Since this morning, I’m the proud owner of a Ricoh GR1. I’ve really longed to try this camera out, so I thought I would try to give a day by day report or review of my early experiences with it, and how it compares to my current carry everywhere Olympus XA2
This morning I took a slight detour to fetch the Ricoh GR1 from the local parcel station. Mind you, it was freezing heavily, minus 7°C, so you can imagine how eager I was to lay my hands on this thing. At the office (what better place…) I opened the parcel, fearing the worst as always with purchases from eBay. I had exchanged some emails with the seller to make sure the camera was OK which is apparently not always evident with the Ricoh GRs. So I opened the parcel and there it was, well packaged, my new Ricoh GR – exactly as described, with its little pouch and manual.
First thought…. what a gorgeous camera! It means business, really, it’s got the look. I take it up, turn it on and with a little whirrrr the lens extends. Everything looks clean and tidy, even the small dent that the seller had described scrupulously in his listing. A quick checkup discloses nothing special. Focus seems to work as does the flash. The top LCD screen with shooting information is just fine… no complaint.
But then it’s time for work… yeah, nasty stuff that happens between all the good time you could have.
I have to wait until noon to load a film (HP5+ of course) and hear the little motor wind all the film onto the spool. Yes, a strange beast that GR1! It first empties the film canister, counts the frames up to 37 or 38 and then counts down when you shoot. A great idea, because if ever you happen to accidentally open the back of the camera, all the frames you already shot will be safe in the canister – 10 points for Ricoh!
It’s very cold today, but dry with a splendid winter sun – the 400ISO film will be overexposed I guess but Ilford’s HP5+ is VERY tolerant in this department, so I don’t worry. I go for a brisk walk in the city and man hope that camera just screams to be used.
It’s a joy to shoot one-handed, nobody notices that small black brick in your hand. I bring it to my eye and shoot away, I shoot from the hip, the camera dangling in my hand…. wonderful!
There are two I noticed from the start. First, the shutter button does not have a very pronounced half-press-point, so I released the shutter by mistake a couple of times. Annoying, but something I might adapt to in time. Of course, it’s contender, the XA2 has no half-press shutter button at all – it’s all or nothing with it.
Second thing I regret a bit is the viewfinder information which is complete, with approximate shutter speed and focus distance and confirmation, but the displayed information is quite dim. It might be just my camera as I heard that this can be a problem with the GR1 but I have no possibility to compare it to another for the moment.
Size? Yeah, the GR1 is slim, extremely so! It’s slimmer than the XA2 (with the lens retracted), same height but a bit longer… So it fits any pocket, like the XA2, in unobtrusive and highly portable.
There’s 18 frames remaining on the roll… so I leave you until tomorrow when I’ll finish and develop the film and with a bit of luck I can show you some nice results. For now, the GR1 is just great – I like it at least as much as my XA2 (sorry old pal, but you know I really love you too). I was afraid that the motor noise would be too loud, but though not as quiet as my Contax Tvs (and certainly no way as noiseless as the XA2), it’s OK for me.
Just in from the cold! As cold as yesterday and no sun today. Just the normal Luxembourgish winterly grayness. The Ricoh did not let me down, though I don’t know if the battery is new or years old – anyways the camera does not complain yet, so I guess it’s happy.
The one who could do some complaining is my Olympus XA2…. I’m starting to seriously bond with the GR1, despite the niggles about the shutter button and viewfinder.
The wrist strap is a tad too long… I’ll have to adjust it a bit as I like them tight. Not a real problem. And the winding sound is audible, even outside in the streets – could attract some unwanted attention, but then there’s always a bright smile and a courteous ‘thank you’ for my subject.
As for the yesterday’s other complaints, I am adapting to them. The shutter button needs a thoughtful half-press and the viewfinder information is… well it’s there, you just have to look better.
All things taken into account and being conscious that nothing is perfect, I can say that this camera is a real treat. Just let me develop that roll tonight and I’ll give you my conclusion for today.
