The Best Camera I Never Knew: The Super Ricohflex

Hello everyone! Looking back on my writings, it seems we haven’t had one of these “Best Camera I Never Knew” postings in a while! Over a year in fact!

So today we’re back with a camera that may not be well known to the masses, but is quite popular on photo sharing sites like Flickr and elsewhere. And you guys, my dear readers, are NOT the masses! It is a cult favorite, the Super Ricohflex.

THE SUPER RICOHFLEX

The Super Ricohflex was introduced in 1956 by Ricoh of Japan. It is a Medium Format twin lens reflex camera that takes 6×6 images on 120 film.

At its heart is the taking lens which is an 80mm f/3.5 Ricoh Anastigmat. It uses a geared focusing system much like the Kodak Reflex of 1946.

The camera has a shutter speed range of 1/10-1/200 secs plus Bulb in a Riken shutter. I have read of other models with higher shutter speeds, but I have had three of them at different points in my life, from different random sellers and they all had up to 1/200. If you have a model with a higher shutter speed range, I’d love to hear about it!

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“Super Ricoh Man” 2009. Super Ricohflex, Ilford HP5 Plus in T-Max Developer. More than a narcissistic selfie, I hope you can see that stopped down a little, the Super Ricohflex is capable of nicely sharp images 🙂

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THE SUPER RICOHFLEX

When in working condition, the Super Ricohflex is capable of giving images with “character” especially wide open at f/3.5. That is the best way I can describe it.

The 80mm f/3.5 Ricoh Anastigmat is one of those lenses capable of giving you that ever popular on Flickr “swirly bokeh” look.

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“Escape To Reality” 2009. Super Ricohflex, Ilford HP5 Plus in T-Max Developer. An example of the swirly “dreamy” image that the Super Ricohflex can make.

In my opinion, this usually comes from a lens that is optically not at its technical best, and the swirly bokeh is somewhat overplayed by bokeh fanatics, but that said, if used judiciously it can produce “dreamy” memorable images.

Stopped down, the images can be very sharp at f/5.6-f/8 as are most decent lenses.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

For those of you who prefer to watch a video, here is my first “The Best Camera I Never Knew” episode on YouTube starring the Super Ricohflex! 😎

It may seem like a shameless plug, and it is, but I am trying to expand your experience here and I’ll be tying in videos as I can so get used to it! 🙂

Think of it this way? Why would I want to do double work, blog and video, when I could just do one or the other? If it weren’t for you guys, my fellow Camera Lovers, I’d not bother with the videos!

And because I had received a critical comment from a reader who did not understand what  this series is about, I address this in the video too. Plus trying out some new theme songs haha! 🙂

WHY IT DIDN’T JIVE WITH ME?

Simple. I had three of these cameras! I got my first one in 2009. I sold one and I still have two. All three of them ended up having the infamous “Frozen Focus” issue. And what is that?

In the introduction, I mentioned that these cameras use a geared type of focusing mechanism. What that means is the viewing lens and taking lens are geared together and by moving one you move the other.

That in itself shouldn’t be an issue, but whatever grease Ricoh put into these lenses have been known to notoriously seize up with time.

Out of my three copies, only one was working, and even that one was already on the outs when I got it. It was not perfectly smooth. I left it on the shelf for about, I’m gonna guess cause it’s been years, but approximately 3-5 months. The next time I picked up the camera…stiff as a rock!!

So as of today, the two copies I have are pretty much worthless as shooters. Thankfully, they did not cost me much!

REPAIR?

A competent camera technician should be able to repair these cameras. From what I have heard, it’s not a simple matter of taking the lenses off and regreasing them yourself. It’s a bit of a delicate process. Therefore it’s better to leave it up to the experts if you have no experience with camera repair.

One person I remember offhand that might do the repair is Mark Hansen out of Wisconsin. He’s a great repairman with a solid reputation for working on Zeiss and Rolleis. I believe he is still in business though I do not know if he’s willing to repair the Super Ricohflex and if he is, how much it will cost. If you contact him, tell him Sam from CameraLegend.com sent you!

PRICES & WHERE TO BUY?

If seeking one of these cult classics, and I’m not sure that’s a good idea, prices are trending at $20-60. Keep in mind, due to the possibility of the camera needing a CLA, the low price you might pay belie the true cost after the camera has received a CLA.

However, once you get a CLA from a good repairman, I can attest that the Super Ricohflex is a good and fun budget shooter.

BOTTOM LINE

As I love all cameras, it is not my goal to pick on the Super Ricohflex. Ricoh is a Camera Legend whose cameras I have used and praised often. I do totally understand that a camera this old may need a CLA as most cameras of this vintage would benefit from also.

However, as I mentioned in the video…This is no Rolleiflex. And it was not intended to be. It cost much less than a Rolleiflex or even most Rolleicords, the budget Rollei TLRs.

A Rolleiflex could be sitting there for 30 years and I’d be willing to bet, most would still be functioning. Not so with the Super Ricohflex. If you have one, use it often, keep exercising those gears! Whatever grease Ricoh used in these cameras are infamous for freezing up.

That said, when it worked, this camera gave me some memorable images that left me curious for more. That’s why I ended up with three of them only to find out that the Super Ricohflex is indeed, one of the Best Cameras I Never Knew! 🙂

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Three Years Of Zay

“The Wild Child” 2015. Olympus OM-D EM-5, 45mm f/1.8 Zuiko lens. This photo was shot when the baby was around six months of age. Zay was blessed with a head full of hair as an infant! 🙂

Howdy folks, how have you been? Hope everyone is doing great!

