The Ricoh GXR is a great camera for street photography. Here are my impressions having shot street with all of the lens modules besides the P10 and the zoom so slow it shall not be named.
So. Why would one consider the GXR for street photography? I'll give you a few reason:
- The GXR is the only mirrorless camera that has snap focus. The other ones are the pocket cameras like the Ricoh GR and GRD. When you set the camera to full press snap, you can change the focusing mechanism on the fly. If you press the shutter release completely, it will prefocus at a certain distance that you set (like 1m), but if you half press like any other camera, it will focus like normal. Nothing beats full press snap for hail Mary shots.
- I handles like a charm. I've spent years reviewing cameras and the Ricoh GXR has one of the best handling in cameras. You need this while in the streets. Not only to be able to twist and turn, but also to change settings easily. The GXR has 2 dials ready for easy setting changes.
- That viewfinder is awesome. It not only swivels, but when you shoot with your head down (looking at the viewfinder), your camera is actually lower, making for interesting shots
- Save that zoom module, everything is pretty darn light. At some point I had 3 GXRs in a small sling bag
Best Street Photography modules
So…which modules should you get for street-shooting? Here's some suggestions:
The Ricoh S10 is better for street photography than the P10. The sensor size of the S10 is 1/1.7 so the same as the Ricoh GRD IV. If you used the GRD IV, the f2.5 will feel a bit slow but on the other hand, you have a zoom. It's pretty compact and great for street shooting.
Ricoh A12 28mm
The 28mm is the module to get for street photography because most street photographers prefer the 28mm focal length. It's pretty slim compared to the 50mm, but it has an APSC sensor. Most of the images on this page have been made with the 28mm.
Ricoh A12 50mm
This one is better used for portraits. Some people like to hit the streets with the nifty fifty, but I just pulled it out for portraits.
Here is one portrait made with the GXR 50mm:
Ricoh M mount
Yeawee. I had a lot of work done with the M mount…until I crashed my drive (backup, kids!). I had a bunch of Voigtlander 1.4 lenses and they worked like a dream, the combination between the lack of Anti Aliasing filter made focus peaking super easy with the GXR, and I was never scarred I wasn't in focus even at 1.4. The handling of the GXR is already pretty darn solid and manually focusing with the other hand worked extremely well.
All of the images on this page have been processed with these presets.
Ricoh GXR Street Photography: How is it?
The GXR body never changes, so the experience of street photography changes depending on the module you use. I didn't shoot much with the S10, not much street with the 50mm. I shot a lot with the M Mount. It is an amazing way to shoot street photography with it. Your left hand deals with the focusing and your right hand sits comfortably well on the right side. You could either preset your focus on the lens, but the really sweet deal is the focus peaking coupled with the M mount's sharpness. You can be in the streets and you see where your focus will land easily with this.
The other module I shot most with is the 28mm. It's pretty compact so it doesn't attract major attention, and can fit into a small bag easily. The lens is a relatively fast 2.5mm and more importantly the focus is fast too. All of the images before have been made like that, simply point and shoot. Because it's fast and light you can move around your camera (tilt and swivel) pretty darn easily making getting some odd shots easier to get. For all the time shooting street, no one ever gave my camera a second look when it had the 28mm on, so it's awesome to just shoot without having “photographer” written in your forehead.
The megapixel is a respectable 12mpx and they hold pretty nicely to this day. It fails when it comes to low light however, so unless you are planning to use flash, when the light drops and f2.5 won't cut it, the images get grainy REALLY fast. Under the right circumstances that grain has a certain charm to it, just look at the previous image, in the area with the neon light. But under other circumstances when there is no light, it's just plain ugly, see for yourself:
Ricoh GXR Street Photography conclusion
There you have my impressions of doing street with the Ricoh GXR. The handling is legendary, and a joy to use. I recommend the M mount for it along with the 28mm. Alternatively if you like the 50mm focal length or small sensors, then the A12 50mm and the S10 module. If you are capable, a killer setup is the GXR+M mount+Voigtlander and a Ricoh GR for that 28mm.
If you are reading this, you are interested in street photography, right? Then check out the street photography magazine I publish monthly and my street photography book and course. Everything I know is in that last one, and was made with a veteran streetshooter.