3 The GR III. It’s finally here. The successor to the GR/GR II. (The GR II was such a minor update, that I consider the GR/GR2 to essentially be the same camera). I’ve owned the Ricoh GR III since release, so not only is this a real world review, this is a long term review from someone who actually owns the camera.
This isn’t a review unit, I bought the camera with my own money.
I’ll start things off with a quick TLDR of the pros and cons, for those who just want the highlights. But if you want to know more, I’ll talk about each of the pros and cons in more detail after the TLDR.
Basically, my conclusion is that it’s still the good ol’ iconic GR that we know. The king of the streets. The king of snap shots. It’s smaller, it’s slightly faster, it’s still the perfect EDC (everyday carry) camera. Most importantly, it’s still one of the most fun cameras I’ve ever used.
BUT, if you disliked the GR/GR2, or if you didn’t ‘get’ the hype of the Ricoh GR/GRD line, then there is little here that will make you change your mind.
It’s a new lens design, but the lens specs remain the same. It’s still an 18.3mm f/2.8 fixed lens on an APS-C sensor (28mm-equivalent in ‘full frame’ terms).
There is still no built-in viewfinder. Those hoping for a pop-up viewfinder similar to the Sony RX100 will be disappointed.
It’s still not weather-sealed. There is no tilt screen. There is no 4K video. It is NOT a competitor to the Sony RX100 line.
It’s more evolutionary than revolutionary, but there are some genuinely useful upgrades – mainly the image stabilization and the touch screen.
But, there are also some head-scratching misses – like the terrible AF speed despite the addition of on-sensor phase detect AF (the GR and GRII only had contrast detect AF). But, whether it matters to you or not, depends largely on what you plan to use the camera for.
Anyways, here’s the quick TLDR:
What I like:
- It’s still king of the street – for street photographers who love zone focusing (aka snap-shooting) and want a small, unobtrusive camera with a large sensor, it just cannot be beat. There is no competition.
- Very effective image stabilization (shake reduction) allows for more creative options.
- New touch screen (with touch focus and touch to shoot) is genuinely useful.
- Smaller body – more pocketable, more portable, more discreet.
- New highlight-weighted metering is really fun to use – especially if paired with the excellent high contrast black and white JPEG preset.
- JPEG presets are very good and lots of fun. Ricoh are one of a few camera manufacturers that use the more universal DNG raw format, but if you don’t fancy working with raw files, it can output some great JPEGs. The ‘vivid’ setting for example, is probably the best ‘vivid’ setting I’ve ever seen out of any camera, ever.
What I don’t like:
- Leisurely AF (by 2020 standards) limits its use in “non-street” shooting, e.g. social, kids.
- Battery life is poor, an extra battery or two is necessary.
- The dedicated exposure compensation button (-/+) is gone – this might alter one-handed shooting, depending on how you used to shoot older models.
- No more dedicated charger included in the retail box. It’s now a separate purchase. You now charge in-camera, like a cellphone. But the good news is that it charges via USB-C.
What’s new vs the original Ricoh GR and Ricoh GR II:
- 3-axis image stabilization – it’s really good. It opens up lots of shooting opportunities in low light.
- Built-in dust removal – uses the image stabilization system to shake the sensor and hopefully get rid of sensor dust, which can be a problem in retractable lens cameras.
- New 24MP sensor – allows for better cropping (GR3 comes with 35mm and 50mm crop modes), and about a stop better high ISO performance vs the older models
- New Ricoh GA-1 lens adapter and Ricoh GW-4 21mm wide-angle converter. The old GH-3 lens adapter and GW-3 wide-angle adapter lens no longer work.
- Phase detect AF – but honestly, I don’t find it to be a big upgrade in real world use. Maybe it’s due to the lens design, but the GR3 is one of the slowest focusing cameras released in 2019/2020 that I have ever used. My Olympus PEN-F (2016), with a contrast detect-only AF system is able to focus significantly faster than the GR3 in S-AF.
- Positive film preset is different. It no longer looks like the one on the GR/GR2. I’m not saying it’s worse. Just different. I know a lot of people absolutely loved the out-of-camera look of the old positive film JPEG’s, so, you might be surprised by the change.
- No more built-in flash. I’ve never used it, so not an issue at all for me. But for those who use it as an external flash trigger, it could be a deal breaker.
