After listening to their faithful, Ricoh decided that, after two years, a new version of the GR III needed to be born. This time with a 40mm equivalent lens. The Ricoh GR IIIx should therefore appeal to a slightly larger user base.
We’ve spent the last few weeks with the new Ricoh GR IIIx. Do the new lens and a few software updates make it worth $100 more (it costs $996.95) than the original Ricoh GR III? Find out in our full review.
- Image quality
- APS-C sensor
- Built-in ND filters and a macro mode
- 2GB of built-in storage
- The new lens has great optics
- Good autofocus performance
- Very compact
- Responsive touch screen
- Nice image editor in the camera
- Snap focus has taken a hit
- Battery life
- It gets a little warm
- Fixed glossy LCD
- No flash, no weather sealing
- $100 more than the GR III (price: $996.95)
Ricoh GR IIIx — Technical specifications
All technical specifications have been taken directly from the official Ricoh USA website:
- Lens: 7 elements in 5 groups (2 aspherical lens elements)
- Focal Length: 26.1mm (Approx. 40mm in 35mm equivalent focal length), F/2.8-F/16
- Sensor: Approx. 24.24 megapixels
- IBIS: Sensor-shift shake reduction (SR) (3-axis)
- Storage: Internal (approx. 2GB), Memory Card (UHS-I)
- Autofocus: Hybrid AF
- Focus ranges: Normal: Approx. 0.2m～∞, Macro Mode: Approx. 0.12m～0.24m
- Horizon correction: Up to 1.5 degrees
- LCD: 3.0 inch TFT color LCD
- Charging: USB-C
- Battery life: Approx. 200 shots
- Weight: Approx 262g (0.57lbs) (with battery and SD card), Approx. 232g (0.51lbs) (Body only)
Ricoh GR IIIx — Ergonomics and build quality
Anyone who has used the Ricoh GR III will feel right at home with the Ricoh GR IIIx. The two are identical when it comes to size, weight, and control layout. The Ricoh GR IIIx is tiny and can fit in the palm of your hand and can easily slip inside the pocket of your pants. The camera weighs just 0.57lbs and handles well.
Control placement is fantastic. All of the buttons and dials are reachable with just your thumb and forefinger. Even with my large hands, I was able to operate the camera easily. Overall, Ricoh has done an outstanding job with the control layout and making this camera balance. The Ricoh GR IIIx offers the same fuss-free user experience as the GR III.
The Ricoh GR IIIx is made from magnesium alloy and is wrapped in a nice textured leatherette. All of the controls are plastic but they feel fine. Once again, Ricoh opted against weather-sealing. I can only imagine it’s because this compact camera has some heat dissipation issues. Weather sealing would probably exacerbate this problem. Still, it’s a shame. Overall, despite the lack of protection from Mother Nature, the Ricoh GR IIIx is a well-built camera that should last you a while; as long as you keep it dry.
Ricoh GR III — Ease of use
The Ricoh GR IIIx is easy to use. This is due to the great control layout, features such as IBIS, built-in ND filters a macro mode, and a well-designed menu system. However, this camera will favor photographers who like to be a little more deliberate when creating. With the frames per second topping out at four, you’ll not be able to walk around and spray and pray.
The LCD is not high in resolution (1,037 million dots), but it’s adequate. The screen, however, is very responsive to touch. Still, it’s a shame that the LCD is fixed and glossy. You cannot rotate or tilt the LCD to help with glare from light sources. To makes matters worse, at default settings, the LCD is not very bright. You can bump the brightness up but at a huge cost to battery life. The Ricoh GR IIIx also runs pretty warm like the GR III. While the camera didn’t overheat like the GR III, it was plenty toasty.
I used the camera on a sunny day for one of my photo walks and needed to boost the screen’s brightness. From a full charge, the GR IIIx’s battery indicator turned red after capturing 122 shots. On a shoot with an overcast day, I managed to capture 184. This is slightly worse than the battery life I experienced with the GR III.
If you plan on shooting all day with the Ricoh GR IIIx you can either switch off the camera between shots, you can turn the screen brightness down, or you can carry multiple batteries or a UBS-C charging brick. None of the options are ideal. Battery life needs to be improved in future models.
IBIS, macro and more
The Ricoh GR IIIx is a feature-packed camera featuring 3-axis IBIS, built-in ND filters, horizon correction, a macro mode, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. You’ll also get 2GB of built-in storage. The SD card slot accepts UHS-I cards.
Amazingly, I got very usable shots when hand-holding the Ricoh GR IIIx at 0.5s. The macro mode allows you to get nice and close to subjects (4.7 inches). So, those who like close-ups of the smaller things in life will love what this camera offers. The ND filters will help you shoot wide-open on a sunny day, which is always a bonus. All of these features combined make using the camera a joy.
In camera editing
One of the big updates for the GR IIIx was in the software. The in-camera RAW Development software is pretty great. You can adjust size, aspect ratio, color space, white balance and select to apply one of the built-in profiles. The profiles are black and white, soft and hard black and white (love hard black and white), positive film (which is gorgeous), bleach bypass, retro, HDR, cross processing, standard and vivid.
