What a camera. I have been looking for a tiny pocket-sized camera ever since I started getting into street photography. It started after watching BBC's The Genius of Photography series. I was blown away after hearing Joel Meyerowitz talk about his relationship with street photography. After that, I started following along with the adventures of Eric Kim, reading about Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson. I was really getting into this whole idea of capturing the candid moments that are happening out there - in the cities, towns and communities around me. After realizing that taking photos in the street is a fairly obvious activity when you are hauling around a big DSLR and pointing it at people, I decided to do my research and invest in a pocket-sized point and shoot that had some agility, subtlety and most importantly, great glass.
Before I get to the photos, here are some of the specific reasons I chose the Ricoh GRD 4
- It has a wide lens (28mm equivalent on a 35mm camera)
- It has a fast lens f/1.9
- The controls are very thoughtfully laid out
- It is very concealable
- The shutter is almost silent
- Snap Focus! the push of a button, you can snap the focus to any preset focal distance (this is part of the agility factor I mentioned above)
- Pretty much all the reviews are extremely positive
So without further ado, here are the results of me putting this little beauty of a camera through its paces. This camera is known for its ability to perform on the streets but it is just as great in other non-populated places like out in the country or at the beach.
So for my street photography-inspired set, don't expect 5th Avenue NYC - this is a healthy dose of some good old honest, small town Nova Scotia street scenes. Some great places to practice street photography in small towns are parades, Farmers' Markets, County Fairs or any other big community events. These are the things that inspire me to get out there with my camera. Gotta love these folks.
Most of the good things have been mentioned but I love the fact that I can carry around a camera with a fast, sharp wide prime lens in my pants pocket. This camera has taken ME out on walks because it is fun to use and gives you great results. The colours you get out of it are lively and vivid (and I have only been using it on the 'Standard' colour setting). I was pleasantly surprised with the Macro mode on the GRD 4. The sharpness plus the great shallow depth of field at f/1.9 makes for some lovely images.
High iso performance is a bit lacking which is forgivable for a camera with a relatively small sensor. I try to keep it in the low range of by setting it to auto-iso with a max of 400. If I'm losing light and still need to have a fast shutter speed, I'll set the max iso up to 800. I don't love the results on iso 1600 but have never really had a need to use it that high. One 'silver' lining is that at iso-800, I have been converting the photos to black and white and absolutely love the look I can get. Very film-y ^_^ The other thing that takes a DSLR person some getting used to is the lack of optical viewfinder. It is kind of weird at first framing shots with the LCD but I hope to get a 28mm optical viewfinder to pop into the hot-shoe so I can turn off the LCD... This brings me to my last point in the not-so-good section which is battery life. There is a lot going on inside of this camera and since you have to use the LCD to frame your shots, that means it is on all the time. I think this might be the thing that is draining the battery so quickly. I can get a solid afternoon of snapping photos but that's about it so be sure to invest in a couple more batteries if you plan on taking this camera on a photo-safari.
I would highly recommend this camera to anyone who wants to have a small, agile camera that they can bring anywhere. It is a little pricier (~$600 CAD) than some other similar RAW shooting compact cameras but I think it is well worth it.