Ricoh GR iii first impressions
Finally, I purchased the Ricoh GR iii. At the time of writing I’ve had the camera now for five days. I managed to get out and shoot with it and I can say without any hesitation that it was a great purchase for me.
Only doing one shoot means that this review will be about 80% of a full review. I think I will have covered most things, but I’m sure there will be more things to cover if I’d used the camera for longer.
Why I wanted a GR camera
I am a big fan of small compact powerful cameras. I like doing street photography and family candid snaps. Having a camera on me at all times allows me to quickly capture those moments of family life and street photography. But this is no good if the camera is cumbersome to carry or takes too long to get into an operational state, by this point I’ve missed the action.
My requirements for an everyday camera are (In no particular order):
- Small and pocketable
- Quick start-up time
- One handed operation (preferably with the left hand - I’m a leftie)
- Great image quality
- Quick image hand-off to my phone (Increasingly I’m editing on a mobile device)
- Captures RAW images
- Fairly prompt focusing
- Fast wide angle lens
Why did I consider a GR iii over a GR ii
Having researched both the GRii and GRiii, the GRiii appealed to me more as:
|Dust||Was a known problem||Has a dust reduction feature|
|ISO||Improved high ISO performance|
|Sensor||Older 16mp APS-C||Newer 24mp APS-C|
|IBIS||None||New IBIS feature|
|Macro||10cm close focus||6cm close focus|
|Metering||Standard||Includes highlight centred metering|
So I opted for a new Ricoh GRiii over a used GRii, as I considered it a better camera.
Let’s start with what I don’t like…
Well the battery life could be better and it would be nice if the camera came with a separate charger. Other than that I have nothing more to say. Of course, I’d love to see a lower price…
A quick summary of what I like…
The image quality is very good and there’s plenty of room to crop in post due to the 24mp sensor. The combination of the superb lens and the sensor gives a crisp image. The colours and saturation give a very pleasing image rendition.
Once I’ve taken images I can easily transfer them wirelessly to my iPhone over Bluetooth. The initial connection between the app and the camera is slow. However, the actual transferring of RAW images from the GRiii to the phone is very fast. This means I can snap away, stop for a coffee, do some quick edits and post to instagram or this blog! Of course, I could always do the same with the Apple SD adapter, but that’s another thing to carry/loose/‘forget to bring’.
I did have a specialist Macro lens for my M43 camera, but it was never with me when I saw something interesting. Of course the Macro facility on the GRiii isn’t as good as a dedicated Macro lens, but in most cases it’ll do a good enough job. I previously had a Fuji X100. This had a Macro mode that could produce good Macro images, but the close focusing was frustratingly slow and getting in and out of the Macro mode was difficult. With the GRiii a one button press puts you into Macro mode and the same button press takes you out of Macro mode. With close focusing down to 6cm, you can get a good close up image.
The auto focus is quick enough for me. The GRiii has tracking, continuous, one touch infinity focus, snap focus and spot focus. All of these can be switched to one handed and quickly. With snap focus the camera can be set to focus at a specific distance like zone focusing. I anticipated I would use this all the time. However, the AF has been quick enough that for most of my images I’ve just used the auto focus.
The camera is light and small with a suitable grip. This means it is easy to hold and operate the camera single handedly. On the subject of single handed operation, you can change virtually all the settings easily with one hand. The only thing which requires two hands is changing mode (due to the mode lock feature) and using the touch screen to pinch and zoom etc. A single press of the On/Off button will invoke the lens coming out of the body. This is a bigger deal than it sounds, as it allows you to quickly get you camera into position, fire up the camera and take an image in a few seconds. The same can be done in reverse and there’s no messing about with lens caps.
The GRiii can meter for the highlights with a special metering mode. With the quality of the sensor this means you can easily expose for the highlights and bring up the shadows in post (even on an iPhone). This gives me excellent images which have a certain sought after look. I would have been able to get these types of images before, but it’s now easier and quicker to do on the GRiii.
The video seems okay, with a lot of different frame rates on offer. It looks like the IBIS works for video, but that’s only been verified be me performing a quick walking around test. There’s no mic jack, but video isn’t the point of this camera. You should consider the video as a ‘nice to have’ and I would imagine most people would pull out a smartphone for video over the GRiii. The video is started via a dedicated but that can be remapped if you wish.
The GRiii is heavily customisable and buttons can be remapped to different functions. I’ve left mine in default apart from setting one button to snap focus.
Nice little touches
- The camera tells you how many images you took today when you turn it off
- The mode lock prevents the mode dial moving in your pocket by accident
- The wrist strap can be attached at three different points
- The LCD can easily be brightened or dimmed to suit the light of the environment
- The camera has 2gb of internal storage
- RAW images can be processed in camera
- Built in ND filter
While I’ve not had a lot of time with the GRiii, I do think it is a powerful and amazing small camera. I’m more likely to have the GRiii with me and therefore more likely to get some great images. Yes I could use a smartphone, but the GRiii is more fun and a much more capable tool.