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Ricoh GR1

Review by John McCormack, 1997


The GR1 is a $400 shirt-pocket-sized point-and-shoot camera with a fast fixed 28mm lens. It offers significantly more control than a standard P&S camera at substantially less price and weight than "snob P&S" cameras.

Great Things About This Camera

  • All the mode and flash setting except T (Bulb) and self-timer remain engaged after power off.
  • The shutter is release priority, not focus priority; it will fire regardless of the focus or aperture settings.
  • If you want the control, you get aperture-priority autoexposure mode with +/- 2 f-stops of exposure compensation.
  • SNAP Mode, which locks the focus at the hyperfocal distance. Great for street photography.
  • Fixed Focus Mode, which locks the focus at a user-selected distance.

Flash

The GR1 has the usual wimpy P&S flash. Its guide number is only 7 (with ISO 100 film) due to the necessity of covering the field of view of the 28mm lens. There is an unusual flash out of distance warning system that works well.

In aperture priority with the flash ON, the flash goes into a slow synch. setting, sort of like a night flash mode on other cameras. If the camera is set for AUTO flash in aperture priority mode it maintains a shutter speed floor of 1/30 of a second or so.

I've gotten good results using a slave flash sold by Ritz Camera in the US for about $20. It's about the size of a pack of cigarettes and comes with a removable, ratcheting foot and velcro strap, so you can mount it almost anywhere and in any position or just hand hold it. Powered by two AAA batteries, it fires when the camera's flash goes off. I don't recall the Guide Number, probably about 6 or 7, but enough for the purpose intended. I usually place it on a bookshelf about 6 to 6 1/2' up and angled at 45 degrees to knock down shadows on group shots and boost the on-camera flash. Mounting on a tripod leg also works. Pentax has also recently (1/98) introduced a similar mini slave flash called the ExtraFlash with a GN of 10 with ISO 100 film.

Controls

Ergonomics are just about perfect. I carried the GR1 around Arizona on horseback and on day hikes in a shirt pocket or a belt pack with no problem. Shooting (pictures) one-handed from horseback was a good test. I'm still amazed at the small size of the GR1. I carry it everywhere.

Aperture settings and the Program Mode are selected with a dial on top of the camera. Settings can be made quickly with your thumb in half stops from f/2.8 to f/22. The layout is clear, settings are click stopped, and they don't move off their mark.

Exposure compensation can be set in half stops from +2 to -2 EV. It's simple to use by turning a dial on top of the camera. The settings are visible all the time and don't change when the camera is off. This is the only way to override the DX'd ISO of the film. I usually expose print film at +1 EV as this gives the pictures a bit more contrast and detail in the shadows. Also, labs can correct for overexposed print film much easier, especially shots taken in fluorescent lighting.

Nits

It is difficult to see the shutter speed readout in the viewfinder in bright sunlight. However, since AF and exposure are locked when the shutter is pressed down halfway, you can also turn the camera toward the shade or the ground to see the readouts, then recompose and take the shot if the exposure is suitable, or take another reading or set exposure compensation accordingly. You can also place your left forefinger over the left edge of the viewfinder while continuing to look through the it. This will shade the side and the shutter speed readout will become clearly visible.

The passive autofocus system has difficulty with subjects that lack distinct vertical lines. Here's a tip to get around this problem: if the AF fails to find and lock on a vertical line, tilt the camera left or right at an angle (30-45 degrees). The AF will then lock onto a horizontal line, which the camera AF systems perceives as vertical. Just make sure the AF locks onto the distance you want. Works every time. Passive AF is still the best method for focusing on distant objects.

Turning on the "red-eye reduction" mode requires pushing two button at once, which is a bit inconvenient, but I rarely use this feature. The red-eye reduction works as well as can be expected.

The On/Off switch is a little too easy to engage. The camera came on once while packed inside a soft case inside a daypack, apparently when the pack was moved. This hasn't happened since I bought a durable Tamrac belt case. The camera will automatically power off after five minutes.