It’s still the best compact camera for street photography
This has always been the raison-d’etre of the GR line. All the little features come together to create a camera that can rightfully be called the king of the streets.
The small size. Always with you. Can be easily dropped into any bag or pocket. It’s like a wallet. The only place you can’t comfortably place it is your back pocket.
It’s ultra-light. If you wan’t to put it on a strap, you won’t even feel it hanging over your neck.
It’s low profile. Very unassuming. It looks like a dinky point and shoot. It IS a point and shoot. It’s non-threatening, it doesn’t look like a serious camera at all. You will likely look like a clueless tourist, instead of a creepy paparazzi. And that is what makes it stealthy. It’s what will allow you to shoot close. To get candid shots you wouldn’t otherwise get with a larger camera.
Snap focus – if you don’t use it, DON’T buy a GR
And of course, the GR III wouldn’t be a GR if it didn’t have snap focus. This is just a fancy name for being able to set your focus to a pre-set distance. AKA, zone focusing. This is how most of the greats have done street photography, in the age of manual focus lenses. And it’s also how street shooters have done street photography in the previous age of slow AF.
Despite the advances in auto-focus technology and face-detection algorithms this is still the preferred method of doing street photography that a lot of street photographers swear by, me included.
Zone focusing/snap focusing is just faster than even the fastest AF ever made. Period.
Set the lens to f/8, 1.5 meters, auto-ISO and 1/200 or faster shutter speed, and you’re good to go. No need to wait for AF to lock, no need for the camera to keep up with fast moving scenes. No need to adjust AF points. Just frame and shoot. It can’t be easier than that. This is still how I shoot the GR III out in the streets about 98% of the time.
This is also how you should use the GRIII out in the streets, most of the time. If you don’t plan on using snap focus – if you require AF for most of your street shooting – the GR probably isn’t for you.
There are other cameras with far better AF than the GR III. They won’t be as small and pocketable as the GR III, but if you require fast auto focus, if you don’t shoot using snap focus/zone focusing, then you will be best served by other cameras, in my opinion.
The Fujifilm X100V with its redesigned 23mm f/2 lens (35mm-equivalent); the blazingly fast Sony a6400 or the newer and cheaper Sony a6100 paired with a compact lens like the Sony 20mm f/2.8 pancake lens (30mm-equivalent).
Another interchangeable lens option is the small but full featured Fujifilm X-T30 paired with the tiny and weather-sealed Fujinon 23mm f/2 lens (35mm-equivalent).
If you’re interested in micro-four thirds, you’ve got the Panasonic GX9 with the tiny Panasonic Leica 15mm f/1.7 (30mm-equivalent) or if you want a 28mm-equivalent, you can grab the even tinier Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 pancake lens. I could go on.
All of the above are all going to be significantly faster in auto-focusing than the GR3. BUT, of course, none of them are pocketable either. But they are still fairly compact vs your typical mirrorless set-up. So, pick your poison.
If you want great AF speed, get any of the above, just know that you are giving up the pocketability.
If you want compact size, get the GR, but you have to live with the slower AF speed and you have to take full advantage of snap focus.
If you want size and speed, get a Sony RX100 Mark VII. (See my real world Sony RX100 VII review) But know that you are giving up the great handling of the GR and will be getting a smaller sensor (The RX100 M7 has a much smaller 1″ sensor, which will not perform as well as the GR in low light).
The RX100 VII also has a 24-200mm-equivalent zoom. The current generation – RX100 VII (M7) – is the only one in the RX100 line with Sony’s real time AF paired with a stacked sensor (same as the flagship Sony a9). The Sony RX100 VI and older versions use an older AF system that isn’t as good.
But, back to the GR III –
It’s 2020 and I’m still surprised at how very few camera manufacturers have copied Ricoh’s snap-focus implementation. Outside of Fujifilm (with their now discontinued X70 camera, and the newer, but lower-end Fujifilm XF10) nobody else is doing it this way.
Some manufacturers give you an on-screen distance scale (e.g. most Sony and Fujifilm interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras), while some give you a clunky way to set focus to a pre-set distance (e.g higher end Olympus cameras).