I’ve always felt that as fast as life moves, it moves even faster when you have children. As they get older, you get older and all of a sudden you begin to feel your age creeping in more and more! Is it just me? 😊

Well, my baby daughter Zayda just turned three this week and even though I try not to make family specific postings, please allow me to indulge for today 😊

Now, in looking over Zay’s pics over the past three years, I noticed most of the photos of her are overwhelmingly digital using either digital cameras or cell phone cameras.

Ten years ago when my first daughter Zoe was born there was a more ecclectic mix of 35mm, medium format, and digital images.

“As In A Dream” 2015. Kodak Retina IIIC with 50mm f/2 Schneider Xenon lens, T-Max 400 developed in D76. Zayda was around two or three months in this photo. Due to the camera having issues with overlapping frames, you can see a framed photo of big sister Zoe on Zoe’s right shoulder. I actually loved the effect here, hence the title 🙂

Why such a big difference? No I don’t love one daughter more than the other! I don’t favor one more than the other, at least I try not to.

Upon self reflection I would say I’m getting older and now I’m just a product of the times we live in.

“Love Is In The Air” 2015. Canon EOS-1D 4.1mp, 50mm f/1.8 Yongnuo lens. Zayda was around five months of age in this photo. I was testing a Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 lens, which is a clone of the cheap but capable Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. The Yongnuo is even cheaper but quite a capable lens as well!

What I mean is that ten years ago, the birth of my first child was something I’ve never experienced before and I was eager to take as many shots of her early years as I could.

I was also ten years younger and had the patience to keep up with a baby and wait for the right moment to capture the images. I was also very eager to perfect my craft on film.

“Cheeri-O” 2016. Fuji Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic.

Flash forward to today. I don’t quite have the same endurance, mentally or physically, to wait for that right moment to capture that pose or expression. As most of you may know, photographing children requires a lot of patience. It will test your patience for sure!

“Smile For Me” 2018. Nikon D1 2.7mp, 50mm f/1.8 AF-D Nikkor.

One must also take into account that the cell phone cameras are much better today and their convenience has made me a lazier person. I’m openly admitting this!

“Bright Eyes” 2015. Canon EOS-1Ds 11.1mp DSLR, 50mm f/1.4 Contax Zeiss Planar MM.

But I’ve made a pledge to myself that in the next few months I will strive to capture the baby more often with my film cameras now that she is at an age where she’s more cooperative with posing or standing still for pictures.

If you’ll note the equipment used in these images, they are all made from cameras I’ve reviewed or spoken about.

“Softees” 2015. Ricoh GR1, Ilford Delta 400 in D76.

As for Baby Zayda herself, she doesn’t care if I photograph her with a film camera or digital camera or phone camera 😀

“The Baby” 2015. Nikon V1, 18.5mm f/1.8 Nikkor 1 lens.

In closing I just want to say Zayda, I love you very much! Perhaps one day you’ll read this and have a smile from it 😘

“Chicka-Dee” 2015. Nokia Lumia 1020.

“Eye Spy” 2016. iPhone 6s Plus.

The Incredible New Fuji X-H1

GRD Love: The Original Ricoh GRD Revisted

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“Moose” 2017. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp 🙂

It’s hard to believe, but based on the stats for these pages the original Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp digital point and shoot camera remains a favorite for those visiting this blog!

Despite me telling you of its issues, how it’s an old camera, how some of these cameras may not even be working any more, y’all ain’t having it cause it’s still one of the top two camera reviews visited on this site! 🙂

Here’s a link to my original review The Original Ricoh GR Digital Review.

That’s ok by me though because I still do absolutely love the original Ricoh GRD and still use it on a regular basis. Despite it coming into the market in 2005 and long discontinued, it still has a very loyal cult following largely based on the beauty of its black and white files.

Here are some recent and not so recent shots with it. The majority of the shots I’ve not posted before. When I used to post of photo sharing sites like Pbase or Flickr or 500px, you could be sure they’d have been posted but blogging kinda makes you lazy. Well me, anyway! The camera does have its quirks and is prone to acting up, but I still love it!

Thanks to those of you who have written to say you got one of these babies based on our review. It warms the cockles of my heart to know you shoot it too. Remember, it is you and I, US, who love this camera, who are keeping this Camera Legend alive. I call you guys the “Cult Of GRD” and I dedicate this post to you 🙂

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“The Razor’s Edge” 2015. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp

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“Black Building” 2016. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp with GW-1 wide angle converter (21mm equivalent), NYC. I don’t know the name of this building, hence I call it “Black Building” 🙂

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“Low-rider” 2017. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, Queens, New York.

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“Quick Draw” 2016. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, NYC. Whenever I walk the city streets, I’m always looking for characters. To me the street is much more interesting when you tie the culture with the characters that dwell or live there. I caught this cat as I was walking out of a stationary store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and I knew I had to get a shot!

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“The Dream Team” 2014. Two of my favorite photographers, these cats are better known as the “Dream Team.” Has it been that long dudes?! Shot at the Photo Plus Expo show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, NYC.

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“GR Noodles” 2014. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, Queens, NYC. Ah, the wonders of Vietnamese noodles 🙂

***DEAL ALERT***

From time to time, we’ll pass along deals and news we are receiving from our partners. You hate ads? Skip this. But if you are in the market for any of this stuff, here are some great deals! Thanks for supporting Camera Legend, we do appreciate it!

If you’re in the market for a Ricoh GR of any flavor, click on the photo above and search accordingly. If you’re an Olympus shooter, now is the time to save up to $200 with Olympus Instant Rebates

Just some samples of what you’ll find and the amazing savings…

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Photo Of The Day: “Olive Oil”

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“Olive Oil” 2016. Apple iPhone 6s Plus.