Manual Errors

Here is an error in the GR1 user manual on page 19. The manual indicates that the focus symbols flash when the camera is unable to focus. This is incorrect. The focus marks or brackets ([ ]) blink, not the symbols. Check the Popular Photography test and you'll see confirmation of a spot meter option. Try a point light source in a dark environment and you'll see the dramatic drop off in sensitivity in the spot AF mode. I think the manual/brochure lost something in the translation from Japanese. If you look at the diagram in the brochure (call 1-800-225-1899 if you don't have one) where the sensitivity is depicted in a diagram, you'll also see that it has a spot option while they verbally say center-weighted. I also find the instruction manual short on its description of how the flash operates in aperture priority mode as compared to the flash in program mode.

Make sure that a 28mm lens is right for you

A 28mm lens is the classic wide angle focal length. It is about as wide as you can get without obvious distortion. This makes it good for capturing a whole room from one corner, for showing an item in an landscape plus the background, for street photography, and for environmental portraits (subject + environment). It is not a good focal length for head-and-shoulders portraiture.

Here's how Popular Photography rated the lens:

f/number CENTER EDGE
2.8 Very Good Very Good
4 Excellent Very Good
5.6 Outstanding Very Good - Plus
8 Outstanding Excellent
11 Outstanding Excellent
16 Very Good - Plus Very Good
22 Good - Plus Good

Using a Closeup Lens

I experimented with using closeup lenses (diopters) with the GR1. The GR1 doesn't have filter threads, but it is possible to use diopters by locking the AF in Macro mode by holding down the shutter release half way and holding a large diopter (I use a 58mm because that's what I have) in front of the lens before releasing the shutter, preferably with the self-timer engaged and using a tripod. You must focus first or the AF will be fooled by the extra lens. The results using Hoya single element diopters were acceptable, but when I tried using a Canon 250D double element lens the results were disastrous - all the images were out of focus. I suspect the greater thickness of the Canon glass caused the lens to focus at the default range of 6.5 feet.

Carrying Case

Rather than buy the Ricoh carrying case for the GR1, I got a Tamrac belt case ("Mini Traveler") for about $10. I settled on the Tamrac because it seemed to allow quick access to the camera with fairly good protection and a velcro closure rather than a zipper; zippers are harder to open, especially in cold weather if you're wearing gloves. The outside measurements are 5 1/4" x 3 1/2" by 1 3/4". The case fits on your belt with the camera in a vertical position. The case is slightly larger than the camera so I glued a 3/4" by 1/2" x 5" piece of open cell foam down the inside to add a bit more cushioning. Works great. Tamrac also makes a small neoprene case under the NEO's label. They are very nice and a good choice if you want neoprene rather than a hard nylon case. Lowe makes a case identical to the Tamrac, except that it has an extra inside watertight 'pocket' with a string tie on top. Okay for really bad conditions, but overkill for me.

Yashica T4 Super vs. GR1

I own a Yashica T4 Super (weatherproof) and still use it in situations where I wouldn't take the GR1, such as canoeing. The T4 lens is very sharp and maybe - maybe - as good as the GR1 for snap shooting.

Specification T4 Super (aka T5) GR1
Lens 35mm

Zeiss *T* f/3.5

28mm

Ricoh GR f/2.8

Lens Material Glass -? Glass
Lens Elements 4, 3 groups 7, 4 groups
Shutter Speeds - in Program 1s-1/700 2s-1/500
Weight Without Battery 7.5 oz 6.1 oz
Shirt Pocket Test Barely fits Room to spare
Weatherproof Yes No
Ergonomics Good Outstanding
Exposure Compensation No Yes (+/-2 EV)
Shutter Speeds - in

Aperture Priority

N/A

N/A

N/A

from f/2.8-f/8 2-1/250

f/8 2-1/325

f/16 2-1/500

Spot Meter No Yes (exact coverage area unknown)
Metering Quality Excellent Excellent
Hyperfocal Mode No Yes (in SNAP at f/13)
Slow Synch Flash Yes Yes
"Bulb" Setting No Yes
Battery Type One CR123A 3V

