Ricoh GR III Review
|Full model name:||Ricoh GR III|
(23.5mm x 15.6mm)
|Viewfinder:||No / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 102,400|
|Extended ISO:||100 - 102,400|
|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 Review -- Now Shooting!
by Mike Tomkins
Preview posted: 09/25/2018
02/21/2019: Updated with further details from full announcement
03/01/2019: Initial Gallery images posted
04/05/2019: First Shots posted
04/23/2019: Performance posted
06/04/2019: Field Test Part I posted
07/19/2019: Field Test Part II posted
For those looking for our Overview of the camera's features and specs, please click here.
Ricoh GR III Field Test Part II
Night done right: The GR III lets you leave that bulky tripod at home
By Mike Tomkins | Posted: 07/19/2019
When I recently published my first field test of the Ricoh GR III, I promised another test to come, with a look at some features I'd not had time for in that first article. If you've not already seen that earlier test, you'll want to start the story there for a look at how the handsome, magnesium alloy-bodied GR III handles in real-world shooting, and what I think of its ergonomics and daytime image quality. You'll also find a discussion of the real-world importance of ithe GR III's somewhat abbreviated battery life in that earlier article.
For this second test, we'll be looking at how image quality fares in low-light shooting once the sensitivity ramps up, and how well the sensor-shift image stabilization system performs. I also want to take a look at the GR III's video capture feature set, and to give its wireless communications a quick spin as well.
A trip (or three!) to downtown Knoxville and Gatlinburg for some low-light shooting
To get a handle on the GR III's low-light chops, I recently headed to the tourist town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, as well as nearby downtown Knoxville, on several consecutive evenings. I started shooting each time a little before sunset, and continued on for as long after dark each night as the vagaries of both the weather and my schedule allowed.
On my first night's shoot, I really put the GR III's buffer through a workout, shooting long bursts of raw+JPEG files as I varied the shutter speed to get a handle on how the image stabilization performed, and what the limit of hand-holdability might be. I regularly had to pause during these long bursts to allow traffic and pedestrians to pass, or because of other brief interruptions to the scene, and so often popped over to playback mode to quickly reconfirm my last-used shutter speed, as well.
I did experience some stability issues on my first outing, but they never returned
During the course of that first evening in Gatlinburg -- unfortunately, an hour from home and without a spare flash card on me -- I suffered a couple of failures to write the buffer to storage properly, and one complete camera lockup as well. (The camera completely stopped responding to all controls until the battery was removed and reinserted, just flashing its green status LED steadily.)
It's possible that this could have been caused by the flash card itself, but it's also somewhat unlikely, as it was a fairly swift, name-brand 64GB Sony SF-UZ series card that carries UHS-I, UHS Speed Class 3 and SD Class 10 badging. It's also among my newer, lesser-used flash cards, and continues to work fine in my other gear. (And indeed, in the GR III itself, other than on that one outlier shoot.) The card itself had been formatted in-camera just minutes earlier at the start of the session, too.
But nor did the problems return on subsequent nights, either, despite my best efforts to get them to do so, stressing the camera intentionally with long bursts of varied shutter speed, interrupted by frequent visits to the menu and playback mode. I mention these issues more for completeness, and don't see them as a significant cause for concern. (Even at their worst, it was pretty immediately obvious that something was amiss, and reseating the battery cleared the issue, so at most perhaps a handful of shots might be lost.)
Shake Reduction performance isn't just impressive, it's downright unbelievable
Because of the flash card issues which plagued me that first night, I returned home having curtailed the shoot after only having shot for a short half-hour or so, but the performance of the Ricoh GR III's Shake Reduction system had already impressed me in this time.
Admittedly, I'd been expecting it to because the fairly wide lens on the GR III already makes it somewhat less prone to shake, and sensor-shift stabilization systems like that in this camera tend to do better with wide-angle lenses, as well. But I wasn't expecting just how hand-holdable this camera would turn out to be in low light.
Leave the tripod at home: The GR III simply doesn't need one for street shooting
On my Gatlinburg shoot, I'd already managed handheld exposures as slow as a full second that were very close to perfectly sharp, but on subsequent shoots I managed much, much better. As you'll see in a moment, this camera can produce crisp handheld exposures as long as three or four seconds -- and honestly, I think it could've managed longer if I'd managed to stay just a little more still myself.