Ah olive oil. The not so secret ingredient to the much touted Mediterranean Diet. So good for you. So good for your body!

Now wait a minute you might say. Isn’t this site about cameras? Well yes indeed it is. And today, I just want to say a little about the 12mp camera on the iPhone 6/6s/6s Plus. In fact, this might apply to nearly all of today’s high quality cell phone cameras.

First, about the shot. It may seem like a fancy restaurant, but I took this shot at a local Singa’s Pizza. Good, maybe even great pizza, but the joint itself is far from elegant.

Anyway, I spotted this on the wall and the light was hitting it in that wonderful way that only light can.

After nearly six years of iPhone shooting, starting with the original 3G, then 3Gs, then the 4, then the 5, now the 6, I must say that the cameras on the iPhone have evolved to a point where I really don’t need any of my fancy point and shoots for nearly ninety percent of what I shoot, especially if it’s going to be in daylight or in good light.

The above photo, I think, is a good example. The color, the detail of the olives inside the bottles, and a wonderful balance on the shadows, highlights, and mid-tones.

But this is not a surprise to anyone who has been shooting iPhones. Most of us already know the wonderful qualities which makes shooting them such a pleasure. Deep rich color and tones, excellent sharpness, and super speedy shooting. The last part makes it perfect for street shots. Negatives? Can be mushy when viewed at 100 percent, especially on low light images. But that also happens on a lot of “real cameras.”

But one more very big positive. Of course, the ability to edit in camera and share your photos right away to your friends/fans on Facebook, Instagram or what have you, that seals the deal for most people. Yes, I know camera companies have incorporated wifi and sharing to their DSLR’s and mirrorless cameras, but the few I tried were very clunky in operation and not yet close to the smooth operation found in modern phones.

As great as I’m making it sound, there is still one BIG negative about shooting with an iPhone. The negative is just that; the fact that it’s a phone first and not thought of as a “camera” even if there is a very advanced camera in there.

You won’t get a lot of cred for still shots, no matter how nice, taken with an iPhone or any other phone. People may say, “Ooh ahh” about the great pic you shot with your phone, but they are also silently saying…”Phone camera? Ah ok” then they move on. You simply won’t get a lot of photo-nerd love by using a cell phone camera 🙂

It may be bad, but in a good way, people still respect you more if the shots were taken on an actual camera, even if the cell phone cameras have blurred the lines on what a “real camera” is. To most people, even the ones who will like your pics, the cell phone camera is just too easy. They know it. So it’s also easy to dismiss.

That’s why film shooters still get a lot of cred. It’s film. It’s an old medium and yes, it does require a little (and sometimes, a lot) more work than it does with a modern DSLR, mirrorless or a high end cell phone camera.

But if you put all this aside, take it out of your mind, there will come a time when you’ll have to say, you know what? This phone takes pictures as good as any other digital camera I’ve used in the past ten years.

Again, not for every shot or every situation, but for ninety percent of what most people shoot, it’s perfect. No wonder more images are uploaded from the iPhone than any other “real camera” out there.

No my friends, I’m not trying to convince you that the iPhone is better than say, a Leica Q. And no, I have not lost my love for vintage cameras. I am and will continue to use them as long as film is around.

What I am saying is for me, I got to face reality. Shooting the iPhone may not be as cool as say, shooting a Ricoh GR, but it often will get the shots that under normal viewing distances, and certainly when posting small pics, will be indistinguishable from each other. That says a lot about how far cell phone cameras have come.

Have a good day my friends and don’t worry, there will certainly be more Camera Legend reviews! 🙂

***IN STOCK ALERT***

I have been notified by my good friends at Adorama that the Nikon D5 and D500 are now in stock!! If you’ve been waiting patiently for these awesome cameras, here’s your chance to grab one before they sell out the first batch. You may find them in the links below. Thanks for supporting Camera Legend and enjoy your new camera, I’d sure love to hear about it!

Nikon D5 (CF Version)

Nikon D5 (XQD Version)

Nikon D500

Nikon D500 with 16-80 f/2.8-4E VR lens

What Cameras Were You Using Ten Years Ago?

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The Nikon FM3a with MD-12 Motor Drive and 50mm f/1.2 AIS Nikkor and a print from the combo. My dream kit in 2006 🙂

Hi good people. You might think with all these “extracurricular” postings that we have run out of cameras to review. Not by a long shot! But…

Just like we and Elvis “can’t go on together with suspicious minds,” I can’t go on with these long late night postings 🙂

As I’ve said before, it’s a labor of love, I get very little if anything financially from this site. Only the satisfaction that someone may have benefitted from the info posted here.

I’m not saying I’m stopping, just explaining why sometimes it takes a while before you see a new review.

But I’d like these pages to be seen as something more dynamic than your typical review site which is why I created series such as “The Best Camera I Never Knew” or the ever popular “Tuesday Titans” and now the random “Photo Of The Day” series.

With that said, today we take a look back at the cameras and lenses used back in 2006.


WHY 2006?

2006 was a very exciting year for me as far as cameras and lenses go. Digital cameras were really coming into their own. Cameras like the Nikon D1X, Canon EOS-1D Mark II, and Olympus E-1 ruled the day and indeed, the Nikon D1X and Olympus E-1 were my go-to cameras in 2006.