Lithium

One CR2 3V

Lithium

Battery Life Claim (50 % flash use) 480 shots 300 shots
Auto Power Off No Yes - after

five minutes

Body Plastic Metal (die-cast magnesium alloy)
General Size and Feel Very Good Excellent
Manual Focusing No No
Manual Metering No No
Shutter Priority No No
Aperture Priority No Yes
Program Mode Yes Yes
Film Loading Winds to first frame Prewinds to last frame
DX Settings 50-3200 25-3200
Manual DX Setting No No
Flash Power Good Adequate
Flash Guide Number (ISO 100) 9 7
Flash Range (ISO 100) .35m - 3m (1.1 - 9.5ft.) .35m - 2.5m (1.1 - 8.2 ft.)
Flash Out of Range

Warning

No Yes
Red Eye Reduction Yes Yes
Focus Type Active Passive
Focus Zones 160 2,925
Wide Beam Focus Yes Yes
"Shutter Lag" Yes No
Spot Focus No Yes
Spot Metering No Yes
Low Light Focus Assist Beam No Yes
Low Light Viewfinder Illumination No Yes
Unable to Focus Warning Yes Yes
Focus Lock Yes Yes
Automatic Backlight

Compensation

Yes Yes
Auto Parallax Correction No Yes (two sets)
Self Timer Yes Yes
Infinity Lock Yes Yes
Viewfinder Bright Bright
2nd Viewfinder Yes (waist level type) No
Viewfinder LCD Good Poor in bright light
Good in dim light
Filter Threads No No

Other Reviews/Info

An extensive review of the GR1 can be found in the January, 1997, issue of Popular Photography magazine (page 20). Other reviews are available in Amateur Photographer, 30 November 1996: 3 page review; Amateur Photographer, February 8, 1997: Compact Camera of the Year; Buying Cameras, short review.


Article created 1997

Readers' Comments


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James Rosenzweig , September 15, 1998; 04:51 P.M.

The June 1998 issue of Popular Photography has a comparison test of the Nikon 28Ti, Minolta TC-1 and the Ricoh GR1. The test is comprehensive and comparative in detail. See page 78 of that issue. Bottom line...three superlative lenses. Three superb cameras with the GR1 taking the prize because, "Flexibility, user friendliness, intelligent design have to rank high in any ranking. And here there is a clear winner. The Ricoh GR1 was obviously designed by someone who enjoys taking pictures."

Paul Wilson , October 06, 1998; 06:18 P.M.

John has written a good review of a good camera. However, all is not perfect. My GR1(which is about 1.25 years old and has had maybe 25 rolls of film through it) broke. I could here the motor turning to advance the film but nothing was happening. From the sound of the motor, which was different from normal, a gear or belt must have broken.

Out of all the cameras I've ever owned(3 Nikon SLRs, a Mamiya 6, a Pentax 67 and a Canonet), this is the first one that's ever broken. It's at Ricoh now but if it breaks again it's getting sold and I'm goint to get the Nikon 28ti or 35ti.

Noel Camron Hastings , October 18, 1998; 05:26 A.M.

I have tested the Ricoh GR-1 against many other point and shoots, such as the Minilux, 35 and 28Ti, Rollei Prego 90, and others. The Richo GR-1 is a very sharp, easy to use camrea, but I noticed that the lens was significantly more magenta than the others. Enough so to bother me. Has anyone else had this problem?

Stephen C. Murphy , March 28, 1999; 05:14 A.M.

I just bought a GR-1 from B&H. They give you $5 off of 2nd day shipping if you mention that you heard about the discount on their website.

After putting about 6 rolls throught the camera, I like the GR-1, but I wish it had a manual mode, although the spot metering mode is adequate for many tricky situations. Also I wish it indicated shutter speeds lower than 1/30 in the finder (it just flashes "30" for any speeds slower than 1/30). With a 28mm lens conventional wisdom says that lowest handheld speed should be approx 1/30 to avoid camera shake, but it makes a big difference if the slower speed is 1/15 or a full second! With a little care 1/15 is doable, but you never know just how much below 1/30 the camera has selected. As a stop-gap I re-meter the scene with exposure compensation on to see if it is within 2 stops of 1/30, but this is a pain.

