This will be one of the few posts on the Ricoh GR, this time I will talk about the place of the camera in the GR line and it's future.
What the heck is GR?
Pentax has it's “Limited”s, Canon has it's L line, Ricoh has it's GR line. GR basically means cream of the crop, premium quality. I have no clue what GR stands for but I'm going to say it means Great Rendering, cuz all of the Ricoh GRs do that. But more seriously though, I pinpointed where it all started, and I believe I found the ancestor of them all: Ricoh R1. The Ricoh R1 was a really slim 35mm point and shoot released in 1994. This camera was aimed at the consumer market, but just like Olympus with the OMD and Sony with the Nex7, Ricoh released a similar camera called the Ricoh GR1. As you can guess everybody craved the camera for it's pocketability, superior handling and an amazing lens. Afterwards they released revisions of the camera including a date version, etc.
The lenses of the cameras (Except the GR21 which was 21mm 3.5) were all……28mm 2.8. The game changed with the Ricoh GRD (D for digital), but it had a small sensor. Followed revision like the II, III and IV, all having faster lenses and better IQ with other drastic changes (AF mechanism, etc).
What's the BIG deal with the Ricoh GR then?
The new Ricoh GR is actually the digital camera that is closest to it's original film roots. The first Ricoh GRs were 35mm film cameras, all of the digital GRs were small sensor cameras. Look here:
The new Ricoh GR camera is closer to the original intent of Ricoh with the original film Ricoh GR1. Now APSC (the sensor size of the new GR) is still a long shot away from fullframe, but it's good enough to carry that original intent because at APSC size you can do things fullframe does (like blurring the background, higher ISOs) but not small sensors (you can't really blur out the background that much with the GRDIV, APSC will blow any small sensor camera out of the water IQ wise). It's going to be years when fullframe will be as affordable as APSC. Last time I checked the Sony RX1 is in the 3 grand ballpark.
So this camera matters in the GR line because it's going back to the original intent, but in digital form.
I've owned a bunch of cameras that are named GR. Here's what it means to me: Killer Image quality – Legendary handling – Snap Focus
I do not know where snap focus originated in the original film GRs but all I can say it's simply genius. The image quality of any GR camera is top notch, sharp, good color separation, good contrast and all that good stuff. It's killer, it's sharp.
The handling is where it's at. You could see the beginning of it in the film cameras but Ricoh really nailed it when introducing the GRD I. All I can say is that the camera melts in you hands. It just does, and the best thing is that the camera gets OUT OF YOUR WAY once you get used to it. You don't think camera, you think image once you learned all the settings. The Ricoh GRs is my personal reference when judging other cameras handling, it's just legendary, what can I say? It's just good product design, the placement of the front dial, the back's thumb rest, etc.
Snap focus, don;t let me get into it! For sure it's just prefocusing but point is that you had to think about it to do it. With my GRD IV I don't even think about focusing anymore, I set my snap at 1meter and adjust my aperture and I know I'm going to get my image. Plus the interface allows to change between normal focusing and snap focusing just by half pressing or full pressing the shutter release.
Past and present
While I claim that the GR carries the original intent of the original GR, it also carries everything that the GRDs bought to the table. In a nutshell, it's a GRD with the original intent of Ricoh mixed together to create one heck of a camera. From the GR1 to the GRD I, there is milestones in camera design so the GR carries all of this. Basically, it's the best of Ricoh yet.
I don't have the Ricoh GR camera, how can I even speak on it as if I had it? In two words: Brand trust. Ricoh has NEVER failed with their GR line, that's why I can blindly trust them on many points, namely all that I talked about so far. You don't even need to be a fan you only need to know. I'm not really an apple guy but I KNOW that whatever they pull out will be of the highest quality, especially in the screen and User Interface department. That's the same for Ricoh.
More than a GR
I don't think anything comes close to the GR, that's why I think only a GR can rival a GR and that's why I talk so much about it within it's GR boundaries. But forgetting those, the GR is a killer camera on it's own. First of all it's groundbreaking size wise (the smallest APSC camera), it rivals other cameras in the Image Quality department (Look at the Xpro!), it's cheaper than all the compact APSC cameras out there, the handling is phenomenal, etc.
What I am saying is, anybody can pick this camera up. For sure some people will be attracted to it because they know what a GR can do, but I believe that anybody can pick and up too and make pictures with it. It's because it's a killer camera first that makes it a GR.
Here's what I predict for the Ricoh GR:
-The most successful and most popular GR camera yet (Consumer wise)
-Nikon A and Fuji X100, X100s price cuts (It would be a serious gamble for them to stay at that price point, but they run the risk of aggravating early adopters)
-Lots of folks giving up their gear for the GR (If I wasn't a wedding photographer, the only camera I would own would be the GRDIV)
-Lots of cameras on ebay (I know a certain someone someone that sold a certain something something to buy it 🙂 ) (Not me….yet)
-Lots of shortages due to demand (Some forums, as time of writing calim 200+ preorders, and that's only people from the forum)
There is more to photography than cameras
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