I live in Tsukuba, Japan—home to Japan’s foremost science university as well as most of the government’s R&D institutes. I love living in Tsukuba because of its easy access to Tokyo and some of the best road bike cycling Japan has to offer just out my front door. I cycle early mornings several times per week, and often use my rides as an opportunity to shoot!
I’d been on the lookout for a great compact camera for cycling specifically. So when a Ricoh GR1s in pristine condition appeared one day on the “used” shelf of local shop, it immediately grabbed my attention.
I had seen a number of a great compacts grace shelves of that shop before—a Nikon 35ti, a Minolta TC-1, and even a limited edition box set Contax T2, but I passed them all up only later regretting it. Passing up the camera that Daido Moriyama made famous proved to be too much for me.
The GR1s is a joy to handle and shoot, and easy to take everywhere. The f/2.8 28mm lens is super sharp. You can shoot aperture priority. Shutter speeds are displayed in the finder. The autofocus is fast, and you can fix the focus by changing modes. The built-in flash is effective. Most importantly, the GR1s fits perfectly the back pocket of a cycling Jersey. Below are five frames using Neopan Acros 100 and TMAX 100, my two favorite monochrome films.
It is hard to find the Ricoh GR1s and its sibling GR series in good working condition, and even if you do, they are fragile and do break down. They are no longer serviceable as far as I know, so caveat emptor. The one that I bought appeared hardly to have been used, so I am cautiously optimistic about being about to enjoy it for some time to come. No matter when my GR1s finally goes, I will have no regrets.
You can check out more of my work, including my Tokyo street photography, on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/sbleistein/