Part of the scans are done, but I’m tired now – going to bed.
Treated some to a quick dose of Lightroom and here are the first results:
At last, I’m done scanning the rest of the film! I have to say that of 37 exposures, I found about a small dozen worthy of further consideration. Not bad really – imagine your digital shots… do you get such a success ratio? Not that I’m saying that the photographs are outstanding. Of course they are not – they are mine after all. But I like them and enjoyed tweaking them further.
Flare, sure it has some, not too much but in this shot right into the sun it’s obvious but adds a bit to the picture.
There’s even one I like a lot, which I could have used in my ‘From The Darkroom Floor’ post I wrote some week ago or two:
Sometimes a blurry photograph tells a story after all!
All told, I love the results. Autofocus is good, apart from the frames when I was too much in a hurry. That seems a problem with this camera. It looks and feels so stealthy that I am tempted to really act too stealthy and whisk the camera away after a shot…. producing a nice blur.
But the good stuff is really good, as in sharp and well exposed.
Of course I’ll need more time with his great camera. But I feel we will bond nicely and hopefully for a long time.
I did not go into the specifics of the Ricoh GR cameras as for example the Snap Focus which is great, but just wanted to tell you about my experience.
And here we come to the main problem! The Ricoh GR1 is not considered the most reliable camera. Of course, it is old – near 20 years now, and Ricoh apparently did not use the best stuff. The magnesium chassis of the camera and the general feel are not at fault of course. The camera looks and feels solid. It’s the small stuff that is bound to give up the ghost sooner or later – the LED screen on top, the winding motor, the viewfinder display, even the lens motor are said to stop working very often.
But then, my Olympus XA2 is bound to fail one day too…
Will I enjoy this camera for a long time? Not sure, though I tend to treat my gear cautiously. I guess I’ll use it as long as it will last, knowing that there is no more such a beautiful film camera in production!
Thanks for reading and this time, I’ll urge you to try the Ricoh GR1! The GR1 is the ‘cheapest’ of the bunch, the GR1s and v models being much more sought after, aka more expensive. But the first one, the GR1 does all you need.
A truly pocketable, enjoyable full frame (film) camera! Sorry XA2 but I guess you’ll have to stay home more often.
One Month / 5 Rolls Later, a true account
It’s been exactly one month today since I received my Ricoh GR1. I am sad to say that I have very bad news!
I shot 5 rolls with the camera during the past weeks, without a hitch. Great pictures, all in focus (except when I was shaking the thing around too much), all perfectly exposed. I let the camera rest on my shelf for some days, a well deserved holiday for it. Then one evening I fancied to load another roll for the next day. I took it down, pressed the power button just to hear it’s happily whirring lens motor and….. nothing!
Not a sound, no lens extending, nothing!
A small chill runs down my spine. Are those rumors about Unreliable Ricoh true after all? Ah, OK, must be the battery! I have a new one and load it into the camera, close the battery door and the Ricoh wakes up. Cool! I load my film, it winds it to the end of the roll and says it’s ready to rumble. I turn the camera off, and on an afterthought I try to turn it on again…. NOTHING, AGAIN!
Panic strikes then. Wtf is happening? Battery out, battery in, works. Camera off, doesn’t work! Holy moly, the Gremlins have got it I guess.
I rewind the film with the ’emergency rewind button’, of course the leader disappears into the canister…. crap, but that’s for later.
I try everything, but once the GR1 is off it stays so, unless I take out the battery or, as I found out, unless I briefly toggle the film door latch.
Can it be fixed? Hmm, Hamish says try to clean the power button contacts. I open the top and bottom covers, blow out in-existing dust, try to wiggle those thingamagicks inside gently, apply a hint of alcohol (well I applied a hint of alcohol to myself too…). No luck!
