The simplest camera is the best camera:
Why I love the RICOH GR II
To me, the RICOH GR II is the ultimate “standalone” digital camera:
1. Super small:
Fits in your front pocket. This means you’ll take the camera anywhere and everywhere you go, which means you will shoot more photos. And the more photos you shoot, the happier you will be!
2. Integrated flash:
I still believe that shooting with a flash is still under-exploited and underrated. I think more photographers would benefit by shooting with a flash.
For example, shooting with a flash opens up so many more photo opportunities for you! When the light isn’t good, you can fill it with the flash!
With a flash, you control the light.
You can use the flash in street photography, still life, portraits; anything!
This is why I see the RICOH GR III as a downgrade from the RICOH GR II (the new version doesn’t have an integrated flash).
My simple proposal for Ricoh:
Make a “RICOH GR IIIF” (a new version of the Ricoh with an integrated Flash).
If you shoot street photography or anything with the RICOH GR II, nobody will take you seriously (which is good). This means nobody will hassle you for taking pictures, because you look like a harmless tourist.
Furthermore, the Ricoh is silent. When John Wick uses a silencer on his pistol, it’s for a good reason. The more silent our camera, the better.
With a silent camera, you can shoot more photos without being detected. This is useful if you want to “work the scene” in street photography without getting interrupted. Or without having your subject notice.
Shoot more macro photos.
The closer you get, the more interesting the world becomes.
For example my street portraits on RICOH GR II are shot in macro mode, often with flash.
Use macro mode for portraits on RICOH, or for photographing textures, still life photos, etc.
I also love the RICOH GR II, because it is the ultimate democratic camera.
You can buy one new for around $500 USD. Almost all of us can afford this camera.
I personally have always loved this idea:
Having the ability to make good photos on a cheap camera.
The Ricoh is the ultimate equalizer in photography. Now nobody can complain that their camera isn’t good enough.
To be frank, I’ve probably taken many better photos on the RICOH GR II when compared to me $7,000 Leica setup.
Thus, if you’re part of the #ricohmafia, you don’t need to be rich. Anyone and everyone can join.
Just shoot it.
And of course, you don’t need to own a Ricoh GR II. Just use any camera.
Technical setup for RICOH GR II
- Shoot in p (program) mode with ISO 1600, center point autofocus.
- For black and white, shoot RAW, and process your photos in Lightroom with ERIC KIM MONOCHROME 1600 preset.
- For monochrome, set your preview to “high contrast black and white” to better visualize your photos.
- When shooting, experiment using -1 exposure compensation. I’ve found the photos look better.
- Experiment with macro mode and flash, and have fun.
Are you part of the Ricoh Mafia?
ANNETTE KIM x HAPTIC: RICOH MAFIA
HAPTIC presents RICOH Mafia ARTWEAR by ANNETTE KIM.
Honor the traditions of the Ricoh–Film GR, GRII Digital, or the upcoming GRIII (What no flash?!) with your very own RICOH MAFIA badge of honor. Complete the Ricoh set with your Eric Kim Wrist Strap or Neck Strap designed for the Ricoh GR.
100% of the proceeds directly supports the artist.
Ricoh GR x Street Photography
FEATURED ARTIST: ANNETTE KIM
Video Interviews with Annette Kim
EQUIPMENT 101 >
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.
- Use and Abuse Your Gear!
- Why RICOH GR II is the Best Street Photography Camera
- The Best Photography/Vlogging Equipment Setup
- My Favorite Travel Street Photography Equipment
- Zen Body-Hand-Mind Connection with the Camera
- Why It Doesn’t Matter What Camera You Shoot With
- What is the Best Camera and Lenses for Street Photography?
- The Best Travel Street Photography Equipment 2018
- 6 Lessons I’ve Learned After Shooting All the Expensive Cameras
- How to Make Good Photos on a Shitty Camera
- Why I Shoot With One Camera and One Lens
- My Travel Equipment, Winter 2017
- What is the Perfect Camera For You?
- What to Consider When Buying a Camera
- The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Smartphone Photography
- Benefits of Shooting Street Photography With a Smartphone
- In Street Photography, The Smaller the Camera, the Better
- Film Street Photography Manual
- What I Learned Shooting 100 Rolls of Black and White Film
- What I Learned Processing 164 Rolls of Film
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.
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.
- Read my review of the Ricoh GR II
Best Equipment by ERIC KIM
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):
My favorite cameras:
Best value digital camera for street photography
Best digital compact camera
Best 3-inch screen protector
For Ricoh GR II: Expert Shield 3” LCD protector ($14)
Best designed mirrorless camera
Best value mirrorless camera
Best digital rangefinder
Best digital video camera
Best SD card
Best fashion digital camera
If you’re new to shooting film, pick up a copy of FILM NOTES.
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
Best medium-format film camera
Fujifilm GF670 (discontinued, find on eBay)
Best black and white film
Best color film
Best film scanner
For medium-format/35mm: Epson v800: $800
For 35mm: Plustek OpticFilm 8100: $270
Best camera shoulder bag
Best camera backpack
Fits 13” Laptop and Camera: Thinktank Perception 15 (black): $120
Best photography neck strap
Best photography wrist strap
Best photography inspiration website
Best photography news blog
Best photography software
Best video editing software
iMovie (free) or Final Cut Pro X ($300)
Best educational photography book
Best black-and-white photography art book
Best color photography art book
Best photography handbook
Best philosophy book
Best digital tools
Any MacBook Air or Pro
Best value phone
iPhone SE (cheapest model): $400
Best android phone
Best value android phone
Best Mac Apps
Best writing app
IA Writer (for writing) + Ulysses (for note-taking)
Best screen recorder
Best image resizer
Best noise-cancelling headphones
Apple Beats X
Darn Tough Socks Merino Wool
Merino Wool Leggings (black)
Best bank / credit card (USA)
Chase / Chase Sapphire credit card
Best entrepreneurial tools
Best blogging platform
Best paid online services
Best cloud storage
Diet & Nutrition
Deadlifts (one rep max) + squats + dumbbell press + chin-ups + pushups
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).
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.