The Ricoh GR III and I crossed paths back in 2019, 3 years ago, and probably an eternity in photography equipment releases.
Back then I had written a review of this well-known and nicknamed in some circles, ‘the best street photographer’s camera’ and shared 5 good reasons to why the GR III was in its own right, a camera worth consideration. Link here if you are keen.
What makes a GR a GR has largely remained consistent across two decades, and that is pretty impressive given how fickle the camera market can be.
Just FYI, Ricoh fully acquired Pentax in 2011, with the name updated to Ricoh Imaging in 2013.anyway, enough of history.
However, that attraction was short-lived due to my obsession with the Fujifilm X100V (my review here), and when the Leica Q, Q2, Q2 Monochrom (links to my reviews on the names themselves) entered my life I had largely forgotten about the GR until recently I crossed paths with the GR III again by what I can describe as a romantic accident.
Crossing paths a second time, this time I realised I appreciated the GR III in a different lightFirmware 1.5 and its now more beautiful color-way did help (yes, I am a sucker for beautiful cameras)
The GR III’s 28mm world
Maybe this might get a bit abstract, I realized over the last 3 years I had also evolved in the way I did photography. For starters, I started to really appreciate the 28mm focal length much more over the last few years than my standard 35mm.
And the GR’s 28mm 𝑓2.8 optics is by no means a slouch and capable of producing quality that will easily go up against some of the newest camera releases.
Some will ask me, isn’t 28mm and 35mm pretty close? Actually, nope. And it can change the way one frames one’s shot totally. And to be totally honest, my time with the Leica Q and Q2 (which comes with a native 28mm Summilux lens) probably had a hand in this too.
The imaging output and that darn 𝑓2.8 maximum aperture
In 2019, I was never able to much appreciate the GR’s output, with the exception of the high contrast monochrome filter that users were raving about. I sorta preferred Fujifilm’s film simulations and I do still love them but over the years, I had started to appreciate a more neutral less saturated rendering at times.
And the other part I have learned to appreciate over the years is that while optics with a large maximum aperture have their reasons for existence (bokehhhhhhhhhh!) but then a question I have learned to live with is, how often do we actually shoot wide-open or require an 𝑓1.2 , 𝑓1.4 or even 𝑓0.95 in the moments we wish to capture?
Full-frame fanboys will even remind that the 𝑓2.8 is a 𝑓4 equivalent in depth of field, but then, the reply is so?
I hold no disdain for people who say a large aperture is a necessity for their photography but the reverse should hold true also, especially when sometimes all we need is actually an 𝑓5.6 of 𝑓8 aperture to get the shot we want.
In fact, if anyone wishes to give me a 50mm Summilux, I would be eternally grateful. I won’t shoot at 𝑓1.4 all the time but to have that option is really great.
The lack of an EVF but …
This leads me to my last point, some have mentioned that the GR lacks an EVF, a feature that is so common that some users will skip the camera because of this. Well, an EVF of course can be useful when one is shooting outdoors, especially given that the quality of the GR III’s LCD is not anything to shout about either but then a camera I like has to be one that I want to bring out and shoot.
Adding an EVF will make the GR III a better camera for sure, but if it adds additional bulk to it I might reconsider.
In fact, Ricoh can be pissed off at me for all I care but I have always felt that the terrible decision they made was to remove the on-board flash the GR II had from the GR III all in the name of ‘space-saving’. Having an additional light source can make a shot while not having an EVF will not likely break the shot. And I applaud them for not having chosen to add an EVF onto the GR III (or unless they can up their technology competency and find a way to get it in while keeping the form factor, Sony did it for their RX1 series so it is indeed possible)
A Ricoh GR is designed to be a true-pocketable camera and that is its strength in design, if one desires all the other bells and whistles there are many options. I don’t subscribe to what some say that a Leica Q2 or an X100V is pocketable, I own all these cameras too and I have never managed to stuff a Q2 or an X100V into a pocket I wear on my body.
Upon meeting the Ricoh GR III again, I was reminded that the Ricoh GR III was never designed to be a tick-all-boxes camera, it is designed for specific purposes and is not likely to be like your iPhone 13 or Samsung S22 which does everything but is not a master of everything.
The iPhone takes photos, but it is not a camera.It is a mobile device if one was ever unsure about it.
Like the Leica M system or the X100 series from Fujifilm, these classic cameras endure the test of time because they have somehow in their ways proven their unique attraction in a landscape of end-less options, and the same goes for the Ricoh GR series that has actually been around since the film GR1 in 1996 (that is 26 years!)
If you have always wanted a high-performing compact (APSC sized sensor and above) there are only just a few choices, the Leica Q series, the Fujifilm X100 series, and the Ricoh GR series. ( I hope Sony revives their RX1 series while to me the Zeiss ZX1 is a D.O.A item sadly)
Depending on your usage needs, the common question that some users ask like “which is the best camera?” is actually a question where the answer lies in oneself when one is clear about one’s usage needs.
And in my case, 3 years later with how my photography has evolved, the GR III is somehow now a camera that makes all the sense to me and I am glad to have met it again.
Thank you for reading.
- The Ricoh GR III Street Edition is my personal set and running firmware ver 1.5
- All images shared are shot by me in DNG and processed in LR CC Classic to my preferences. Where film simulations are used, they are stated as such.
- Copyright should be attributed to me and I will appreciate it if permission is sought before use.
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