I contact the eBay seller (No blaming, the camera was OK when I got it after all) because he said it was checked by a pro some years back. He’s a great guy and gives my his contacts. He even says he will try to find out something on his side. I call the repair person, an ex-Ricoh tech in Germany and he gently tried to convey the idea to me to expect the camera to expire slowly. His verdict is that the electronics are definitely on their way out feet first. Nothing to be done except trying to get a spare camera for parts that might work or not. Trying to source the parts (not much hope there). All that at a cost of about the amount I paid for the camera.
So all I can do for now is try to sell the camera for parts on eBay (it’s listed), try to get over my loss and above all give a warning to you! These cameras are great but they are old. They never were the most reliable things and THEY WILL BREAK! That’s certain! Take it from me!
They are expensive, even the initial GR1 like mine, and they cannot be repaired! So unless you have really too much money keep your fingers off them, great as they might be. Even if all the Daido Moriyama’s of this world worked with them, DON’T BUY ONE! First, they will not make a first rate street photographer out of you by magic and second, you will lose your money sooner or later.
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62 thoughts on “Ricoh GR1 – will it dethrone my Olympus XA2? – by Frank Lehnen”
Thanks Frank! I think there is a good chance you will continue to get along well with this camera – they are almost the perfect point and shoot! My biggest issue, or at least concern with them is their potential for failure. It’s such a shame that they weren’t made in a better way… The issue with the screen and readout inside the viewfinder will come to get you at some point – its just a matter of time! Enjoy it whilst it works, is my advice!!
Thanks, Hamish. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
Mine are crossed for you!
it’s not so cheap indeed, almost 10:1 against a XA2
Right Marcello, certainly right, but if we watched every penny we would not have this hobby! Certainly not with film cameras.
The fact is that the GR1 just clicks with me through I told Hamish often that those newish motorized things were not for me…
The pocket camera idea is interesting.
But, no, the phone cam isn’t good for that. Annoying keeping all those pics there.
Not even a digital one, that you can review and so on. I keep for instance a harinezumi, which I know what’s able to do. Thinking it could be the one for that just it isn’t.
No, not a digital at all. You need to turn it on and settings and menu and etc.
The good one is a film camera.
Not anyone though. The Rollei 35 for example (I owned one long ago) is too complicated.
Why a pocket camera? Perhaps it’s just a concept, but I like it.
You can carry it or not. Just it’s your pocket camera.
Nice review, inspiring me…
I like those photographs
Thank you George!
Sure the pocket camera is the thing that I need, a camera I can carry all day, that does not hinder me, that is just there when I need it and disappears when I have other things on my mind. As such a camera it has to be simple, easy, like the GR1.
The phone, OK I carry it all day in my pocket bu I hate using it to make pictures. Digital p&s…. well it’s digital with menus and things. Too disturbing. I recently tried a Fuji XP90 which is an all weather, foolproof, small and flat digital… but it didn’t work out.
Had to research Harinezumi on Google… looks too small and strange to me, sorry. A digital 110 format film cartridge. Can’t wrap my head around it…
Not so easy, yes.
I had a Ponticac from about 1930’s. Bet you can’t find it for sale. Just adorable… but I sold it back.
Pontiac, sorry the spelling
Good looking camera!
The one I owned was made in France before the factory moved.
B+4 speeds up to 500, I think.
Full range aperture, from 2.8, 3.5 maybe.
As I recall, the GR1 was reputed to have an excellent lens. What is your impression relative to the XA-2 lens? I was never impressed with the sharpness of my XA-2, and blamed it on the trickiness of designing the interior-element
focusing scheme. Nevertheless, if you’re prepared for the optical hit, the clamshell protection and coupled rangefinder make the XA-2 a compelling device.
On the other hand, for sheer compactness and excellent optics, why not a Minox 35GT? Smaller and otherwise better in every way than the XA-2, but without a CRF. And there’s also the Russian copy of the 35GT, the Kiev 35.
The XA2 has always given me great results with a very sharp and contrasty lens, provided my zone focussing was OK. The XA2 is a zone focus camera, I think you meant the XA.
