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.
- I take pride in not earning through affiliate links and as such am able to be neutral in my views. The best form of support anyone can give me will be to share my reviews.
14 Replies to “Reuniting with the Ricoh GR III in 2022 – a lovely affair.”
As a gear reviewer Keith, you possibly have some influence over the eventual gear acquisition occurring amongst your readers. No stone cast or blame proportioned to you. It’s a matter of fact that a large majority of photographers are enticed to upgrade their gear despite their gear being more than adequate. We need something that works. Not something necessarily better. My opinion the GRiii doesn’t need a viewfinder. An intrinsic viewfinder would compromise the size and the camera form factor would possibly confer limitations to the extent and size of a viewfinder. I love the fact that it is pocketable and unobtrusive with most people thinking it isn’t a “proper” camera. It allows one to get close without alarming subjects and with a wide angle lens to boot ! Fujifilm possibly dropped the ball after the X-70. Rather than looking the negatives of the camera, the positives abound especially when one uses it for what it is designed for. Spontaneous , quick and relatively silent work moving in the streets. The images are sharp , have very good detail and the B&W simulations are up to the task. The positive film preset emphasises reds with the hues and tones being better in its previous interactions in the GR2. We are fortunate to have this camera. I have no doubt the likes of winogrand and his contemporaries would have exulted to own this tiny marvel ! Cheers Keith.
Hi Gireesh, you do see me as too influential haha. I do very much agree with your points, to quote : “We need something that works. Not something necessarily better.”
Embarrassingly the X70 was skipping in my list of APSC & larger compacts and I’m glad you brought the camera up. At times I do wish Fujifilm did make a successor for it, given how this compact one actually has everything in it ; except a VF just like the GR.
I used to own the GRII, but sold it after going full on Fuji. Recently I’ve been contemplating a X100F/V. But, I own an XPro3, and having a hard time justifying the X100 line. (If only I could find a 27mm f2.8 WR in stock for the XPro3. But still, but still that isn’t pocketable.
So, I’ve been so tempted to order the GRIII for my own reunion of sorts. I’m planning a trip to Scotland, and I’m thinking something light and fast to deploy. I figure the GRIII would serve me better than going full on Fuji, as I am always tempted to take lots of lenses 😉 Ha, Ha, last time I was in Scotland in 2003 I took stills with a Sony video camera OMG pity me 😉
hi Jass1, I must have missed this comment. I do face the same dilemma as you at times (X-Pro3, GR, X100 + Leica Q) which is to the point it actually guilts me. I can’t decide what is best for anyone obviously but I must say your comment is a good reminder for me to do some decluttering 🙂
I caved and did buy the GRIII special edition
😂 may I ask, the 28mm or 40mm version (both have special editions)
Keith, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this sharing of yours and beautiful photos too. The GR is indeed a specialised tool for the person who needs it as such.
Hi, thank you for the kind words 🙂
Hi Keith Thanks for this interesting article. I’m a X100V owner – purchased only last year – but during Covid lockdowns I simply didn’t take it out of my bag for months. Photo mojo totally shot! So I’ve really seldom used the X100V. I’m now going out into the city again, but you know what, I still rarely take the X100V out of my bag but I’m using my iPhone instead. Not sure what this might mean really other than I’m now seriously considering trading in the seldom used (but beautiful) X100V on a more compact GR-III. I reckon the compact form factor will better suit my “iPhone approach” to street photography. Trade-in value of X100V is $AU1000 so makes a change to Ricoh a bit easier. BTW I also own a X-T3 with 23mmF2 amongst other lenses. Am I mad or just suffering a combo of GAS and the “grass is always greener” (!) but your take on the GR-III has got me thinking.
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Hi Tim, great to hear from you. I also have the X100V (ya I’m terrible) but to me the X100V is kinda showing its age due to the lack of performance updates while the GR III has plowed ahead. The 2 main + of the V imo is it’s EVF and of course Fujifilm film simulations; other than that I prefer the GR more , especially for it’s more compact size. Ultimately I feel both cameras have their strengths and weaknesses and it is really up to one self to decide based on one’s needs.
Lastly , optically wise the XF23/2 is a leap above the X100V’s so haha, there’s actually a reason there if it matters.
Thanks Keith. I’m probably almost confirming Gireesh’s point above! It comes down to how I feel with the camera in my hand. No real pluses in just keep any camera in a bag and not using it. Maybe I should settle down a bit and consider a pre-owned GR-III – there are some here – because its smaller form factor (and one hand use), snap focus and b&w simulations are major pluses for me. Cheers.
Hello Keith. I had the pleasure of choosing between 2 cameras recently to purchase. Both Ricoh : the GR1V and GRiiix. Your review of the analogue Ricoh is amongst the best camera reviews you’ve done with images to match. There is perceptible sense of spontaneity inherent in those film images of yours and the colour and tones were amazing. It did make a huge impression on me. Long story short I pulled the trigger on the urban kit version of the GRiiix instead of buying a camera which could potentially become a paperweight. 40mm makes for excellent family portraits.
Hi Gireesh, interesting you were choosing between the film GR1V (not easy to find in mint condition nowadays due to a lack of replacement parts, esp the LCD) and the digital GR3X, I’m sure the GR3X will serve you well like how my GR3 still does for me 🙂 Thank you for the kind feedback too.