GR vs M9 vs RX1r

Ricoh GR with GW-3 (21mm conversion lens)

Ricoh GR with GW-3 (21mm conversion lens)

There are three main cameras that I rely on, the Leica M9 the Sony RX1r and most recently the Ricoh GR. There’s no need to go into too much detail with the M9; it’s an ‘old’ camera by now and has dozens of excellent reviews scattered around the web. The Sony RX1r is newer and still the only camera in the full-frame/fixed lens category. Then there’s the lightweight and compact Ricoh GR with its APS-C sensor and fixed 28mm f/2.8 lens. I’ve written about it quite a bit over the last few weeks and my thoughts on it haven’t changed much.

The Leica was something that I worked up to and saved for for quite some time. It took a long time to reach this point (read – it took a lot of convincing at home). I picked up the M8 and it lasted a few months before trading it in for the M9 a couple years ago. It’s probably safe to say that this camera will be with me for quite some time. Plus, if I sold it I’d loose a lot of points with my wife since I used the, “This is the last camera I’ll ever need” line.

Leica M9 with 50mm Summicron

Leica M9 with 50mm Summicron

Shooting with the M9 is slow, it’s not exact, it has more than its share of drawback, but at the same time there is nothing as rewarding as shooting with one of Leica’s M cameras. I should let you know that I haven’t owned a Leica film camera so I won’t even bring those into the conversation. What’s the beauty of the M9? It is a simple camera, but requires all of your attention. There is not much to fiddle with except for aperture, shutter speed and ISO. That’s all you really need anyway.

I’ll do my best to explain why I like shooting the M9 so much. I like that shooting with the M9 is a complete and engrossing experience from before you raise the camera to your eye to the final product. It is not a casual shooter. It is consuming and requires constant thinking and predicting. I find myself often approaching or predicting a scene and beginning to focus the lens before it gets to my eye. I like the tactile feedback from the aperture ring the solid clicks of the shutter speed dial and the metallic clicking sound when releasing the shutter. It’s a visceral, engaging experience that I haven’t had with any other camera. Put simply, it’s just a lot of fun.

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The Sony RX1r on the other hand is nothing like the like the M9, but when you see the results you get from such a small, and comparatively inexpensive, camera it’s hard to deny its standing as one of the best full frame cameras ever produced. It’s built extremely well, maybe not to the over-engineered extreme as the M9, but it’s a very, very solid camera. The Zeiss lens on front is as good as any Leica lens I’ve shot with and I often prefer the color images from the Sony over the M9. Unlike the M9, it’s an easy camera to shoot and doesn’t require as much effort as the M9. Obviously things like auto-focus greatly reduce the effort involved and the extreme range of acceptable ISO makes it a lot more flexible. At night, I only bring out the RX1r (I can’t afford the 50mm Noctilux…). The Sony also has all the gizmos you’d expect from a modern Sony like face detection, great video, dozens of pre-programed scene modes… It’s all there in one tiny package housing a giant sensor and beautiful lens. This is another camera I don’t want to give up any time soon.

Sony RX1r

Sony RX1r

Then there’s the amazing little Ricoh GR. I can find faults with it, but they are far outweighed by the positives. For starters, this is a compact camera with a relatively larger APS-C sensor and outstanding 28mm fixed lens. Add to that the best user interface that’s ever been jammed into a digital camera and you have a powerful, easy to use, compact camera. I was coming up from older generations of the GR and was already so happy with the handling, the menu system and the lens that when they decided to upgrade the sensor I was immediately sold. Drawbacks? There are two that come to mind. I think that other cameras with the same sensor size have better noise characteristics and the color balance is sometimes a little flat, but is correctable in post. One last thing about the GR that I can’t emphasize enough; it is hands down the most comfortable, ergonomically designed small camera I’ve ever used.

My thoughts on the GR might be summed up best with something I shared with my father at the end of this Hong Kong trip, “…I could have shot the whole weekend on the Ricoh and been very pleased.” It’s true, this is a remarkable little camera that punches way above its weight.

