Selfie Ricoh

8 Reasons Why the Ricoh GR II is the Best Travel Street Photography Camera

In praise of RICOH GR II for travel and photography:

1. Great in monochrome

RICOH GR II shooting in RAW, with ERIC KIM PRESETS makes for sublime monochrome images. I recommend shooting RAW with a high contrast black and white preview, and also use the flash when you see certain situations or scenarios where it might help (experiment shooting with flash during the day in the sun, when photographing windows, reflections, textures).

2. Lightweight, small, compact

Generally speaking when you’re traveling and shooting street photography, the smaller, lighter, and more compact the camera, the better:

  1. Shooting for longer periods on the streets with less fatigue. Shooting longer means more opportunities for interesting photos. Less fatigue means more vigor when you’re shooting, thus more focus for you to make good photos. If shooting all day, use RICOH GR II with ERIC KIM NECK STRAP.
  2. Small— fits in your front pocket with ERIC KIM WRIST STRAP, so when you’re not shooting you can easily put it away. If the Ricoh is in your front pocket, you can take it out quickly whenever you see an interesting decisive moment. And the more you attempt to shoot when you see interesting decisive moments, the more likely you are to make interesting photos.
  3. Small cameras draw less attention to you: You can shoot more stealth, to shoot candid photos when people don’t notice you. Or, when you ask for permission to take pictures of people, they are more likely to say yes.
  4. Easy to charge: Charge RICOH GR II like a phone with the integrated USB charger. You can pack and travel lighter, with fewer chargers and accessories. Less stuff in your bag is always better. (Less clutter = easier to find your stuff).

3. Democratic

RICOH GR II now is only $500 (new)— anyone and everyone can afford it. I have proven that you can make great photos with it. Thus, we have no more excuses as photographers. Your gear or equipment isn’t holding you back as a photographer.

Now — is this thought empowering or depressing to you? Once we know we can no longer blame our equipment, what does that mean for us as photographers?

The only thing holding us back as photographers and visual artists is our determination, artistic vision, and our hustle.

4. Image quality

It is insane how much detail there is in the RICOH GR II files. The sensor is:

  1. Insanely sharp (no anti aliasing filter)
  2. Produces beautifully saturated and contrast JPEG photos (positive film jpeg preset).
  3. Tons of information in RAW files (I’ve still yet extracted the maximum from the RICOH GR II files). I’m still experimenting with ERIC KIM PRESETS.

I call the RICOH GR II the Manny Paquiao of the photography world: the strongest pound-for-pound contender.

5. Uber-juicy color photos

For a long time I thought the RICOH GR II was only great monochrome camera. I was wrong.

I’ve discovered that the RICOH GR II is also a phenomenal color camera. In fact, I prefer the high-saturation and contrast RICOH GR II JPEG “positive film”film preset over any Fujifilm JPEG filters (this is saying a lot, as I always believed that Fujifilm had the best color JPEG filters).

On RICOH GR II, adjust the settings of the color jpeg:

  • Saturation: 9
  • Contrast: 9
  • Sharpness: 7

I’ve been trying to recreate this insanely epic high color saturation look with RAW files, but with no avail.


For more saturated and juicy colors, shoot with a flash or -1 exposure-compensation.

Using a flash or lowering your exposure-compensation increases the contrast and saturation of the photos.

Another tip: Add more contrast to the (already) saturated and contrasty JPEG files. In Lightroom CC I really like applying the“High contrast and detail” preset to the RICOH GR II JPEG photos:

6. Life photography

RICOH GR II is a great camera, because it allows you to live your life— and the camera becomes an accessory (not the main focus).

More important than making photos is to first live your personal life to the maximum. Then treat the camera as a “wingman”— an accomplice to your life.

Shoot photos of your everyday life at home, shoot your food (with flash), and when you go out (to restaurant or bar, etc) just bring the RICOH GR II in your front pocket. And shoot anything that interests you when out and about:

Don’t take photography too seriously — live your life, have fun, and shoot photos from a spirit of play!

7. Walking photography

For myself, walking is essential to my life and thriving. A life in which I’m not able to walk isn’t a life worth living.

I get my best creative ideas when walking, and of course if you just go on a walk with your camera, you will always see interesting things to photograph! Simple colors, shadows, colors, or textures:

For me, this is a great visual exercise. And I kill two birds with one stone:

Benefit of both walking and photographing!

8. Why photograph?

Why shoot and make photos?

For myself:

  1. Gratitude towards life — being alive, and being grateful of the life of others.
  2. Observation and analysis: I photograph what I’m curious and interested in — photographing society, people, and different social circumstances, environments, and photographing different neighborhoods and social classes.
  3. Artistic self-expression: We need to discharge our creative and artistic bottled-up energy (avoiding “creative blue balls”).
  4. Showcasing beauty: As artists, we deem something beautiful by photographing it (selecting it to be worthy of being photographed).