The Ricoh GR 21 was introduced in 2001 and took the GR line to a wide angle with a 21mm lens. It was also the last film version of the much loved GR line.
The GR line started with the GR1 in 1996 and was received well. Great compact size. Great build quality and really nice image quality. The GR21 took it up a notch by adding a nice wide 21mm lens to the mix. The first compact to offer a wide angle lens. No surprise that this is a favorite for street.
The compact size makes this a go anywhere camera. The GR21 is not quite as sleek as the other GR line because the lens does not recede into the body. But there is also less waiting for the lens to extend. Just be sure to remove the lens cap because it will take a picture with it on (not that I would know).
There is a lot to love about the GR21 but there are also two things to hate. First the price is a bit high. Both because of how great they are and because the GR21 seems to have been produced in lower quantities. Second they are getting old. Ricoh no longer services them and even though the build quality seems great, at some point you may end up with a stylish decoration. Think of it as a summer camp romance: fun at the time, but may not last forever.
Great pocket camera. Simple to use and image quality was great. This wide a lens was really fun to have in such a small camera. The view finder was nice and bright. The auto focus seemed to work well and was quick enough. Mine is not in mint condition so I did not worry too much about it beating it up.
Not long ago I shot the Ricoh R1, a 1st cousin of the GR21. The family resemblance is obvious. Both are a great compact size and they feel similar to shoot. I would describe the R1 as the consumer grade version and the GR21 as the professional grade (if professional grade point and shoot is a thing). The GR21 clearly came from the better side of the family, but the R1 is a fraction of the price.
Did I mention that it has a date function? I don't normally read manual before I start shooting. Plus this one came with a Japanese only manual, so that was not much help. As I was hanging my processed film I noticed a mark in the same place on each frame. That is how I discovered the date function. No idea why it was set to July of 2000. And yes you can turn it off.
Thanks to the folk at the Tree House in Honolulu for having this little guy for me to find. I'm a big fan of the Tree House. Not only do they have lots of film cameras and film in stock, they are always playing great music from a very impressive vinyl collection. Analog all the way! Drop in if you find yourself in paradise.
Lens: Fixed GR Lens 21mm f3.5
Film: Ilford HP5 400