The GR1’s lens is at least it’s equal!
As for the Minox, it’s a nice enough camera but I don’t like the barn gate lens cover… otherwise I have no experience with it.
Anyways, sharpness is not the first thing I look for in a camera. It has to work for me, it has to feel right. Even the lowly Lomo LC-A was great for me but it tended to disintegrate.
Let’s see how long the GR1 will work…
…and then I also have a Contax Tvs. Equally great, prone to failure and pleasant to shoot!
Interesting review. I know you weren’t making a direct point by point comparison with the XA2, and were talking more about how you feel using the GR1 and how well it works for you, but price wise it’s not a fair comparison, they’re different leagues. I don’t know what your GR1 cost, but I expect it was at least 10 times what XA2s can be picked up for. A £5K car for example won’t feel anything like a £50K+ car, even though the cheaper car might be perfectly functional and fun to use.
Have you tried an XA? The lens is far more sophisticated than the XA2, and although it’s a rangefinder, you can use it as a zone focus (it even has the 3m mark and f/5.6 handily marked in orange) just like the XA2. I had an XA until very recently, and thought long and hard about keeping it and using it purely like this (I struggled hugely to focus with the RF patch) but in the end it just wasn’t my kind of compact camera.
I recently got a Ricoh R10, then an R1, both cheaper models in the Ricoh family, but with similar size and design to the GR1. The R10 I love, aside from a light leak I haven’t figured out yet. The R1 has the same lens (plus a 24mm f/8 panorama option) and feels a bit better built. But the R1 has issues with most of the LCD screen being invisible so its original full range of functions are limited. Seems a common issue with the Ricohs!
Anyway, comparing the R10 with the XA2 is much closer in price point, and for me I’d take the R10 any day for my needs, for the better (IMHO) lens, and much closer focus (down to 0.2m!).
Sure, Dan, the comparision is hugely unjust for the XA2, but it compares still strong! I had two XA’s over the years and always struggled with the rangefinder patch, like you. Too tiny, a flare prone finder… not for me, though the lens is great. But the XA2 lens is not far behind!
Using the XA just in zone focus mode makes no sense to me. That’s why the XA2 exists.
As for the price, well my GR1 was ‘just’ 6 times the price of the XA2… expensive (but perfect) XA2 or cheap GR1?
Never tried an R1 or 10… still on my list.
So as long as my GR1 will work I’ll use it. If it breaks it will have been quite an expensive and exciting time.
Thanks for your comment!
Nice review. Almost owned one of these, but was scammed (thankful for paypal buyer protection though)
As much as I’d like one, they just seem to be the most un-reliable when compared to the other top tier P&S cameras. Not really worried about the LCD as much as the film rewinder. People seem to mention they break down fast. But I love the design of them, and the sleekness. Guess I’ll just stick to the bulkier but more reliable T2.
Have you considered that it might not be the style of the pocket camera, but the problem lies in the style of the pocket itself?
Just wondering… :-))
Haha, though I am myself an older vintage at 53 I’m not yet into baggy-trousers-territory! I still prefer tight jeans.
You might have a point here. The XA2 and GR1 are about the only of my cameras fitting. Even the Contax Tvs is too bulky
I recently had a bit of a light bulb moment about this, and realised that most of my “compact” cameras actually weren’t that compact! The only true trouser pocketable contenders I have are the Olympus Mju-1 and LT-1, and the Ricoh R10 and R1. Cameras like the Nikon AF3 or Konica C35 EF3 I love, but they’re not much smaller than a compact SLR. They’re not really “carry anywhere” as you put it, like the GR1, XA series and those I just mentioned.
AAAAHHhhh that Ricoh GR1 ! Sometimes I still wonder if it’s a good idea to get used to it while knowing that it will end one day or another…anyway, mine is still working, fingers crossed for yours Franck !
Mika, everything ends eventually. Enjoy it while it lasts…. wise words from an old fart ?
