Andrew Czyzewski is a London-based journalist specialising in the science and technology sectors.

While Andrew occasionally writes and shoots for photography magazines, he considers himself an amateur enthusiast first and foremost. Andrew became seriously interested in photography after taking an optional module in the topic while at university. From then on, he was hooked.

“We were taught on manual film SLR cameras, which I still believe is a great way to learn about the fundamentals of light and exposure. But I’m now a fully-fledged technophile and there’s no turning back from digital photography,” says Andrew.

“I have experimented with many digital camera types and brands but I find myself using Ricoh cameras more than any other. Firstly, the design and functionality mean I always get the shot no matter where I am. The image files have an expressive, textured quality, which is difficult to precisely describe, but as far as I am concerned it is completely unique.”

Andrew’s photography focuses on the built environment. He describes feeling at his happiest when “shooting in any classical European city with a rich history and understanding what legacy that has had on the modern populace and architecture.”

Review about GR

As an avid user of Ricoh’s renowned GRD compact camera range I had mixed feelings when I heard the company had released a large sensor version of the camera, the Ricoh GR. The recent trend for putting large sensors into compacts is something of red herring in my opinion. A small sensor offers greater depth of field, virtually guaranteeing that the image will be in sharp focus right from the foreground to the background — exactly what I need for travel and urban photography. That said, a larger sensor in theory promises better overall image quality with more detail, wider dynamic range and improved low light performance.

So when I was given the opportunity to test the new Ricoh GR I was very keen to find out just how good image quality was and if anything else was compromised as a result of the changes.

For a start the camera body is only a fraction larger than the GRD, so it remains a take-anywhere, pocketable compact camera. And the legendary handling remains – snap focus, customisable pre-sets and ISO jog dial to name a few features.

But there’s just so much more on offer now.

Low light (high ISO) performance has improved to such an extent that it opens up a whole new way of doing photography. As well as the familiar aperture priority and shutter priority modes there’s new mode on the top dial called TAv – which is shutter and aperture priority. Using this mode with the GR you can easily adjust aperture with the wheel (using your middle finger) and shutterspeed with the jog dial (using your thumb) – while the camera takes care of exposure by automatically selecting the right ISO when you focus (using your index finger). You needn’t worry about the ISO getting too high, because frankly results will be great whatever. This offers total control at your fingertips and is especially useful for the custom pre-sets – I have a ‘night mode’ which uses TAv with an aperture of f5.6 and shutter speed of 1/60 (with ISO taken care of).

Overall, image quality is very impressive. It reminded me of going from ‘old school’ TV to HD-TV. I was perfectly happy with normal TV but then you see HD and it just has that instant ‘wow’ factor. The detail and sharpness in the GR make for very immersive images.

The larger sensor of the Ricoh GR also opens up the possibility for more depth of field play – you can achieve that nice out of focus effect for portraits and wildlife work, provided you get close enough to your subject.

But as predicted it’s a double-edged sword. There were a few photos where I hadn’t used a high enough aperture setting and so sharp focus wasn’t maintained through the frame. That wouldn’t have happened with a small sensor compact. The only other gripe is lack of image stabilisation which, to a tripod-phobe like me is quite important. It’s like making a near perfect camera and then slipping at the very final hurdle.

In summary though, it’s a truly superb camera that once again has changed the way I approach photography (as the GRD did before it).

Notes to photographs

I first visited the Vento region of Northern Italy when I was a science student quite new to photography and snapping away aimlessly with a film SLR camera. The results were mostly poor, but it was pivotal experience for me. Rich, historic cities like Venice, Verona and Padua, tranquil lakes such a Garda and the wild peaks of the Dolomite mountains provided the ideal photographic playground.

I had the chance to return recently, more than 10 years since the first trip, with better equipment and more to the point better skills. I’ve tried to be more focused this time, getting to the essence of what makes this region unique.

  1. Moored gondalas overlooking San Giorgio Maggiore Island, Venice
  2. Gondolier, Venice
  3. San Marco Square, Venice
  4. Grand Canal, Venice
  5. Traditionally-made Venetian mask
  6. Dolomites mountains
  7. Alpine wildlife
  8. Lake Misurina, Cadore
  9. The three peaks of Tre Cime di Lavaredo
  10. The town of Cortina d'Ampezzo