Going on from this you can also adjust peripheral illumination, exposure compensation, noise reduction, and shadow correction. Once edited. you can quickly transfer images to your phone and post them on social media. Ricoh has done a nice job with this feature.
Ricoh GR III — Auto and Snap Focus
In our review of the Ricoh GR III, I said I would buy that camera for the snap focus feature alone. So, I was excited to play with the feature in the Ricoh GR IIIx. However, I’ve come away with less of a smile on my face. Snap Focus, while present in the GR IIIx, just doesn’t work as well as it does in the GR III. A narrower depth of field has been introduced due to the longer focal length. This makes it harder to make sharp shots on the fly.
With practice, you’ll get used to judging your shots, however, you didn’t have to practice with the GR III. Regardless of your skill level, thanks to the wider focal length, you could create razor-sharp images with snap focus right out of the box. It’s what made the Ricoh GR III so accessible and fun to use. So, keep this in mind if you plan on going with the GR IIIx.
The new firmware in the Ricoh GR IIIX has made the autofocus performance snappier. It’s spritely in good lighting conditions. Speed does drop a little in low light but it’s still plenty fast enough. Whether shooting in single, continuous or tracking modes, you’ll feel the difference the new algorithms make. It’s nice to see both face and eye detection too. The Gr IIIx will quickly find your subject’s eye. Remember, though, the GR III has been updated with the new focusing features as well.
Ricoh GR III — Image quality
The image quality you’re going to get from the Ricoh GR IIIx will impress. The new 26.1mm (40mm equivalent) lens delivers when it comes to sharpness, bokeh, color rendition, distortion control, and vignetting. The new lens has seven elements in five groups compared to six elements in four groups found in the 28mm equivalent lens in the Ricoh GR III.
I haven’t seen any vignetting, even when shooting wide-open at f/2.8. There’s also no distortion at all. It’s impressive. Kudos, Ricoh. You can also expect to this new lens to render much better bokeh than the Ricoh GR III. The extra focal length helps when it comes to out-of-focus areas. Let’s break image quality down a little more.
RAW files and dynamic range
The RAW (DNG) files are fine. However, they’re not the most pliable I’ve ever worked with. Still, you can push and pull them around enough to get good results. As you can see above in the slider, highlight recovery is very good. I had no issues bringing back lots of details in the sky and the white structure. Below, you can see shadow recovery. Overall, the dynamic range of this APS-C sensor is more than adequate. Just don’t majorly over or underexpose and you’ll be OK.
The Ricoh GR IIIx does a great job controlling flares, ghosting, chromatic aberrations, vignetting and distortion. As mentioned above, there’s no lens/barrel distortion. Chromatic aberrations are nonexistent, and there’s no vignetting. As you can see in the image above, even when shooting into the sun, flares and ghosting are minimal. Ricoh never compromises when it comes to optics and it shows here.
The JPEGs that the Ricoh GR IIIx spits out are stunning. If I owned this camera I would honestly skip using RAW files and I would just shoot in JPEG. The color profiles are all splendid. The camera controls noise well and shadow and highlight recovery are great. The Ricoh GR IIIx might just be the perfect camera for those who want to cut out image editing. All of the images above are straight out of camera JPEGs.
High ISO performance
High ISO images look good up to ISO 3200. However, beyond this, grain and color noise starts to show. Still, the grain pattern is nice. A plus is that lots of details are retained in high ISO images. If you can embrace the noise and grain, you’ll like the pictures you create with the Ricoh GR IIIx.
Ricoh GR III — Final thoughts
The Ricoh GR IIIx is a fantastic camera. It’s small, lightweight, can slip into a pocket easily, it’s easy to use, and the sensor and new lens will help you create gorgeous images. The only downsides are the lack of weather sealing, abysmal battery life, and that the Snap Focus feature isn’t as user-friendly when compared to the GR III. It would be the perfect street photography camera with better battery life and weather sealing.
So, you’re wondering which version of the GR III you should buy. The answer, well it will come down to focal length preference. Ergonomically the GR III and the GR IIIx are identical. The GR III received the autofocus enhancements and the new image editor in a firmware update. Both cameras have excellent lenses that are sharp, and that render pleasing natural colors.
If you prefer to take slightly wider shots, grab the GR III. If you like slightly tighter shots, pick up the Ricoh GR IIIx. That’s all there is to it. The Ricoh GR IIIx will cost $996.95. The Ricoh GR III is $100 cheaper. No matter which way you go, you’re going to get a capable camera that will make you smile every time you use it.
Ricoh GR IIIx
The Ricoh GR IIIx is a great compact camera for those who love to travel light or those who like to roam the streets capturing life in their city. It’s well made, has good ergonomics, the APS-C sensor can produce beautiful images, and the IBIS, macro, and built-in ND filters make it a joy to use. You’ll never want to leave home without it.