It’s hard for me to fathom, just how much time has passed since I bought the Ricoh GRD3. I purchased it in October 2011 as a small street-photography camera, an addition to my “big guns”. In case you were wondering about the name of the blog: “big guns” for street-photography or big street guns… It just made sense back then, but not so much now. Anyway, I carried the Ricoh everywhere with me, but somehow I just couldn’t bring myself to like the wide angle focal length, since I was so used to shooting with 50mm standard primes with all my other cameras. After a while I stopped carrying the Ricoh with me and a couple of months later I gave up street-photography altogether. Since then the GRD3 has been slumbering, tucked away in a drawer, waiting for me to rediscover it.
And this I did in November 2014. My way of thinking about photography and life in general had greatly changed since the last time I used it and I was therefor able to make it “sing”, if I may say so myself.
I was no longer concentrating on what’s missing but rather on what is there, on the advantages of the tool in my hand. The “glass is half-full” way of looking at things has helped me greatly, and not only in regards to photography. However that was the point in time at which I got swamped with work. I’d taken the GRD3 out shooting a few times and forgotten about it once more. Now that this rough patch is over, I’ve been shooting with the GRD3 again, mostly macro. I came to appreciate the unique perspective its 28mm equivalent lens provides. Getting up close to insects and arachnids is challenging, since you have to get extremely close, but I like a good challenge. Coping with a difficult task forces you to think out of the box and adapt, which in my opinion is the only way to improve. And it’s worth it, since the GRD3 does have a unique lens, which can focus really, really close. How close, you ask? Check out this post.
Getting close may sound like the most difficult thing in regard to shooting macro with a wide angle lens, but it’s not. The greatest challenge is the background. There is seemingly always something distracting in the background, no matter how hard you try to keep it out of the frame. And there really is no way to make the background unrecognizably blurry, like you could with a telephoto lens. The only thing you can do, is to pay close attention to the background and sometimes even let the photo opportunity slide, if you can’t fix it with careful composition.
What can also help a lot is using flash to illuminate the subject and make the background darker and therefore less distracting. I’ve been experimenting with the GRD3’s built-in flash and a do-it-yourself diffuser made out of paper (you can check it out here). There is certainly room for improvement, but so far I’m happy with the results. You can see some of the shots I’ve taken this way down below. And you can view all of my macro photos taken with the GRD3 and flash/diffuser in this Flickr set.
In a future blog post I’m going to show you how you can make one yourself. In the meantime I will try to improve the “design” of my diffuser, in order to make it more robust and less fiddly.
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Wow, you have gotten some really good and interesting images using this camera. So you don’t have to add any close-up lens on the end of the lens to get this close? The lens focuses this close by its self? That is wonderful! Have you also tried any more street photography with it again? Glad to see you back to posting articles!
Thank you very much Joni! Regarding the GRD3’s lens, it’s truly a special prime lens. I don’t know of any other wide angle lens – neither fixed nor interchangeable DSLR/MILC lens – that can focus this close. All of these photos were taken without any add-on close-up lens. I don’t even know if close-up lenses can be used, without getting extreme vignetting. There is the GH-2 adapter, which is hard to come by, so theoretically one could mount a close-up lens onto the GRD3. However, I have no idea how much vignetting there would be or whether this would reduce the minimum focusing distance by a noticeable amount. Close-up lenses usually reduce the minimum focusing distance of a lens more, the longer its focal length is. According to the rule of thumb you shouldn’t even try it with lenses shorter than 50mm (full frame equivalent, not real focal length). In my own experience the Marumi DHG200 improves the 18.5mm’s (50mm full frame equiv.) minimum focusing distance by a little, while the gains are much more substantial, when the Marumi is used in combination with the 10-30mm at 30mm (81mm full frame equiv.).
I have’t tried street-photography since then. SP is a huge time sink. I was a student, without a worry or commitment in the world, when I started out 10 years ago. Now I just don’t have the time or when I have it, I prefer spending it with my fiancé. 🙂
Does your finace also enjoy photography?
She is a creative person who used to draw and paint a lot. We went out shooting a couple of times, but it turned out that she doesn’t enjoy photography.
Sorry to hear that. But I guess she could take her sketch book on outings with you.
No need to feel sorry, it’s alright. We can’t all like the same exact things. 😉
Great article with brilliant pictures. Nice one mate .
Thank you Garry!
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