I got my first Canon L lens, the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS which I got off a poor college student on Craigslist. I sold this later to fund the purchase of an Epson R-D1, which was the world’s first digital rangefinder camera. While I don’t regret the R-D1, I did regret selling that Canon because subsequent copies I got were never as sharp as that first one!

I was also fascinated by the Sigma Foveon technology and had just acquired an SD-10, which was actually released in 2003.

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“Sinner” 2006. Sigma SD-10, Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8. A man known as “Samir Abu Charupa” contemplates on why he cannot give up his bad habits. The reason? He is a mere mortal, a sinner 🙂

I loved the files, but I was not so thrilled that to get the best out of the camera you had to use the Sigma X3F (RAW) files and the slow Sigma Pro software. Surprisingly, even today ten years later, Sigma has the same paradigm: Superb files, slow processing. It’s amazing actually that they have not been able to improve this to a level competitive with today’s cameras and this is indeed the reason I gave up on Sigma.

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Adapting lenses have taken off in recent years, in large part due to the popularity of mirrorless systems. I’ve been using adapted lenses for a long time. Here in 2006, was my Sigma SD-10 with an adapted Pentax 40mm f/2.8 Pentax-M manual focus pancake lens.

Ten years ago, I was (and still am) into film cameras. I was shooting a Bessa R3a, which I hated at first because I was getting soft focus until I fixed the rangefinder on it. I sold it off plus a few other items to buy a Nikon FM3a. I saw this camera as an investment too as it was Nikon’s last all manual classic camera. I also got a Nikon Fm2n with the 50mm f/1.2 AIS Nikkor for $90 total on Craigslist. Steal of a deal, deal of a lifetime! 🙂

For my point and shoot, I was shooting film with my trusty Konica Hexar AF which  I got in 1997. And in 2006, I got the Ricoh 8.1mp GRD which I have written a lot about. Both are my favorite point and shoots of all time.

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“Take My Picture” 2006. The joy of photography with the (then) new Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp camera.

So, ten years ago, what did you shoot with and how did it affect your photography? Take a moment to think about that and if you’re not too shy, then feel free to post your results in the comments to share with others. Thanks and have a great week!

 

The Best Camera I Never Knew Part V: The Ricoh FF-3 AF SUPER

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The Ricoh FF-3 AF SUPER. One of the great vintage Ricoh cameras that I’ve heard a lot about. One of the best cameras I never knew 🙂

The Ricoh FF-3 AF/FF-3 AF SUPER is a 35mm point and shoot camera introduced by Ricoh in 1982.

The camera featured a fixed lens 35mm f/3.2 Rikenon lens, shutter speeds from 1/8 to 1/500th of a second. As indicated in its name, the FF-3 AF is an autofocus camera and runs on two AA batteries.

THE RICOH FF-3 AF SUPER IMPRESSIONS

The camera looks retro cool, yet somewhat ugly, but not unlike many cameras from the late 70s and early 80s. Cameras from Nikon, Canon, and Minolta from this era also have a similar look.

It’s small, but not entirely pocketable unless you’re thinking of a coat pocket. As far as I can tell, it’s an autoexposure only camera as expected from most point and shoots of its day. The camera also does autowind and auto rewind.

The 35mm f/3.2 is supposedly very sharp with interesting character. Many wonderful images from this camera can be found on the internet, especially on Flickr.

WHY IT DIDN’T JIVE WITH ME

Why? Why, pray tell, do you ask? Because the three of them I tried didn’t work or didn’t work properly 🙂

Two suffered from “aging motor” syndrome where the autowind motor is super slow or ceases to work at all. The other one had a corroded battery compartment that I couldn’t fix. To be fair, the battery compartment issue is not likely the camera’s fault, but rather the fault of users who left batteries inside the camera for prolonged (sometimes years) periods of time.

BOTTOM LINE

Before Ricoh struck gold in the 90s with the GR-1 film camera, before they won the hearts, minds, and eyes of a large and loving cult, they were making crap cameras like this 🙂

No, seriously, no offense. I’m as big a Ricoh fan as anyone, if not bigger. I’ve had more people tell me how I help trigger their purchase of the original 8.1mp GR Digital than any other camera from this GRD Review I put up a year ago. Ricoh is now a niche company that has a high degree of respect from a world-wide mass of camera lovers.

But there IS a reason why Ricoh and their Rikenon lenses were once thought of as one of the “low end” brands such as Chinon, Yashica, etc, etc. This camera is one of those reasons. I know Contax/Yashica made a lot of great cameras, so I’m not talking about that. The “regular” Yashica 35mm SLR’s were not known to be of the finest quality and had a history of reliability problems.

All that said, I’m perfectly willing to accept that I got three lemons and I’m currently looking for a usable one.

I don’t think the FF-3 AF has a reputation for a stellar lens or anything. I think most people buying these cameras just love old cameras like I do and perhaps there’s a bit of that cool nostalgia factor in there as well.

I imagined taking cool, vintage looking photos with the Ricoh FF-3 AF. I imagined that, simply out of my love for organic film photography, but knowing in my heart I’d get better pictures with an iPhone and Instagram filters than this camera.

Yet I persisted in getting three of these only to find none working properly and losing sleep trying to fix them, to no avail.

There is the FF-3 AF and a slightly updated one, the FF-3 AF SUPER. I know I have two SUPERS and one “regular” FF-3, but I can’t find it to tell you the differences, if any. There may be some very slight differences, but they’re pretty much the same crap cameras.

Again, there IS a reason why Ricoh was not all that well known or highly regarded before the GR-1. The FF-3 AF is probably one of those reasons and without a doubt…one of the Best Cameras I Never Knew 🙂

WHERE TO BUY?

