Two years ago, the Ricoh GR III became a fan favorite with street photographers the world over. The GR series is legendary for good reasons, but with new competitors now roaming the streets, we’ve decided to revisit the GR III to see if it’s still worth the price Ricoh slapped on it.
At just under $900, the Ricoh GR III isn’t exactly cheap. However, this camera packs a lot of features into a small, pocket friend form factor. I spent the last few weeks getting comfy with the GR III, and now, I’ll share my findings with you.
- Stunning image quality
- APS-C sensor
- Built-in ND filters
- 2GB of built-in storage
- Ridiculously sharp lens
- Rapid autofocus
- Compact and light weight
- Responsive touch screen
- Snap focus is brilliant
- Battery life
- Overheating issues
- Fixed LCD
- Glossy screen can be hard to see
- No weather sealing
- No built-in flash
Ricoh GR III — Technical specifications
All of the technical specifications have been taken directly from the official Ricoh website:
- Lens: 6 elements in 4 groups, 18.3mm (approx. 28mm in 35mm equivalent focal length), f/2.8–f/16
- Sensor: 24.24 megapixels
- IBIS: Sensor-shift shake reduction (SR) (3-axis)
- Storage: Internal memory (approx. 2GB), UHS-I SD Card compatible
- Autofocus: Hybrid AF
- Drive modes: Single, continuous (4fps)
- LCD: 3.0 inch Approx. 1037K dots touch screen
- Connections: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, USB-C
- Dimensions: 109.4(W) × 61.9(H) × 33.2(D) mm
- Weight: 0.56lbs (257g)
Ricoh GR III — Ergonomics and build quality
The Ricoh GR III is positively tiny. The GR III weighs just 0.56lbs or 257g and it can fit in the palm of your hand. For the most part, this compact camera handles well, despite its small grip.
The button placement is fantastic. All of the controls are easily reachable with just your thumb and forefinger. Even with my large hands, I was able to operate the camera with just one hand. Overall, Ricoh has done an outstanding job with the control layout and making this camera balance. The Ricoh GR III offers a fuss-free user experience from an ergonomics standpoint.
Overall I have been impressed with the build quality of the Ricoh GR III. The body is made from magnesium alloy. The textured material on the grip is pleasant to touch. The buttons, while plastic, do not feel cheap.
My biggest complaint is that the Ricoh GR III isn’t weather-sealed. It makes no sense to release a camera for street photographers with no weather sealing. This could and will be a deal-breaker for many. The weather sealing debacle aside, the Ricoh GR III is a well-built camera. I have used it without kid gloves and it has held up well. it should stand up to a lot of abuse.
Ricoh GR III — Ease of use
The Ricoh GR III is easy to use. The controls are easy to navigate, and the menu system is well laid out. The GR III is a very forgiving camera. You’ll be creating gorgeous images in no time. If you like to spray and pray, though, this camera might not be for you. The maximum burst rate is four frames per second and the buffer fills up quickly.
The touch screen is not the highest resolution screen (1,037 million dots), but it’s adequate. The screen is also very responsive. It’s easy to walk around and touch the screen to focus or snap an image. A slight disappointment is that the screen is fixed. Also, the LCD is glossy, so, it can be hard to see on a sunny day. At default settings, the LCD is not very bright. You can bump the brightness up but at a huge cost to battery life.
The battery is CIPA rated for 200 shots. The most I managed on a single charge was 274 images. So, battery life is not great, but you can make it work. You can turn down the screen brightness, or you can power the camera off during periods of inactivity. Still, if you’re a heavy user, be prepared to invest in more batteries.
IBIS, ND filters, macro and more
The Ricoh GR III features 3-axis IBIS. Amazingly, I got very usable shots when hand-holding at 1/4s. Then there are built-in ND filters, horizon correction, a digital anti-aliasing filter, a macro mode and Wi-Fi. You’ll also get 2GB of built-in storage. The SD card slot accepts UHS-I cards.
I wish Ricoh had kept the built-in flash from the GR II. That would’ve made this camera even more versatile. The Ricoh GR III might be a small camera but it’s seriously big on features. All of them make the GR III that much easier to use in a variety of situations.
