Best Small Camera Ever: Ricoh GR

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.

Best Small Camera: Ricoh GRNote: 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:
Best Small Camera: Ricoh GR

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

Best Small Camera: Ricoh GRBest Small Camera: Ricoh GRBest Small Camera: Ricoh GR Best Small Camera: Ricoh GR Best Small Camera: Ricoh GR

Travel and Landscapes

Best Small Camera: Ricoh GR Best Small Camera: Ricoh GRBest Small Camera: Ricoh GRBest Small Camera: Ricoh GRBest Small Camera: Ricoh GR

Portrait and Street Photography

Best Small Camera: Ricoh GRBest Small Camera: Ricoh GRI don’t take many portraits of people, but this photo counts as a dog portrait, right?

Night and Low Light

Best Small Camera: Ricoh GRSavannah at night. Taken without a tripod. Just steadying myself against some railing.
Best Small Camera: Ricoh GRHere’s an interior shot taken in extremely low lighting. ISO 3200.

Interiors

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.
Best Small Camera: Ricoh GR Do I have you convinced yet? :)
Best Small Camera: Ricoh GR

 

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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.

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35 comments

  1. Kelli says:

    Megan, this is great! I had no idea a camera with this much quality existed. Your photos are amazing!! Thanks for your insight and information. :)

  2. Jen @ Lita's World says:

    OMG I am seriously going to check this camera out!! I love the shots my DSLR takes, but when we travel it can just be so daunting to carry it around the whole time!! Thank you so much for the tip and the photo examples!!

  3. Candace says:

    Gorgeous pictures – blown away by the quality. I’ve been looking at getting a Nikon, but I’ll definitely have to check this camera out. I think my fav pic is the doggy pic – so cute!

    • Meg says:

      Thanks, Candice! I definitely think this camera is worth checking out, especially if you like to photograph while you’re out and about.

  4. Carla Chadwick says:

    I have always struggled with photography and this post proves that it’s the equipment that makes the difference. As an artist, I’m pretty good at composition, but my camera lets me down frequently in terms of the clarity. Thanks so much for the thorough review–and for all the stunning photos. They practically tell the story all by themselves.

    • Meg says:

      In terms of clarity, this camera produces the sharpest images I have ever seen from a camera! I’ve been very please with it. I often don’t have to do any retouching at all since this little guy takes such beautiful photos. It’s definitely worth checking out!

  5. Willow says:

    I use a DLSR for all my photos, but I would love to have a small camera for traveling. I love that you can shoot in RAW with this camera. I’m not sure if I could get used to not having a viewfinder, but everything else about it sounds great!

    • Meg says:

      Yeah, the no viewfinder thing was a bit weird at first but it didn’t take long to get used to it. I still love using my DSLR, but this is my go to travel camera for sure!

  6. Rachel says:

    Wow this camera looks great! I usually use my iPhone on the go and DSLR at home but I’d like to have a small camera I could bring for travels. It’s the worst when your phone runs out of space!

    • Meg says:

      Oh yes, I’m always running out of space on my phone! The version of this camera with wifi is awesome since you can upload your photos straight to dropbox while you’re traveling.

  7. Denay DeGuzman says:

    What a great little camera! I love learning about equipment other bloggers use. Your photos are absolutely stunning. Thank you so much for this behind-the-scenes look at your personal camera.

    • Meg says:

      I had never heard of it before I started researching cameras either, but apparently it has a pretty dedicated following. And I guess I’m part of that now!

  8. Christy says:

    Wow – gorgeous photos! I will definitely have to check out this little camera – I hate lugging my giant dslr around! Thanks for sharing

    • Meg says:

      Oh me, too! It’s nice to bring this little guy on a day out and not have to lug around an extra case for my DSLR!

  9. Peggy says:

    Meg,
    Thank you fir sharing!!! First your photography skills are spot on and this camera is incredible!!! I’ve been looking for a replacement for my OLD DSLR and our point and shoot cameras. So thanks!!!

  10. Jann Olson says:

    Wow! Great photos. I have got to show this to hubby.. I have a birthday coming up in July. :) Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

  11. Kim Sharman says:

    I have been thinking for a while now that I need a new camera. Thank you so much for all the information on what seems to be a wonderful camera. You certainly capture sublime photos!

  12. Mary-the boondocks blog says:

    Meg that is one glowing review. I know just how important it is to have a decent camera in order to take pictures for the blog. I think your photos are the best testament to the camera. All of them are stunning. Thanks for dropping in and providing us with loads of sweet inspiration.

    • Meg says:

      Thanks, Mary! This really is my favorite tool ever–not just for blogging, but for travel and life in general. Thank you hosting your link up so I could share!

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