Remembering now that Nikon L35 AWD. A plastic block water tight till -10 meters with an excellent lens.
Really handy. I used it for many many years till its electric collapse.
Well, although I don’t have the GR1 (or any Ricoh GR for that matter) and I like my XA2 a lot, I really can’t see how one can compare those two cameras as they really are a world apart in so many ways, including the abysmal price difference…
Christos, they are absolutely identical in one point! They are both wonderful tools for making photographs.
And both really appeal to me. I simply like using them.
For me that is justification enough to compare them directly.
Your post made me hunt out my long-unused GR1, black, as yours. When I brushed the dust of the slip case (only kidding, I look after my cameras) I was surprised to find it still loaded with film showing through the little peep window! I have no idea when this was last used in anger, it has to be before 2002 when I got my first digital camera, the Canon G2.
Anyway, the battery arrived today and when I put it in I was very surprised to see the little baby fire up to reveal 9 frames left. Everything seems to be in order after all these years of inactivity. I quickly ran off the last exposures simply to find out what the rest are when developed. I have no idea, but they will give up their secret of when the camera was last used. I’m not expecting any decent images due to how old the film must be.
One little tip I’d like to pass on to you, or anyone using one of these with the soft pouch, and this is to slide a piece of card, the thickest you can get away with, inside the case and when inserting the camera ensure the back is against this card. This will prevent you accidentally switching the camera on inside the case and which helps against damaging the motor as the lens tries to push against the case when it extends. This did happen to me before I latched on to this quick fix.
I purchased mine new when it came out and accompanied me with my M6, and was used extensively until its unofficial retirement and wasn’t maltreated, although I did drop it once in its case onto a gravel path. That dreaded and totally ineffectual long strap! So its history is known, which can’t be said for many on sale today, and I do wonder if the failure rate often reported about this camera could be down to abuse and if one then couples this with age, maybe it is not surprising to read of these reports? It would be interesting to hear from one-user camera owners what their failure rate is.
Hi Terry, happy to have made you rediscover an old film in a great camera! The photos might well be usable, who knows.
As for your card trick, I already have a sheet of cardboard stuck to the inside of the pouch -thanks anyways. I guess failure of the lens motor is due above all to this! As for the other failures, even a carefully kept GR1 will lose it’s LCD one day.
The seller of mine dropped it once (nice dent on front), but had it repaired. Don’t know if they checked the LCD back then but I hope so. Anyways, I’ll take care and keep shooting it.
It will be interesting to see if my LCD does die. I know I’ve read that many have on the GR1 and this has been attributed to poor quality control overall by Ricoh when they made the cameras. Already mine is 20 years old and I think it says a lot for the camera that after a period of not being used for at least 14 years, it could even be more, I was impressed when it fired up straight away. Sadly, I’ve had cds meters in my collection which have been well looked after but simply didn’t work after a period of not being used.
Interestingly, when Canon first introduced its new Eos film cameras in 1988/89 they actually issued a statement that the LCD may not work after 5 years. I have both the first model, the 650, and a later model 5, in my camera collection and the LCD’s on both are still working fine. So that on the 650 is now 28 years old. I got the 650 on ebay for peanuts and the 5 for a little more, so their user histories are unknown. So, who knows how long the LCD on my GR1 will last? The issue with the GR1 seems to stem from Ricoh’s (alleged) poor quality control, so we’ll see.
Might be that the failure reports are a bit exaggerated.
I have a Canon T90 which is even older than your Eos and the LCD is perfect. And according to Canon’s manual the internal, non user-replaceable battery powering the internal memory is rated for 5 years…. Still working fine!
They don’t make ’em like they used to! Seems Canon were very conservative in their claims back then.
I had one for a while recently which I really liked. Better than the Yashica I thought. But not as good as the T2 or the Minota TC1. So i got rid of it….
Don’t tempt me with the T2 or the TC1…. I have a Contax Tvs, the zoom version of the T2 and it’s a real gem. Though bigger than the GR1 so it does not come with me as often.