Hong Kong Photo Walk Day II: Sony RX1r and the Leica M9

Sony RX1r

Sony RX1r

Today was the second full day of collecting photos from around Hong Kong. Yesterday the Ricoh GR shined along with the Leica M9. Today was the Sony’s turn in the spotlight. Since I planned on shooting the majority of the day in the bright, sunny streets I screwed on a 2-stop neutral density filter so that I could take advantage of shooting wide open at f/2 on the RX1r. Like yesterday, the Leica images were taken with the 50mm Summicron.

All of the black and white image were converted from raw files in Lightroom and treated in Silver Efex Pro 2 with either the Ilford Delta 100 Pro or the Kodak 100 TMAX Pro film simulations. Both of these simulations are very similar in that they are high contrast, with strong blacks, but the Ilford renders a slightly brighter image compared to the Kodak convertion.

Sony RX1r

Sony RX1r

Leica M9 with 50mm Summicron

Leica M9 with 50mm Summicron

Sony RX1r

Sony RX1r

Sony RX1r

Sony RX1r

Leica M9 with 50mm Summicron

Leica M9 with 50mm Summicron

Hong Kong Photo Walk with the Leica M9 and Ricoh GR

Ricoh GR with 21mm conversion lens.

Ricoh GR with 21mm conversion lens.

Cycling has taken away a big chunk of time from my photography. It’s OK, I don’t mind it, but I really needed to swing some time behind the camera, so I booked a solo weekend to Hong Kong for the sole purpose of spending some quality time behind the camera. I also had the extra incentive of a relatively new camera in my kit. The post won’t be accompanied with a lot of opinion about these two cameras, instead it will be a photo journal of a day on the streets of Hong Kong.

Leica M9 with 50mm Summicron.

Leica M9 with 50mm Summicron.

Leica M9 with 50mm Summicron.

Leica M9 with 50mm Summicron.

Ricoh GR with 21mm conversion lens.

Ricoh GR with 21mm conversion lens.

Ricoh GR with 21mm conversion lens.

Ricoh GR with 21mm conversion lens.

Leica M9 with 50mm Summicron

Leica M9 with 50mm Summicron

Playing Around with the Nokia Lumia 1020

I came across a Nokia Lumia 1020 last week that was being offered at a great price (it is a really old phone as far as phones go after all), and couldn’t pass it up. Like many others I had read about the camera on this phone being somewhat of a ground breaker. It offers 41mp, has a relatively large sensor for a cell phone, it has optical image stabilization and shoots raw files in a handy DNG format.

The one thing I was really looking for was a decent camera to accompany me on my rides, so what you’ll see here are mostly gathered from my rides over the last few days.

Dueling saxophones in the saxophone hut.

Dueling saxophones in the saxophone hut.

I came across these noodles at the end of a long ride and was tempted, but I had plans to meet family and friends at a nearby cafe for lunch.

I came across these noodles at the end of a long ride and was tempted, but I had plans to meet family and friends at a nearby cafe for lunch.

My view for 12 to 15 hours a week.

My view for 12 to 15 hours a week.

So far I’m pretty happy with the phone. My biggest complaint is that the yellow channel seems way out of line and needs some work in post and in artificial light the white balance is way off. Fingers are crossed for a firmware update to correct this issues. If not, I still have my iPhone and don’t plan on getting rid of it yet.

Wandering Around the Neighborhood

This corner has a few peanut stands to choose from. They're quite good.

This corner has a few peanut stands to choose from. They’re really quite good.

I wanted to give the wide angle conversion lens a legitimate outing last night, but didn’t have the energy to make it down to my usual hunting grounds. So, tonight I headed out, but stayed close to home. I left the house on foot around dusk with the Ricoh GR and GW-3 lens attached. For the majority of photos here the camera was set up in TAv mode with a few of the photos shot in Av.

Like many of the other black and white images lately, they were converted from DNG files in Lightroom and processed in Silver Efex Pro 2 with the Kodak 100 TMAX Pro film simulation. A few of the photos have also had the shadows lifted.

Any time I get a chance to change the perspective and shoot from above, I take it.

Any time I get a chance to change the perspective and shoot from above, I take it.

There are countless food options around here and settling on one can be a tough choice.

There are countless food options around here and settling on one can be a tough choice.

This church stands out on this busy, crowded corner.

This church has always caught my eye as it stands out on this busy, crowded corner.

A 50cc scooter is plenty of for a family of three.

