Ricoh GR Zone Focusing Tips for Closeup Street Photography

Using Ricoh GR Snap and Zone Focus for Street Photography

Candid Closeup against the Light- Ricoh GR

Today I want to share with you my Ricoh GR Zone Focusing Tips for Closeup Street Photography using Snap Focus, Full Press Snap Focus and Manual Focus Mode.

The tips are especially useful when shooting in fast paced, closeup situations where you can not rely on the slow Auto Focus performance. To get an impression of such situations consider watching a short documentary video about Jeff Mermelstein´s or Bruce Gilden´s working approach. Both are renowned Street Photographers from New York City. Notice how near and quickly they make their pictures!

Ricoh GR Zone Focusing Modes

In order to make photographs that quick you need to shoot using a fixed focus distance and choose the right f-stop value. Together they define a limited Zone of Focus (also known as Depth of Field) in which things appear sharp. This technique is called Zone Focusing and works when using the following Ricoh GR Focus Modes:

  • Snap Focus – A dedicated focus mode that allows you to shoot using one of six predefined focus distances (1 m, 1,5 m, 2 m, 2,5 m, 5 m or Infinity).
  • Full Press Snap Focus – Works in every Auto Focus mode and allows you to shoot the same six predefined focus distances.
  • Manual Focus – A dedicated focus mode that allows you to set the desired focus distance anywhere between 10 cm and Infinity.

Next have a look at the chart below to get an idea of how big/long the Depth of Field will be for each Snap Focus distance.

Ricoh GR Zone Focusing (Depth of Field) Chart

When using Ricoh GR Snap and Manual Focus you are telling the camera to focus on a specific point in front of you. In Snap Focus mode this point is either 1 m, 1,5 m, 2 m, 2,5 m, 5 m or ∞ endlessly far away. In Manual Focus mode this point is anywhere between 10 cm and ∞ Infinity.

Depending on the chosen f-stop (f/2.8 – f/16) a Depth of Field Zone is created before and behind the focus point. The Depth of Field Zone represents the space in which a subject is captured with “acceptable sharpness”. The closer a subject is to the specified focus point, the sharper it will appear on the photograph. As a rule of thumb it is 1/3 in front and 2/3 behind this point.

The chart below illustrates the zone of acceptable sharpness for a each Snap Focus distance (horizontal lines from left to right) and typical f-stop values f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8 and f/16. (color coded from top to bottom)

How To Read the DoF Chart Example:

Start on the left, choose a distance, follow the horizontal line to the same color field, lookup the aperture on the top and read the corresponding DoF start and end values.

  • If the focus is set to 1m distance (Orange) the DoF Zone for f/8 will start from 0.68 meter and go to  1.88 meter.
  • If the focus is set to 2m distance (Green) the DoF Zone for f/16 will start from 0.74 meter and go to  Infinity.

Download this chart as pdf: Simplified Ricoh GR Snap Focus DoF Chart (CC-BA-SA)

Ricoh GR Depth of Field DOF Zone Chart for Snap Focus and Hyperfocal Distances

Ricoh GR Depth of Field (DoF) Zone Chart for Snap Focus and Hyperfocal Distances

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How to use Snap Focus:

Using Ricoh GR Snap and Zone Focus for Street Photography

Candid closeup of a woman rushing by – Ricoh GR

Snap Focus is a dedicated focus mode that is convenient to use within certain preset distances. 

  1. Select Snap Focus Mode in the camera menu: Menu > Shooting > Snap
  2. Set the Snap Focus distance, for example to 1 m
    • Either from the camera: Menu > Shooting > Snap Focus Distance > 1m
    • Or by using a button combo: Press and hold the macro button (up) + turn the front adjustment wheel to the left (decreasing distance) or right (increasing distance)
    • Notice that the selected Snap Focus distance is displayed in the the upper right corner of the screen.
  3. Select a shooting mode where you can adjust the aperture (P, Av, or TAv)
    • I recommend to use the TAv mode to define aperture and speed and let the camera do the ISO adjustment accordingly.
  4. Select a higher aperture value to increase the depth of field (f/8)
    • Setting the aperture to f/8 will results in a 1,2 m long of depth of field with 32 cm (or 27% ) of focus in front and 88 cm (or 73 %) behind the 1 m away subject.
    • Check the Snap Focus DoF-Chart for other values or use the Online DoF Calculator.
  5. Try it out.
    • Make sure that the shutter speed is fast enough to capture movements (1/250th – 1/500th should be safe)

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How to use Full Press Snap Focus:

Using Ricoh GR Snap and Zone Focus for Street Photography

Candid closeup of a cigarette smoker – Ricoh GR

Full Press Snap Focus works in every Auto Focus mode and allows you to shoot quickly using preset distances.

