One Day in Port Douglas with the Ricoh GR

When I travel, I try to travel as light as humanly possible. Laptop, phone, single camera and lens, HDD, SD card reader and the various chargers required. Travelling light means when getting around life is much easier, it’s only a simple reach into the bag to pull out a camera and fire off some frames and dump it back into the bag or pocket. Makes life very easy when jetting around from location to location.

The Ricoh packs an APC-S sensor and a 28mm equivalent lens, making it very handy for the old holiday snaps and daily bits.

For my last trip to Northern Queensland, I decided to take the tiny point-and-shoot Ricoh GR with the fixed 28mm lens away with me as my only camera on the trip. Unusual for me as I’m usually getting around with my Leica M9 which is great but a fully manual beast that’s heavy as hell. Carrying the GR is a total dream for a Leica shooter: it’s so light and small; it fits into my back pocket or drops effortlessly into my bag without a care in the world – no way you can do that with an M. I’d used the GR for street heaps at home in Melbourne, it’s snap focus mode for zone focussing is amazing for capturing moments on the street. But how would it fare for travel? Could I live with only a single lens at 28mm?

Below are a few choice and very, very touristy shots from my recent trip to Port Douglas in Queensland, Australia shot across a single “action packed” (lol) day in Septemeber. In short, it’s super hot, there’s heaps of crocs, amazing beaches and my white-ass legs.

So, how did the tiny Ricoh go for travel photography? Good-to-OK I guess. Unfortunately, I didn’t really shoot much after the first day as I noticed that my Ricoh GR had developed that nasty and kinda gross dust/dirt/grit/smudges on the sensor issue which is caused by the opening and closing motion of the lens. Occasionally, dirt and crap gets caught and it’s dragged onto the sensor and those artefacts are left on your final image, bummer.

Once I found the problem, it really took the wind out of my sails (ah-thank-you) in terms of photography because I had to spend hours removing the spots and weird dirt smudges from each frame in Lightroom – very, very annoying and time consuming. I didn’t really want to spend chunks of time editing the pictures either while away or back home; which lead me to photograph less over the course of the trip.

Of what I did shoot while in Port Douglas, I kind of liked. In a cheesy white-dad-with-a-camera-on-holiday kind of way. The GR performed well, snappy as usual and was surprisingly strong for landscapes, probably because the 28mm is so wide it can capture scenes and provide lots of context making it very serviceable. Holiday snaps are a breeze as the AF is super fast, allowing you to pump out frames very quickly with great accuracy.

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