Overall, the GR-1 finally gives me the flexibility I had with my Olympus XA 19 years ago, plus auto focus. Oh, B&H sells a "kit" for $15 more that includes a nice leather case, and extended warranty. The leather case has a belt loop and a velcro cover--sort of like a cell-phone holster. This arrangement turned out to be wonderful. I would forget I had the camera with me but I could have it out in a split second. This was even more convenient than having the camera in a pocket.

Paul Rubin , May 30, 1999; 11:28 P.M.

I got a GR1 recently and love its feel and ergonomics but I find its AF to be a pain. I don't understand the purpose of passive AF in a camera like this. It's a 28mm lens--the best way for the camera to focus on distant objects (out of range of active IR AF, meaning beyond about 20 feet) is to simply set the focus at infinity. I'm a bit frustrated with the GR1 because I've gotten several out-of-focus pictures per roll, and I hardly ever get out-of-focus pictures with an active-AF camera. I can probably do better with the GR1 by being more careful with the AF, and might try that when I get back to the GR1 (right now I'm shooting with a Canon Elph Jr.). But point-and-shoots aren't supposed to require such care, so the AF is the GR1's main shortcoming. Results otherwise have been excellent.

hal kar , May 31, 1999; 05:43 P.M.

I took the GR1 with me on a 6 month long trip. This is the only P&S I have owned that can handle slides well. The accuracy of the built in meter was a concern, but turned out to be an unfounded one. I am very impressed by the quality of the lens. I believe one of the reasons for the superior quality of the lens is due to a strange assembly method Ricoh uses. Each lens element is individually measured and graded. Assuring that each lens group assembled is as close to the theoretical design as possible. I am not sure how much of a role the aspheric surfaces play in making this lens so good. Whatever the rewson, the lens is UNBELIEVEABLE. With the new prices hovering around $350, this camera is a steal. I have put over 100 rolls of film into my GR1 and it is still going strong. The magnesium shell is also very forgiving with scratches (silver body). The scratches are initially shiny, then in a few days, they turn darker in color (oxidation) and blend in with the textured surface. Kind of bizzarre but adds to the appeal of the camera. I have used the fixed focus setting quite a few times, this minimizes the time lag, good for timing critical shots. I also love the flash off setting that remains off until I change it. This is an unusual P&S that actually does not assume the user is a moron. The program mode is slightly strange, it does not open up the lens to 2.8 very quickly, instead favouring 4.0 until the eposure times are fairly long. But it is fun to set the F stop manually, I feel more in control of the final result. I wish there was a 90mm. f2.8 version of this little gem. That would be all I need for travelling light.

Colin Wan , July 05, 1999; 11:24 P.M.

The GR1s model - modifications to the GR1:

a) the display panel is illuminated in a pleasant shade of green. This function activates when you need it ie. when youfre playing with a setting which doesnft have a dial (the aperture and exposure compensater) or a switch (the flash).

b) the soft case, has a piece of plastic sandwiched in the material where the gon/offh switch rests, when the camera is sitting inside making it difficult to accidentally switch the camera on.

c) filters.When you buy the GR1s you get a lens hood which weighs a few grams. It attaches to the GR1s by way of a few threads on the inside camera lens surround. The filters have normal threading whereas the ring attachment has normal threading (for the filter) and the special thread which matches the one on the inside lip of the lens surround.Threads on the inside of the filters allow them to be attached to one another There are five: 1) MC-1B 2) MC YA2 orange 3) 6X CROSS 4) MC ND4 5) PL polarizing filter.

--------------------------------------------------

Stephen Pickering , December 21, 1999; 11:19 A.M.

I bought a GR1 recently after reading as much about it as I could find. I thought I knew what to expect from the camera, but after the first film I was surprised to discover two things that I have never seen mentioned before.