During my time with the Ricoh GR III, the camera did overheat. The temperature was roughly 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the humidity was around 50%. After roughly 25 minutes of stop and start shooting, the camera started roasting my fingers and then promptly shut down. I let the camera cool for a while and started using it again. After five minutes, the heat warning appeared and it shut down again. This was after shooting stills only, no video.
In general, the GR III can get rather toasty. You can feel the area where your thumb sits start to bake. Maybe it was my review unit, or it could be that Ricoh needs to work on some thermal solutions to dissipate heat better.
Ricoh GR III — Auto and Snap Focus
Autofocus performance on the Ricoh GR III is very good. Whether you’re using a single point, tracking, or auto-area, the camera is snappy and accurate. There’s a little hunting in low-light but, it’s not terrible. As good as the autofocus is, though, I found myself using the excellent Snap Focus feature.
Snap Focus allows you to set a predetermined focusing distance of 1m (3.2ft), 1.5m (4.9ft), 2m (6.5ft), 2.5m (8.2ft), 5m (16.4ft) and infinity focus. You simply select your zone focus distance, select your aperture, and then adjust ISO and shutter speed as needed.
I set the Snap Focus to two meters, f/8, Auto ISO and just controlled the shutter speed during a photowalk. I knew that any object from two meters (6.5ft) to infinity would be tack sharp. It never failed. It’s a brilliant feature. I would buy a GR III just for Snap Focus.
Ricoh GR III — Image quality
The 28mm equivalent lens on the GR III is ridiculously sharp, and it can render pleasing bokeh at times. Chromatic aberrations are kept to a minimum. There’s a slight vignette when shooting wide-open at f/2.8. However, I find that this character adds to the overall image quality.
Flares and ghosting are well controlled, and there’s minimal loss of contrast when shooting into light sources. In all, the images you’ll produce with the GR III will delight you. Let’s break it down a bit further.
RAW files and dynamic range
The RAW (DNG) files are perfectly fine. They’re not the most pliable I have ever worked with. However, you can push and pull them around enough to get good results. Highlight recovery is good. You can also pull a lot of detail from the shadows. Overall, the dynamic range is more than adequate.
All of the color profiles are fantastic. The colors are a little muted, but natural. Skin tones look great, and the colors aren’t shifted to the warm or cool side at all. Images are contrasty and have minimal distortions. The black and white JPEGs are some of the best I’ve ever seen. This is the perfect camera for those who want to cut out image editing.
High ISO performance
High ISO images look great up to ISO 3200. However, beyond this, grain and color noise starts to show. Still, the grain pattern is nice. One of the images above was shot at ISO 8000 and I think it looks fine. A plus is that lots of details are retained in high ISO images. If you can learn to embrace the noise and grain, you’ll really like the pictures you create.
Ricoh GR III — Should you buy it?
The Ricoh GR III is a solid camera for street photographers and those who like photo walking with minimal gear. The Snap Focus feature alone makes this camera brilliant. Add in its small size, IBIS and other features, and you have a very capable camera. However, there are some negatives like mediocre battery life, no built-in flash and the lack of weather sealing.
Overall, a few overheating issues aside, the Ricoh GR III has been a delight to use. The Ricoh GR III is a solid compact fixed-lens camera that’s easy and fun to use. It’s also $500 less than the Fujifilm X100V. However, that camera is weather sealed. Still, it lacks many of the features the GR III offers. It might be far from flawless, however, for me, the GR III is the perfect camera to slip into your pocket every time you leave the house.
Editors note: Shortly after we finished our review of the Ricoh GR III, the Ricoh GR IIIx was announced. The GR IIIx will feature a new 40mm equivalent lens and new advanced image editing features. The image editing features should come to the original GR III via a firmware update. Hopefully, we’ll get our hands on the new GR IIIx for review soon.
Ricoh GR III
The Ricoh GR III sports a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor and fits a ton of other features like IBIS, Snap Focus, a self-leveling sensor and more into a body that fits into the palm of your hand. If you want a small camera with rapid autofocus that you can take with you everywhere, and that won’t break the bank, this might be the camera for you.