Yogyakarta Black Valentine with Ricoh GR by William Christiansen


Yogyakarta Black Valentine with Ricoh GR

by William Christiansen

I’ve been using Ricoh GR for almost a year and the camera has always been in my bag. There’s no reason to not bringing the camera because it’s so small yet very capable. I use it alternately with the Leica M9 especially when the condition is so dark which requires me to bump up the ISO or use the flash.

On 14th of February 2014, which was supposed to be Valentine Day, Mount Kelud erupted. The mountain sent its ash and grit to nearby cities including Yogyakarta, my hometown. Coincidentally, it’s also the last day of Chinese New Year celebration which supposedly to be the biggest event as it’s the closing ceremony. It’s really a special day of the year.

Usually I will bring Leica M9 with 35mm Summicron ASPH with me when I go to the street or travelling, but this time I felt that the camera was not suitable for the current condition, so I brought my Ricoh GR to the street.

Ergonomically, the camera is so right on my hand and with the condition, dusty and gritty, because I need to hold the camera by using only one hand while the other hand mostly covering my eye to prevent the grit coming to my eyes.

I set the three customisable user slots to these settings:

Setting1 – For taking picture during the bright light – Aperture priority, F/8, ISO1600, Auto-focus.
Setting2 – For taking picture indoor or relatively dark condition – Aperture priority, F/2.8 ISO3200, Auto-focus.
Setting3 – For taking picture using flash or when the there’s almost no light – F11 , 1/10, ISO1600, Zone focusing set to around 1.5 meter.

For me, these three settings have already covered all possible lighting condition I might encounter. In the morning until afternoon, I will use Setting1, and then afternoon and night-time, I will use either Setting2 or Setting3. The auto-focus of the Ricoh GR is quite good especially when taking photo in the bright light but when the light is lacking, sometimes it will focus on the background rather than the object. It is the reason why I use the Setting3, to take photo quickly in the dark condition without relying on its auto-focus at all. I will surely miss the photo opportunity of the hungry cat if I had been using the Setting2 because there’s almost no light when I took the photo.

I always shoot in raw and process later in Lightroom. I am quite surprised seeing the files from this little camera because it’s really sharp. I converted all the images to black and white in Lightroom and even added some grain to bring more emotion to the images because at ISO3200 the file is relatively clean.

In conclusion, the Ricoh GR is a great camera if you are used to stick to the 28mm focal length. The flash metering is really great, the ISO capability is more than enough and it tooks a really sharp image. It is a really great secondary camera considering it is so small and quite light (you have no reason to not bringing it) and even as a primary camera (highly printable, sharp and great manual settings).

If you want to see more photos from my travelling and street photography, you can visit my website at http://www.touristwith.camera

Thanks, Steve!















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  1. Bung William,

    Selamat !!! Great shots you have there, pic no 2 and 5 is my fave
    Ricoh GR is always be my great companion.


  2. William,

    great vision ..

    foto sepeda yang terakhir, luar biasa 🙂

    I already use the GRD IV and film GR-1V
    now you infect me with GR 🙂

    William Jusuf

    • well personally I don’t really like shallow DOF and it is easier to focus using smaller aperture and when the focus is missed, it won’t be so obvious compared to when using larger aperture

  3. The only way the GR could be improved upon, is either Full Frame, or a faster lens… and proper macro shooting, other than that, it’s a wonderful camera, so small, yet powerful enough, and flexible enough to make you forget it has a fixed lens.

  4. Really good. Difficult to imagine what it’s like to actually be in those conditions, but these images help!

    • I have been nearby a volcano eruption years ago and your images render amazingly the oppressive atmosphere which follow such event
      Bravo !

  5. Interesting. I`m a Ricoh user and would like to know how GR coped with the grit. It was my only concern when buying it, the cavity exposed during shooting. My other Ricoh GXR A12 28 has a filter protecting the lens. Well, I ended buying a filter holder for GR , which I use ( with filter of course ) when it`s rainning or blowing sand.

  6. I Really liked your images. Black and white is perfect for the subject.

    Every time I see GR images I get a bad case of G.A.S.

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