I still miss my Minox 35ML…..
You were so right! And I didn’t listen, foolish me…..
Problem with the GR1! Of course.
It sat on my shelf for 3 days without film and I wanted to fiddle with it and feed it some HP5 but it didn’t turn on… bummer.
I put in a new battery and it woke up. Extended it’s lens, working great. I load the film, it wind it on. All fine!
Then I turn it off. Wanted to check something and again no reaction. So the power button works for turning off but not on again.
Each time I open the battery cover and close it turns on and works perfectly. Even when I just toggle the back door latch it seems to wind film and a following press on the power button turns it on…
No idea what’s wrong – expensive paperweight?
Anyone still working on those cameras? I read that you had yours serviced in the UK some time ago, Hamish….
It is obviously mechanically fully functional, so the problem seems to be related to the battery compartment as it seems to work fine when you toggle the back door.
I’ve just run off the remaining 9 exposures on the film left in mine, nothing special, just the same view outside my home but using one on P, and the rest using Aperture priority, so I can see what the camera looks like inside, any contacts as such. Nothing apparent other than the DX coding contacts.
I know it is an old trick, but have you tried using a pencil eraser and brushing the battery compartment contacts? Or, say, some isopropyl alcohol on a cloth? If this isn’t readily to hand, try vodka! Really. I understand it works a treat.
Going to try that! Thanks Terry and thanks for sacrificing the last exposures on your film!
Strange that once it’s on (toggling the film door or battery) it works, so power is ok….
I read somewhere that taking the battery out for some minutes might reset it if there’s some electronic problem, but there seems to be an internal backup (watch) battery, at least on the GR1v you need to take out too. No idea where that might be hidden. I don’t want to dismantle the thing….
Unless it is non-user replaceable I can’t see where the second battery could be held, and there is no reference to it at all in my user manual. So perhaps the GR1, unlike apparently the GR1v, does not have a second battery.
The GR1 will lose its stored info, such as the date settings, if the battery is left out of the body too long. It probably has a small capacitor fed from the main battery to retain stored data, so it could be that the second battery in the GR1v was intended as an improvement.
I don’t know…. pretty depressed now, but I had it coming I guess. The whole Internet told me so.
I found some repair shop in Germany who can take a look at it and give a quote for a repair… for 30€, refundable if I have it repaired. I might take the chance…. they seem pretty reliable and serious.
That’s a shame, Frank.
Is it too much of a gamble throwing good money after bad? Although 30€ may be well spent to at least find out what is actually wrong, and if it is economically repairable, I suppose. It does seem to be working on and off (sorry about the pun) so everything does seem to be in order at some time, so I wonder if it could be mechanical, such as a dodgy switch or contact, as opening and closing the back seems to get it to work?
Don’t know yet if I take the chance…. But 30€ just to be sure it’s an expensive paperweight bothers me. Though if it’s economically repairable I might have it done. Depending on the price of the repair… I don’t know if I can trust it ever again. It’ll probably end up on eBay with a proof of recent repair etc…
For the moment I packed up my Contax Tvs too… Afraid to use it now. There’s a new roll in the XA2!
By the way I wrote a quick review of these 3 cameras on my Blog https://whyfilmcameras.com/2016/12/24/compact-film-cameras/
It is really sad, but the digital onslaught also decimated the film camera market. No one today is making quality 35mm compact cameras such as were once available from all the great and wonderful camera brands. I don’t include Leica or Nikon’s F6 as these are expensive niche products and don’t fall into the compact category of cameras once made by the likes of Ricoh, Yashica, Contax, Minox, and Rollei, to give just five examples of really small quality compacts.
In their hayday, if one of these failed and wasn’t repairable, you could buy another, or its nearest then equivalent. Today, it won’t be as easy, and good ones fetch high prices, and would still come with no guarantee as to longevity in use.