During the last couple of exposures I shot, I could actually see my own hands starting to tremble from having held my arms up so long for shot after shot with near-identical composition. Fiddling around in my office at home, I actually managed sharp handheld exposures as long as six seconds!
Shake Reduction tested: 1/30th to 5-second handheld exposure series
The series below was shot in shutter priority mode and completely handheld, doing my best to keep the same composition from shot to shot. Only the shutter speed was adjusted between shots, although obviously the camera changed the aperture and ISO sensitivity to provide matched exposures.
I started the series at 1/30 second, as per the reciprocal rule for its 35mm-equivalent focal length, anything shot at around 1/28th second or faster should be sharp handheld, even without stabilization. The aperture remained wide-open at f/2.8 all the way until the 0.4 second exposure, eventually stopping down to f/10 by the final, unusably-blurred shot. Focus was set manually from the first exposure.
Framing was approximately as in the shot above throughout the series, and the 100% crops below come from just a bit right of the center of the frame. And yes, this is quite a long series of nearly identical-looking crops. I wanted to make a point here, though. It's not just about how long an exposure you can handhold, but also about the reliability of the stabilization system.
Shot after shot even at very slow shutter speeds comes out consistently and perfectly sharp or very close to it (as in the 0.6, 1.6- and 4.0-second exposures, all of which show slight motion blur, but still retain plenty of detail nevertheless, and would certainly be usable for moderately-large print sizes). You don't need to try a few times to get a lucky handheld shot, you just need to point and press the shutter button.
Subject motion is going to become a problem before camera motion can
As you'll see above, realistically, you just don't need a tripod for the Ricoh GR III in most conditions. If you're shooting exposures longer than, say, a few seconds then yes, you'll want to bring one with you. But that's not going to be a big use case for a street-shooter camera like this.
For street shooting, you're likely going to be using shutter speeds below a second or two most of the time, because while the shake reduction system or a tripod will freeze blur from camera shake in longer exposures, they can't stop your human subjects turning into blurred streaks of light.
Leave the tripod at home: The GR III simply doesn't need one for street shooting
That was nicely demonstrated by some passing pedestrians in the handheld shutter speed series above, who already look pretty blurred by the 1/6th second exposure. And in the two-second shot directly above, one of the gents in front of the bar is a completely unrecognizable smudge.
So for typical street shooting, you can leave your tripod at home with this camera, safe in the knowledge that the stabilization system has your back. If your subject can meaningfully be shot at a slow shutter speed, chances are the GR III's stabilization can make that happen completely handheld.
If Shake Reduction can't freeze the action, just raise the sensitivity
Of course, the shake reduction system in the GR III is only one of the tools you have at your disposal to combat blur. The other main one is the ability to raise the sensitivity -- potentially to as high as ISO 102,400-equivalent -- and then freeze the action with a higher shutter speed instead.
Now that I've had a chance to shoot fairly extensively with the GR III in low light, I have to say that it turns in a great performance on this front. Wandering around downtown Knoxville while shooting with the GR III well after sunset, I didn't have issues with being able to raise the sensitivity high enough to freeze my subjects.
Great results to ISO 6400, and a usable 12,800
If anything it was the very opposite, in fact! I struggled to find subjects that were dimly-lit enough to need the highest sensitivities of which the GR III is capable. (At least, without just setting an unnecessarily-high shutter speed to gain a higher sensitivity.)
Browsing the out-of-camera JPEG results from the GR III, I'd say noise levels are minimal and well-controlled (and detail is excellent) at everything up to ISO 1600. The effects of noise reduction on the finest details in your subjects start to become noticeable by ISO 3200, and are even more so at ISO 6400. The highest I'd probably want to go -- unless there's no other choice to get the shot -- is ISO 12,800-equivalent.
Noticeably improves on the GR II in low light despite its better detail-gathering
In making my assessments, I also compared back to the GR III's predecessor, the Ricoh GR II, and the news is good. Not only is resolution noticeably improved at base sensitivity, but there remains a clear edge for the GR3 in terms of detail-gathering performance right the way up to the previous model's maximum sensitivity of ISO 25,600. And unlike in that camera, I'd say it's actually usable at that sensitivity and using out-of-camera JPEGs, at least for smaller print sizes.