Or you’re forced to buy lenses with push-pull AF rings to reveal a distance scale – this is actually a better method than just snap focus, but the problem is that it is limited to certain lenses only.
e.g. For micro four-thirds, the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 (36mm-equivalent) has a push-pull design where you pull on the lens barrel to reveal a distance scale. You push it back down to hide the distance scale and go back to autofocus. But the tiny Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 pancake lens (28mm-equivalent) and the Panasonic Leica 15mm f/1.7 (30mm-equivalent) don’t have it.
e.g. In Fuji-land, e.g. the larger and more expensive Fujinon 23mm f/1.4 XF lens (35mm-equivalent) has a distance scale with a similar push-pull design as the Olympus (above), but the smaller, faster and weather-sealed 23mm f/2 XF WR lens (35mm-equivalent) doesn’t have it.
Due to the retracting nature of the GR’s lens, it would’ve been near impossible to include an on-lens distance scale. If they wanted to add an on-lens distance scale, the lens would have to be non-retracting. Meaning, it would be a much larger camera. See the Leica Q2 for example. Having snap focus is a great compromise.
Is the GR III’s auto focus really that slow?
Hmmm. This is a tough one. What is considered slow and fast depends on what you’re comparing it to. Plus your expectations, your experience with other cameras etc…
But my short answer is – yes.
But let me try to explain.
With the addition of phase-detect auto focus to the GR III, I expected a significant improvement in AF speed. But we didn’t get that. In normal day-to-day use, I didn’t actually find a significant difference in AF speed vs the original GR.
After release, the GR III had a lot of trouble in locking AF in low light situations. This has been improved a fair bit with firmware. But overall AF speed has remained unchanged.
As of this writing, the current firmware is v1.31. You can always check for the latest Ricoh GR III firmware on the official Ricoh site.
So, all my comments regarding the AF applies to firmware version 1.31. If there is any significant improvement in AF in future firmware updates, I’ll update this section.
Although I’m not sure if any further updates can really improve the AF speed. It’s likely a limitation of the lens design itself. This is likely as fast an AF we’re ever going to get.
My main problem is that it’s just slow, by 2020 standards. This is true whether you’re shooting in low light or good light.
As I stated in the pros and cons section at the start of this review, even my Olympus PEN-F, a camera released in 2016, which has no phase detect AF, is noticeably faster in S-AF vs the GR III. They are about similar in C-AF, which is to say, near useless.
So why is this a problem? Didn’t I just say above that this is a camera that was mean to be used in snap mode? Yes, and the slow AF is partly why this is a camera that is meant to be used in snap mode! But the main reason I find this frustrating is that it limits the shooting envelope – for me.
If you’re shooting street photography (with snap focus) and also shooting static scenes (e.g. city scapes, street scapes, macro, food etc..) then AF speed is not an issue at all. In fact, stop reading this right now and just go buy the camera.
But, if you wanted the GRIII to double as an all around social camera as well – this is where it could get frustrating. If you’re looking to get shots of family sitting on a couch or sitting across from you in a restaurant, again, this isn’t a problem.
The problem is once you start shooting anything that moves. The GR III’s AF just can’t keep up. I’m not talking about sports here. Obviously, this wasn’t meant to be a sports camera. But I’m talking about my 1 year old walking across the living room. Hit rate is well below 50%.
Toddler running? You’ll be lucky to get a 20% hit rate. Now, it could be that my expectations are a bit high. This wasn’t designed to shoot fast moving toddlers.
But compared to a “competitor” like the Fujifilm X100F (released in 2017) which uses Fuji’s last generation AF system, the GRIII just lags behind. The new Fuji X100V is even faster still.
Now, this is mostly due to what may be unique circumstances for me. If you’re not shooting fast moving toddlers, then you’re good to go. Use snap focus when shooting street, then use AF for non-moving subjects.
But I think it’s just unfortunate that the AF speed did not see a major leap, because the GR3 with it’s compact form factor and lightweight is just the perfect take-anywhere, drop into the diaper bag kind of camera.
AF accuracy isn’t an issue though. Even in pretty low light, I’ve had the GR III lock on accurately, it just doesn’t do it fast enough, by 2019 and 2020 camera standards. Again, this is only an issue for certain subjects and styles of shooting. If you’re shooting static scenes, this will be a non-issue for you.
This is why I must emphasize that this complaint might be due to my unique circumstances. I wanted the GR III to be the camera that would document my 1 year old.
But if you’re planning on using the GR III for street shooting + landscape/street scenes/architecture/travel photography? Then it’s a non-issue. Use snap focus for street shooting, then AF for everything else, since you don’t need speed. It’s perfect for this use case.
