Why the Ricoh GRII is the Best Camera Today

If you’re a photographer like me, then you know the debilitating syndrome that is gear acquisition syndrome, commonly known as G.A.S. I’m sure the old guys here who grew their careers with film will tell you that even they struggled with it when the options for 35mm reached a whole new level. But then digital came.

A rocky start at first for sure, with the traditional name brands struggling to innovate with the new technology, but it caught on fast and grew even faster. Every year, or even every half-year, camera manufacturers were spitting out new models as the technology got better and better. We all got used to upgrading as soon as they did and leaving our old digital bodies in a heap of electronic waste. The options today are astounding; all formats, all brands, and all styles. How do we choose? How do we know what will last and what will be replaced next week? What camera fits our style and methodology of shooting? All questions I’ve asked myself, and questions I’m sure have bounced around your head too. I’ve gone in all directions, from DSLR to film Leicas, Hasselblads, Zorki’s, Pentax’s, Olympus’, Mamiya’s, etc.

Yeah, I told you I was guilty of G.A.S.

And that’s not even counting the digital side of my growth, switching from Canon to Nikon with tons of different lenses, and the Fuji X series.

If you’re caught in that web, spending countless hours on Ebay searching for your next camera, browsing blogs (this one?) and reviews of your next purchase, then let me save your wallet a lot of pain. Buy the best digital camera on the market and just shoot.

You probably just rolled your eyes; “the best? I can’t afford the best. Besides, the best camera is the one you have with you. It’s the photographer not the camera!” [Rolls eyes extensively].

Be honest. Can you take a photo without a camera? Nope. Then the camera does matter. So get the best one, after all, it’s only 550–600$.

Yup.

I, too, have spent thousands of dollars in the quest for the best, only to realize the Ricoh GRII is the best I have ever used.

Ricoh GRII compared to a Leica M3

The original reason I got the Ricoh stemmed from a trip to Rio de Janeiro I had recently taken with my two film Leica’s. I photographed gangs and drug usage in various favelas and found that bringing the camera to my eye was actually quite threatening and intimidating for the subjects. Even though a Leica is supposedly the most discrete camera (it’s not). So, I decided I wanted a digital compact that could keep up while outputting amazing quality. 
 The camera arrived. I was not overly impressed. I mean, it looked super unimpressive (actually a strength that I would later realize), it was small, boxy, and “it didn’t have a full-frame sensor!”

So, I shot some stuff around the house, enjoyed it for what it was, and went back to the Nikon’s as my workhorse set -up. I took it to a concert just for fun once and the venue/ band didn’t allow cameras. The lady checking bags looked at my Ricoh and said “mmmmm” while she looked at me uncertainly, so I returned with “but it’s small” and she agreed, proceeding to let me pass. Ok, this thing is cool; DSLR quality in a camera that looks like a Chinese Canon knock-off. Perfect. It started growing on me.

I then took it with me to the Democratic Republic of Congo with my two Nikon bodies. Admittedly, the Nikon’s got the most use simply because everything got knocked around quite a bit and I wasn’t too sure how the little Ricoh would hold up to that abuse; but, this is when my love affair truly began.

OOC JPEG in the DRC

The lens is sharp. Clinically sharp. Leica sharp. All the while being the size of a pinky fingertip. There is very little distortion at all for being such a small 28mm equivalent lens. The colors are amazing (better than the Fuji X-Trans colors, in my opinion) and the files are very workable in Lightroom (another bonus compared to X-Trans). But the technical aspects aren’t the whole reason this is the best camera, it’s the whole package. Ricoh did it right. While all the other manufacturers were squeezing out a new model every 6 months with all the bells and whistles that can be fit in to a plastic lump, Ricoh sat back quietly and waited for the right time. I can just imagine the small conference room when it all happened;

“Yo, remember that little point and shoot 35mm we made in the 90’s? Let’s just make that again with the new tech.”

And they did it. They did it right. Unlike Leica who is still struggling in the digital world to find the right trust-fund kids to throw down 7 grand for just a body. That’s like, almost 13 Ricoh’s.

So here it is, here is why the Ricoh is the best camera on the market today (unless you like birds n’ stuff). It can go everywhere and it will never get in your way. Take all of the pretentious Leica adverts talking about size, silence, decisive moments, and extension-of-your-eye bull and apply them to a camera that actually fits the bill; all for half the cost of a DSLR with the same sensor. I know those afflicted with G.A.S need a lot of convincing, so that’s what I’m doing here. No camera is perfect for everything, and that’s not what I’m getting at. What I’m saying is, the Ricoh is the best universal everyday life camera. Nothing beats it in that department. You’re in your 60’s and want to retire watching birds through a Canon 1D whatever? Perfect.

Coffee harvesting and processing in Colombia. ISO 3200.

The Ricoh will never have a 600mm reach. For everything else, for what photography is meant to be at it’s core, the Ricoh is the best camera. You won’t miss that DSLR, and your wallet won’t be missing 6,500$ more for that Leica.

Colombia.

Does it feel like a Steinway? Nope. It feels more like effortlessly making a photo without the pretentious wall between you and your subject.
Try it out, shoot it enough, and you’ll fall in love. 
[Not a Ricoh ad][Not paid for this][Still a broke 22 year old]