New Camera: Ricoh GR II; Re-Reading "The Pencil"

Hello everyone!
Lately, I've been going to a lot of metal concerts, and always end up wanting to take pictures there. The main problem was that my phone camera was simply not good enough to take decent pictures in the low-light environment of a concert venue. In addition, large cameras are typically forbidden at larger theatres/venues, so that would preclude the use of a DSLR. The camera I had already, the Panasonic DMC-LX7, is a small camera, but it's not pocket-sized (jeans pocket, not jacket), and so it would constantly be in my hand, a problem for clapping along or defending myself against the mosh pit behind me.

Hence, I needed a small camera, with a decently sized sensor or fast lens, which could fit in my pocket and be looked at as a "nonprofessional" camera to any bystanders, so that I'd be allowed to bring it in anywhere. This search led me to the single solution, the Ricoh GR-II.

Shooting with the GR-II is awesome, mainly because of its intuitive design and layout of the controls. The camera draws on a heritage that Ricoh has built up over the course of two decades, starting with their GR-series film compacts of the '90s. This one is their sixth digital GR; it's a minor update of the "GR" which came after the GRD (Digital) I, II, III, and IV.

The key feature that sold this camera to me is that it has an APS-C size sensor, much larger than the 1-inch sensor of other compacts such as the Sony RX100 series, or the Canon G9X. Couple that sensor with a sharp f/2.8 18mm lens (28mm equiv. 35mm focal length), and it means that I can comfortably shoot at ISO-3200 without worrying too much about noise ruining the picture. It's got a bevy of other features that take the manual 150 pages to explain, so suffice it to say that for now, I love this camera.

One downside is that it tends to overexpose the scene, at least from what I've seen so far. Hence, I shoot in RAW, and then go back and adjust the exposure and white balance in an editor (RawTherapee).
I am very happy with the results, though, and hopefully you are too!

Below are some photos that I took yesterday. (Uncompressed photos are here and here. The concert pictures are from a show at the Riot Room here in Kansas City, featuring Arkona, Sirenia, MindMaze, and Sicosis. This current tour is Sirenia's first North American tour, and Arkona's second (they are from Norway and Russia, respectively) - and thus I can understand why the crowd went so wild for them! I invited a friend from work who has never been to a metal concert, and he thoroughly enjoyed it as well.

In other news, I've been rereading The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance by Henry Petroski, an illustration of the process of engineering through the lens of the ordinary pencil. When I initially read this book seven years ago, I was entering junior year of high school, not even sure where I was going to college, much less what I wanted to study. Now that I am working, I have a new perspective of the concepts that Petroski, a professor of civil engineering at Duke, shares. My love for pencils and writing instruments has not waned one bit, though, so I am absorbing the book on two different planes of appreciation, making it all the more rewarding. Definitely a recommended read for anyone interested at all in the development of engineering, and of everyday things.

Thanks for tuning in!


  1. Very nice photos. Ricoh makes some fine cameras.

    I've got to pick up a copy of the book.

  2. Thanks for the book recommendation. I've had my eye on the Ricoh GR II for a while now.