Most plans are pretty good until they aren’t. I know I had it all planned out in my head as I waited for the birth of my son – the cameras, the lenses, and even the settings. But my son came four weeks ahead of schedule while I was in the hospital due to issues of my own.
At the time, I was 15 years into photography having tried all sorts of systems. And when you build up a bit of gear, sometimes having too many choices is the enemy.
But fate took care of that.
The day before my son was born I took myself to the hospital as I could not hold down food. Later that same day, my wife felt she needed to have herself checked by her ob-gyn. It turned out that the amniotic sac was leaking and she had to give brith within the next 24 hours. She was not allowed to leave the hospital and I had to stay too.
Through a combination of timing and luck both the mother and her photographer were not prepared.
We called a family member to bring over some clothes and the “the tiny black camera on the beside table”. Now we had some clothes and a fixed-lens compact camera with one battery— it gave me 294 shots that day (right about the average number of shots one per charge).
Here are some shots from the delivery room and the hospital’s nursery. I shot DNG + JPEG in High-Contrast B&W at Auto ISO. The photos you see are the JPEGs that came straight out of the camera or were converted from DNG in-camera to Positive Film. There wasn’t any LR retouching done except for lifting the shadows in a handful of photos.
It is almost six years since that day in the Delivery Room. Looking back, it was the perfect camera for the occasion. It handled the job masterfully while allowing me to be present and supportive to my my wife. As a bonus, I have photos I really love and enjoy looking at every now and again. I’m glad fate made that decision for me otherwise I’d have 3 cameras in there and no good photos.
Have I used my GR much? Not really. I find it to be a special purpose camera these days when the occasions call for a better camera than an iPhone or when my M rangefinder is too much to take around. Those few occasions are maybe going out to do street photography in places that aren’t so safe or at social occasions where I want a competent tool but I don’t want to get sucked in the photography too much.
Here’s my take on the Ricoh GRII:
- It is a great camera for portability, quality, and convenience. While the lens, Snap Focus, size, and ergonomics get a lot of praise, I feel the excellent Effect Modes, the in-camera DNG processing, and WiFi are equally great.
- It is for times when photography isn’t your #1 priority. It is made for you to be in moments with the chance to capture them. In my use case, this embodies the best of the genre Point and Shoot.
- It could use a few improvements on AF and battery life. Many have said this, but I guess it could be plus because it might teach you to anticipate and react faster within the camera’s limitations. But please do considering buying at least two spare batteries and a dedicated charger because the default is charge-by-cable.
While this camera has seen little use the last few years, I got a full return on my investment for the fine camera it was on the day my son was born. I have been keeping it around for that infrequent special purpose and each time, it put a smile on my face.
Find more of my photos on Instagram and my Leica M8 review here.
Contribute to 35mmc for an Ad-free Experience
There are two ways to experience 35mmc without the adverts:
Paid Subscription - £2.99 per month and you'll never see an advert again! (Free 3-day trial).
Content contributor - become a part of the world’s biggest film and alternative photography community blog. All our Contributors have an ad-free experience for life.
Sign up here.
10 thoughts on “The Ricoh GRii in the Delivery Room – When Less is More Than Enough”
Great story, great photography, great Dad. I photographed my first daughter’s birth in 1991 with a Nikon FM2 and am now inspired to go back and look at the prints! Thanks for sharing.
Hi Stewart, thanks! I’m happy that this is bring you back to printing a special and joyous milestone in life. I’m jealous that you’re going to print negatives. Have loads of fun!
Great story! Some of the pics, with the dramatic contrasting light, remind me of W. Eugene Smith’s “Country Doctor” story.
I photographed our daughter’s entrance into the world back in 1986. I used a Nikon F2 & a 50mm Nikkor (1.4). Tri-X. I too, need to dig up the negs again and reprint.
Hi Castelli Daniel, your comment is flattering. I looked up Country Doctor and those images are absolutely special. LIke Stewart above, I hope those negatives take you back to time of joy and awe. Cheers!
Excellent photos! The GR is a great camera for just such as this. I don’t use mine much either but there’s nothing that can replace it when I need it. I even took mine to my last colonoscopy. No, I don’t have photos of the procedure itself–I was asleep during that and, besides, no one wants to see my fat ass. I do have good photos pre and post procedure. A camera made for hospital photos, I guess.
Hi Dogman, you nailed it “there’s nothing that can replace it when I need it”. I guess this is why despite the significant upgrade, I can’t bring myself to get the GRIII — I don’t actually get to use it all that much. I hope your health is better after the colonoscopy, it is an experience for sure and good thing patients are out cold when they do it!
Very expressive and powerful photos of such a life changing event! Thanks!
I would love to have a go with this camera – I had been looking for a small quality digital compact but this along with all the others are way out of my budget range – so I been using small old film ones instead!
Hi Ibraar! Thank you for the kind words. This was a big moment for someone like me who only really wanted to be someone’s father!
From what I know, the GR1 is has the same sensor as the GR2 and if you can find one in good condition it might not be that expensive these days. Old film ones are cheaper for sure but the price of film where I am has really pushed me to the digital side. I have kept though my processing gear and an old scanner just in case. The GR has my full endorsement — small, fun, and those JPEGs are very nice.
Great photos and narrative!
I totally relate to this. Funny enough, I also used my grii to report on my sons birth in 2018, including a video of the actual delivery moment and first cry. Same reason as you, so small and great image quality in any conditions.
Hope you’re enjoying combining fatherhood and the grii!
There must be some secret GR club we don’t know about, Alex! Thoroughly enjoying both. I’m old so it I get tired keeping up with the movement and all the questions but having a camera in hand gives me a bit of extra energy 🙂 I hope you’re enjoying your camera and fatherhood as well!