1 Feb 2017

Ricoh GR User Review

This is my user experience with the Ricoh GR digital camera. 

I'll get this out of the way quick, for all you spec and gear guys out there this is not for you, I do not care about the specifications on paper of a camera, I go out, shoot and see what I get, I form my opinion from that and that alone. So here is a real quick run down on the camera before I dive into the good stuff.

The Ricoh GR is a 16 megapixel compact digital camera boasting an apsc cmos sensor with no AA filter. There you go, now let's get on to how the camera actually performs in day to day use.

The first thing I noticed with the GR is how small and compact it is. It fits into a jacket pocket in a small case or in my jeans pocket without a case, I actually forget its on me most of the time. Carrying a larger camera for a lot of situations can be a bit of a hassle but with the GR it's just there for when I need it. It's always with me (like my iPhone but with way better image quality).

A lot of people might argue that there are other small cameras out there that Can give you the same or similar results (Sony RX100's, Fuji X100's, Leica X1 and X2, Nikon Coolpix A, Fuji x70) and yes this is true but having tried them all, I can truly say that the combition of high image quality, features, controls and size, the Ricoh GR wins out over all of them for my style of shooting (this is subjective and other people may get along better with a different camera). I'll go out on a limb and say it's my all time favourite digital camera and having worked in a camera shop for a good few years, trying most (if not all) current and past cameras this is a pretty bold statement. 

Now I shoot a lot in documentary style. When I see a moment I simply just want to capture it. The Ricoh comes out of my pocket, turns on quickly (no I haven't checked it in milliseconds) and it just fires (no lens cap to take off, which annoyed me with some of the other apsc compact cameras). It is a 28mm (35mm equivalent) so great for capturing scenes quickly. Although it's a 28mm lens you can configure a custom button so that it can crop to a 35mm and 47mm lens, you do lose the resolution obviously in this but very useful for when you need it (28mm and 35mm are by far my preferred focal lengths) and not being a pixel peeper I have used both crops to get shots that turned out great. I learned a long time again to stop really caring about overall resolution/sharpness etc and to focus more on the moment and feeling of the shot. So for my personal workflow it fights in perfectly. 

After saying all that I can tell you the Ricoh results are sharp with a crazy amount of detail (lack of AA filter helps here). I love the black and white modes in the camera (both the standard and high contrast) and the positive film simulation. It's the only camera that I can trust the out of camera jpegs, I often use them with zero tweaking whatsoever. Nowadays I prefer to keep my computer time to a minimum so getting the shots as close as I can in camera is of high importance to me. The DNG files are really nice to work with as well, great tones and detail. I turn of all noise reduction in camera which keeps all the detail with no annoying smudging at higher ISO's. 

One drawback with the Ricoh GR initially is that it was a bit annoying to set up and remembering where everything is. I can set so many different custom buttons that remembering where they all are took a few days. Once you have spent a few days with it the camera quickly gets out of the way and the shooting becomes second nature. I have set my 35mm crop button up where I like it, I have the picture simulation modes on the side of the camera, I have the snap focus button set up and I have the ISO dedicated dial (that is my favourite feature of the camera) it is so simple to change the ISO no digging into a menu. Now I'm not going to say that to get to some other features isn't fiddly but this is all I use and I know exactly where they are, once you are set up it doesn't get in the way of shooting.

The autofocus is pretty good actually. In good light it's more than fast enough for quick street shots. It's always accurate in my tests (which I can't say for a lot of the other cameras I have used). In lowlight it's Focus speed definitely slows down and In really low light it kinda sucks but it will eventually find Focus and be accurate which I can't say for a lot of other large sensor compacts. The Leica X1 and X2 and Nikon coolpix A just wouldn't find Focus. So for most of what I do the autofocus is great and more than capable of keeping up with fast action street and documentary work and as I said I have found it to be very accurate. I use it on centre Focus point exclusively as I do on any digital camera.

