Unsolicited editorials on cameras, lenses, film, developer, and black and white photography in general.

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Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Improving the Ricoh GR digital camera

After the age of 40, most folks suffer from a progressive condition called presbyopia. This is basically the inability to see close objects due to the lenses in the eyes losing their elasticity. Of course, the answer is to wear bifocals or reading glasses, or to simply hold anything one wishes to read at arm’s length while squinting. Combine this affliction with a pocket-sized digital camera, and you have a middle-aged photographer holding a tiny camera at arm’s length trying to view the LCD screen in the mid-day glare. When I ordered the new digital equivalent to the legendary Ricoh GR1s 35mm camera, I assumed that the small window along the top front of the camera was an optical viewfinder. Wrong. There is no optical viewfinder. For those who prefer an optical viewfinder, Ricoh offered the 21/28 GV-1 External Viewfinder for an additional $199. I almost never shoot with a 21mm lens, so a 21/28 viewfinder had limited appeal. Also, that particular viewfinder is massive compared to the GR Digital camera body, appearing to be about the same size as a standard Voigtländer external viewfinder. Bottom line? I stopped using the Ricoh GR Digital.

A few weeks ago, I was perusing the www.cameraquest.com site and happened upon a new, very small 28/35 accessory viewfinder. That had more appeal as it was $30 cheaper, had two focal length views that I often use, and was very small. And it turned out to be just the ticket for that tiny Ricoh.

With this diminutive viewfinder, the Ricoh is now both pocketable and usable. It is just about the same depth as the widest part of the Ricoh body, and looks like it was made for that camera. Highly recommended for those over 40 using the GR Digital.