Touch AF and touch shutter release
I was surprised at the usefulness of having touch AF on the GRIII. I wasn’t particularly excited about it, since there is no tilt screen. But I’ve found myself using it quite a bit.
By default, I have my GR3 set to snap focus, usually at 1.5 meters. If I need to quickly grab a shot of something at infinity or at closer distances, I use the touch screen to lock AF and release the shutter.
Touch to AF and shoot is also useful in social situations. As I discussed above, the GRIII’s AF can’t really do reliable C-AF or face detection (in C-AF), so anytime I’ve got a moving subject I’ve found that I get a higher hit rate with using touch AF with touch shutter.
One annoyance with the touch screen is that the touch capabilities don’t turn off even when you turn the LCD off – e.g. when you want to shoot with an external viewfinder, your nose can set off touch AF and touch to shoot. As of this date, there is no way to do this while still retaining touch AF. If you want to use an external finder, you have to disable touch AF completely or risk your nose activating the LCD.
When using an external viewfinder, because there are no electronic contacts between the camera and the viewfinder, you have to rely on a little green light on the top right of the LCD, just below the on/off button that serves as an AF/AE indicator.
For most people, if you have your eye on the external finder, you should be able to see that light up in your periphery, signaling that focus and exposure is locked.
Body changes and build quality
The GR III is still the same brick as the GR/GR2. And that’s a good thing. It remains, by far, the best handling compact camera ever made.
If only the Sony RX100 series had handling this good, Sony would sell 10x more of those. Really.
The two biggest changes are the noticeably smaller size and the loss of the exposure compensation buttons. The loss of the flash too, but as I explained above, I never really use it, so it’s a non-issue for me.
The smaller size is very welcome. It makes the GR III just that more portable, more pocketable. But despite this, handling remains largely the same. It’s not a slippery soap bar like the Sony RX100 series. It’s still one of the best cameras for one handed operation.
The loss of the exposure compensation shoulder buttons could be a big deal. Depending on how you shoot. Some will welcome this change, because you no longer run the risk of accidentally hitting them.
With the GR3, exposure compensation is now set using the ADJ. rocker if in aperture or shutter priority modes (this is better). But in pseudo-manual mode (aka M mode, but with auto-ISO), exposure compensation is now set using the circular control ring. This I find more of a problem since it requires me to change my grip on the camera. In this mode, I would have preferred having the shoulder buttons.
I can hear some of you yelling – why would you need exposure compensation in MANUAL mode? Well, one of the changes to the GR III is the loss of the famous Pentax TAv mode. Instead, Ricoh decided to allow the use of auto-ISO while in manual mode.
Since this is my preferred way of shooting – M mode with auto-ISO – I prefer using exposure compensation to quickly adjust parameters. I find it faster than dialing ISO.
So what about build quality and general fit and finish?
This is a bit of a tricky one. I’ve never had problems with mine. I’ve had mine since launch and have used it extensively. So by that metric, I guess you could say it’s built well.
But with that said, it is one of the few cameras I’ve owned that doesn’t really inspire confidence in its build quality. It feels like a step down from my original GR.
But again, I have to say that I’ve never had major problems with my original GR. Never had dust problems. None. The worst I got was peeling rubber, which happens to most cameras I own (I spend a lot of time in hot and humid South East Asia). Overall, I did not have major complaints about the build quality of the original GR.
With the GR III, the first thing I noticed out of the box was a slightly wobbly control dial. Now, Ricoh had actually issued a recall for certain GR III models when it first launched exactly due to this wobbly dial – but when I checked, mine was not included in the serial number range of the recall.
I’ve seen videos of recalled units, and mine isn’t as wobbly as those, but it’s still wobbly enough that it takes away from the experience.
The removable front ring (it’s a decorative ring that you remove when you attach the GA-1 lens adapter) is extremely loose and has a tendency to work its way loose when storing the camera in tight bags.
Another annoying thing is that Ricoh have removed the reflective nature of the text mode dial. On the original GR, the text on the mode dial had a reflective coating of some sort that made the mode dial text visible in very low light. That is no longer the case. If it’s dark, you can no longer see the text on the mode dial. You’ll have to look at the LCD to see what mode you’re in.
Highlight Weighted Metering
This one deserves special mention because it has honestly been a game changer for me. It’s something that I’ve only been using recently, but I’m definitely loving the results, especially when used with the GR’s fantastic high contrast black and white mode.