I can understand your wanting to mothball your Tvs, but that would be a shame, wouldn’t it, unless you want it to be a working museum piece. This is very understandable as I much prefer working examples of cameras for my modest collection. A lot of these cameras have been used by me and replaced and then retired, and are no longer used, although I still like handling and playing with them.
But, unlike me, you are still an active film shooter, so if you don’t use it for what it was intended, and you like using your cameras, why not use it as intended? The Tvs may not fail, but if it should do, it would be in the knowledge that it served you right up to the end. And then it can have an honourable place on a shelf or in a display case.
Thanks Terry! I guess you are very right. I might consider keeping the Tvs and using it until…. Same as for the GR1, only the end came a bit early to my taste.
If only money wasn’t so tight at the moment… well the moment has lasted quite some time now, hehe. A new film camera would be nice. But unless I buy a Lomo LC-A again…. A Leica is unfortunately out of my scope.
Terry, loved your comment about using film cameras rather than having them sat on a shelf, especially “The Tvs may not fail, but if it should do, it would be in the knowledge that it served you right up to the end…” I wanted to add “It’s what the TVS would have wanted…”
Amen to that 😉
That’s what made me (hopefully) change my mind!
I have an R10 which appears to function fully, but I’m getting light leaks at the right hand edge (of the photograph) and despite copious taping around the film door edges, seems very persistent.
I also have an R1 which has a dying LCD display. Initially it showed a few elements of the exposure counter and a couple of the mode icons. Now it shows only the vaguest shadow of a couple of elements, and when you look through the VF the bottom left corner is clouded with a black triangle – I think the LCD is leaking into the VF somehow.
Anyway, the point is I don’t think this era of Ricoh cameras are especially robust or well made! Which makes one nervous about spending money on another, when it might give up at any point.
Yes, the same could be said about any compact, but £15 on an XA2 or Mju-1 is far less risk than a GR-1 or even R1, which seem to fetch £60+.
Lesson learned!! 🙁
Dan, I wonderful addendum to the Tvs story. Well said!
Being a huge fan of Contax (I have a total of six SLRS, four are Contax), I know how much they love to be used. They whisper to me all the time. Don’t leave the TVS on the shelf… : )
Ok, Dan I promise to use it! I’ve got a pack of StreetPan film from Bellamy Hunt (Japan Camera Hunter) on the way and I’ll feed it to the Tvs!
I’ve come close to buying a TVS a number of times, mostly because I love Contax SLRs, and want to try a Contax compact, and the T2 and T3 are way beyond my budget. The same theory has held me back though – they could give up at any time, which would make them an expensive paperweight. Not so bad if you’ve shot fifty rolls of film in them, but, as with your Ricoh, very frustrating and expensive if you only manage to get one or two. If I ever come into a large windfall of money I’ll just go for it and but a TVS, T, T2 and T3!
I also love my Contax cameras, but they are all film cameras: Contax II, III, IIa and IIIa. The Achilles heel of the II and III, and to some extent the post-war IIa and IIIa, is supposedly the slatted focal plane shutter, but all mine work fine. I still “work” them to keep them fit, but wouldn’t use the II or III just in case!
Mine are all film cameras too, but the oldest is the 139 Quartz, around 1979 I think. I do have a Kiev 2A which is closely based on the Contax II, and dates from 1956, with a Jupiter-8 lens from the same year. Which all works flawlessly!
Dan, I meant to say my Contax cameras were all R/f models, not just film cameras. I did once own a 139 Quartz with the f1.7/50 Planar. I liked it, but I wasn’t too impressed with the lens despite Amateur Photographer saying it had the highest resolution of any lens they had tested.
I have a number of post war Soviet cameras from the early to late 1950’s and they are quite interesting cameras in their own right. Three are Kievs, a Model 3 from 1955, two more modern Kievs, a Kiev 4 Type 3, and a 4A Type 4 from 1974. The Kiev 3 is a direct copy of the Contax III, and the meter still works! All have Jupiter f2’s. Whilst based on a Contax, Russian Kiev lenses will not fit the German cameras, but most Zeiss Contax lenses will fit the Kiev! The only personal exception I’ve found is that the Kiev mount Orion-15/28mm will fit my Contax bodies. I suspect the reason is it is scale focusing and it is not r/f coupled.
