Ricoh GR III Review
|Full model name:||Ricoh GR III|
(23.5mm x 15.6mm)
|Viewfinder:||No / LCD|
|Shutter:||1/4000 - 1200 sec|
4.3 x 2.4 x 1.3 in.
(109 x 62 x 33 mm)
|Full specs:||Ricoh GR III specifications|
Ricoh GR III Preview
by Mike Tomkins
Preview posted: 09/25/2018
It's been a little over three years now since the cult-favorite Ricoh GR compact camera series received a new model. Today, though, the company has some news which is going to delight Ricoh GR fans and Pentaxians alike. The Ricoh GR III is on its way, sporting an overhauled imaging pipeline, plus more than a few goodies inherited from the Pentax brand.
Currently in development and slated to arrive in early 2019 at an as-yet undisclosed list price, the 24-megapixel, APS-C sensor-based GR III is noticeably more compact than its predecessor. It is, however, just fractionally heavier.
The lens is still a 28mm-equivalent prime with a bright f/2.8 maximum aperture, but is said to offer improved image quality. It also focuses a bit closer than did the lens of its predecessor, regardless of whether or not macro mode is active. Even with macro mode disabled, you can focus to 3.9 inches (10cm) from the front of the lens, matching the GR II's Macro mode. Enable macro on the GR III, though, and that minimum focusing distance falls even further to just 2.4 inches (6cm).
The lens sits in front of a brand-new APS-C sized image sensor which provides a significant step upwards in resolution. The new chip has an effective pixel count of 24.24 megapixels, up from 16.2 megapixels in the GR II. It also introduces an unspecified number of on-chip phase-detection autofocus pixels. The full sensitivity range hasn't been disclosed as yet, but base sensitivity is ISO 100 equivalent.
Does that sound familiar, perchance? It did to us: The Pentax K-70 DSLR has the same sensor size and resolution, and it also has an unspecified number of on-chip phase-detect pixels. We wouldn't be surprised in the least if the GR III is using the same sensor as the K-70, or a closely-related design. (And if so, we'd expect to see something similar to its upper sensitivity limit of ISO 102,400-equivalent.)
And nor are those the only similarities to the K-70. The Ricoh GR III also sports an in-body three-axis Shake Reduction system. And it uses the same sensor shift assembly not just for SR, but also for an AA Filter Simulator function. This can be used to reduce the risk of moire and false color effects by moving the sensor just fractionally during exposure, simulating the effect of a physical optical low-pass filter. (And its inclusion suggests that, also like the K-70, the GR III probably lacks an OLPF in front of its sensor.)
One way in which the GR III bests the K-70 is in the dust reduction department, however. Where the Pentax DSLR has to rely on using its sensor-shift mechanism to try and shake dust off the sensor, the Ricoh GR III instead uses a piezoelectric element to provide ultrasonic vibration that, in our experience, typically does a much better job of getting rid of dust. (And that's good news, because one of the few complaints we heard leveled at the previous GR II by its users was that of dust on the sensor.)
On its rear deck, the Ricoh GR III sports a newly-upgraded LCD monitor. It still has a 3.0-inch diagonal, but now has a wider 3:2 aspect ratio and a capacitive touch-screen overlay on the tempered cover glass which allows it to double as an input device. The total dot count has fallen a little to 1,037k-dots from 1,230 k-dots for the GR II, but since the screen's aspect ratio now matches that of the sensor, the remaining dots can be more fully-used in full-screen viewing.
Ricoh has also boosted the GR III's video-capture capabilities a little, adding a 60 frames-per-second capture rate in Full HD, although there's still no 4K capture capability here. The company has also replaced the paltry 54MB of internal memory provided in the GR II to a rather roomier two gigabytes, which could be enough to save the day (especially if you're a JPEG shooter) when you run out of card space or leave the card at home. There's also a new highlight-weighted metering option, and a wider exposure compensation range of +/-5 EV.
Early press materials suggest that the Ricoh GR III has only the typical PASM exposure modes found on most cameras, and forgoes the more Pentax-specific modes like TAv, which allows you to dial in both shutter speed and aperture, then have the camera balance the exposure using the sensitivity. But in other respects, the GR III looks to have inherited a lot more Pentaxian DNA than its predecessor.
For one thing, you can now select from an array of familiar image controls found on Pentax cameras. You'll also find highlight and shadow correction functions which, like their Pentax equivalents, help you avoid blown highlights and blocked-up shadows. The noise reduction options and new, brightness-boosting outdoor view function for the LCD are also features we've seen in recent Pentax cameras.
One thing we definitely haven't seen before is the Ricoh GR III's wired connectivity setup. While wireless functionality is unchanged (802.11b/g/n only), the GR III replaces its predecessor's separate USB and HDMI connectors with a single USB-C port. This not only provides for data connectivity, but can also drive an external display via a DisplayPort video connection which can, with third-party products, be adapted to HDMI.
As noted at the start of this preview, pricing and availability for the Ricoh GR III haven't yet been disclosed. Watch this space for updates as more information comes to light!