Ricoh GR II @ Formula 1 2016 – Can it be the all purpose, compact, food and walkabout camera that i am looking for ?

I realised its no point to languish in self pity after my retina detachment surgery. Well, yes, I am not ok. My bubble is still in the eye, need another 2-3 weeks before it disappears. My vision is not good….its cloudy and everything looks distorted. Lines to me are no longer straight, they are distorted. Eyes are still blood shot red. 🙂 Wanted to update more about the eye but decided to wait for more time to pass….

But hey, I can see images. That’s something to cheer about. 🙂

The week that I could actually get up and walk without having to look down all the time..thats like, 2-3 weeks after the surgery, I went and bought a Ricoh GR II just to make myself feel better. And of course the guys at the camera shop are some of my favourite guys, they cheer me up quite abit.

Its been 8 long years since the Formula 1 race started in Singapore. And its the first time in 8 years that I got invited as a guest other that those times where I have to work. This time, I have no need to entertain guests, I could practically do whatever I want…..which is to eat like a mad man at all the different food stations around the Paddock Club.

I decided to bring the Ricoh GR II. A little it of history, I have never managed to find a compact camera good enough for my kind of food photography which includes a little bit of bokeh.  I mean, I used the Canon 5D II with the 24-70mm, which gives the best results but its like carrying a tank around and an overkill, I am not making money from my food……

The Leica M gives excellent pictures as well but its a 70cm focusing distance, try taking sharp pictures of food with that. I ended up swaying my body back and forth and taking a few shots each time. But its perfect for my street walkabouts, so its a compromise between perfect street photography and a little bit of food photos.

The Sony Nex 7 with the 35mm is a step down but its smaller size and almost pocketable. Just that I have to really squeeze it in and I ended up with a abnormal looking bulge in the front of my jeans.

Then came the GRII……..

Street photography – It has a wide lens at 18mm and at F2.8, its pretty good. The best part is that it has a “Snap” function which allows you to set a distance on 1m, 1.5m, 2m…5m till infinity. This means that It will snap whatever is in focus at those distances. Wow, I am impressed, the is a rangefinder like function and suits my needs for street photography.

Food Photography – This thing has a APS-C sensor, which means it gives much better bokeh that the Sony RX100 IV, and which the macro mode, its very good for food photography ! Have you seen the size of this camera ? It fits into any pocket and looks so flushed that no one knows I am carrying one around. Normally this can only be on a 1 inch sensor compact but now ….APS- C ! You set it to crop to at 35mm or 47mm, good for food..

The gripe ? The GRII is horrible in low – light conditions. So please don’t expect to use it after dark. The small little built in flash serves little purpose. I was hoping that at least it can bend back a little so that I can bounce the little flash off the ceiling for food shots but no….its full head on straight ahead which makes my food looks overexposed.

Back to the F1, I was determined to eat every single god-damn thing. Let me list down the different food corners that was there.

Jean Georges, Nobu, Itsuki, Tarte, Como/Culina, Singapore Airlines Suite buffet…everything from champagne, cheese, wagyu, oysters to even Hamasaki Whisky !

I didn’t manage to try everything of course ……was so full that I became high, was laughing non stop and everyone in the end.


Well…..looking a little different from what was presented in the brochures…..but its ok I get to eat Wagyu…..


Como / Culina has the 5J Jamon Iberico ! I must have like gone back 20 times for them.


Well, not too bad for food pics on such a small compact isn’t it ?  but let me finished, I got this camera for the bokeh. The pictures above ? You still need to add some colour, do some adjustments for the exposure and brightness, sharpen a little here and there. But bokeh cannot be faked, natural bokeh makes the food pictures much better.

Then came the walkabouts,  I am not used to it and held it too low…..but to hold it higher will make it obvious that I am snapping at you. But you guys can see the potential in it, especially with the snap function. Here the colours are as it is, no adjustment of any kind. What i did was what any casual photographer will do… hold it up, point and snap, sometimes way above my head so i see nothing, just snap anyway. Followed by the rangefinder like spy shots….no one noticed….. the camera is fast !


A broken neck wasn’t going to stop her snapping away at Lewis Hamilton………’s helmet.


This pic and the pic before, just to show you how it looks after cropping….not too bad


In low light conditions……I get no shots……r0010931

Heading home…… it was a brief reprieve…..but honestly, I think once I return home….I am going to sink into deep thoughts about my retina detachment again. Update again soon after the bubble is gone from the eye…..









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