I’ve gotten a few questions about which camera I use for my photography, and I’m going to let you guys in on a little secret. It’s not a big clunky DSLR. In fact, the camera I use 95% of the time is smaller than my cell phone but takes better photos than my big DSLR! About a week after I began using it, I had already started declaring it the best small camera EVER. It’s been two years now, and it’s proven to be the best camera for me so I thought I’d do a review on it in case anyone is on the hunt for an awesome little camera.
Note: this post contains affiliate links to products I love.
Best Small Camera: The Ricoh GR Family
Let me introduce you to my faithful little Ricoh GR. I highly recommend the Ricoh GR and its big brother Ricoh GR II. The biggest change between the two is the wifi connection capabilities to the Ricoh GR II. It’s also the better deal since it’s often priced lower than the first generation model.
I purchased this camera because I wanted the ability to take DSLR quality photographs on the go with a camera I could easily carry in my purse. As a blogger and street photographer, a small camera like this is great because it doesn’t attract much attention. See an interesting group of people on the street or a pretty vignette in an antique store? This camera is smaller than my cell phone, so I’m way less likely to attract attention and weird looks than if I began shooting with my big DSLR. Many times, people just feel less threatened when faced with a small camera. And you know what? This little baby produces even better photographs than my DSLR (a Canon Rebel). See? Told you it was the best small camera ever!
Because of its size and quality, the Ricoh GR & Ricoh GR II make for the best cameras for travel, blogging, street photography, and just every day picture taking.
Why It’s the Best Small Camera: The Size and Stats
Both Ricoh GR cameras measure around 2.4 x 1.4 x 4.6 inches. Here’s the size compared to my Nexus cell phone:
So tiny! I have a little case for it, and I can just throw it in my purse when I travel or need to photograph things out and about for my blog.
Pros / Awesome Features
- Small Size (easy to bring along & doesn’t attract attention!)
- Same size sensor as DSLRs (the sensor size is the biggest determinant of image quality)
- Manual and auto controls plus everything in between for beginners to experienced photographers. Modes are: full auto, program, aperture priority, shutter speed priority, shutter speed-aperture priority (ISO is auto), and three programmable settings.
- Choice of shooting in RAW, Jpg, or both.
- Lots of filters available if you’re shooting in Jpg.
- Shoots 1080p HD video.
- Great performance in low light settings.
- Better sharpness, clarity and saturation even without editing compared to my DSLR.
- Wide angle (18.3mm which is the equivalent to 28mm in the 35mm format) is perfect for most shots. And even though it’s fairly wide, there is less distortion than on the same angle on my DSLR.
- Aperture goes to F2.8. Perfect for beautiful bokeh!
- Built-in 2-stop ND (neutral density) filter which is very useful on bright days, especially if you want to slow the shutter speed to achieve motion blur effects.
Cons / Drawbacks
The only possible drawback I can see with this camera is that the wide angle could be very limiting if you often shoot wildlife, sports, or anything else you’d need to photograph from far away while zooming in to get a close shot. Also, there is no viewfinder which might feel a bit strange if you’re used to using a DSLR. But if you are used to taking photos on your cell phone, DSLR screen, or other point and shoot cameras, it’s no big deal at all.
What These Cameras Are Great At
These cameras are awesome at nearly everything: macros, close ups, night photos, low light, travel, action shots, landscapes, portraits, interiors, and street photography.
I took all of these photos with my Ricoh GR. I didn’t use a tripod for any of them, I shot them in RAW format (instead of Jpgs which is your other option), and I did some minimal editing in Photoshop’s RAW photo editor like I do for all my photos.
Macro and Close Up
Travel and Landscapes
Portrait and Street Photography
I don’t take many portraits of people, but this photo counts as a dog portrait, right?
Night and Low Light
Savannah at night. Taken without a tripod. Just steadying myself against some railing.
Here’s an interior shot taken in extremely low lighting. ISO 3200.
This isn’t a very interesting photo, but I wanted to throw it in here to show my decor blogger peeps how great the wide angle is at photographing interiors.
Do I have you convinced yet? :)
Disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.