Photoessay: London with the Ricoh GRD I

This is a collection of images from my recent weekend in London. There is no theme here, just some observations that I made whilst wandering the streets.

These images were shot with the Ricoh GRD I compact digital camera, with a fixed focal length of 28mm. It first went on sale in 2005, meaning it contains some fairly old technology in comparison to the digital cameras of today. The screen is perhaps the most noticeably dated part on the GRD's stealthy matte black body. A low pixel count and poor viewing angles may put photographers off using this classic camera. But I find reviewing images on the GRD I a very pleasurable experience. The backlit screen really increases the vividness of the colours and makes every image appear sharp and in focus. It reminds me of looking through my dad's coloured transparency slides as a kid.

The poor viewing angles of the screen mean that slightly tilting the camera will appear to cause the image exposure and contrast to shift. Tilting one way will increase contrast and the other will decrease it until the image is almost inverted at the most extreme angles. Thanks to this undesirable characteristic I can 'edit' images directly on the camera with incredible ease and immediacy. Being able to increase and decrease contrast/exposure with the tilt of the wrist is a really precise and tactile experience. It really beats pushing sliders up and down on a computer.

When I transfer the images onto my computer, I am often disappointed with how they appear on my monitor. I'm sure that they are as the camera intended but having viewed them on the GRD I screen, I miss the vibrancy and contrast. I have attempted to recreate the look that I see on the camera in Adobe Lightroom. It's not really a true replication though because as soon as they are on the large screen, faults in the images become clear; out of focus, tons of noise and motion blur. All of which were unnoticable on the tiny GRD screen.

I hope to do a show one day where I can display all the images on Ricoh GRD I screens so that the audience can really see how beautifully it renders images and experience instant editing with the tilt of the wrist.