Once upon a time I loved shooting with long telephoto lenses. Looking at a landscape and then pulling out a detail. Or shoot a landmark from far away.
Now I prefer wide-angle and I love to get as close as I can. My Nikon 24-120 VR, not the best lens around, has become my main lens. I also own a 35-105 Nikon, better optics, but I don’t use it that much.
My Nikon lenses are not fast glass at all. I do own a few f2.8 primes and a f1.8 50mm but that’s it. I’ve been on the lookout for a 24 or 28 Nikon lens but they don’t come cheap. And I do not have a full frame digital Nikon so the 24 or 28 will be 1,5x due to the crop factor.
A fast 24mm or 28mm for my Olympus OMD would set me back 600€+
A few days ago I was browsing trough a zillion shots I made when I temporarily lived in Antwerp. That was 7 to 6 years ago and I took most of my shots with a Canon G10. I loved that camera and I had it on me all the time. It did not have fast glass and it was only a small sensor but, well, for small prints the camera delivered.
Then it broke and I replaced it with an Olympus EPM-1 and after a while with the OMD-M10. I like the camera but for some reason it is rarely my first choice.
After some deep soul-searching I came to the conclusion I was in the market for a small yet powerful compact camera. I added the idea of a fixed lens, preferably a 24 or 28mm, and did some searching on the net. The camera would also need to be a good performer in low-light situations.
It became very soon clear to me the Ricoh GR II would be the ideal camera for me. Not to replace the Nikons, digital or analogue or the Olympus kit, digital or analogue, but as a whole new way of seeing and thus photographing.
I almost changed my mind when I read about the Fuji X70.
Why the GR II?
It feels great in my hands and operating the camera feels very natural. I can operate it with one hand yet it has enough options to offer enough latitude to experiment. Small, black and unobtrusive.
It fits in the back pocket of my jeans and when the camera is off the lens is retracted.
The Fuji X70 did not feel good in my hands and looked too much “bling bling”. I don’t need all the software filters this camera has.
After an hour in the woods and having shot some 80 photographs I can say I like the Ricoh GR II very much. Focus is quick, access to the main futures of the camera easy. The images are razor-sharp as the camera has not anti alias filter. Having a moving lcd screen would have been nice but I didn’t really miss it.
The DNG-files offer enough data to correct and adjust the image. I tried the build-in b&w filters and they are great but I prefer converting in post-processing.
I need to get used to shooting with a fixed 28mm lens though, as the approach to your subject, any subject, is different.
This is the camera I’ll be taking with me on the street photography workshop next week.
I am curious how this camera will find a place in my photography and how my vision will be impacted by limiting myself to a fixed wide-angle lens.