantage of this, you can keep it in a jacket pocket, cycling jersey or jeans pocket. There’s no reason not to take it out nor do you need to swing it over a shoulder with a strap like the X100. Sadly where this falls down is the lack of proper weather sealing and I often got dust on the sensor from keeping it in my rear pocket or taking it MTBing. I take the view that it’s meant to be used and I shouldn’t worry about it but would be great if it was slightly better protected. I should have got a little soft pouch for it but one more thing to fiddle with and the moment has gone. You can remove the dust yourself by dismantling it (no thanks) or send it in to be serviced. Whilst I thought this was the end of the world when it happened I just shot wide open for a while and was fine. Most of it shifted itself off the sensor and not really been too bothered by it since.

My one is now thoroughly worn but I like the patina of age. I think all cameras should look a bit worn really. No point keeping them in a case at home and this one got thoroughly used in 2019 for a 365 project.

One thing I’m always a little bit sceptical of when I see people’s images is how much work goes into them in post. I’m quite lazy when it comes to this so have a little recipe I apply to each image and then do some other minor adjustments from there. So here’s an image I took today and the straight out of camera version. f4, 1/1000s, ISO 320, RAW

and then the edited version…

and of course, here’s a 100% crop – not bad for such a tiny sensor.

I think I’ll be keeping hold of this one for a while longer until I destroy it on a MTB ride. I have also been looking at the Sony Alpha A7 r 4 which has been recommended by Benedict, but that’s a bigger investment and a potential D810 replacement…