If seeking one of these cameras, and I’m not sure that’s a good idea, prices are trending at $5-30 so the low prices on these may be tempting too. I never spent more than $15 on these. So if you get a junker, you won’t be out all that much.

Your best source for the Ricoh FF-3 and FF-3 AF SUPER is obviously eBay. You can also find them once in a while HERE in the USED section.

Fright Night Special: Friday The 13th

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“Black Cat” 2011. Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF 85mm f/1.2L in Bangkok, Thailand.

Yes, it’s Friday the 13th. It is a day that causes fear, hesitation, and all sorts of other anxieties in people. Heck, they even made movies and a tv series out of this! Here is a little tribute to Friday the 13th. I hope it is full of good luck for everyone! 🙂

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“Bad Asses” 2011. Ricoh 8.1mp GRD in Chinatown, NYC. It’s “Child’s Play” for Chucky, Scarface and the entire badass crew 🙂

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“The Camera Monster” 🙂

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“Flashback Fri…” No, no, wait a minute. This is NOT Flashback Friday. For Samuel J. Voorhees, every freakin’ day is FRIDAY!! shh…shh…shh…shh…shh… 🙂

PhotoPlus Expo Show Report Part II: Canon, Nikon, Sony, Etc

The Leica SL (Typ 601) was the Big Daddy for me at this year’s PhotoPlus Expo, no doubt. I mean, after that, where do you go? 🙂

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The Leica S and SL gallery of images.

Anyway, I know there’s a lot of other “fish in the ocean” so I’ll try to give you guys a rundown of other things I saw. This is Part II and my final show report for this year’s expo, but it is by no means a “complete” report of the show, it would take way too much time to do that and I’m sorry if I left out anything someone might have been interested in. I leave the complete reporting for sites like dpreview, etc, etc.

CANON

Canon had all their big guns out as well as their hot new lenses. Obviously, the cameras getting the most attention were the Canon 5DS and 5DS R, their 50 megapixel super DSLRs.

I tried the 5DSr and low and behold…it looks and feels like a 5D! I don’t know what else to tell ya! It feels good, it’s dependable, it’s a 5D series camera. Nothing super exciting, but you know it’s going to get the job done.

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Trying out the new Canon 5DS R, 50.6 megapixel champion with the 24-70mm f/2.8 II. Nice combo!

The Canon rep did ask, to my surprise, if I wanted to put a card in there and try it out. Of course, I didn’t have a card on me! All these years I’ve gotten used to the idea that manufacturers won’t let you put a card in their demo cameras so I didn’t bring one.

But I don’t regret it. What will I get? Some boring pics of the crowd at the expo? All the samples I need, I can find on the web anyway.

Canon did have some really nice large prints showcasing the capabilities of these cameras.

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Prints from the Canon 5DS and 5DS R. I walked right up to the print and saw hairs on the model’s nose. That’s resolution for you! 🙂

They looked gorgeous, superb, but not mind-blowing. I’m not taking anything away from these incredible 50mp cameras, but I didn’t think the prints were anything that you couldn’t do with today’s crop of 20+ megapixel cameras. It’s really a new day in photography when one has a hard time being impressed with 50mp prints!

I did ask the Canon representative if there was a 1DX replacement coming any time soon. The 1DX is nearly five years old now and seems due for an upgrade. The answer was that they do not know. Are you surprised? 🙂

Canon also had all their new lenses out, and I had a good time looking at them, although it’s not like I’m going to be getting any new lenses any time soon.

NIKON

Nikon had their usual DSLR lineup at the show. Of course, the D4s was there, the Df, and surprisingly the very old D3X was also on hand.

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“I AM GENERATION IMAGE.” Nikon’s new cool slogan 🙂

All their big daddy lenses out for all to drool and fool around with. Nothing new as far as I can see.

Actually the coolest thing I saw at the Nikon booth was the retro looking black and silver J5 mirrorless camera 🙂

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Coolest Nikon at the show! The retro looking Nikon J5 mirrorless.

UPDATE 11/01/15: Just want to pass along some info for our Nikon fans out there that I have been informed of HUGE instant rebates going on for a limited time. You can check out all the Nikon deals HERE. From what I can see some of the instant savings are up to as high as $1100!! on certain Nikon camera/lens combos. If you’re looking to buy new Nikon stuff, this is the time to do it!

You may also find the Nikon deals HERE. While browsing/dreaming, I was amazed at the deals and wish I had the funds! For example, you can now get a new Nikon D7100 for close to the price of a USED D7000. This is a screamin’ deal for some of Nikon’s hottest cameras and lenses.

SONY

I had a good time checking out the new Sony A7RII and A7SII, I couldn’t get my hands on the RX1R II due to lack of time.

The new cameras felt great, but to tell you the truth, since getting my A7R last year I have very little interest in spending any more to ‘upgrade’ a camera that works well for my needs.

I’m finally at a point, thank God, where I really am not interested in the latest and greatest!

Note: Still editing pics, I have some from the Sony booth that I may post. Maybe, maybe not 🙂

FUJIFILM

Fuji had a hot booth showcasing their latest cameras and lenses. I was impressed with the prints from the X-T1. If my old X-Pro 1 had focused anywhere as good as the new Fujis, I would’ve never given up on the X system.

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The ever popular Fujifilm spot.

Fuji also had a very cool “retro” area showcasing their popular line of Instax cameras. I give Fuji a lot of credit for being one of the very few manufacturers still dedicated to making instant cameras and instant film.

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Fuji posted some wonderful pics, mostly from their X-T1 cameras.




