The Ricoh GR in Havana Cuba by Lorenzo Moscia

Cubans

The Ricoh GR in Havana Cuba

by Lorenzo Moscia – See his website HERE with some beautiful photos

This trip to Cuba was for family reasons. My wife has not see her father since 2008, so it was basically a pretty intense trip. I decided to go very light with photographic equipment because for the first time in the past 8/9 years I was travelling abroad with no photo assignment on my shoulders or any particularly freelance plan on my mind.

But Cuba and la Habana are always a very good place to be with a camera.

Cubans

Cubans

Cubans

I bought a Canon 6D with a 50 1.2, and a Ricoh Gr V 28mm fix lens.

Each time I was walking down the street and take out the Canon all sort of people would approach me because I would represent the typical “yankee” with dollars. I would start to talk to them in a sort of cuban slang (I have been married to my cuban wife for the pst 14 years) so they would let me alone. But going around with the Ricoh was a totally new experience for me. I rediscovered the pure pleasure of the “street photo”, just going around with no particularly subject in mind with a little camera in one hand, and none would be pay attention to me.

Cubans

Cubans

Cubans

I usually use it with A, and find very easy to play with the apertures. But I love as well the TAV function, where I set the aperture (lets say 5.6 or 8) and the speed ( something above 125) and the camera just find the ISO to match the timing. That is very useful when you walk around and you just shoot on the move and you don’t want panning pics.

No one gave me any attention with that camera even in some more extreme “barrio” neighborhoods where the average tourist does not normally go. I really felt like I was invisible.

Cubans

Cubans

Cubans

The bad part about Ricoh is battery life very poor even if I had the “blind screen” option. I will have to buy an extra battery. The problem is here in Rome is very difficult to find.

Second issue is the auto focus in low light condition which is a bit slow,  even if there is a manual and snap options wich are very good by the way. The files look amazing with very balanced color and a very good dynamic range.

Cubans

Cubans

Cubans

Cubans

The Canon stayed in the bag most of the time and I used it basically for the portrait series (See Below). Some days I went around with just the Ricoh inside the pocket of my shorts and I would take it outside holding in one hand like a pocket of cigarettes, spot a scene from a distance get closer and take pictures without looking at the screen. If I would go buying “fuel” at the local market down the road, for the family, the Ricoh would be always in one hand allowed me to take pictures even if I was carrying market bags on bought hands.

Cubans portraits

Cubans portraits

Cubans portraits

Cubans portraits

Cubans portraits

Cubans portraits

I m sort of happy because I can see that in the market there are more and more new options each day of small compact cameras with even better sensors, quicker focus and more general functions. Using this camera in the streets of Havana It was not exactly like my first love, the one and only Contax G2 black with the 28mm, but, I must admit that the feeling it come pretty closer.

Lorenzo Moscia

http://www.lorenzomoscia.com

You can buy the Ricoh GR these days for under $700 at Amazon – HERE.

45 Comments

  1. Do you recall what color effect or setting you used with your Ricoh in Cuba? Pics, all great, don’t look standard to my eye. I set my GR to Tav, f/6.3 1/125 and let the camera do the rest.

  2. Really like the pictures but wanted to confirm that they were all, including the portraits, taken with the GR. I am going to buy a GR or X100. Advice?

  3. Hi Lorenzo.

    My only thoughts on these pictures are…….. ‘its not about the camera!! ‘

    Wonderful images.

    Thanks

    Izzy

    • on the streets Cuban are very stress people, because of the way life unfolds, unpredictable and uncertain. we have also been educated since a young age (it’s changing now) that we can’t trust foreigners, and so, many of them wouldn’t like them to be taken in pictures of which they don’t know what the use will be. They don’t want to be part of a propaganda campaign that puts Cuba in a bad light, etc etc. In a few words, life in Cuba for the normal ordinary people is very tough. that’s why they look that serious.

  4. The street environment pictures are superb, but not the portraits to my way of thinking: too much big nose syndrome, though they’re marvellous subjects!