First is that the metal surrounding the viewfinder eyepiece is very abrasive to plastic spectacle lenses. My coated lenses were badly marked after taking about 20 pictures. I stuck black PVC electrical insulating tape around the eyepiece which stopped the marking but which doesn't improve the appearance of the camera.

Second is the amount of light fall-off in the corners of the pictures. This is the worse I have ever seen on a camera in this price class and it is bad at all apertures. The results I got on slide film when there was blue sky in the picture were just unacceptable. After using a Yashica T4 satisfactorily for several years I was really shocked by these results.

Having said these things I still get a lot of pleasure using the camera. It is wonderfully compact, the lens is sharp, the ergonomics are good and the aperture priority provides the control I missed on the T4.

T T , October 01, 2000; 12:19 P.M.

Ricoh has announced a Ricoh GR21 coming. A GR1 with a 21mmlens, more at: <http://www.ricohcamera.com/gr21eng.htm>

That may be too wide for everyday usage, but it may suite some people..

salvador c , January 12, 2001; 05:00 P.M.

As a photojournalist, I am quite pleased with a camera i researched through your website, which was the konica hexar. I loved it. I bought the classic version with the silent mode. This feature has been such a benefit in my line of work. I am now looking for another camera which incorporates a wider but just as superb a lense. I have come across this camera in my research: the GR1s seems all I need in given situations, but I would like you to rate the quietness or loudness of the camera in its regular functions. please respond ASAP. I have always come to your site to research, educate myself, and drool over cameras. Please keep up the good work. If any users of this camera have comments, please post or email me...

Josef Swaney , February 25, 2001; 06:19 A.M.

I just bought a GR1s from Robert White in Feb 01 (plus polarizer and skylight filters). To answer the question, no, this camera isn't silent! It's actually the loudest body I have, and quite a bit louder than the Epic Stylus which has previously served the "carry all the time in my pocket" role. It does pre-wind the film out of the canister, then wind back in as you shoot so there's no sudden prolonged noisy rewinding after you take the last shot on a roll, but I certainly wouldn't rate it as a quiet winding camrea by any means. Having said that, I love it!

Wee Keng_Hor , February 26, 2001; 11:03 A.M.

This my first P&S camera. Had a long debate over T5 and GR1s. Decided on the T5 as it is so much cheaper, out of production and the superscope. Although I very much would like to have control over exposure, I guess I don't need it for p&s.
But wheh I was at the shop looking at the T5 and GR1s, I immediate fell in love with GR1s. It looks so much better than the T5! And so here I am with the GR1s. (I don't mind getting the T5 later for its sueprscope and 35mm Carl Zeisslens).
I have now shot serveral test rolls of slides. Operation is smooth. Instruction booklet is too brief. I've managed to have 1 roll processed and am satisfied with the result. The other rolls will provide better pictures to test the quaility of the lens.
The attached file is scanned using HP Photosmart at 2400 dpi. I've not done any sharpening nor resizing. See the results for yourself.
See my folder for samples pictures taken with the camera.

Image Attachment: ricoh-test.jpg

Scott Baldo , March 01, 2001; 11:00 P.M.

Don't wait too long to buy that T5 if you are serious. Yashica won't make it much longer.

Also, I have had good results using all but Agfa films in my GR1. The resulting Agfa-based prints come out 'way too magenta, so I try to use Kodak Royal Gold or BW Select 400+ in the GR1.

Michael Heath , May 27, 2001; 04:30 P.M.

My GR1 seems to have broken a gear and does not advance the film. Anyone know where I can send it for repair? I hope the discontinuation of this model (in the U.S. at least) does not mean I can't get it serviced.

David Fung , May 31, 2001; 12:48 A.M.

I recently took the GR1s and a G1 outfit around the world with me for about 3 months. Personally, I think that the GR1s is best point and shoot camera I have used. The functions is just the right, and everything seems to work wonderfully. The pictures are really very sharp, close to the Zeiss optics. The fall off around the corners, only noticed it in a few photos, maybe 2% or so. But the lens shade will probably help that.

The build quality of the camera is excellent, it has a great feel, a tactile response, and I have heard a story of someone dropping the camera a few times. But again, that is just a story. In my opinion, the GR1 is good because.