Two Zenits, a Zorki 3 and Leningrad complete the lineup. The Zenit-C (denoting flash synchronisation) is really cute, IMO. It has a small body and large pentaprism housing. Basically, the body comes from a Zorki with the rangefinder housing removed and the pentaprism shoe-horned in. As it is a Zorki body, it has Leica type bottom loading, and no instant return mirror. Instead, as one winds on a cord pulls the mirror down. Yes, it really is that crude. The Zenit 3 is a much better made camera, but still fairly basic. Next is the Zorki 3 which beat Leica to having a combined r/f viewfinder and first appeared in 1951. Finally, we come to the motorised Leningrad. Mine is in mint condition and the motor and shutter work. But, sadly, a previous owner botched a repair on the viewfinder/rangefinder making it impossible not only not to focus using the rangefinder, but the v/f optics make it impossible to use the viewfinder. The Leningrad is definitely not one for the street photographer or any form of stealth photography. It is the loudest camera I have ever had experience of. And for a Russian camera, it is very well made and finished.
Bad news…. I just got confirmation from a Ricoh Tech in Germany: My GR1 has a terminal electronic illness and unless it get’s a whole electronics-transplant it will die slowly…
Too bad… but I was warned, no? So I guess it will go to the Bay ‘for parts’ as a lot of things still work. I don’t want a sad paperweight on my shelf.
It’s so sad that these lovely Ricohs haven’t had longer life-spans. I still love my GR1v (and the fabulous GR21, as well as the ‘backup’ GR10 and ‘just for fun’ R1) but live in dread of the day they fail and will no longer be fixable. There is an interesting thread over on APUG that suggests the LCD issue is a degradation in a piece of 3M conductive tape inside the camera which is (with care) a user-fixable issue, so that particular common fault, at least, need not mean the end of the camera.
I do find myself wondering whether anyone will ever start a conversion service to take the lenses out of ‘dead’ GR bodies and put them into M mounts (both the 28mm and 21mm were sold in M mounts by Ricoh – for more than the cost of buying them fitted into their respective GR bodies.) I know it’s been done with lenses from dead Rollei 35 cameras. Maybe Miyazaki San might be able to do something on these lines…
You might ask Bellamy Hunt of Japan Camera Hunter. He can set you up with Miyazaki Sadayasu from MS Optic who does wonderful lens conversions of the most improbable lenses.
Do you mind sharing the contact to the German repair shop you were talking about?
That could be of hand to me.
Sorry for your GR-1.
Not at all, here’s the shop I talked to:
Breite Straße 6 – 8
Telefon 0451 – 39998451
Telefax 0451 – 39998572
E-Mail: [email protected]
Mr Lorenzen was VERY helpful and discussed the problem with me at lengts. He really took the time and seemed to be very thorough in his diagnosis.
The GR1s has a great lens and produces great images, but it was the most unreliable camera I have ever had. It broke down on average every year from new. I gave up trying to get it fixed. The electronics are terrible – display panel, lens retraction, autofocus accuracy, lens doors and film wind on were the most common failings. I wouldn’t get one anymore, it is an old camera despite a brilliant lens. My XA2 has no problems after 10 years of my use, and my parents had it for years before me.
The most unreliable camera ever!
Not like the sturdy, plastic XA2
Thanks for your comment
I had a GR1 17 years ago. A 30th birthday gift from my Wife.
It went everywhere with me. I loved it.
Then, one day I dropped it into the North Sea.
I have never recovered form the sight of my beauty disappearing under the waves….
Ha, that’s Ricoh for you. When they don’t break by themselves you have somethong happening to them….
That’s really a sad tale!