As I stated above in good-semi low light the autofocus works excellent and more than capable for fast street work. A really cool feature is the snap Focus mode. This allows the user to preset a distance in metres and when you press the shutter all the way down it will shoot at that distance. I have found it to be so valuable when something unfolds in front of me and I don't have a chance to think. The camera in manual Focus mode is fitted with a really nice distance scale so you can set it to f8 and see what's going to be in Focus either side of that distance (I usually set it to 2.5 metres) and since it's a 28mm equivalent lens you get plenty in Focus for quick street shots but to be honest the autofocus is so good I use that most of the time. It is nice to have the option to zone Focus like I would on my Leica M6 film camera. The exposure compensation is on a dedicated button on the right of the camera, very well placed and so easy to use for quick alterations to exposure on the run. 

The cameras ISO performance impressed me a lot. I regularly shoot it at 1600 and 3200 (and not scared to go up to 6400) in black and white mode and up to 1600 in colour. Way better than I expected. Like I said earlier if you turn noise reduction off the high ISO files retain great detail but will get grainy. I find the grain pleasant, the only other digital cameras that I have seen results of detail retention at high ISO is the Leica digitals. No smudged mess. Most the other camera manufacturers (even with noise reduction off) get smudgey at High ISO. I choose detail and grain over soft and smooth any day. 

It has a decent macro mode. 10cm I believe. I didn't think I would use it but have found I do regularly. A nice little feature. 

A very overlooked part of a camera is the handling. The grip on the GR is really nice. I never feel like I'm going to drop it, and fits my hand perfectly. I find a lot of other cameras are pretty slippy with a crap grip (if any). I can use the GR one handed which is pretty cool only using my other hand to change the picture mode button on the left side of the body. The screen is also decent on the GR. I can see it from all angles and is useable in bright light. I thought I would miss a tilting screen but so far I have not. it gives accurate representation of how the final image will look on a computer screen and you can easily zoom in to check Focus. Can't complain.

The main thing with the Ricoh GR is I have fun shooting it. The end quality is great and I love the look of the files, like I said I can trust the jpegs so much I can use them straight out of camera a lot of the time. In fact I just can trust the camera in general (Focus, exposure, white balance) which is a big deal. Once set up, everything is where I want it and I never have to dig into the menu. It's always on me so I get shots I simply would miss if I had a bigger camera in my bag and it's so small, light and inconspicuous I can get shots where other cameras would give me away, nobody takes it serious, a big plus for street and intimate shots. It's a great camera if you want small size but with great image quality. 

I have fun with it, I get creative with it and I love the images I get from it. After all that's the purpose of any good image making tool. 

I can highly recommend the Ricoh GR. 

Examples from the camera below. Some images have very minimal contrast adjustments but most are straight jpegs out of camera. Most are at 28mm focal length unless otherwise stated.

below: 47mm crop mode

Below: 35mm crop mode

below: 35mm crop mode

Below: 35mm crop mode

Below: High ISO colour

Below: High ISO colour

Below: macro mode

Thanks for reading!

10 Aug 2016

Dead Ink Design website is now live. New limited edition logo tee available now with a whole load of new designs coming in the next few weeks. Check out the site and our first shirt and let us know what you think.



25 Jun 2014

First of many artworks for sale

A Fun small Hunter S Thompson canvas painting for sale to get us started.About 4" x 3" and comes with little easel to display it on. Ink on canvas. £12 + p&p. get in touch if interested.

andrew@drewportfolio.com or andreask0077@hotmail.com
will post worldwide, I am in the UK so take into account the different postage prices.


18 Feb 2014

Artwork/Organic/Nature/Health/Primal/Functional/Wellness and butter in your damn coffee!

I have lived in large cities all my adult life (about 11 years now) but have recently moved back to the area where I grew up. Sandend , a small village in the North East of Scotland that sits right next to a few beaches, a harbour, hills, forests and it's having an unexpected influence on how I look at my creative endeavours, health and life in general.

In the past I have been quite a control freak over how I would approach a creative project. Now living by the coast of Scotland and being able to go for a walk on the beach, hills and being near the sea and trees it is starting to influence how i'm looking at things. A more organic approach to artwork and life seems to be appaering.

The change in my artwork and health are the things that are most noticeable, everything seems to be much more organic and free flowing, less attention to strict details in the artwork and more experimentation. I am really into adding the organic side of nature I now live by and see everyday into my artwork and life in general.

