I’ve shot with all the cameras in the world, and I can easily say that the RICOH GR II is the best camera for street photography. Why? Let me explain:

First of all, it is nimble, small, and fits in your front pocket. The more often you have your camera with you, the more you will shoot. The more you shoot, the happier you will be!

Secondly, it has a built in flash. That means no stress or worries about having to bring your external flash with you. Having a flash will add an additional emotional and psychological layer to your photos.

Third, the image quality is superb. You honestly won’t need any “better” image quality from any other camera. It packs a big APS-C DSLR sized sensor. The lens and sensor has no anti aliasing filter, which means your photos are sharp as fudge!

Fourth, the monochrome is epic. Shoot RAW and use free ERIC KIM PRESETS to give your photos the timeless, monochromatic bliss type photos.

Fifth, macro mode. You can focus super close to anything, thus you will never miss a photo. Even when shooting on an expensive Leica rangefinder, you’re limited to only .7 meters!

Sixth, the 28mm is good to force you to get close to your subjects. With physical proximity comes emotional proximity!

Seventh, it’s democratic. Pretty much anyone can afford one. So the camera will really prove whether you can make good photos or not based on your skill. Nobody is off limits to making good photos! Great photography is all merit based now; a beautiful digital street photography meritocracy!


Eight, the design is timeless. Like the Leica rangefinder, the design is practically unchanged since its inception! This means they nailed the proportions, design, and aesthetics. The “look” won’t grow old on you; like a classic Porsche car.


Nine, there’s less “upgrade treadmill” with the RICOH GR II. Of course one days there is gonna be a RICOH GR III, but I bet you it won’t be that different. And it doesn’t need to be; that’s why it’s beautiful! I’ve got so much buyers remorse in the past, when I bought a new something, to only have it outdated a few months later.


Ten: you can be a great photographer, today, right now! There’s nothing holding you back. Don’t get suckered by camera companies, blogs, and websites trying to sell you more equipment and gear you don’t “need”. Recognize it’s in the best interests of camera companies to keep you perpetually dissatisfied.


Be bold, brazen and don’t forget our STREET CLUB motto:

JUST SHOOT IT!

ERIC


EQUIPMENT

There is no “perfect” camera. Don’t fall into GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and falsely believe that buying a new camera will make you a better photographer.

If you’re not feeling inspired in your photography, I recommend you to buy books, not gear. Also check out these 75+ Inspirational Photo Books You Gotta Buy. You can also download my free books.

Equipment Articles >

Smartphone Photography >

Film Photography 101 >


My favorite camera for street photography

There is no perfect camera for street photography and everyone’s tastes are different. My favorite camera for street photography is the Ricoh GR II.

1x1.trans Street Photography Camera Game Changer: The Ricoh GRD V
The Ricoh GR II is the best bang-for-the-buck camera for street photography on the market. It has an APS-C sensor (DSLR-sized sensor), a super-sharp 28mm lens (no anti-aliasing filter), and literally fits into your front pocket.

The Ricoh GR II is pretty much the same as the prior Ricoh GR, except it has Wi-Fi built in.

Why do I recommend the Ricoh GR II?

First of all, for street photography you want the smallest, most compact, and inconspicuous camera (that you can always carry with you). I find that with other digital cameras, you end up never carrying them with you 24/7, simply because they are too big. The Fujifilm X100F and digital Leica’s are fantastic tools, but honestly even those cameras are too big to fit in your front pocket.

In street photography, the size of the sensor is also not very important. In-fact, having a non-full frame camera is generally preferable, because you have more depth-of-field in street photography, which is beneficial to “zone-focusing.”

When I shoot with the Ricoh GR II, I generally keep the camera on “P” mode, ISO 1600, and center-point autofocus. I treat it like a point-and-shoot: I simply point and click. This makes me have to think less when shooting, and spend more energy focusing on the composition, framing, and capturing emotion in the photos.

Many photographers bemoan the fact that the Ricoh GR II doesn’t have a viewfinder. Honestly, I feel that viewfinders are a bit overrated — the LCD screen helps you be more creative with your compositions (shooting super-low angle, or a super-high angle), and also helps you photograph your subjects closer (putting a small compact camera close to someone’s face is less intimidating than putting a big DSLR lens into someone’s face).

Also if you want, the Ricoh GR II has a fantastic “snap mode” which allows you to pre-focus to a certain distance (1 meter, 1.5 meters, 5 meters, infinity), which is like zone-focusing on a rangefinder camera. This means when you’re shooting on the streets on a sunny day, you can set your pre-focus to 1.5 meters, ISO 1600, aperture-priority mode in f/8, and take photos that are all sharp and in-focus.

In addition, the Ricoh GR II has the simplest yet comprehensive menu out of any digital camera I’ve used. You can change the function buttons, you can change whether the power lamp is on or off, and everything in the menu is easily searchable. I believe the Ricoh GR II was designed by photographers, not simply by engineers.

The camera is extremely affordable, which means you can save all your hard-earned cash on buying experiences, not stuff. Use that money to travel to a country you’ve always wanted to travel, to buy photography books, and to invest in photography-education (workshops, classes, seminars).

Furthermore, you can charge the camera via USB, which means you don’t need to travel with a bulky battery-charger. As long as you keep the camera off while you’re not shooting on the streets, one battery should last you a full day.

If you end up buying the camera, I recommend picking up a 3” LCD screen protector, shooting in RAW, and using my free Lightroom film simulation presets.