I wrote a whole separate post about highlight weighted metering – with lots of sample images – which you can check out by clicking here.
Highlight weighted metering (also found in some high end Nikon DSLR’s) is basically a way to automatically expose for the highlights. This keeps you from clipping your highlights, which will allow you to take advantage of the impressive dynamic range of modern day camera sensors, and ‘bring back’ the detail in your shadow areas in post-processing.
This is helped by the ISO-invariant nature of the GR III’s sensor. Basically, shooting at ISO 3200 isn’t much different from under-exposing a shot at ISO 100, then bringing back the shadow areas 5 stops in post-processing.
But for me, I tend to use highlight weighted metering differently. I use it as a one-step solution to get really dark shadows and render straight out of camera high contrast scenes. Paired with the high contrast black and white mode, it’s a look that I’ve really grown to love.
You can see more samples with highlight weighted metering and high contrast black and white in this post.
Out of camera JPEGs – are they as bad as everyone says?
Some review sites have called the standard JPEG output of the GR III lackluster. They are a bit muted by default, but I don’t find them to be spectacularly bad as some reviews would make you believe.
It’s not my favorite standard JPEG, and it’s not quite as punchy as Canon or Olympus or as pleasing as Fujifilm, but in most situations, I don’t think most people will really be disappointed. You’ll really only notice a difference when doing side-by-side comparisons – and that’s something only professional camera reviewers enjoy doing.
Maybe it’s also partly due to how I shoot. I hardly ever use the default JPEG profile. On the GR III, if I’m not shooting with the intention of processing DNG raw files, then I’m shooting either positive film or high contrast black and white JPEG’s about 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time I’m shooting vivid JPEG’s.
The Vivid setting on the GR3 is one of my favorites. In most cameras, the vivid setting is something you use for sunsets. Or flowers. Or pretty much anytime you want a cartoon-y mess. Radioactive greens, over the top blues etc.. ‘The Simpsons’ basically. Even the best of them, e.g. Fuji’s Velvia film preset, is best suited for landscapes only.
But on the GR3, the vivid setting has very little to none of the over the top saturation you find in other cameras. It’s very well controlled, and very balanced. It’s very useful for a wide-range of subjects. Giving the right ‘punch’ without going over the top.
I think the vivid setting would work great with some flash photography. I don’t use flash with the GR, it’s just not my style – but I would imagine it would work great with attempting to get some Martin Parr like saturation when shooting with an external flash.
Changes to the ‘Positive Film’ setting
The GR III also retains the well loved ‘positive film’ preset from the GR/GR2. But Ricoh have actually changed the look of this film preset. I haven’t done side-by-side comparisons, and I’m note sure I’m inclined to do them, since side by side comparisons are a lot of work. But the change is definitely noticeable.
To me, the default positive film setting on the GR III is less contrasty than the default one on the GR/GR2. But I believe this also makes it more skin-tone friendly, especially in artificial light.
It is now possible to tweak numerous setting for each JPEG preset on the GR III (e.g. hue, high/low key adj, shadow and highlight contrast etc…) So it may be possible to get the GR III positive film to look similar to the GR/GR2, but I haven’t tried.
But as for me, I don’t mind the change. In artificial light/low light, I think I slightly prefer the default output of the positive film effect on the GR/GR2, but otherwise, I don’t mind the look of the effect on the GR III. I think the GRIII positive film generally works better for skin tones, in most situations vs the older version.
High contrast black and white mode
It wouldn’t be a GR without a high contrast black and white mode. For a lot of people, this is what the GR is all about. It’s one of the best black and white modes of any camera out right now.
Some call it the best black and white camera out right now, but that’s a title I currently reserve for the Olympus PEN F. I would say the Ricoh GR III is the second best black and white camera right now, in my book. 😉
Crop Modes – 35mm and 50mm equivalents
For those times when you don’t fancy the native 28mm-equivalent field of view, the GR III does have two crop modes giving you 35mm-equivalent and 50mm-equivalent fields of view.
The older GR/GR2 also had similar crop modes, 35mm and 47mm, giving you roughly 10MP and 5MP each. But with the bump to 24MP on the GRIII, the crop modes on the GRIII are much more useful.
At the 35mm FOV, you’re left with roughly 15 megapixels. Output is roughly going to look the same as an 18mm f/2.8 lens for micro-four thirds (which would be about a 36mm-equivalent in M43 – meaning, in this mode, the GR III’s output is going to be similar to putting the Sigma 19mm f/2.8 lens on an M43 camera).