There is something so calming and healing about walking across a beautiful beach barefoot or climbing some hills, almost a meditative mental reset everyday that is becoming a massive influence on everything I do. Finding  some crazy, old , aged, warped, beaten, scratched up driftwood with amazing visual character and adding this into my work has almost become like a collaboration with nature. Rather than painting on a primed white canvas (which I still do by the way) seems a little dull now, it has it's place in my work but it is no longer the standard way start to my painting projects. Finding a way to collaborate with what nature has created can lead to some interesting results that I could never reach with just my creation alone.

Herre is a pic of what I'm talking about, this is a quick improvisation tribal/psychedelic piece done recently by burning the found driftwood.

Here is where I tried to add the organic, primal style to a functional object,
I call it 'The Primal Board' it's a 38" Longboard (the name is inspired by Onnit's Primal bell range).

Functional/Mobility/Primal Fitness

Artwork isn't the only thing that has taken a turn, my general health and fitness have changed. After suffering from some chronic injuries, most of my adult life has been limited to what my body would let me get away with on a day to day basis. Somedays I couldn't do anything, I had tons of different physiotherapists, chiropractors, doctors etc, I tried many different strengthening routines with either little or no relief. This is where the whole organic/primal/natural outlook started to help me heal these chronic problems. Looking into and trying some mobility/primal movements and workouts I started to realise that this was helping in a big way. Moving the way the body was designed to move was something that all professionals had overlooked, so yoga, general mobility drills and primal movement videos started to change my body, feeling looser, more flexible and stronger everyday and it cost me no money at all (just an internet connection). I mean its so simple, do natural human movements through full range of motion everyday, it's amazing how this can change your body. 

As I got stronger I could add in some more resistance and up the work load but not going back to the standard gym based isolated "body building" workouts I had been advised to do, but keep to the primal/mobility/yoga side of things, large whole body movements that would help keep the body in balance. This is where being near the beach and hills comes in. Going for a walk across the beach then up and down hills is a great work out especially when you add in some creative touches such as some hill sprints, putting a rock in your backpack, picking up a driftwood log and carrying it or flipping it, climbing some small rocks (don't kill yourself by climbing sheer rock faces folks, just small manageable stuff). These things have helped me get stronger and fitter than I ever could have thought. Injuries are significantly improved to the point i'm looking at being 100% very soon and going to start some Jiu jitsu classes (something I have always wanted to do but never in my wildest dreams thought I could). The trick is I think is that after years of sitting in front of a computer living a less active lifestyle (like most of has do or have done at some point), eating junk food and maybe drinking a little too much booze, it takes it's toll on the body and you have to get back that lost range of motion, flexibility, strength and balance that we were all born with. So these functional movements and workouts helped completely change my life and If anyone is in the same or similar situation as I was I highly recommend looking into these things (I will add sites to visit at the end) and like I said it doesn't have to cost anything, I researched this stuff online (there are some great people giving out great content) and have managed to get the results the professionals couldn't, simply by not giving up, learning about my body, how it should work, the basic functional human movements we should all be able to accomplish and building from there.  A great site to check out is: Kelly Starrett's mobilityWod http://www.mobilitywod.com/about/kellystarrett/ and his book 'How To Become A Supple Leopard' has been invaluable to me. 

Here is a shot of me making the most of what's around me, your creative ideas are just as valid in health and fitness as they are in painting. You want fun functional strength and conditioning here you go. 

Some log flips, I have various weights and sizes of driftwood logs, this is the long awkward one,
great for balance and stability and the best for climbing hills with or walking longer distances on your shoulder. 

Put it on your shoulder and go for a walk, climb a hill or just do some squats.

Log flips up hill, this will get your conditioning up quick. All these movements are natural movements your body should be able to accomplish (obviously start with light weight and practice good form as you would any gym movement) and it gets you outside. 

When I don't have much time I have these things in my back garden. Only the kettlebell and sledge hammer cost money (£30 combined) the rest I salvaged or asked local farms and factories if they had spare tires, sandbags etc. Maybe a little unconventional but all very useful for a light functional strength, and conditioning work out. Just so you know I am not opposed to gyms I just don't have a decent one near me with the equipment I like to use and I like to be outside if possible. To be honest you can do amazing functional bodyweight workouts with no items. 