I'm really excited to see what's possible once the GR III becomes supported by the excellent PhotoLab utility from DxO Labs. The superb PRIME denoising technology available in that application could already take a GR II shot at ISO 25,600 and make it about as good as an out-of-camera JPEG at ISO 6400, just by throwing a generous chunk of high-powered desktop or laptop CPU time at the problem. Sadly, the GR III isn't slated for support until October, but I'll be looking forward to trying it out once that support arrives!
The highest sensitivity ratings are there for the spec sheet, not the real world
ISO 25,600 is probably as far as I'd take the Ricoh GR III in real-world use, and only when there's absolutely no other choice. The highest two settings, ISO 51,200 and 102,400, just aren't really useful in the real world. They're far too noisy, and color is decidedly iffy as well.
That's not terribly surprising, though. We've seen similar results with Ricoh's Pentax-branded DSLRs of late, where the highest couple of ISO settings are there more to look good on the spec sheet than they are to be used in the real world. It's easy enough to simply avoid them, and at lower sensitivities the GR III can turn in pretty consistently great results.
It's not just about the noise; the GR III has good color and WB, too
I've mostly been discussing the tradeoff between noise levels, noise reduction and detail thus far, but that's obviously not the only important factor. Out-of-camera JPEGs from the GR III showed pleasing color and contrast up to ISO 6400. They take a noticeable step backwards at ISO 12,800, but even here the results are still usable.
And in the real world, the GR III's white balance system yielded pretty neutral results most of the time, with one notable exception. Like its predecessor, the GR III tended to yield results that were a bit warm under incandescent lighting. I personally like a little warmth in indoor shots, as I feel it adds to the ambience, but if you find this default bothersome, it's very easy to tune it out with the white balance fine-tuning controls on offer.
The lack of built-in flash is a pity, but great high ISO results and stabilization make up for it
A somewhat controversial change in the Ricoh GR III is the absence of a built-in flash strobe, in favor of providing solely a hot shoe for external strobes. It's nice to have the support for external flash, but I have a feeling that it will go unused by many shooters simply because any flash small enough not to be ungainly and erase the GR III's size benefit is also likely to be on the anemic end of the spectrum in terms of light output.
Sure, that was also true of the built-in strobe on the GR II, but you effectively got that without the heft of a separate, external strobe. That made the tradeoff rather more palatable -- the tiny popup strobe might have been on the underpowered side, but it was always there, never left at home when you most needed it.
But the GR III's high ISO chops and impressive shake reduction system do go a long way towards removing the need for a flash altogether, and when I bear that in mind, it's easier to forgive the absence of a popup flash from the formula. Given the choice, I'd take an available light shot any day, as the light will be much more flattering than that from an on-camera flash strobe anyway.
Long story short: I don't think the lack of a built-in flash is a big deal for potential GR III owners, but the belt-and-suspenders side of me would still kind of like to see Ricoh shoehorn one back in next time around.
Video isn't much of a focus for Ricoh (or, we presume, for GR shooters)
Everything we've discussed so far has pertained to still imaging, but what of video? Well, if you've read any of our other Ricoh or Pentax camera reviews, you probably won't be too surprised by what's to come here.
Yes, the GR III can shoot short video clips of Full HD resolution, but video quality is not going to knock your socks off, and the feature set is relatively limited. That's par for the course with most of the company's still cameras -- Ricoh just doesn't put the emphasis on video that some other manufacturers do.
Be that as it may, I still made sure to give the GR III's video chops a workout. The movie mode is accessed with a tiny button on the left side of the body which, if you're not interested in video capture, can be reconfigured to instead access one of a variety of other functions. There's a fixed Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) resolution and MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression within a .MOV file container. You do, however, get to choose the frame rate -- either 24, 30 or 60 frames per second.
Full HD only, weak autofocus and little control over exposure
What you don't get, though, is a whole lot more control over things. Movies are always recorded with program autoexposure, so you have no direct control over the shutter speed, aperture or ISO sensitivity for movie capture. You can bias the exposure in your chosen direction using exposure compensation, and you can manually enable the built-in ND filter to achieve a slower shutter speed, but that's about it on the exposure front.
