Nigel Atkinson Photography

Equipment review: Contax T3 and Ricoh GR1V


Before reading this review please read my general introduction to reviews here


I've recently sold both of these cameras on EBay - a tougher decision than selling the SLRs because they tended to travel everywhere with me. I confess that I put them up for sale without finding a digital equivalent - having gone through many internet reviews there is a fair consensus the one doesn't exist yet. However, the EOS 350D is so small that I can carry it in my hand luggage, and I now have a Canon S70 as a possible contender.


There are times when carrying an SLR is inappropriate either because of either the size and weight or the attention it attracts. This is where a ‘point and shoot’ camera comes into its own. This is when I use the Ricoh and/or the Contax.

Ricoh GR1v with fill flashGR1v with flash off, taken inside a restaurant in HoustonThe quality of the images from the Ricoh GR1V and the Contax T3 are fantastic. This is because they both have fast high quality fixed lenses – 28mm on the Ricoh and 35mm on the Contax. In my experience compact cameras with zoom lenses generally give awful pictures, though it obviously depends on what you want.

I have had these cameras for roughly the same length of time (I think I bought them in 2001). Which one I use is largely driven by which focal length will be most useful, but I probably carry the Ricoh more often than the Contax.

The Ricoh GR1V is smaller and has the best user interface BUT is also noisier (winding rather than shutter noise). With the Ricoh it is very easy to set the flash, focus mode and exposure compensation. Its major weakness in my view is a very fiddly on-button which is impossible to use when wearing gloves.

The Contax T3 probably gives the highest quality pictures of the two (though it is a close call), and is very quiet.

I was very happy with both cameras, and routinely used them with slide film loaded. Both cameras allow you to half-press the shutter button to fix focus and therefore prevent any lag when taking the shot. However, neither have fast enough auto focus to capture very fast and unpredictable objects such as children.

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