Digital Cameras

Ricoh GR III – Early Impressions – By Louis A. Sousa

July 21, 2019

With the ordering back-log from B&H Photo cleared, I purchased this camera based on the GR-love expressed by Kevin Rosinbum, a/k/a Flickr’s Chickentender, a/k/a Eyewanders Photo. Kevin is a marvelous and inspirational photographer. These are my initial impressions from the first weeks with the new Ricoh GR III.  The sample The images were treated with minor adjustments in Lightroom.

Form factor and ergonomics. The hand grip facilitates discrete run and gun with the feather-light GR III and camera controls are well positioned making adjustments on the fly a snap using only one’s thumb. The shutter is quieter than a mouse.  The camera slips into a skinny jeans pocket.  The camera comes with a wrist strap.  I replaced it with an Eric Kim wrist strap.  The strap is well made and perfect for the GR.

Menus and Controls. The menu system is refreshingly simple and intuitive and menu options are accessed from camera controls or the touch screen. Options for color rendering, AF mode, metering method, screen brightness and exposure compensation (+-5) are quickly accessed with the “ADJ” button and the control wheel.  On the fly adjustments are a breeze.

Auto-Focus. AF in low light is marginal and even in good light the GRIII a bit of a hunter.  The “Snap focus” option permits set-it-and-forget it focus distance, a good street photography tool.  I used snap focus to capture the tattoo shop dog shown below.  The touch screen can be used to set the focus point.  The macro mode is very effective within its range about 2 or 3 inches from the subject.

Image Quality.  The lens is extremely sharp.  Color rendition is very deep and exhibits good contrast.  There is a lot of room in RAW files for adjustment especially from the shadows.  Using auto white balance, colors are true to life, if a bit cool.  These images were treated with a small bit of warmth, a personal taste.

Image Stabilization. Stabilization is remarkably effective. The image of the beach shower below was shot at F 16 and 1/8 of a second.  The stabilization makes no noise, a plus for video.

Battery Life, Feel the Heat. Expect about 200 shots per charge with the Ricoh battery, less with third party options. The Ricoh battery is inexpensive compared to other manufacturer batteries and its power is measurably less. The charging port is USB-C and an external charger is optional. The camera gets uncomfortably hot after short periods of continuous use and this is concerning to me.

Flash. There is no internal flash, a change from earlier models and the recommended (by Ricoh) external flash is large and not attuned to the G III’s small size. The tiny Q flash system with its unique off-camera feature is cheap and small (but in short supply) and has good user reviews, and I have ordered one for the camera.  I have used a small Fuji X flash with good results, tweaking exposure compensation until a good exposure is made.

LCD. The LCD screen set to normal brightness is washed out in bright light. Screen brightness is easily adjusted with the ADJ button, but I have not yet tested this feature.  Even with the washed out screen, enough of the scene is visible to properly frame the shot.  This is the only camera I own without a viewfinder.  The experience is, in this respect, akin to using a cell phone.  I much prefer a viewfinder.

First Impressions. This camera, while the size of a pack of smokes, punches way over its weight class and Chickentender was right!

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Andrew
    July 21, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    Three words for you: update your firmware. The heat issue as well as AF speed have been favorably addressed by firmware tweaks.

    • Reply
      lasousa
      July 21, 2019 at 10:26 pm

      This article was written before the firmware update was issued. I agree, the AF has been helped along with the firmware update – it remains a hunter in lower light. I will see if the overheating issue is addressed, haven’t shot the camera lately.

  • Reply
    Nick Sparks
    July 23, 2019 at 4:37 am

    Great article! I shot the Ricoh GRii extensively and am surprised how much sharper these photos look. The iii might be a bigger upgrade than I thought!

    • Reply
      lasousa
      July 23, 2019 at 5:28 am

      Thank you. I fumble some with camera reviews, to me a camera is more about how it contributes to the shooting experience. Perhaps there are a few more megapixels, but for the type of shooting this is designed for, think twice about spending some hefty change on the GRIII over what you have. As I have shot the camera more, the shooting experience is akin cell phone with bells and whistles. I like digging my eye into a viewfinder. Not being able to properly frame an image in bright sunlight is a big negative for me. Sure, I can slip a finder on, but it seems out of place on this tiny camera. I enjoy the shooting experience from the Fuji X100 series much more.

  • Reply
    STUART ANDREWS
    July 28, 2019 at 10:32 am

    Great review! It is also my only camera without a viewfinder but I did buy a small old silver Leitz one for the hot shoe that looks quite natty and works well in bright light. The weaknesses for me are the compensation dial which I keep pushing to open the menu’s and I can’t get anywhere with the wifi etc. In all honesty I can live with both flaws.

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