  • Small, and light.
  • Great lens, very little distortion, great colour, and good at controlling flare.
  • Handles very well. Can use it all in one hand, quite easily.
  • Cheap. You get the highest quality optics, but you don't have to pay Leica or Zeiss prices.
  • Aperture priority and spot metering. You probably won't find both of these in some SLR's. Great for controlling exposure, especially with trannies.

The bad things about this camera are its really stupid on and off switch. Why don't they employ one with more positive feedback? Lack of data imprint on the negative. Information such as aperture, exposure compensation and shutter speed. Larger view-finder.

But all in all, the Ricoh is probably a great camera to complement any photographer's gear, pro or not. It is a great camera to keep with you are all times. I am looking forward to the GR21, but it was significantly more than the GR1s. My wish is that Ricoh would bring out the the same quality optics in a 50mm version, and may be moderate zoom.

Patrik Skolling Möller , September 20, 2001; 06:42 A.M.

I have had this camera for awhile now, the RICOH GR1s. The first serious shoot out I made was during our honeymoon in Greece at the island of Skithos in June 2000. I used reala and overexposed it for 1/2 step in order to get more punchy pictures. (I usually overexpose by 1/3 of a step with my pro gear, EOS 1N).

I develop it and print it at a AGFA prolab in Stockholm. The result were just astonishing ! Most of the pictures turned out so super sharp even though it is a bit less contrasty than my EF lenses sometimes. "Looks like postcards" as another reviewer once said somewere on the net.

I use CANON L-zooms 28-70 2,8 and 70-200 4,0.The EF 85 1,8 and EF24 mm 2,8 primes and besides from the fact that Canon lenses are sometimes too contrasty for sunny days, the pictures produced with GR1s are just as good as those taken with my EF´s ! I really reccommend it. It is fun to be photographing with this little camera. I feel really enthusiastic when I use it. The flash is ok but not very good. It works best in P-mode in daylight closeups- pictures outside, but then it works VERY good !

Buy it! It is made for serious photographers who knows what they are doing.

Regards Patrik Skolling Möller

Halibut . , March 27, 2002; 11:51 P.M.


I bought my GR1 at B&H photo here in NYC. The first one had a problem with the viewfinder and the second one had a broken flash. Now that I have a working one, I'm very happy. I'm surprised, though, at the quality control, as I have heard similar stories about GR1s having problems out of the box.

I'm glad that I persisted in getting one that works. The pics are extremely sharp (even better that the Yashica T4 that it replaced). I loved the T4, but it died after 10 good years and they stopped making them. I like the manual flexibility of the GR1, the 2.8 lens, and the excellent optics. Everyone that sees the snapshots comment on how sharp and vivid they are. Even when scanned to a computer people have commented about the detail.

I was skeptical about the 28mm as I like to do portraits of friends and the kids. But I've quickly learned the beauty of "environmental portraiture".

Photo above is on Ilford 125.

Stefan Magnusson, Tribeca, NYC.

Jun Hong , July 03, 2002; 11:21 P.M.

I got a GR1V this year and I shoot with it on my business trip. the result is good to excellent. It is just for about 400USD when I bought it in China, the little thing never let me down whenever I take it. The color is fullness,sharp and distinguishable.

One thing I will reminder you: it does not prevent high humidity if you bring it to some rain forest. I found some shadow underneath the LCD display, believed to be made by the high humidity for bad wether last month, when I travelled to Shanghai.

But I have not tried to shoot it with a reversal film, if next week I go to visit Beijing, I will try some rolls.

luck shooting!

Image Attachment: lakeview_in_wuhan.JPG

ricardo franca , August 04, 2004; 06:27 A.M.

I have been using a GR1V for over a year now. Though mechanics and built are fine, some design flaws have led me to dislike it in the end.