The last part of this (now very long rambling story) is diet. We are all taught that a low fat diet rich in things like wholegrain bread and pasta is the way to go. So through all my struggles with inflammation and injury I thought I was eating healthy, a diet rich in lean protein (chicken and turkey breast etc), wholgrain breads and pasta and low in fats. After a good year of research I have found that not to be the case (well atleast for me), I am not going to go into all the details as there are people out there like Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson and many others that have said it better than I ever could. After eating this 'healthy diet'  for a decade I had really bad inflammation, I had constant brain fog, lack of focus, crazy ups and downs all day, prone to depression and literally no energy and would have to lie down a lot. After researching a more paleo lifestyle (I suggest looking into this if you really want to change your life) and the benefits of cutting out gluten products (I didn't even know about gluten up to this point) and having a higher intake of good fats such as coconut oil, grass fed butter (man I never would have eaten butter before , gotta stay lean and in shape you know) and better quality meats such as grass fed steak. I decided just to go for it, I mean I live in this beautiful area surrounded by farms where I can get great meat, eggs and fresh organic veg and I can tell you the change was dramatic and instant. I definitely noticed the difference with cutting gluten out, my body changed shape, even my face just leaned out in a week or so and the higher fats in the diet was amazing, for the first time in as long as I can remember I had crazy energy, I even felt stronger and I hadn't worked out that week, my concentration and focus increased, man if this was put in a pill everyone would be taking it. With this high fat, high veg, low sugar (no sugar), no gluten I was getting leaner, stronger, more muscular, more focused, more energetic, more confident and the overall inflammation in my body was decreasing rapidly so the first time in my adult life I could draw, paint and play guitar free from pain, man i'm not ashamed to say I felt like crying it was such a turnaround from that decade of torture.

Like I said earlier I am not the one to tell you all the ins and outs of this type of diet as I am still learning everyday and will be for a long time but guys like Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson have it down and have great content online for you if your'e interested. I can just tell you my experience and the way it has benefited me. I have now been experimenting with this diet for nearly a year and finding different recipes/combinations etc, one of my favourite things is putting butter and mct oil in your coffee, man the energy benefits are unreal. You get such a great focus and there is no crash from the coffee, it creates this slow release when blended with the butter and oil and it tastes delicious (add in some organic stevia and your'e ballin!) I first heard about this through Tait Fletcher (an ex MMA fighter turned actor and stuntman) on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, his enthusiasm had me intrigued and coming from an athlete I decided to give it a go and man am I glad I did. It is all about high quality single origin beans mixed with grass fed butter and MCT oil (which is a an extract from coconut oil) to give you this sustained energy and focus, it also works as a fasting tool, you can drink this in the morning and not have to eat until much later in the day with no hunger or cravings throughout your day. Tait has since joined forces with another MMA fighter and actor Keith Jardine to create Caveman Coffee. They at this time offer two different beans 'Black Diamond' and White Gold' and lets face it it's the coolest name for a coffee brand ever! 

Its weird as it seems the better I eat, the more mobility and functional training I do, the more I get outside, the stronger I get, the fitter I get, the more focused and relaxed my mind gets, the more ideas I have, the more creative I am. It's an awesome cycle that I never would have thought would work but it does.

So I suppose thats it, I'm not sure why I wrote this but ultimately I thought it might help someone who stumbles across it who may have had similar issues to me and maybe needs a little steering in a new direction. I am not a writer so this may not read as smooth as I would like but hey I hope some of it might be helpful or even just an interesting read about my journey. I'm also so thankful that there are people out there willing to spread this valuable information that I stumbled upon in the first place, Thank you!

My coffee cup is empty and I need a refill


Andrew Kelly

"Civilize the mind but make savage the body." - Chairman Mao

Check out these sites:

Robb Wolf

Mark Sisson

Kelly Starrett

Caveman Coffee

Joe Rogan Podcast (this is where I first heard about all these topics mentioned in the first place)

Onnit. A great supplement company that I personally use.

I get all my Onnit stuff and MCT oil, Grass Fed Whey Protein, Stevia etc from XBrain which is the UK distributor of Onnit and other great products.