Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Ricoh GR III Preview: In-depth First Look

Ricoh GR III Preview: In-depth First Look
September 2018, Carl Garrard

Further examination (after my initial reaction) of what Ricoh have announced so far about the GR III lends less to be desired by yours truly.  Ricoh have put together a very formidable new package here. Despite the fact that the new GR doesn’t have a couple of my wish list items (one is addressed, another partially addressed), I am still very impressed with what I have seen so far with the development announcement. First, it looks like early 2019 we’ll have it on shelves for sale, which is earlier than what Ricoh Japan put on their site about a “spring release”. Both the US and German announcements have it slated for early 2019.

Ricoh GR 

Secondly, I’ve been talking with Ricoh for some time now, and I have some good inside information to share. What I’m reading (and experiencing) so far is that Ricoh have put together a very worthwhile successor, likely to incorporate the very newest and best 24mp APS-C sensor available much like the Pentax K70's (highlighted in my K70 review), a brand new lens to accommodate closer and faster focusing (and higher resolution needs), a brand new processor to handle image pipeline output etc., built in 3-axis image stabilization, ultra-sonic dust reduction (a huge win for GR owners), AA filter simulation, touch screen interface, and one of the missed highlights – 2GB internal memory, this is very handy!

On top of that, I must talk about the new sensor. This is a new APS-C unit that has hybrid PDAF and contrast detect autofocus, and I know for a fact that Ricoh is going to make this camera focus extremely fast. If you want to design the best snapshot/street camera, fast accurate auto focus is the way to claim the title. Trust me, you will be highly impressed here. On a side note, it will also help video auto-focusing too for those that do a little video with their GR’s (I know that I do).

The new processor will output 14bit Raw in DNG format too, this is also a very welcome addition.

The new lens is going to be stellar. GR lenses have always been the very best fixed compact lenses on the market- they are terminally sharp and almost completely distortion free. This new lens will absolutely handle the higher resolution of the new sensor with aplomb, mark my words. On top of that, Ricoh go back to making the GR a stellar macro camera giving it even closer focusing than its predecessor. Way to go Ricoh!

Body size has been reduced quite a bit compared to its predecessor. It measures 109.4mm wide vs. 117mm, 61.9mm vs 63mm high, and 33.2mm vs 35mm thick. That may not seem significant on paper, but trust me here, it makes it seem much smaller in person without sacrificing handling. The GR III will continue with the inclusion of an ND filter, despite the body being smaller than its predecessor and, that they added image stabilization! Stop right there for a moment and let that sink in because it is a phenomenal achievement to do so much in such a small body.

Of course, Ricoh have removed the flash unit, but I honestly don’t think too many people are going to be upset about that. I know I’m not upset about that at all, and a compact unit will be available if you really need one to add to the hot shoe. Personally, I was hoping they would use that space for an optical viewfinder, but that’s okay ??. Maybe in the future Ricoh, maybe in the future.

Crop modes are available of course and will be extra handy compared to its predecessor. I use them all the time on the GR II and hardly miss the extra resolution in the 35 and 47mm crop modes. The GRII’s lens is so sharp that large prints are available even at the 47mm setting in raw. With more resolution they will come in extra handy for those that need it, and I am not complaining. Also, Ricoh show that the 47mm crop mode is now an even 50mm equivalent, a smart change. I would like to see a 40mm option as well, since that is my single favorite prime lens focal length, but alas its just a personal wish item.

Touch screen will be welcomed by many. For me I’ll be happy to swipe-review my images and don’t plan on using it for anything else, but that all depends on how Ricoh have developed it. I could be swayed to use it for more functions. The screen remains at 3” and 1.037 million dots, and is gapless/airless and hard glass, which is near perfect for me.

Wireless will be included of course, and Ricoh will really need to update their Image Sync app to be more reliable than even the most current version. I use an android phone and that app won’t work now with any of my Pentax or Ricoh cameras on my phone now. Yes I have the very latest version. I’ve spoken with Ricoh on the matter and they will look into it.

So, can I live without weather sealing and an built in finder? Yes. Do I wish for Ricoh to put these into model in the future? Yes.  Adding weather sealing to the GR would probably bring in a lot more outdoor enthusiast shooters to the following, so lets hope it’s considered in a future model. However, the inclusion of dust reduction is a huge win, for now. Faster auto-focusing, better macro mode, more resolution, touch screen, and all the above make the new GR III a serious compact that is in a league of its own (still).

Stay Focused.

-Carl Garrard

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  1. I was really hoping for some K-3II successor information, but I was about 99% sure that we weren't going to get any info this time around. Well, at least we're getting a GRIII for now. Yay?

    Hopefully we get some K-3II successor info or the actual camera 5 months from now at CP+.

  2. Yay! GR's are the perfect compliment to a Pentax DSLR system far as I'm concerned. Yes I would look towards CP+ or even perhaps before then, you never know with Ricoh!

  3. Soooooo dare I ask if the screen is tilting? Some conflicting reports here and there.

  4. Nice review! Any info on ISO range? I push up to 6400 in B&W but would be a big plus if there are improvements on this side

  5. Likely ISO range will be 80-102,400 :)

    1. Many final specs are still being ironed out through field testing of the GR III. If not that range then 100-51,200.

      No tilt screen, the GR III is transitionally minimalist and small as possible so that would make the camera larger.

  6. Yep. And good on Ricoh to continue to sell the GRII as well. Might be cool if they made an "S" version with an updated sensor and processor for the GR II faithful.