Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Zone Focus Street Photography with Ricoh


As most of my followers know, I rarely steal pictures in public. I usually ask permission before I take an image, or else I'm shooting a wide scene with lots of elements, including random people. I'm not ethically against "stealing" images, but I don't do it often. I tend to do it more when I'm on vacation. I don't know why that's so...I'll have to think about that one.

Anyways, the above picture was "stolen" while shooting with the Ricoh GR-D IV camera. As you can see, I didn't get the focus right (more below for the nerds) but I think I caught the mood of the shot. His cool, confident stride reminded me of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever strutting down the street with his tight pants...

Ok, the rest of this is for photo nerds only...the rest beware!!

I've been testing the Ricoh GR's most praised feature the past couple of days. Yes, Snap Focus. This small point and shoot has the ability to pre-set a focus distance (1-5 metres) so when you hit the shutter button, you get an instant picture, no lag. It's super fast. In fact, its faster than my DSLR.


You can also incorporate snap focus into the regular auto-focus mode. When you press the shutter half-way it will pre-focus...like most cameras. But with the Ricoh, if you press the shutter all the way down without pre-focusing, it will automatically jump to snap-focus mode! That's pretty cool. You can turn this feature off as well. But wait, there's more!

It also has an infinity focus mode, as well as Auto Snap Focus mode. This feature uses its secondary focus sensors mounted on the outside of the camera to assist when the standard contrast type focus sensors are struggling. I think Ricoh is the only brand that uses two types of auto-focus sensors: sensor mounted (contrast type) and external sensors (active distance type).

Moreover, you can use infinity, Auto Snap, or the pre-set snap distance when setting up the full-shutter press feature. All these features allow you the photographer to customize how the camera focuses, which really helps if you have specific needs. Most D-SLR's don't give you this many focus options...

Just to let you know, I was struggling to master the zone-focus snap-focus shooting style! Taking a picture from the hip, shooting vertical and without looking at the LCD screen isn't really my style, but I gave it a try. I was also constantly adjusting my snap focus distance, so I could never get the distance straight in my head.

When I looked at the above image, I realized that the building sign was in focus, but not the guy walking. I set the distance too far I guess. Next time, I'll just commit to a distance (I think I'll go 1.5m), commit to an aperture (probably F5.6) and then shoot away. To help with zone focusing, there's an on-screen focus distance scale with an active depth-of-field range so you know what will be in focus. Yet another really cool feature of the Ricoh.

I may have my hands on the new Ricoh GR V soon (maybe tomorrow...I'm so excited!!), so I should be able to post a comparison between the IV and V in the next few weeks. I also have a Fuji X-Pro 1 coming, so maybe a side-by-side shoot-out between the Fuji and GR V would be more of a comparable comparison (?). I'll keep you posted. Happy shooting!

2 comments:

  1. Do you mind sharing shutter speed for the photo? I am wondering if the walking man is not as sharp due to motion blur?

    Thanks,
    Matt

    PS nice website, btw!

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    Replies
    1. I shot at 1/203 sec at F/4.5, so you are correct, it could be motion blur. I was just starting to test SNAP focus, so it's hard to say. After many experiments with shutter speeds and distance, I found that shooting above 1/500th sec and set the distance at 1.5M was the best for me to capture sharp pics. Check out my review of the Leica X Vario and you'll see that I got it right by then. I didn't use autofocus on any of my street pics with the Leica.

      Thanks for your question and thanks for viewing!

      BHT

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