ETC, ETC

Aside from the Leica SL (Typ 601), the only other camera I really wanted to see at the show as the fabled Ricoh/Pentax full-frame. Apparently, they had a near complete mock-up that was shown early on in the show, but it was no longer there when I went on Saturday.

My thoughts on this? Ricoh/Pentax…guys, enough of this hide and seek! If it’s that hard and if it’s going to take you that long to bring out a full-frame DSLR, don’t worry about it! It may be a showcase product, but it’s not like you’ll be selling a boatload of these vs Canon, Nikon, or Sony.

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“Imagine. Change.” Ricoh/Pentax’s lineup. Always a very capable system and a great alternative to the Big Boys.

I’m a huge Ricoh/Pentax fan, but they’ve taken way too long with this thing. I’m all for “getting it right” and maybe that’s what they’re doing, but the longer they take, the more likely the tech inside the camera will be outdated.

They did have the awesome 645Z there and the images I’ve seen from this camera at its best eclipses almost anything else out there. At $6995, you can get this 51mp digital Medium Format camera for less than the new Leica SL! Wow!! 🙂

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“You Know You Want It.” Ricoh/Pentax rep and customer debating on the hot Pentax 645Z camera system 🙂

Zeiss was on hand with all their HOT lenses! However, I don’t see myself being able to afford one of these any time soon 🙂

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Hot lenses!! Who doesn’t love Zeiss? I don’t even know one photographer who doesn’t 🙂

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE EXPO

The PhotoPlus Expo is always a lot of fun, especially if you’ve never been there. But every year, the cameras and lenses have gotten better to the point where I feel it’s no longer all that exciting…for me, anyway.

I go there to check out the latest gear, yes, but I also go to hook up with good friends who I haven’t seen in a while. Sadly this year I wasn’t able to go on the day when the “Dream Team” was attending and they know who I’m talking about! Sorry about that, and hope to hook up in the near future 🙂

Let me say this; if you have a modern Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, etc, you probably have a camera that’s “good enough” for your needs. We are very lucky to live in an age where cameras can do what they can do, I love it! That said, the better these cameras get, the more film I shoot 🙂

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“Film Buddies.” With my analog brother, Mr. Louis Mendes, NYC street photography icon. The Master Blaster has always been good to me and I consider him a friend and an inspiration.

I apologize to anyone who found this report lacking. I know there are a lot of Canon, Nikon, and Sony fans who probably wanted a little more.

I’m not a reporter. I’m a fan. I went to the show as a fan of these manufacturers and their products, and I am relaying what I saw, what I experienced.

Best,
Sam




The Ricoh GR1 Film Camera

The Ricoh GR1 Film Camera Review

UPDATE 9/3/2018: As a companion to this 2015 review, I am adding a new video on the GR1 for those folks who enjoy watching videos more than reading, and yes, even though reading is better for your brain, I do understand the need for videos 🙂

If you’re on YouTube, I would love to hear from you! Please don’t forget to LIKE, COMMENT, SUBSCRIBE for new videos and updates. Thanks for your support!

The Ricoh GR1 is a 35mm point and shoot camera introduced by Ricoh in 1996. It was considered a high end or “luxury” point and shoot camera.

The GR1 came from a unique era in the mid to late nineties when manufacturers such as Leica, Nikon, Konica, and Contax put out several point and shoot cameras with high specifications, forever changing the way the lowly point and shoot camera was perceived. Ricoh’s first entry into this market was the GR1, and while the luxury point and shoot cameras from all the manufacturers have their own cult following, the GR series might be right there at the top, or second only to the Contax T series in terms of following and reverence.

BUILD AND HANDLING

Among the GR1’s many useful qualities, the best may be its size. It is small, light, thin, and truly pocketable which is one of the reasons why it was and is considered a great street camera.

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“Black Or Silver” 2015. Take your choice of black or silver for the GR1. Either way, you have a very capable, non-flashy point and shoot that’s perfect for street work.

As you know, the best camera is the one you have with you, and with the GR1, there’s no excuse not to have it with you at all times.

This was especially relevant in the 90’s, but maybe not so much today with the advent of high quality phone cameras now on the market. In fact, the phone cameras have largely replaced even digital point and shoots, let alone film versions. However, for the classical street photographer, film remains THE medium of choice.

The GR1’s body feels lightweight with a mix of plastic, metal, and a magnesium alloy chassis.

While the camera is really a point and shoot, with programmed AE and aperture priority only, one of the things that made the GR1 stand out from your standard point and shoot cameras was the ability to control some aspects of the shot. For example, on the top right dial, you have “P” for programmed AE, and then your aperture selection, i.e., f/2.8, 3.5, 5.6, etc, etc.

On your top left, you have an exposure compensation dial that gives you plus or minus two stops.




The original GR1 and GR1s have no manual ISO selection. The GR1s added supposedly better coatings, a backlit lcd, and the ability to use filters, but is pretty much the same camera. The GR1V has it all, plus manual ISO selection, in addition to a few other features like a more flexible SNAP mode. Of course, you also have the GR21 with its super wide 21mm f/3.5 lens, but that’s another animal altogether.

On the GR1, I will just use the exposure compensation dial should I need to make adjustments and it usually works fine for my purposes.

THE LENS

The GR1 is equipped with a super sharp 28mm f/2.8 GR lens. As a guy who lives at 50mm, I initially thought as many people do, that 28mm might be too wide for me. But I have been able to do portraits with it, and it’s perfect for street work.