At 50mm FOV, you’re left with roughly 7 megapixels. Output is roughly going to look the same as 50mm-equivalent f/2.8 on a 1″ sensor camera. Meaning, it’s output is going to look similar to the Sony RX100 III, IV and V when set to 50mm-equivalent at f/2.8
The Sony RX100 Mk III, IV and V have a 24-70mm f/1.8-f/2.8 equivalent lens, where the maximum aperture is f/2.8 beginning at roughly 32mm-equivalent focal length all the way to 70mm.
By comparison, the newer Sony RX100 VI and Sony RX100 VII feature a newer 24-200mm f/2.8-f/4.5 ultra zoom lens, which is already at f/4 beginning at the 40mm-equivalent focal length. See my real world Sony RX100 VII review here.
Meaning, at the 50mm crop mode, the GR III is giving you similar background blur as the Sony RX100 III, IV, V at the 50mm-equivalent focal length but more background blur than the Sony RX100 VI, VII at the 50mm-equivalent focal length – albeit, the GR3 is only outputting 7 megapixels at this point.
These are just in-camera digital crop modes, so they’re really no different from shooting at the full 28mm-equivalent then cropping in post-production. But you do gain the benefit of being able to ‘see the scene’ at your preferred crop before pressing the shutter.
I rarely ever use them, but if you don’t mind cropping and reduced pixel count, they do add some versatility to a fixed lens camera.
You can also get the Ricoh GW-4 wide angle conversion lens for the GR III which will give you a real 21mm-equivalent field of view. (Note, you will also need the GA-1 adapter to be able to mount the GW-4 conversion lens to the camera).
With this combo, it’s like having a 21mm/28mm f/2.8 APS-C set-up, a 35mm-equivalent micro four-thirds set-up, and a 50mm-equivalent 1″ sensor set-up. All in a package that’s smaller and lighter than most zoom lenses.
If you’re interested in reading more about how wide angle adapters and digital cropping of high resolution sensors can potentially add versatility to small and light one-lens kits, you can read my post on The Poor Man’s Tri-Elmar.
So, should you upgrade from the GR/GR II?
If you’ve got the GR/GR2 and were hoping for a massive upgrade, the GR III isn’t it. If you’re mostly street shooting with snap focus, you won’t even notice the upgrades made to the GR III in most day-to-day shooting situations.
For strictly street shooters who rely on snap focus, the additions to the GR III may not be enough to justify dropping more $$$ on the GR3. The biggest upgrade might be the higher resolution sensor, which allows for more cropping. All the other upgrades – touch screen etc.. aren’t that big a deal for a street snap focus shooter.
You might be better off getting something that can do what a GR can’t do – e.g. a portrait set-up, something more capable with video, something with a longer lens etc.. and pair that with your GR/GRII.
But if the GR is your main camera – that is, you use it for everything else, as a social camera, to document your family, as a primary travel camera etc.. – then I would definitely consider an upgrade to the GR III.
The addition of a really effective IBIS system opens up a lot of possibilities in low light. The smaller body does actually make a difference, if ultimate portability is one of the main criteria. The touch screen also improves handling and makes shooting quite enjoyable, and also helps make up for the AF shortcomings.
First time buyers – should you buy the GR3?
If you’ve read this far, and still can’t make up your mind, the best advice I can give you is to scroll all the way up and read the “What I don’t like” section and if none of those are deal breakers for you, I would just go ahead and buy it. Despite the misses, despite all my complaints – make no mistake – it is a superb camera.
If you’re looking for a small, take-anywhere street shooter, this is it. It’s a niche product, but if you ‘get it’ – it’s phenomenal and will keep you happy for many years.
When the original GR came out (the first APS-C version, not the earlier GRD line), it was my only camera for a long time. But at that time, my shooting interests were more “limited” – street and travel, mostly. I didn’t have kids then, for example. Perhaps I’m giving the GRIII a hard time because I’m trying to use it for something it’s not meant to be used for. If I still only shot street and travel, I probably won’t complain about the AF speed.
If you’ve never owned a GR before, if you are looking for the best compact camera for street photography, that will help you take your street shooting to the next level, having a low-profile, pocketable point and shoot will be liberating.