Nor is the fixed, wide-angle prime lens terribly conducive to flattering video in the first place. And while you can either opt for continuous autofocus or set focus manually, occasional hunting is noticeable as the contrast-detection AF system seeks around the point of focus -- especially if you're panning or it's thrown off by something briefly coming between subject and camera. And even if you can put up with that, the AF system has a tendency to lose focus while panning, unless you do so very slowly. You're also limited to the onboard audio, with no external microphone or headphone jacks provided.
Video image quality is subpar, although a slower frame-rate helps significantly
And video image quality is on the weak side, to be honest. At the maximum 60p frame rate, line skipping has obviously been employed to boost speed, and the result is visibly-reduced resolution compared to lower frame rates, as well as plentiful false-color and stair-stepping artifacts, which can be especially noticeable when panning.
Drop the frame rate to 24p or 30p and video quality improves, with relatively few artifacts remaining, but it's still just Full HD. While that was enough to satisfy a few years ago, the camera market has largely moved on to ultra high-def 4K these days and 1080p30 just doesn't feel that great by comparison, any more.
Great news: Wireless communication has been totally reinvented for the GR III
Technically, Wi-Fi isn't a new addition to the GR III's feature-set, but it might as well be. The GR II had Wi-Fi as well, but it was vastly different to today's equivalent. In some respects, the GR II was actually the more versatile of the pair, but overall it was much more dated than what we have access to in the newer camera.
What we've lost in the GR III is the ability to remotely control the camera from any WiFi-equipped device with a reasonably capable web browser. What we've gained in its place is a much more logically-designed app for Android and iOS devices that now includes built-in remote control functionality. (The GR II's app allowed only image transfer and playback, but not image capture. You had to switch to a web browser for that.
And we've also gained a Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy radio in place of the GR II's near-field communications antenna. The lack of NFC means there's no more simple bump-to-pair functionality, but the addition of Bluetooth 4.2 LE means that once you've completed the pairing process, you have an always-on, low-speed data connection to your phone or tablet. This consumes very little battery power, but can be used to sync location and time info between your smart device and the camera. It's also used to automatically create a Wi-Fi connection when needed for more bandwidth-intensive tasks like remote capture or image transfer.
Less-great news: Wireless communication is still very much a work in progress
The not-so-good news here is that much of this is still only true in theory, some four months after the GR III first reached store shelves. While the hardware supports all of these features, the app support still isn't there for anything beyond image transfer and review in the current release of Ricoh Image Sync for Android or iOS. Incidentally, all of what follows is based on the results of my own testing with an Android-based Google Pixel 2 XL and my now-rather-aged Sony Xperia Z4 tablet, but I believe the situation for iPhone and iPad users is currently pretty similar.
With my Pixel 2 XL I had problems with Ricoh Image Sync being unable to connect to the camera via Wi-Fi in the first place, even with user intervention to select the Wi-Fi network and password, and having first manually paired via Bluetooth, too. When Image Sync prompted me to connect to the camera, nothing would happen after I entered my password, and eventually I'd discover on checking Android's notifications dropdown that the phone had instead reconnected to my home Wi-Fi network. I tried forgetting all Wi-Fi networks, but even then Image Sync was unable to manage to raise a Wi-Fi connection.
Wi-Fi performance is far better than the GR II, but features are currently limited
Establishing the Wi-Fi connection manually outside of the Image Sync app worked just fine, though, and if I did this I was able to do everything the Image Sync app is currently capable of with the GR III: VIewing and transfer of both stills and movies. And performance was pretty decent, too. Transferring maximum quality / resolution JPEG files took just around a second per image, and even large movie files were fairly feasible to transfer, clocking in at around 30 seconds of transfer time for every 100MB of video captured.
As for all of the other features -- the ability to sync time and location between phone and camera, and to automatically transfer images in the background (optionally, even when the camera is powered off) aren't yet there, though. If we still have our GR III review sample in the lab when firmware and/or app updates are released which enable these features, I'll endeavor to give them another test.