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“A Portrait Of Dad” 2006. Ricoh GR1, Kodak Gold 400. An example of using the GR1’s 28mm wide angle for portraits. Dad relaxing with a smoke while sitting on a bench in Riverside Park, NYC. After his passing in 2011, I found it hard to look at this shot, knowing that a lifetime of smoking cigarettes killed him. However, with the passing of time, I’ve come to accept that cigarettes were a huge part of his personality and they gave him immense pleasure and relaxation, despite the final outcome. RIP my Papa, I’ll always cherish our moments.

The lens is very good at f/2.8, but is extremely sharp from around f/5.6 and up. For a wide angle, the lens has very little distortion. Maybe some slight barrel, but not significant enough to worry about, especially for street work.

PERFORMANCE

Among the GR1’s great qualities are its fast and accurate AF, and a SNAP mode where the camera will set focus for 2 meters or 6.5 ft to infinity, which cuts down shutter lag allowing for quicker shots. This was a very popular feature with street photographers, and Ricoh has kept this unique feature on every GR camera ever since, including the latest GR 16mp camera.

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“Car Wash” 2015. Ricoh GR1, Ilford FP4 Plus 125 in D76 developer. Wildwoods, NJ. Note the flaws in the sky, a result of my imperfect developing.

The camera, while stealthy in its look and size, is certainly not quiet. In a silent room, you will hear the motor advance. However, on the streets, this is generally not a problem.

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“Tribute NYPD Officers” 2015. Ricoh GR1, Ilford FP4 plus 125. It was good to see the unity that people in Wildwoods, NJ, feel about the recently fallen NYC officers.

ISSUES

The GR1, while certainly a classic, is not without its “issues.” Main problem I have seen on these cameras is the fact that the top lcd goes bad. It’s more common to find GR1’s with bad lcd’s than it is to find one with no lcd issues. Sometimes you will get a partially functioning lcd with missing segments. For example, you press MODE and you will get the “mountains” or infinity symbol, but press again and you’re missing the SNAP symbol. Or you will get a partial frame counter or none at all.

This seems to be a problem on all GR1’s, including the GR1s and the GR1v so inspect carefully before you buy.

This will indeed be a problem for many folks. It is too bad that Ricoh used some very poor lcd’s much like the Contax cameras of that era. All lcd’s can go bad over time, I understand that, but I definitely see this more with Ricoh and Contax. Surprisingly, the Canon EOS line had some of the most trouble free lcd’s of cameras of two decades ago or more.

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“Backwards Time Traveler” 2015. Ricoh GR1, Ilford Delta 400.

Another issue is the viewfinder indicators such as the framelines, and focus confirmation goes dim and in some cameras, are barely discernible.

The last and probably most troubling issue would be if the shutter or motor are dying. If this is the case, you can forget about it because Ricoh does not service these cameras any longer. You can usually tell these problems by a shutter that won’t open or close, and a motor that gets progressively noisier.

All that said, the LCD issue which is the most common, is not really a make or break for me. As long as I can set the aperture, I’m good. I do not usually use SNAP mode anyway, and if in doubt, I’ll leave it on “P” mode and pray 🙂

I try to remember that this IS a point and shoot, and if you use it that way, you will generally not be disappointed. At 28mm, you can usually get a sharp shot if you focus on anything five feet away or more. I only worry if I’m trying close portraits.

BOTTOM LINE

The Ricoh GR line is most certainly iconic. No doubt helped by the works of legendary Japanese street photographer Daido Moriyama who helped make using a point and shoot in the streets “hip.”

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“The Golden Man” 2006. Ricoh GR1, Kodak Gold 400. I loved the light shining down on that afternoon in Riverside Park, NYC. I originally titled this “The Man With The Golden Ear” and Dad was truly a man who would listen to all my issues and offer great advice. He was there to accompany me to an interview. I got the job. He was really a man with the golden touch 🙂

If looking for one of these, prices are trending at $250-350 for the original GR1, $350 and up for the GR1s, and $450-650 for a GR1v, depending on condition.




The Ricoh GR1 is a Camera Legend, and a legend of the streets. It is THE superstar point and shoot camera of street photography. If you can find a rare flawlessly working one, or can live with its known “issues” you will have a very special camera that will reward you with the ability to take fantastic shots in a small and truly pocketable form.

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“Softees” 2015. Ricoh GR1, Ilford Delta 400. Probably a slow shutter speed and some movement resulted in a soft image. Almost didn’t put it in the review, but I love the faces 🙂

***DEAL ALERT***

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The Incredible New Fuji X-H1

The Original Ricoh GR Digital: A Look Back

The Original 8.1mp Ricoh GR Digital Review

The Ricoh GR Digital was an 8.1 megapixel point and shoot camera released by Ricoh in 2005 in Japan.

In subsequent years, Ricoh released the GR Digital II, III, IV, and in 2013 they released their current 16mp GR with an APS-C sensor. Because of the similar naming scheme, the original GR Digital (aka “GRD” for short) is often confused with the current model when doing an internet search.

All the GR Digital cameras are the offsprings of the GR1, a high end point and shoot film camera from 1996 that was made famous by the street work of legendary Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama who used the GR series extensively.

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The original 8.1mp Ricoh GR Digital. My favorite point and shoot camera of all time.

Let’s be clear: I am only referring to the first version, which is the 8.1 megapixel GR Digital.

This camera is perhaps my favorite point and shoot of all time, film or digital. It is in its basic form, it is a small sensor point and shoot with a fast and sharp 28mm f/2.4 lens. But to cut to the chase, its powers lie in its ability to produce “film-like” black and white images with a grit and grain that some say is similar to a Kodak Tri-X look.