1. Viewfinder (if you can call it that) - as an SLR user I find the viewfinder so tiny it takes the pleasure out of taking pictures

2. Exposure - images are on the light side, not good for slide film

3. Film winding is too noisy

4. Flare - at first I thought that the supplied hood was there to give it a more pro look but you have no option but to use it as this lens does show a lot of flare

Teun Dijkstra , October 10, 2007; 06:15 P.M.

GR1s

I used a GR1s for four years and was very happy with it. Small, good lens and top (really top) ergonomics. But it broke: all pictures unsharp due to unexplained mechanical lens error. I did not buy a new lens for it but bought a Leica RE for having a non motorised lens.

Ryan Bell , November 06, 2007; 05:46 A.M.

Hi, I would just like to ask all the Ricoh GR1/s owners, how? if they wish to set/change the DX coding different from that, that the canister will code(DX), due to the GR1 lacking a manual ISO setting. I know that this can be chnaged on the GR1v, but a little inconvient for all the people who shoot using bulk rolls of film with the GR1s.

All answers greatly appreciated.

thankyou

Simon Fallon , June 29, 2008; 05:16 P.M.

After reading all I could on the GR1v I recently bought a secondhand one in mint condition. I had high hopes but I have to say that so far I am somewhat disappointed. I agree with all of the negative comments above and I would like to add a couple of my own. Firstly I am annoyed by the 1/250th second top shutter speed in Aperture Priority. True, there is a 500th sec speed, but this is only available in Program mode. This in itself seems crazy, i.e. why cannot this oh-so-useful extra shutter speed be available in AE mode also? I, like many others, shoot mostly ISO 400 neg (Tri X, in my case) and a top speed of 1/250th is distinctly limiting. Secondly, I have serious resrvations about the lens protection blinds which automatically close across the lens when the camera is turned off. Not only do they feel very flimsy (I am reminded of the titanium shutter blinds in my Nikon FM2) but the slightest accidental pressure on them, such as might be caused by slipping the camera into a shirt pocket, results in the blinds partially opening and leaving that famous lens exposed to whatever damage might happen to it. Thirdly, I find the AF simply too crude and dithery. I know this last point has been mentioned before but it seems such a big issue that I feel it merits another minus point. Having said all that, I am used to an Olympus XA, (arguably the most underrated compact ever manufactured) and I know it takes time to adjust to the idiosyncratic foibles of any new camera. There is no doubt that the GR1v is capable of producing excellent results so perhaps it will grow on me.

Renee Boerefijn , September 06, 2009; 07:44 A.M.

Alas, my GR1s broke - again! After about 10 years of great service with one previous repair of the viewfinder, which broke in a fall, the lens mechanism did not work 100% anymore. The consequence of this was that the flash would operate its red-eye reduction flashes, but not the main flash. Apart from this, picture quality did not suffer. Inspite of the 250€ price tag for a replacement lens, I am getting it repaired though.

Meanwhile (for lack of qualified personnel, the repair is taking months), I acquired a 2nd hand Minolta TC-1 (for 250€), which was always my dream camera but beyond budget. Now that I have it, I am impressed, but also want my Ricoh back! There is no question about the build and picture quality, but the TC-1 is no match for the convenience of the Ricoh: the latter has automatic flash, a much better viewfinder, Programme aperture, a sensible dial and menu control of the options for spot, flash etc, and the peace of mind of a rewind system (when loaded, the film is loaded fully forward, then each exposure is rewound into the cartridge). The Minolta on the other hand has a much better lens and manual focus (!). The Ricoh lens can give strong deformation in the corners at short range. The Minolta to me is not a true point-and-shoot, requires a minimum of manual operation, e.g. to switch flash modes (always remember to turn off after day-light corrective use), no Programme aperture, no auto flash mode, is heavier and less stable to hold. The focal distance in the viewfinder is hard to read at medium light. Both have spot correction, manual aperture, and red-eye reduction, and are very solid and light-weight.

So for top quality, go Minolta, for convenience and almost same quality, i.e. the best point-and-shoot: go Ricoh (if you can still find either).

Why don't I go digital? There is no digital compact with a good viewfinder that comes close to these, and also: too much convenience spoils the challenge and fun of making a good picture.


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