Ricoh GR1v Quick Review

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I bought this camera on eBay a few days ago. It cost me £320. I used to have a GR1 but lost it so this is a replacement. The GR1 was a great little camera and I took a lot of photographs that I liked with it.

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Anyway, this one was advertised as being in excellent condition and the price looked good. I did a few quick checks on receiving it and mechanically it seemed okay so I put a roll of Tri-X into to it and quickly finished the film, which I sent off for development at Peak Imaging (An excellent company).

After inspecting this GR1v a little closer, I noticed that the eyepiece was loose. To cut a long story short, I ended up accidentally breaking it off in an attempt to fix it. (The plastic it’s made from is quite brittle.) I fixed it back in place with my mum’s hot glue gun but it’s a temporary repair. I’ll be on the lookout for a GR1 for spares on eBay and replace it soon as possible. For now the bodge looks reasonably secure though:

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The two main things I liked about my old GR1 were its pocketability and the scope for a fair amount of manual control. It also had a great lens. The 1v offers a bit more flexibility but not there’s not a huge difference between the two. The lens is the same except that it has improved coatings. One other thing is that the body is made of magnesium so it’s quite sturdy without being too heavy.

Lens

It’s a 28mm f2.8. Minimum aperture is I think 22. Very sharp and has good contrast. I’ll post some sample results below once I have them.

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Exposure Control

You have a choice of fully automatic or aperture priority. Selection is via a small wheel on the top right-hand side of the camera. The 1v offers exposure bracketing but I doubt I’ll ever use it. You can also override the auto ISO (DX) and set it manually here.

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Flash

There are three flash settings: always on, always off and auto. Flash range with 400 ASA negative film is about 20 feet.

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Focus Modes

There are three modes: full autofocus, infinity and snap (Fixed focus at about 6 feet. The preset distance in Snap mode can be altered but doing so is a bit fiddly. The main advantage of snap mode its that it makes for less lag if you want quicker response at the shutter button).

The Mode button on the top plate controls these options.

Exposure Compensation

You can increase or decrease exposure by two stops using a selector on the left side of the top plate. Very handy and easy to access like all the other controls.

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Other notable features:

  • The film is completely wound out of the canister and onto the take-up spool when you load it into the camera. This means that when you take a photograph, that frame is rewound back into the film canister so that if the camera back is accidentally opened, the exposure isn’t lost.
  • There is a ‘Time’ exposure mode which lets you take long exposures without draining the battery. It doesn’t say in the user guide what the maximum length of exposure is but it’s probably adequate for most scenarios.
  • Mine has a Date Back. The control panel for this is on the side of the camera. The digits in this display are tiny:

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Weaknesses

These cameras are quite old now and Ricoh won’t repair them any more. I don’t know if there are any independent specialists in the UK.

There are a few known problems with them as they age:

  • The eyepiece tends to come loose. It’s held on with only one small screw and is made of a softish plastic which seems to be quite brittle, meaning it can break off as mine did. You’ll need to take one off a defunct camera. I don’t think this part is available separately.
  • The frame lines in the viewfinder can fade or disappear over time.
  • The LCD information panel on top of the panel can malfunction so that the data isn’t displayed properly – chunks go missing.

Summary

I’d recommend this camera to anyone who fancies one, with the caveat that you check for the problems listed above before buying. It’s compact, has a great lens and gives you good control over the main functions.

Update

Having read more about the many known problems with this range of cameras, I can’t really recommend them. Whilst they’re great when they’re working, in my opinion they’re just too fragile to invest a lot of money (£3-500) in.

 

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Author: stephen

Software Test Analyst / Technical Author in Scotland.