In the meantime, there are a couple of other things which I discovered alongside my initial testing of the GR III's wireless communications setup. Firstly, I think it's too easy to disable Wi-Fi completely accidentally, simply by bumping the movie mode button on the left side of the camera body. Since movie mode doesn't support Wi-Fi, this drops the Wi-Fi connection and disables the feature, which you then have to manually reenable, once you realize what's happened and disable movie mode again. This is very easy to fix, though, by simply changing the long-press-and-hold function of that button to its only other option, depth-of-field preview.
Also, in troubleshooting all of the above, I discovered that Image Sync doesn't play nicely with third-party DNS services like Cloudflare's 126.96.36.199, as initially I couldn't get the app to work even when I manually established the Wi-Fi connection. Disabling the 188.8.131.52 app on Android or whitelisting Ricoh Image Sync through its settings fixed that problem, and I mention it here mostly because it may help somebody else figure out that same problem a bit more quickly than I did myself. :)
A couple of other things I missed mentioning previously
As I near the end of this field test, there are a couple of other points I wanted to quickly address, which I'd meant to cover in my first field test and then forgot.
Firstly, the Ricoh GR III's new USB-C port is a nice upgrade once muscle memory finally wears off and you remember that you can just plug the reversible cable in without looking at it first to check which way around it must be inserted. But boy, does it take a while to fight that muscle memory and stop looking at the symmetrical USB-C jack every time, then having that "D'oh!" moment.
Also, I wanted to quickly address the new user interface on the GR III. Menu screens are now split into five main areas. Spanning the top of the screen is a heading area, which either shows the name of the currently-selected menu section, or when you're browsing the section's contents, the name and title of the subsection that you're currently browsing.
The remainder of the screen is then split into four columns. The leftmost column contains icons representing the five main menu sections -- Still Image, Movie, Playback, Customize or Setup, and to its right is a column showing one gray dot for each subsection of the currently-selected menu section, with a larger white dot indicating the subsection you're currently browsing. Finally, the menu items take up most of the remaining screen real estate, with one last narrow column containing a scrollbar which indicates how far you are through the current menu section.
I'm fine with most of this, but the way the column of dots corresponds to the rest of the menu could use some work. I see what Ricoh's trying to indicate to the user here, but the way in which it's done so simply aims to make things more confusing, for several reasons.
Firstly, the column of dots isn't aligned to correspond to the menu section icons adjacent to it. When you're looking at the Still Image settings atop the list that's fine, but as you scroll down, the dots gradually become visually disassociated from the section icons. Highlight the Customize settings section, and you now see three white or gray dots next to the Still Image settings icon, and nothing else.
Also, the individual dots that make up the column don't correspond neatly to individual menu pages, but rather to subsections of the menu which sometimes contain more items than can fit on the screen at once, and other times contain as few as just one single item. The result is that every time you highlight a different dot to move up or down the list of menu items, you have to reorient yourself as to where you are within the overall menu.
Honestly, I think the best way to fix this would simply be to have one dot per page of menu items, if necessary leaving a bit of white space at the end of some menus, expand the column of dots to fit the column height, and then ditch the scroll bar at right altogether, since it would now be redundant. And a color tint behind each of the menu section icons could be mirrored behind the column of dots, helping to visually tie the two together.
It's usable as-is, and you get used to the quirky design, but it could be much cleaner and easier to use with these relatively simple changes.
Final thoughts on my time with the Ricoh GR III
It's not quite time yet to conclude our Ricoh GR III review -- we've yet to publish the results of our in-house lab testing, as well as our image quality and print comparisons -- but in the meantime I wanted to offer some quick closing thoughts on my own time with the GR III. It's a great little camera, and I've thoroughly enjoyed shooting with it. That's no surprise to me, as I was already a fan of its predecessor, but I'm really quite impressed with the step forward that Ricoh has managed in terms of image quality. The new lens in particular is superb, and the image stabilization is top notch too.
The lack of a full wireless communications feature set months after launch isn't great, but I'm confident that Ricoh will bring the features it has promised to the table in the reasonably near future, and I'm cautiously optimistic based on the much cleaner app layout and better Wi-Fi performance than we saw with the GR II. But even without the missing Wi-Fi features I think this is a great camera for the price, offering superb large-sensor image quality in an uncommonly pocket-friendly design. The lack of a zoom lens won't be everyone's cup of tea, but if you can live with it and you're a street shooter or just like to travel light, there's a lot to love here!