A 50cc scooter is plenty for a family of three. (Ricoh GR – Positive film simulation)

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Mysterious door.

A mysterious door.

This shoe store really belongs in the Cluttered post from a few days ago.

This shoe store really belongs in the Cluttered post from a few days ago.

A little peace in the city.

A little peace in the city.

Ricoh GR Wide Angle Adaptor (GW-3): Out of the Box Impressions

Yes, I am really enjoying the new GR. It easily fits in the messenger bag I tote back and forth to work, it fits in a jacket pocket and it fits in my jersey pocket when cycling. Some of the recent additions though go against one of the GR’s greatest strengths, its compact size. I’m OK with that on occasion and it’s nice to have the option to strip it down whenever needed. On this rainy evening my wife and I took a drive over to the local camera shop and picked up the GW-3 Wide Conversion Lens. It has a conversion factor of 0.75 so the 28mm lens becomes equivalent to a 21mm fov when attached. I’m pretty happy at 35mm, 28mm is a little stretch, but 21mm is definitely out of my comfort zone, but there are some advantages to shooting street photography at 21mm. On first impression I was surprised how heavy the lens is and once attached it does make the GR a little front heavy. Here are a few photos of what it looks like mounted.

Front view of the GW-3 conversion lens attached to the Ricoh GR.

Front view of the GW-3 conversion lens attached to the Ricoh GR.

It adds about the same amount of bulk as the GH-3 hood, but of course is much heavier than adding the hood.

It adds about the same amount of bulk as the GH-3 hood, but of course is much heavier than adding the hood.

Another view of the GW-3 conversion lens.

Another view of the GW-3 conversion lens.

Not sure what I think of the rubber hood yet.

Not sure what I think of the rubber hood yet.

Based on a few around-the-house photos I am impressed that a relatively inexpensive conversion lens would give you such good quality. Photos posted have been corrected for exposure, color and distortion in Lightroom.

Since we were already at the camera shop I thought I'd pick up a few extra packs  of Fuji Instax 210 Wide film.

(Shot with Ricoh GR and GW-3 Wide Conversion Lens) Since we were already at the camera shop I thought I’d pick up a few extra packs of Fuji Instax 210 Wide film.

(Shot with Ricoh GR and GW-3 Wide Conversion Lens) Two egg ham and cheese omelet coming up.

(Shot with Ricoh GR and GW-3 Wide Conversion Lens) Two egg ham and cheese omelette coming up.

(Shot with Ricoh GR and GW-3 Wide Conversion Lens) Two egg omelet coming up.

(Shot with Ricoh GR and GW-3 Wide Conversion Lens) These local eggs have rich dark yokes and taste great.

Titanium, carbon and rubber, a great combination.

(Shot with Ricoh GR and GW-3 Wide Conversion Lens) Titanium, carbon and rubber, a great combination.

Below is an uncorrected DNG file. The distortion is pretty easy to see here, but is corrected with a couple clicks and takes just a few seconds. 20141011-R0000837

Cluttered Spaces and a few Other Snaps

I’ve been walking home from work the last couple days for a couple reasons. 1. Up until about a week ago it sits around 94ºf with high humidity, but with the last typhoon the weather has changed for the better. Now it’s a ‘comfortable’ 82ºf which is a lot more pleasant to walk home in. 2. It gives me a few more chance to take the Ricoh GR out for a spin.

I don’t like clutter. I’m much more of a minimalist, which is why the following photos are so hard for me to look at. Somehow, this is a workable environment, it just couldn’t be my environment.

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There’s a lot going on in there.

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Local framing shop

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Shoe repair

Along with the clutter I’ve found in a few other slightly more pleasant street scenes.

Umbrellas for sunny weather, umbrellas for the rain and sometimes just because.

Umbrellas for sunny weather, umbrellas for the rain and sometimes just because.

One of the few open spaces I found on my walk home today.

One of the few open spaces I found on my walk home today.

Space is a precious commodity in this city.

Space is a precious commodity in this city.

Waiting outside the doctor's office.

Waiting outside the doctor’s office.

All but one of these images were edited from DNG files in Silver Efex Pro 2 and treated with the Kodak 100 TMAX Pro film simulation.

BTW - This scooter just about ran me over a block from home.

BTW – This scooter just about ran me over a block from home.