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Ricoh GR III Review


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Introduction


I always want to have a camera with me. I’ve tried several different iterations of compact cameras and interchangeable lens cameras that had smaller lens footprints. Got pretty close to some perfect cameras, from the Fuji X100 series, to the Olympus PEN-F with pancake primes and even the Ricoh GR II! I’ve reviewed that camera before and eventually traded it off for other gear.

 

So why go back to another iteration of the Ricoh GR?

 

Let’s take this journey together and discuss some of those reasons and our impression of this latest iteration.

 

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Tech Stuff
 

Body
 

Honestly, when you look at this iteration of the GR, you’d be forgiven if you didn’t know if it was a GR II or a GR IIIx. The basics of the cameras have not really changed. That’s probably a good thing as far as upgrading goes or having multiple (if you decide to get the GR IIIx for the 40mm field of view) GR’s – they act just the same. Not much in my opinion of the camera has changed regarding handling and buttons layout. If you want to know more about that – check out the link I included above of my Ricoh GR II review.

 

We will definitely concentrate more on the differences / updates of the GR III.

 

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Dials. Again, basically the same as the GR II. The dials and buttons are easy to get to, even one handed. There is a front wheel and a rear rocker switch. So controlling either aperture or shutter in Av or Tv mode is easy and both in manual is straight forward and intuitive.

 

Something that I like to bring up as well is the ability to review images on the LCD without powering on the camera and extending the lens. Just long press on the PLAY button at the back/top right of camera and you’ll be in image preview mode. I wish more camera makers would have this. Don’t power the sensor, extend the lens, engage IBIS…do nothing but image review and a little post processing!

 

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Shutter Release – Like the GR II, the shutter release is a rectangular shaped button that is easy to find and press.

 

Rear LCD – Difference number one! The Rear LCD is now a touch LCD panel. It does not articulate, but whether or not that makes a difference to you is a personal one. For me, not that big a deal…but some kind of articulation would be welcome to make shooting from the waist possible (if you are not one that likes to use the snap focus feature) or getting a low level view of the LCD when shooting low in portrait orientation. Remember – the only real time feedback you have for composing on this cameras is that rear LCD.

 

The touch panel not only gives you a touch to focus or touch to actuate function, but it also allows you to navigate and choose menu options. It is a nice touch, and the responsiveness is very good.

 

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Flash

Previous iterations of the GR had a built in flash. GR III does away with that. Some people like to have that built in flash for a pop of fill, others (like me) don’t really use a ton of on-camera flash and prefer to do off camera…so this is a non-issue.

 

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Viewfinder

Composing shots with the GR series cameras relies on the rear LCD. There is no OVF/EVF that comes with the camera. The body is not setup to be able to accept an add on EVF either. You can, however, us an analog/optical only viewfinder that sits on the hot shoe. There is no possibility for getting any shooting data, but it does give you the ability to have a rough framing of the field of view of the lens (the lens is 18mm actual, APS-C ~ 28mm field of view).

 

I did pick up a cheap Amazon 28mm finder. It is not optically good and is rather blurry – but there is enough there that makes the framing possible. When shooting in bright sunlight, the rear LCD can let you down, so having that optical option is beneficial. Ricoh also makes branded viewfinders in the correct field of view as do others that will have better performance than the inexpensive ones from Amazon or eBay. For me, the low budget version is fine for what I want.

 

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Weather Sealing

One of the biggest criticisms for the GR series is the lack of weather sealing. The GR III is unchanged in this regard. The lens unit is the major culprit of where dust and dirt may get in. You can get an adapter that will allow you to add filters to the GR. This may be a good compromise for reducing the amount of dust that gets close to the front of the lens unit.

 

Most likely, this will not give you the same level of sealing that say the Fuji X100F would, but it is better than nothing.

 

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The Lens


Ricoh has improved this version of the GR lens. I had no issues with the prior version of the Ricoh 18mm lens attached. GR III lens is just as good if not better. You may need to pixel peep to be able to really tell the difference.

 

With the APS-C sensor, we are looking at a field of view of 28mm and you get an aperture of f/2.8

 

Sharpness for this lens is not an issue at all. Engineers that worked on this lens did a great job. Rank it up there with some of the best compact, fixed lens cameras out there like the Fuji X100 series cameras.

Ricoh does make a wide angle adapter lens for the GR III. This will get you to a 21mm field of view. The wide lens does require an additional adapter to be purchased for it work.

 

If you want some telephoto action – you can set a function button on the GR III to crop the image to an equivalent of 35mm or 50mm field of view. This is a crop, but does not interpolate the file back to a 24mp size. You can get the same effect if you just want to crop the image yourself in post.

 

Given the state of modern post processing, resizing the files after crop would be a relatively easy affair if you chose to go that route. The in camera crop would be a good tool to get the proper framing and aspect ratio.

