ERIC KIM NECK STRAP MARK II x Ricoh GR II x RICOH MAFIA Artwear
ERIC KIM NECK STRAP MARK II x Ricoh GR x RICOH MAFIA Artwear

If Henri Cartier-Bresson started photography today, would he have shot with a digital Leica M10? Or a RICOH GR III?

I think he would have chosen the RICOH. Some thoughts:

ERIC KIM NECK STRAP MARK II x Ricoh GR II x RICOH MAFIA Artwear
ERIC KIM NECK STRAP MARK II x Ricoh GR II x RICOH MAFIA Artwear

What did HCB prefer in his photography?

A camera which was maximally lightweight, unobtrusive, silent, light, and “affordable”.

According to Leica Rumors, in 1986, a Leica M6 body cost $1695. From 1985 to today, the inflation rate is roughly 2.3x. In 2019 dollars, a Leica M6 cost roughly $3,900 USD. Note currently a digital Leica M10 costs around around $6400-7300 USD.

I am not saying digital Leica cameras are ‘overpriced’. In fact, accounting for the digital technology, increasing labor costs, etc — the digital Leica M10 is ‘fairly priced’ in my eyes. But the note is:

For a modern-day worker, the digital Leica M equivalent (of an old-school film Leica) is considerably BEYOND their average wages.

In short, modern Leica M-cameras are less affordable than they were in the past.

What do we buy the camera for?

Providence, 2019. RICOH GR III, 28mm, high contrast JPEG preset.
Providence, 2019. RICOH GR III, 28mm, high contrast JPEG preset.

Certainly we buy a camera to make photos. And we want the best, the ideal, and the optimal camera for us.

Assuming street photography or everyday photography is our passion, we want the lightest, smallest, least cumbersome, and the least expensive camera. Why? Sometimes having a really expensive camera (even if you’re rich) feels like a liability. For example having an iPhone Pro is stressful— because you’re always paranoid about dropping it, or getting it stolen. Having a cheaper phone is advantageous in the sense that you don’t really worry about it, and you can live more fearlessly and boldly.

Thus the same notion probably applies to photography. The cheaper your camera, the more boldly you can shoot!

Equipment

Josef Koudelka with Fujifilm X100, film SLR, Leica M.

HCB with original Leica III, and also M6, and Leica M5.

Why do we romanticize Leica?

When we want a Leica M camera, essentially we are saying:

I want to become like Henri Cartier-Bresson.

I don’t think when HCB picked up his original Leica III, I don’t think it had a certain mystique to it.

I’ve used a Leica III camera and trust me — the camera is a serious pain in the ass to shoot with. Tiny viewfinder, and the viewfinder mechanism is actually different from the focusing mechanism.

One finder for the focusing, other for composition. Very annoying.

The best camera is an invisible camera.

Nassim Taleb said it best:

Technology is best when it feels invisible.

For example, a condom with less bulk (to feel “invisible”). Or a camera which you can shoot intuitively and instinctively with.

Currently the most “frictionless”cameras include iPhone and RICOH GR III. The Leica M camera is great, when you zone focus it.

Essentially, you’re trying to turn your camera into the ultimate seamless “point and shoot” camera.


Long story short,

RICOH GR III is the answer.

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 >

HENRI NECK STRAP MARK III
HENRI NECK STRAP MARK III

Digital Medium Format Photography

Smartphone Photography >

Film Photography 101 >


My favorite camera: RICOH GR III

silhouette Ricoh gr iii

Currently my favorite camera is the RICOH GR III:


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):


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

Hasselblad 500-series

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

Maxed-out 13” MacBook Pro (Refurbished)

Best phone

iPhone Xs


Best Mac Apps

Best writing app

IA Writer (for writing)

Best screen recorder

Camtasia

Best image resizer

JPEGmini Pro


Audio

eric kim hanoi street photography-0012663

Best earbuds

In-ear monitors


Apparel

Cindy Project Monochrome-3

Best underwear

ExOfficio Men Boxer Brief (black): $26

Best T-shirt

Outlier NYC Merino Wool T-Shirt

Best socks

Outlier NYC Black Merino Wool Socks

Best pants

Merino Wool Leggings (black)

Best glasses

LINDBERG – Titanium


Finance

eric kim street photography x100f fujifilm-7232

Best bank

Chase


Best entrepreneurial tools

Best blogging platform

WordPress.org + Genesis 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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