In color, it’s really quite unspectacular, especially at higher iso’s. In color, it’s almost like any other average everyday point and shoot. But in b&w, the camera shines.

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“Dreamscape” 2006. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, ISO 64.

While nothing could ever emulate real film, the GRD produces black and white images that I really love. It’s gritty, it’s raw, it’s real.

I have used the new 16mp GR and I STILL prefer the original GRD for black and white work. I mainly used it for street photography, but have done portraits with it too.

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“A Rainy Night In The City” 2007. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, ISO 800.

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“The Lady In Black” 2006. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp, ISO 200.

The original GRD, and indeed, the whole GR Digital series have a cult following that began with their film siblings. If looking for one of these, from what I can see, the GRDIII and GRDIV are most plentiful on the used market. The GRDII can also be found quite easily. They are all great, but lack the b&w charm of the original.

The original can still be found, but it is the oldest on the market and becoming scarce. It’s not so much that people are snapping them up, though that may also be the case. I actually think a lot of these cameras are no longer working or not working properly.

“Waiting For Food” 2014. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp. The menu looked good, but the wait at this Filipino restaurant on Roosevelt Ave in Queens, NY, took forever.

I’ve had two of them. The first one I got in 2006. I used it almost every day and wore it out. It developed a well-known problem where the “ADJ” or adjust toggle fails to work and freezes the camera. You need to open the battery compartment for a few seconds and close it to restart the camera.

The second one I got developed the same problem. I got around the problem by keeping the camera in b&w mode and keeping it at ISO 800 and not messing with anything else.

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“Repent” 2008. Ricoh GRD 8.1mp, ISO 800.

Additional issues include dust on the sensor, and slow write times in RAW. I don’t know how it got in there, but I once had a large piece of fuzzy “something” on the sensor of my first GRD 🙂

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“The Slowest” 2007. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp, ISO 800. In a city of fast moving vehicles, I think I may have found the slowest 🙂

Anyway, these are things to be aware of should you be looking for one of these. Remember these are quite old by digital standards, but if you get a good working one, you’ve got something special. Prices are trending at $80-200 USD so I wouldn’t pay any more than that.

The original Ricoh GR Digital is unique and produces b&w digital files in-camera that I believe are still unmatched today. In my book, it’s a Camera Legend. If you find a good working copy, keep it!

Below are some additional images from the camera. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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“Eagles Over Elmhurst” 2008. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp, ISO 64.

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“Grey Poupon” 2011. GR Digital 8.1mp, ISO 800.

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“Plant City” 2008. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp, ISO 100. Please click on photo for a larger and better view.

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“The Cart Lady” 2009. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp, ISO 800.

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“Black Rain” 2007. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp, ISO 800.

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“The Royal Flush” 2011. Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp, ISO 800.


WHERE TO BUY?

This camera was introduced in 2006 so it is no longer available new. You may try the usual route, ie, eBay, KEH, Craigslist, B&H and I have also seen them on Amazon while searching for Ricoh GRD as well as Adorama’s USED section.

ALTERNATIVES

While I don’t think many cameras can duplicate the b&w charm of the original GRD, you can get very good black and white images from any of the GRD’s predecessors. Of course, a Leica Monochrom if you have that kind of cash 🙂

You may want to try the Nikon V series cameras, such as the Nikon V1 I reviewed, which does excellent film-like color images or the latest Canon G series cameras such as the G9X or the ultra-slim G5X camera, a very cool looking camera!

I was impressed with the b&w images using the Grainy B&W effect on the Canon EOS-M I reviewed HERE.

Good luck and have fun with whatever camera you get! 🙂

The iPhone 8 Is A Great Street Camera!

***THE SONY A9 MIRRORLESS IS HERE!!!”

When Sony puts a “9” onto one of their cameras, it indicates that this is their TOP camera. Just when you thought the A7RII was their top dog, no friends, it is the A9. This camera has such a high burst rate that you may finally leave your top EOS or Nikon bodies behind for that once in a lifetime shot.

I hope to procure one for review, but chances are some of you readers will get one before I do. Our good friends HERE will be able to get the A9 as soon as it’s in stock as well as everything else you might want to go with the camera. It’s all in the link. Thanks for supporting Camera Legend!

***DEAL ALERT***

From time to time, our media affiliates will send us deals they have going on and since I do not want to burden you good people with advertisement, I decide whether or not to tell you about it. And believe me, the majority of the time I choose not to plug it, much the chagrin of our media friends 🙂

Just like you, I know no one likes it when you plug an ad or ask you to click a link, but you should know too writing and equipment reviews take a lot of time and cost money, most of which I spend on my own to give you the best info I can and I do this for free. No one ever sent me a piece of equipment to write about. But that’s ok, I love this thing, that’s why I do it and I can and will always remain objective.

If you buy anything through our links, I don’t get much, if at all, but every little bit adds to help this site grow. And it costs you nothing to do so. Especially if you’re planning to buy the stuff anyway, it’s a win-win.

Anyway, today we got some screaming deals!! Sometimes you get deals and sometimes you get duds. This is a real deal yes! Most of you will know that the Fuji X-T1 is an awesome and capable top end camera that produces amazing pics and it usually goes for $1299. For a limited time, you can now get it brand new for $799!! Ho! $500 off plus other savings through our partners. If you ever wanted to get the Fuji X-T1, this is it. Check out this and other Fuji Deals and if you do get one, drop back here and let me know how you liked it. I bet you’ll love it! Thank you very much, I appreciate your support.

Also a sale on the superb Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8 HERE

And instant rebates on the hot new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.