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.
London is a great place to buy photography books especially some of the more obscure publications which can be a bit tricky to get hold of. I’m rather fond of browsing a good bookshop. Here’s a list of shops to visit if you’re in town.
Claire de Rouen Books, 125 Charing Cross Road
An excellent and wide ranging selection of photography books. It has a number of rare items, quite often has signed copies and also hosts launches/signings at the store. It’s also well placed on the edge of Soho so it’s easy to get there from either Tottenham Court Road or Leicester Square. Bar Italia in Soho is a good spot, although it can get busy, for a coffee once your done looking at books.
Koenig Books, 80 Charing Cross Road
Worth popping in here as well as it’s near Claire de Rouen. It’s primarily an art bookshop but stocks photography books too. They focus more on recent releases for photography books and have an interesting range of smaller publications. They’ve often got some gems. The remainder section, downstairs, has some good books from a few of the larger publishers. They also have shops at the Whitechapel Gallery and the Serpentine Gallery.
Foyles, 107 Charing Cross Road
One of the best general bookshops in London and a bit of an institution. The photography section now has lots of smaller publications and is much more interesting. It’s also on Charing Cross so it’s worth a look.
Photographers Gallery, 16-18 Ramilles St
I quite often buy books here as it’s purely photography, they always have the latest releases and quite often they have signings and also stock signed books. There’s a wide range of books. The prices are at the retail prices rather than collector prices. As an added bonus they have excellent exhibitions and also a cafe for refueling.
Donlon Books, 75 Broadway Market
A bit off the beaten track but fortunately for me, local, so I quite often buy books from here. Donlon’s has a great selection of collectable and also recent releases. He stocks a lot of photography but also there’s loads of counter culture stuff which I love. It’s not uncommon to find a book on black metal sat next to the latest Mack release. There’s a host of cafes and bars in the area so although not central London, it’s worth a visit.
Tate Modern, Bankside
A massive bookshop and recently they now have some of the more sort after publications. It’s worth a look. I don’t really go there that often as it’s a bit of a trek to get to it but f I see an exhibition then I will always look in the shop.