 

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Performance


Overall System Performance
Do not expect this camera to be a speed shooter. It is capable of doing a lot of things, but a “sport” shooter of fast moving subjects, it will struggle.

 

Powering up, though, is very fast, and the lens is ready to go quickly as well. Accessing items from the camera body buttons or the menu is quick.

 

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Autofocus

 

Single Point

The auto focus performance here is adequate. In good light, we have confidence when locking on. In low light, the speed slows down and there is a lot more “pulsing” before the camera locks on. Speed is really the issue and not accuracy – as when the camera does lock on you’ve got a sharp image. Changing the focus point is different than other cameras. You need to press the OK button to activate the focus point selection mode and then the 4 way selector now allows you to change to different focus points.

 

Manual Focus

I’m not intending to use manual focus much…but it is there and the rear ADJ lever is used for that.

 

Snap Focus

Set a specific distance and the camera will always use that as the focus point. A lot of people like this and it is stated by many that this could be a #1 reason for many to buy this camera. Not for me, but I really think I need to experiment with it and see if I can find a use case for my way of shooting that it makes sense.

 

Continuous Focus

The new sensor on the GR III incorporates phase detect in it, so will make C-AF a bit more or a viable option. While it will not be something that Ricoh is going to tout as a sport camera – it will make all focus modes more confident.

 

Auto Point AF

There is also a way to allow for the camera to determine AF points.

 

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Battery and Battery Life
CIPA ratings are putting this at around 200 images. I’ve seen reports from others that they are getting up around 300-ish. I still stick behind my thoughts that CIPA really needs to rate mirrorless cameras based on a power on time versus number of shots…or even do both metrics.

 

Only time will tell how this will play out. My guess is that the battery life will be slightly worse than previous GR iterations based the new LCS panel and on the information in the next section – stabilization.

 

Batteries for this camera are not very expensive, so you can get an OEM battery for $40 or 2 Wasabi batteries with an external charger for $20.

 

The GR III can charge the battery in the camera using a USB-C cable. Ricoh has chosen to not include an external charger in the box. I like having external chargers, so I went with the Wasabi battery/charger. I can see the benefit of having the capability to charge in camera – especially if traveling and you want to charge while driving or if you just want to go super minimal when traveling.

 

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Stabilization (SR)
GR III now joins a slew of modern cameras that include in body stabilization. Yes, the GR III now includes a sensor based stabilization. From what I can find, it appears to be rated for 4 stops of stability assistance.

 

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Ergonomics


For me, the size of a camera is important. There is a point of diminishing returns on size. You can only go so small before the controls are hard to reach and the camera is difficult to hold.

 

Feel in The Hand

The camera feels solid. If a camera is too small it is hard to get to the buttons that are on the camera body. This camera feels right to me but is on the verge of too small. If Ricoh went any smaller than this – I would probably not like it. No matter the orientation, it just gets out of your way and lets you use it for its intended purpose – capturing images. There is a nice space in the back for your thumb to rest naturally. Your thumb is then able to get to the rear rocker, the function button and the 4 way command dial to change options or focus points.

 

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Image Quality

 

I find Ricoh colors unique in their JPG processing. Out of the box the colors are pleasant if not a it a muted. Other JPG settings can punch up the color, contrast if desired. Monochrome presets are also available.

 

You have the ability to customize and save up to 6 custom JPG settings for use later. They can also be assigned to U1 through U3

 

The new sensor is fantastic. The lens does it justice.

 

This is a modern APS-C sensor with all the benefits that come with it. Is it the best, no – there are others out there that may very well be better – but some of that can also be attributed to other items within the imaging pipeline and the decisions that the engineers made when putting the JPG engine together.

 

No matter – you can get a lot of great stuff out of this sensor unit. As always, we want you to make your own decision – have fun exploring the images I’ve shot with the GR III. Also note, that images may not be straight out of camera JPG. I shoot and process images to see what I can get out of a camera and the files. If you are looking for more scientific analysis, then I recommend looking at another review for that.

 

JPG file examples:

 

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Final Thoughts

 

So, why go back to the Ricoh GR style cameras?

 

Technical reasons are the update to imaging sensor, the shake reduction (IBIS), the great lens.

 

This camera is small and something that you could potentially fit in a pant pocket. While I do love using my Fuji X-Pro2 and 27mm f/2.8 pancake lens, that is still a rather substantial camera. The Ricoh provides great value for the size.

 

A unique look to the images from this camera also appeal to me as well as the ability to create film simulations and save them – much like the way I do with the Fuji cameras.

 

I can pack this camera in with my small sling bag when going to walk the dog and add very little weight or bulk.

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See my content here:

http://www.visualohio.com | BESTLIGHTPHOTO BLOG | 500px Profile & Pics

 

I shoot Nikon, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax and Leica.  Probably not enough!  LOL

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