  5. I really liked both sets of photos.

    The streets of Cuba with their mix of old crumbling buildings, accented with painted walls and also the looks on people’s faces.

    The portraits with their narrow DOF also appeal to my tastes and I’d be very happy to have captured photos to remember my relatives with that looked like these.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. : Hi everyone and thanks a lot for the comments. Sandro grazie per il cappello!. Kit and Ben, I m using LR, with no emulation film. Just play with some black level contrast, and shooting always in Raw. Never tray the jpg. Kit, yes they might be flat but give you a lot of chance to play with wht them in post. I have too say that for an assignment I would still using the Mark III with 28 and the 6D with 50, carring the 135 f2 in the belt, the Cuban holiday with Ricoh was a plesent surprise, so from now on the Ricoh with stay in my poket too. Well, having the 50 1.2. and not using at 1.2 was not much of sense to me.I have been using the cheap 1.8 for a long time too, find the 1.2 used could let it go and I think I would nt sell it for long time. I agree that probably is not the best portrait focal, probably 85 or even the 135 are better choice. Michael, sometimes I got the closer I can but the faces would be too destort even if I fix it in post.. That I must say over this lens. I love the images, color and definition but at that value shouldn have that disotrsion. But in Cuba, where it stays most of the time at home, I felt that was interesting just using photographing people that where stopping by. In 2010 during the rescue of the 33 chilean miners I was doing a lot of 50 full open porotraits with leica 8.2 and 50 zeiss f2 and that was just grate. So I wa abit nostalgic, but now that I think about it that was more a 60 due to the crop factor!

  7. Hi Lorenzo,
    after looking at probably every single picture of your website I came to the point to say: outstanding! Striking colors, a “borderline”, but balanced monochrome. Absolutely experienced framing, the eye for the meaningful motive and a very good ability to get in contact to people.
    But the thing that drives me crazy is, that there is something behind all this I can´t catch, can´t analyse. It connects all the captures, no matter where they was taken.
    I would love to find out…..
    However, maximum respect for your work!
    Cheers,
    Oliver

  8. Great great shots !!! (GR)
    I have BIG dilema: I have chance to buy 6 monts old Coolpix A for 300€, also this Ricoh GR for 380€….
    I love the Ricohs colors and the “film look” of the pictures,…. But also the Nikon has better higher ISO, and pop colors (maybe to much digitalisch) ….
    I like Ricoh and Nikon to,……
    Which one to buy ? This is the BIG question …. :-/

    • In the end, the difference in price is not that considerable, on paper, I can’t say what your personal situation is 😉 but all in all, Ricoh seems to me an edge better than the Coolpix, what will define the choice, beyond specs of gear, is your personal feeling when you look at your images.
      It’s not that you will buy this cam or that cam and directly get the phenomenal pictures you’ve seen professional photographers have taken with the same though; you will have to do your homework, know your gear, learn how to see the light properly and capture the moment.
      success with your choice!

  9. Wonderful images that I doubt a Leica 28 Elmarit ASPH can beat. I have been using the Ricoh GR in NY City of late and its inobtrusiveness cannot be beat, nor the optical quality of the lens and brilliance of the sensor. In-camera B&W conversions are astonishing, with startling mid-range grey tones.

  10. I will echo the others, Lorenzo and say that the street pictures are in a word, superb. I own the GR and am also wondering what type of PP you’re doing to get that optimum sharpness and wish the exif were included.
    I shoot mostly in snap mode but there is still motion blur even at 500 sometimes. At any rate, I haven’t been to your website yet, but plan to bookmark it. The humorous thing is that I viewed the entire selection full screen before reading your description so I was wondering how you got those portraits with the GR! 🙂

    Thanks for any info you wish to share..

    Denis

  11. Some of the shots on your web site are fantastic. Really first class photography. I enjoyed your series here, but the post processing is not natural enough for my taste. I also shoot with a Ricoh GR, and find it the perfect camera to take to some of the not so safe places of the world. People certainly do not take much notice of it, but it is such a powerful camera in a small package.