• • •
Ricoh GR III Review -- Overview
by Mike Tomkins
Preview posted: 02/21/2019
It's been almost four years now since the cult-favorite Ricoh GR compact camera series received a new model. In the spring of 2019, though, the company has some news which is going to delight Ricoh GR fans and Pentaxians alike. The Ricoh GR III is finally here, sporting an overhauled imaging pipeline, plus more than a few goodies inherited from the Pentax brand.
A new, more compact body that still looks very familiar
The 24-megapixel, APS-C sensor-based GR III still features a magnesium-alloy body but it's noticeably more compact than its predecessor's, being about a third of an inch less wide, but around the same height and depth. The GR III, however, is just fractionally heavier at 9.1 ounces, loaded and ready to shoot.
A better-performing 28mm f/2.8 prime lens than before
The lens is still a 28mm-equivalent prime with a bright f/2.8 maximum aperture, but it's a new optical formula with one less element / group than before, which is said to offer improved image quality. Specifically, Ricoh is promising "the clearest, sharpest images in GR-series history" -- big words indeed! A built-in 2EV ND filter is included, and there's also a nine-bladed aperture diaphragm.
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).
A much higher-res APS-C sensor and a wider sensitivity range, too
The lens sits in front of a brand-new APS-C sized image sensor which provides a significant step upwards in resolution, and its output is fed to a new-generation GR Engine 6 image processor. The new sensor 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. Base sensitivity is ISO 100 equivalent, and the maximum is ISO 102,400-equivalent (just as we predicted when we posted this preview almost six months past), a healthy step up from the ISO 25,600 limit of the GR II.
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.
Three-axis, four-stop shake reduction and no low-pass filter
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 with a four-stop corrective strength. 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 moiré 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 lacks an OLPF in front of its sensor.)
Piezoelectric dust removal
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.)
A better rear-panel LCD monitor
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.
Slightly better video and loads of built-in storage, but no 4K capture
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 upgraded 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.
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 Pentax DNA than its predecessor.
More Pentax DNA has made it into the GR III
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.
Uprated wired and wireless connectivity
One thing we definitely haven't seen before is the Ricoh GR III's wired connectivity setup. 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. A P-TTL compatible hot shoe is still present, which is even more important since a built-in flash is no longer provided.
Wi-Fi functionality is unchanged (802.11b/g/n only), but it's now supplemented with an always-on Bluetooth 4.2 Low Energy radio that can be used to quickly and easily bring up a faster Wi-Fi connection as needed, but which can sip power only very slowly the rest of the time. Sadly, in adding Bluetooth, Ricoh also decided to remove the NFC tag which made for quick-and-easy pairing with Android devices.
An unfortunately-steep reduction in battery life
One last change of note is a switch from DB-65 battery packs in the previous model to a new DB-110 lithium-ion rechargeable in the new one. Battery life is rated at around 200 shots on a charge, a huge reduction from the 320-shot battery life of the GR II. Playback time has fallen too, but only by around 10 minutes to a claimed life of 180 minutes on a charge.
Ricoh GR III pricing and availability
Available from March 2019, the Ricoh GR III is priced at around US$900. A GW-4 Wide Conversion Lens accessory will expand the field of view to a 21mm-equivalent wide-angle for around US$250, and this accessory is compatible with the camera's Shake Reduction system.
Ricoh GR III Field Test Part I
Spectacularly razor-sharp images from a camera that'll fit in your pocket!
A major upgrade is here to reward GR fans for their patience
This spring, Ricoh finally came through for GR fans like myself, launching the totally overhauled Ricoh GR III, and redefining just what we can expect of a pocket-friendly street shooter in the process. Although like its predecessor, the GR III still quite closely resembles the original GR, this is a much more significant redesign than was the previous generation.
On the outside, there's a brand-new body with styling very similar to that of the GR II, but which is smaller in every dimension. The changes in height and depth are small enough as to be unnoticeable, but the reduction in width is certainly easy to see alongside the earlier camera. Ricoh has shaved a full third of an inch (8mm) off the GR III's width, and yet at the same time increased the weight just slightly, by 0.4 ounces (9g).