5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Ricoh GR1s – by Steven Bleistein

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/

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  • Reply
    Louis Sousa
    September 12, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    Hi Steven, I especially like the third image, it has great detail and contrast. These cameras have skyrocketed in cost. I have been shooting a Contax T2. It is a great little camera, but I think the ergonomics of the GR1 series are better. The T2 is small for my hands, and often the lens would rub up against my left index finger. I hope to post a 5 frames from recent shots with my T2 soon. Thanks for these beautiful images. L.

  • Reply
    September 13, 2018 at 9:16 pm

    The T2 is also a wonderful. No camera has perfect ergonomics in my experience. I think the primary difference you would notice between the T2 and a GR1 is the 40mm versus 28mm lens. I find one of the biggest drawbacks of small cameras is camera shake because they are so light. I have to be conscious of holding the GR1s stable, as I do with my Olympus XA2, much more than say with my Leica M3, which has much more heft. To make matters worse, the GR1s appears to favor a 1/125s shutter speed, which does not help with the shake. I often use aperture priority to force a higher shutter speed.

  • Reply
    nick holt
    October 16, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    Hi Steven,

    Enjoying your shots from the Gr1s!
    I used to have one of these many moons ago. I took it to Greenland and it performed like dream!
    I used the digital version for years as well.
    Both great cameras.


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