  12. These are phenomenal – indeed, the best stuff at this site in a while IMO. And my tools exactly (ie GR with Canon 1.2 glass as a ‘complement’. And your site? Wow!

  13. The shots with the ricoh are lovely and do give a flavour of life and its rich tapestry in Cuba, I’m not a lover of the portraits I’ve no issue with a shallow depth of field but the important part needs to be sharp for me at least.

    I have the GR and I would have to say it renders images in a very leicaesque way it has its own signature which blows me away some times when I view an image. There are quite a few on my blog shot with it, I never tire of looking at them because of their unique quality. I think it is the perfect companion to have on a walkabout, it is disarming due to its size and folk tend to ignore it as it looks a typical touristy camera.

    This is what I mean http://www.serialphotographer.co.uk/archives/1672

  14. Hi Lorenzo,

    Just wanted to say, your website is absolutely amazing. So many thought provoking images.

  15. Hi Lorenzo,

    I like your Ricoh shots a lot. The portraits with the Canon have a totally different mood, perhaps you just had fallen to much in love with the 1.2 lens.

    Your website shows what photography can be and how much a single picture can tell about the human condition. Very,very,very inspiring site, thank you for sharing.

    Erik Neu

  16. Lorenzo, I went through your website and took a look at most of the albums. Really good stuff you got, congrats and amazing job! This is the kind of photography i will love to be doing.Will look at all the picts during the weekend more calmly.

  17. Great snapshots of life in Havana. It really is an amazing city to photograph. Well done!

    Lorenzo, I read online that the RAW files out of the Ricoh GR require heavy processing because they are extremely flat. And the JPG’s are not very good. Thoughts?

    Also, curious to know what you use for post if so. Do you use Lightroom, and/or film emulation software like VSCO? The Ricoh photos you’ve posted have a Leica-like quality to them. I use an M9 as my main camera and am really impressed with the colors!

    • The High Contrast B&W jpegs are very good from the Ricoh GR, infact I’d go as far to say they were superb. I don’t shoot RAW as my Mac is too old to install LR etc.. the higher ISO’s can be noisy, which can cause issues in low light, but I’ve not had too much cause to complain,but I quite like a bit of grit/grain.
      There are some shots with the GR on my Flickr

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/35008548@N03/11268322545/in/photostream

      This is a Jpeg in lowlight / night, hand held, not too noisy

  18. Love the title picture where a few guys are playing dressed smartly. Right next to them a man probably having a break from the day’s work, without much obvious interest.
    Love the processing, although in some pictures it looks too harsh. I wish Ricoh come up with a 50mm fixed lens. 28mm maybe is a bit too wide for me and making 35mm crop makes a bit less sense probably, using only part of the sensor.

  19. Hi Lorenzo. Thanks for the post. I ended up getting the Coolpix over the Ricoh, so I’m always interested in seeing the comparisons still. Loved the shots, especially the one with the policeman (?) in the alleyway.

    • Since when is a 50 a wide-angle Marek? I like this style of portraiture a lot. I would have gotten in closer though, and would have used f2.0 or 2.8 to get some DoF, whilst retaining the hazy background. Foreground doesn’t figure in this style of portraits. I do it a lot with either the 50/1.2AiS on an slr or the 58/1.4G on the 800E. Fuzzy noses don’t bother me.

  20. Hi Lorenzo! I think the portraits are the best, by far. Even if you missed exact focus and sharpness a few times, they are very impressive and, more importantly, authentic. The other ones, nice as they are, look a bit “normal” amd contrived, as a result of the post processing (although that was rather well done).

    So, thanks for sharing!

    • Like the portraits, but think the depth of field is a bit too shallow. Blurred noses in the foreground are distracting.

      Pics of the city have a lovely tonality. Disagree with Michie on that one!

      • 😉 I like them, sharp eyes looming from a blurry mist. Sam Hurd did his “Epic portraits”in that style; very impressive.

      • I am with you Nick. great shots of havana. very pleasant to look at and yes, the tonality is superb. not a hughe fan of the portraits. not the best focal lense for that kind of shots.

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