Best Equipment by ERIC KIM

eric kim photographer hanoi portrait by cindy a nguyen
LINDBERG glasses / UNIQLO button-up / UNIQLO jeans-joggers / Nike Flyknight Motion RN

This is a list of my personal favorite equipment in photography, computers, and life:

Of course, this list probably won’t apply to you — but this is advice I would give myself (if I needed to buy stuff):

Cameras

My favorite cameras:

Digital cameras:

eric kim street photography x100f fujifilm-7030

Best value digital camera for street photography

Fujifilm X100F Review // Buy on Amazon for $1300 >

Best digital compact camera

Ricoh GR II Review // Buy on Amazon for $600 >

Best 3-inch screen protector

For Ricoh GR II: Expert Shield 3” LCD protector ($14)

Best designed mirrorless camera

Olympus Pen F (silver): $1200 + Olympus 17mm f/1.8 Lens: $500 //my review

Best value mirrorless camera

Fujifilm XT-2 ($1600) + Fujinon XF23mmF2 WR Lens ($450)

Best digital rangefinder

Leica M10 + Leica 35mm f/2 ASPH Lens

Best digital video camera

Sony A7S II ($2700) + Sony 35mm F2.8 Sonnar ($800)

Best SD card

Transcend 128 GB SD card UHS-3: $73

Best fashion digital camera

Pentax Medium-format digital 645Z ($6500) + Pentax 55mm F2.8 AL ($960) // 7 Lessons I’ve Learned Shooting Fashion Photography For the First Time


Film cameras

If you’re new to shooting film, pick up a copy of FILM NOTES.

eric kim melbourne benjamin thompson
Portrait by Benjamin Thompson // Leica MP + Henri Neck Strap + SF 24D flash + Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron ASPH lens

Best film rangefinder

Leica MP + Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron Lens

Best affordable film rangefinder

Leica M6 + Voigtlander 35mm f/2.5 Lens

Best compact film camera

Contax T3

Best medium-format film camera

Fujifilm GF670 (discontinued, find on eBay)

Best black and white film

Kodak Tri-X 400 (pushed to 1600): $5

Best color film

Kodak Portra 400: $8.50

Best film scanner

For medium-format/35mm: Epson v800: $800

For 35mm: Plustek OpticFilm 8100: $270


Camera accessories

eric kim street photography gfx fujifilm medium format digital-7340

Best camera shoulder bag

SAIGON SATCHEL

Best camera backpack

Fits 13” Laptop and Camera: Thinktank Perception 15 (black): $120

Best photography neck strap

Best photography wrist strap


eric kim street photography x100f fujifilm-7189

Best photography inspiration website

MagnumPhotos.com

Best photography news blog

PetaPixel.com

Best photography software

Adobe Lightroom

Best video editing software

iMovie (free) or Final Cut Pro X ($300)


Books

buy books not gear eric kim

See all my free books.

Best educational photography book

Magnum Contact Sheets

Best black-and-white photography art book

“Exiles” by Josef Koudelka

Best color photography art book

“The Suffering of Light” by Alex Webb

Best photography handbook

Street Notes

Best philosophy book

On the Shortness of Life – Seneca ($8) // 10 Lessons Seneca Has Taught Me.


Best digital tools

Best laptop

Any MacBook Air or Pro

Best tablet

iPad Pro 10.5 inch, 64 gb, space grey

Best phone

iPhone X

Best value phone

iPhone SE (cheapest model): $400

Best android phone

Samsung S8

Best value android phone

OnePlus 3T ($440)


Best Mac Apps

Best writing app

IA Writer (for writing) + Ulysses (for note-taking)

Best screen recorder

Camtasia

Best image resizer

JPEGmini Pro


Audio

eric kim hanoi street photography-0012663

Best noise-cancelling headphones

BOSE QC 35 (black): $350

Best earbuds

Apple Beats X


Apparel

Cindy Project Monochrome-3

Best watch

Casio Men’s F108WH Illuminator Collection Black Resin Strap Digital Watch: $13

Best underwear

ExOfficio Men Boxer Brief (black): $26

Best T-shirt

Outlier NYC Merino Wool T-Shirt

Best socks

Darn Tough Socks Merino Wool

Best shoes

Nike Free Flyknight RN Motion (black/white) // my review

Best pants

Merino Wool Leggings (black)

Best glasses

LINDBERG – Titanium


Finance

eric kim street photography x100f fujifilm-7232

Best bank / credit card (USA)

Chase / Chase Sapphire credit card


Best entrepreneurial tools

Best blogging platform

WordPress.org + Genesis theme (I use the ‘Academy Pro’ theme).


Best paid online services

eric kim street photography gfx fujifilm medium format digital-7360

Best cloud storage

Dropbox (Pro)


Diet & Nutrition

Food

Intermittent fasting — with one big meal a day (only dinner)

Workout

Deadlifts (one rep max) + squats + dumbbell press + chin-ups + pushups


Conclusion

eric kim hanoi street photography-0012576
Hanoi, 2017 // Portrait by Cindy A. Nguyen

Of course this is just a list of stuff that work for me. It probably won’t work for you.

But I got inspired to make this list– because it took me about 10 years to figure out the best equipment for me. And this works for me, and I hope it can help simplify your purchasing decisions (at least in photography and some other details).

Cindy Project Monochrome-12

I’ll continue to do articles and videos related to equipment– because I do believe (up to a certain degree) having the ‘right’ equipment in life makes life easier. But the problem is falling victim to GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) where we are buying stuff for the sake of it (has happened to me).

If you already have a bunch of equipment that works for you– stick with it. But if you need some help, I hope this list helped you.

Always,
Eric

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