  1. Enable Full Press Snap in the camera menu: Menu > Shooting > Full Press Snap > On or Auto-Hi ISO
  2. Choose any Auto Focus mode
  3. Set the Snap Focus distance, for example to 1 m
    • Either from the camera: Menu > Shooting > Snap Focus Distance > 1m
    • Or by using a button combo: Press and hold the macro button (up) + turn the front adjustment wheel to the left (decreasing distance) or right (increasing distance)
    • Notice that the selected Snap Focus distance is displayed in the the upper right corner of the screen.
  4. Try it out
    • While shooting press the shutter button immediately down to the ground.
    • The camera will omit to Auto Focus and shoot using the Snap Focus distance you have chosen in step 3.

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How to use Manual Focus:

Using Ricoh GR Snap and Zone Focus for Street Photography

Candid closeup in China Town – Ricoh GR

Just like Robert Capa once stated “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough  you will notice that the DoF-Range at the shortest Snap Focus distance (1 m) and minimum aperture (f/16) does not provide enough sharpness in closeup situations. If this is the case you will have to switch to Manual Focus and select a nearer focus point.

Manual Focus is a dedicated mode that allows you to capture your subject from an intimate near perspective.

  1. Select Manual Focus Mode in the camera menu: Menu > Shooting > MF
  2. Set the Manual Focus distance for example to 0.5 m
    • Using a button combo: Press and hold the macro button (up) + turn the front adjustment wheel to the left (decreasing distance) or right (increasing distance)
    • Notice how the orange distance indicator bar is moving up and down on the lower left side of the display. The depth-of-filed zone is displayed as a green rectangle around it.
  3. Select a shooting mode that controls the aperture (P, Av, or TAv)
    • I recommend to use the TAv mode to define aperture and speed and let the camera do the ISO adjustment accordingly.
  4. Select a higher aperture value to increase the depth of field (f/8)
    • Setting the aperture to f/8 will results in a shallow 0.24 cm depth of field with 0.41 cm of focus in front and 0.65 cm behind the 0.5 m away subject.
    • Use the Online DoF Calculator to get values for other f-stops.
  5. Try it out.
    • Make sure that the shutter speed is fast enough to capture movements (1/250th – 1/500th should be safe)

Don´t be afraid to get close. Be polite and be creative!

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Comments

  • Sean

    Hello michael! Just bought me a used Ricoh GR for fun. My question is: Does snap function only work in manual focus mode? Or does it also in A / F mode? I have difficulty seeing the snap funktione is in force or not? Hope you understand the question! Best regards Sean

  • Hi Sean!

    Thank you for the question. I have updated the post and added how to use Full Press Snap Focus. This is the mode that is also available in every Auto Focus mode. Let me know if that was what you were looking for!

    Best, MiK

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  • Hello Michael, I’m a bit confused by the Snap Focus and the Full Press Snap Focus. It’s the same thing no ? What I understood on the GR (correct me if I’m wrong…) is that the Snap Focus allows us to keep working with the AF and when we want to take a shot with the Snap Focus, we just full press to bypass the AF. Btw I love how close you get to people. Awesome ! For the photograph with the woman, you were with the camera so close to her face !
    Cheers Michael

  • Hi Jean

    That´s right. The GR has a dedicated Snap Focus Mode where you can use only the predefined focus distances AND there is the option to use Snap Focus Mode when you are in Auto Focus Mode. To use Snap Focus you will have to enable it in the Camera Menu first. Then when shooting in Auto Focus Mode press the Shutter Button down fully. That will omit the cameras half-press Auto Focus function and you will shoot a photo using the selected Snap Focus distance instead. Hope that helps you to understand it more clearly.

    Thank you for your thoughts about about the closeness. I think it is a style one has to try out at least once when shooting street, just to get a feel for it. Photographing like this happens to be very quick. For the particular picture I was walking in the opposite direction of the woman and raised my arm just before she passed. After trying it I realized that is is too intrusive for my personal taste (except some very special cases).

    Here´s a tip if you want to try it: Stick around street crossings near transportation hubs (rail < -> bus) during peak hours (morning and after work). Cross the street with the people and snap along. Most people are rushing to catch their transports and wont complain because they are too tired :)

    Best,
    Michael

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