The Ricoh GRD IV is a versatile camera, I use it for everything. Family? Snap! Birthday? Snap! Wedding? Snap! you get the drift. But will the camera is good for all situations, it's particularly excels for street photography, here's 5 reasons why.
First a word about Legacy
Before getting into details, we must have a little word on legacy. Every single GR camera excels in the streets ever since the first one, so it has a lot of weight and history behind it, it just didn't pop out like that, actually maybe it did. I can't verify this but it seems that the Japanese photographer Daido Moriama really put Ricoh on the map as a street camera. But beyond his say so here's some reasons why it's deadly.
Ricoh GRD Street Photography Perfection
It has a 28mm lens
The 28mm focal lenght is highly prized in street photography. The reason is because you can get lots of street action in the frame with, because it's a wide angle. The longer the focal length, the easier it is to balance because the less there is to balance, the opposite is also true….the 28mm takes some getting used to but you can get lots of action in the frame. Most street photographers want to show the whole depth of the streets and not pull out an element from it's surroundings, the 28mm is great for that. You can read my 10 tips for the 28mm here.
It is Stealthy/Touristy
Most street photographers do not want to flaunt their credentials, you just want to blend in. Something that is hard to do with a dslr in your hands or neck. People are very aware of the camera, even more if it's serious looking. The GRD is a very nice looking camera, but let's face it it looks harmless. It's guts can pack a punch, but it looks like a Point and Shoot, making it a very attractive package for street photographers.
I take it a bit further and look extra touristy with it, I hold it like I would an iphone when taking photographs (with all my fingers up). People never seem to take me nor the camera seriously….absolutely perfect because I don't want them to. Plus the camera operates silently!
The Snap focus feature
Snap focus is in my opinion THE street feature of the Ricoh GRD IV for street photography. I set mine up at 1m, and 5.6 or so and I have everything from 0.5 to infinity in focus! If I want to auto focus I half press then press, if I want snap focus I simply full press. That system is simply deadly. I told you this camera gets out of your way, this is one of reasons why, you don't think about settings, you just focus on shooting, if they have to change you can do so extremely fast because of shortcuts.
Handling and operation Speed
The Streets don't wait for you , you are either ready or you are not. The Ricoh GRD IV has legendary handling, and while it is a bit slow from pressing the shutter release to actually taking the picture, it makes up for it in speed of operation. There's a time that you know the camera so well that you can change settings without looking. Turning it on takes about a second and it's ready to fire, the way the menus are set up you can change your settings pretty quickly, even flash power. Everything in the operation department is straightforward and simple, what you need is never too far.
If you want to post process your images, good working files are necessary, and the GRD delivers exactly that. I tend to underexpose to recover later, and with my GRD there is always enough information to play around with. Most people want to punch up their images in terms of contrast and other areas, the GRD's RAW files deliver, just look at the image on the top. They even handle overexposure and underexposure very well. If you want to know a little secret, these street photography presets have been designed Ricoh GRD files!
Ricoh GRD IV Street Photography Conclusion
The GRD IV, and the whole GR camera line to be exact are really designed FOR street photographers. The GRD IV has been replaced by the Ricoh GR, that has a large sensor. I still prefer the small sensor look, so I still shoot the GRD for street photography even if most street photographers have moved on to better cameras.