Ricoh GR1s Film Camera

I’ve wanted another Ricoh GR series camera for a long time now.  I bought a Gr1 a few years ago and after a couple of rolls the camera succumbed to the common shutter issue.  After a £200 repair quote I abandoned the camera, putting it down to experience and bought the rather nifty Konica Big Mini for a fraction of the repair cost.  The Big Mini’s a great little compact film camera for a lot less but it’s lens is 35mm rather than the Ricoh’s 28mm and it’s also a little clunky to use.  Despite being burnt I’ve still desired another Ricoh for ages and over the christmas period I snagged a GR1s as an undeserved present to self.  Just taking a few photos with it and I’m reminded of just how well thought out the camera is.  It’s a joy to use.


The premium compact camera war

In the 90s, when film was still king, there was a premium compact camera battle between the big companies resulting in a handful of brilliant cameras.  The olympus mju-ii, Yaschica T series, Contax t2, and many more are all highly sought after on eBay.  All have varying levels of manual control, great glass, and are primarily fixed focus though there are exceptions.  These cameras were aimed at the top end of the market and were not cheap to buy when they came out.  The all round quality is one of the reasons they are still widely used.  If you’re interested in buying a premium compact, there’s a good overview on Japanese Camera Hunter.


Favourite things about the Ricoh GR1s

Besides the ergonomics, ease of use, and great 28mm lens the camera holds, I’m looking forwarding to using the SNAP feature.  It pre-sets the camera a fixed focal length and allows you to shoot with no af lag or anything, ideal for street photography.  Shooting only a couple of rolls with this camera and it’s so nice to use, it almost wills you to take a shot.  If you want to turn the flash off, there’s an easy switch on the back of the camera.  Change the aperture and there’s a simple dial, no faffing.  The main thing I love about this camera is that it allows you to focus on the shot rather than the camera.  That is the sign of great design.

A Word of warning

A lot of premium compacts, the Ricoh included, are difficult to fix.  Ricoh no longer service this camera so if it breaks your pretty much dependent on either a camera repair shop or trying to repair it yourself.  The problem is things like the circuit board are not made anymore, so you’re either cannibalising other cameras or hoping that a repair shop still has the parts.  if you’re thinking, why waste your money on something that will break and you can’t repair?  It’s a bit of a gamble but digital cameras depreciate massively very quickly and if I can get some great photos out of the Ricoh before it dies then it’s worth it.



On Buying English English Shoes

A year and a half ago I started to look for a new pair of shoes, before that I mainly wore desert boots or cheap shoes from various retailers.  The desert boots were good but lethal in winter and all the other shoes fell apart in 6 months.  It was that time of year, so I begrudgingly started looking around for some new brogues.  This time I was thinking of spending a little more money in the hope they wouldn’t fall apart in six months.  I looked for ages and couldn’t find anything I liked.

I can’t remember quite how it happened but I read somewhere about benchmade English shoes from Northampton.  Church’s, Trickers, Cheaney, Crockett & Jones, Barkers:  I remember seeing shoe shops like this when I was younger, stuffy, old fashioned things with all black formal shoes.  Reading this article opened my eyes.  Northampton produces some of the finest shoes in the world and reading about the process, skill and craft made me think it could well be worth it.

I’m not really an impulse buyer.  I like to read about things and mull them over first if I’ve got the chance and there was no rush so I started to reading about shoes, English in particular but not exclusively.  Over the next few months of looking I came up with a number of arguments to myself.

Reasons to buy benchmade shoes

  • Goodyear welted/Veldtshoen construction means they can be repaired.  I find buying nice shoes a struggle so when I find a pair I like, it’s annoying when they fall apart within 6 months.  I could get these repaired.  As a bonus, many makers offer a refurbishment service where they resole at the factory – that’s faith in your product.
  • High quality materials – again, this means they’re not going to fall apart in 6 months, also, they look much better than cheap shoes.
  • Comfort – I sound like a grandad here but comfort is important and these shoes are comfy.
  • Style – in terms of brogues, which is what I was looking for first, there’s a massive choice and they all look amazing.

On the downside, they’re not particularly cheap.  It was just before christmas, 2013 that I went into one of the cheaney stores to have a browse and walked out with a pair of Arthur III mahogany brogues.  I also looked at Church’s and Grenson’s but in the end I like Cheaney’s the best.

Cheaney Arthur III

Around that time I also was fortunate to score a pair of Pennine IIR Burgundy boots.  Besides brogues, I also desperately needed winter shoes as I normally spend the winter months sliding around.  These things are indestructible and also look great and a year of use and they still look like new and they’re nowhere near being resoled.


Both pairs of shoes are over a year old and I can’t recommend them highly enough.  They still look great, are comfortable, and haven’t fallen apart within six months.  That’s got to be something to celebrate.