If you’ve ever been conscious of shooting with a large camera and large lens out in the streets, shooting with a GR is a game changer. It allows for a very fluid style of shooting. One handed shooting, a snapshot mentality. It’s a different experience.
And it does change how people on the streets react to you. You’re not going to look like a photographer. You’re just some guy (or gal) with a tiny camera. But the quality you get out of the large sensor and razor sharp lens is equal to what you get from a camera that’s 5 times the size.
For me, it’s like a notebook that I always have with me. It’s everything I wished my cellphone camera was.
It’s like when you see these great sample images from the latest iPhone and you get inspired to get one, imagining it to be your daily-life camera, your documentary machine, but when you finally start shooting with your phone you realize it just isn’t fun to shoot with. It’s slippery, it’s got limited controls, the image quality doesn’t really hold up to editing etc.. in other words, it’s still a cellphone.
Well, the GR III is everything you hoped your phone camera would be, and more.
Just go buy one already.
It’s already available for sale on Amazon.
Easy returns, fast Prime shipping.
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Your review of this camera is as good as any I’ve read on the internet. Great job.
I find it strange that everybody mentions “shooting toddlers” as a real downside of this camera, due to the slow AF. Seems to me that snap focus is perfect for shooting toddlers. How about snap 2m at F6.3 or 5.6, perfect for toddlers, or 2,5 m at 5.6, which gives you sharp focus out to 50 feet.? What isn’t perfect for shooting children is the focal length. You are correct about the slow autofocus., I have to assume, as you say, it’s due to the lens design, with no moving elements, and a tiny little motor to run the thing in and out. If this were not the case, Ricoh would have fixed it long ago. Like you, I’ll stick to snap for most shooting, although the AF in good light is still useable for relatively static subjects, as you point out But I think snap is perfect for moving subjects; it’s just that the lens is too wide for anything too far away. The slow AF is a necessary compromise. It allowed Ricoh to design a tack sharp lens in a compact body. These huge lenses with 17 elements in 8 groups, internal focusing etc. just don’t have the same look, and of course won’t retract into a tiny body.
I don’t really miss the exposure compensation toggle, since I shoot mainly in aperture priority mode, and the adjustment toggle works fine for me. However, both versions are prone to accidental activation. I would have preferred a wheel at the back myself, to either of these controls, and maybe an extra function button to bring up a super menu like the pen-F, and other Olympus cameras, to replace the adjustment toggle. That would be perfection in my book. In fact, give me the controls of the pen-F in a Ricoh body; just don’t take away that fantastic little lens.
I think the slow autofocus, as you point out, probably is due to the fact that the whole lens needs to move. I can’t think of any other reason why all iterations of this camera have slow focus. Personally, I think the snap focus makes up for this. it’s a niche camera to be sure, not likely to have wide appeal. But I love the camera myself, and have owned several versions of it from the small sensor days to the III. I just wish it had a tilting screen to make up for the lack of EVF.
wypadki z polski says
Thank you. I really appreciate this review. It’s so thorough with solid, practical tips. I have a toddler as well, so I feel like it really answered all the concerns I had about this camera. I’m now convinced this is the camera I’m looking for…… but do I wait for the next gen? hah
I love this camera. Im not a street photographer or a sports photographer im just the average Joe Blogs just looking to carry a light high quality camera around. The 28mm to me is not a issue for landscape and even city shots but also for just happy snapping. People get too hung up on lens field of view, we have legs so use them.
For me this camera just does it all without question. Tack sharp images with a bit of pop!. Black and white is just gorgeous very reminiscent of film and it looks even better at higher iso’s allowing for grain.
If you want a cheap do all compact and youre not too bothered about image quality then you wont go wrong with a RX100 series camera. If you want to be just noticed with a vintage piece round your neck then get a X100v. On the other hand if you want a workhorse tool that delivers time and time again get a Ricoh GRIII. Awesome camera. Oh and by the way just order a extra battery.
What a gem of a site you have created here. There are many of us amateur picture takers who use only advanced compact cameras, or variations of them.
It might seem odd that I consider the Olympus OMD 10 series to be compacts. But I have large hands and need a slightly bigger bodied camera with buttons, knobs, dials. Lens interchangeability is a wonderful bonus – I use the 17mm 1.8 and the 45mm 1.8 lenses.
The main downside for me regarding the Ricoh is the charger being an accessory that has to be purchased almost as if it’s an add-on to the system.
Keep this place going, it’s great !