Ricoh GR III review
Body, handling and controls
The Ricoh GR III offers a slightly smaller body than the GR II, and a reduced number of external controls. Depending on how you shoot, these changes will make more or less of a difference to your experience of using the camera. Ergonomically, the biggest single difference is the addition of a touchscreen to the GR III. This has obvious advantages, but also contributes to one of the GR-series' historical shortcomings: screen visibility in bright light.
- Smaller body makes the GR III even more pocketable than GR / GR II
- Simplified control interface, with the addition of a touchscreen generally improves shooting experience (but may present a learning curve for GR II upgraders)
- Glossy touchscreen is bad news for screen visibility in sunny conditions
- Battery life is poor, but can be stretched depending on how you shoot
Losses and gains
|The GR III (top) offers a simplified control layout compared to the GR / II (bottom).|
Let's start with what has been lost. Gone is the dedicated +/- exposure compensation rocker switch on the upper right of the GR and GR II (replaced with a playback button), along with the 2-position AEL / AFL | C-AF switch. A Fn/delete button replaces that switch, just below the push-in Adj rocker to the right of the LCD. DISP is right where it's always been, but MENU now has a dedicated button below the 4-way controller. A slim control dial has been added around the circumference of that controller, and the right-most cardinal point now brings up shooting modes / self-timer, rather than flash options.
We're sure there are some photographers for whom the removal of the exposure compensation toggle and AEL / AF-F | AF-C switch will cause problems, but the GR III should still feel familiar to GR / II users. Some things are different of course: I used to knock the exposure compensation toggle constantly by accident with the GR II, and now I accidentally hit playback constantly instead.
On the other hand, the addition of touch sensitivity to the rear LCD is a major change when it comes to handling, and ultimately something of a mixed blessing.
|Dominating the rear of the GR III is a touch-sensitive LCD screen, which helps mitigate the loss of some physical control points compared to the GR / II.|
Starting with the positives: The touchscreen is very responsive, and makes setting your AF point extremely quick and easy. It also offers an intuitive and fast means of scrolling through and zooming into captured images. On the downside, 'nose focus' is a constant problem when shooting with an optical finder, and the glossy black screen makes accurate framing near impossible in sunny conditions without the screen brightness turned up to its maximum setting.
Boosting the LCD brightness has two adverse consequences: it takes a pretty big bite out of the GR III's already unremarkable battery life, and it can throw off exposures (fooling you into underexposure) unless you pay close attention to the histogram.
We suspect that a lot of traditionalist GR III owners - particularly those who use snap focus - will disable the touchscreen. This solves the problem of unwanted AF positioning inputs, but obviously can't do anything about screen reflections.
As with its predecessor, the GR III provides users with a wealth of customization options to set up the camera just how you like it.
The GR III's automatic ISO implementation is pretty sensible for a camera of this type, given the lack of a focal length variable. An upper and lower ISO limit can be set independently, from the entire range of available ISO settings (100-102,400) and minimum shutter speed threshold can be set, in a range of 1 to 1/1000 sec. In our experience of shooting with the GR III with SR turned off, the camera is safely hand-holdable to around 1/40 sec, but with SR on, 1/10 sec is perfectly safe when shooting static subjects.
Battery life and charging
The GR III gets a new DB-110 battery. This offers a slightly greater capacity than the battery sold with the GR and GR II, but less stamina when tested using CIPA standards. In fact, the GR III's CIPA rated battery life of 200 shots is a full 38% less than the GR II. The most likely culprit for the drop is the GR III's in-body stabilization system.
In normal use, you can probably expect somewhere a little over 300 shots per charge. That number will drop if lots of time elapses between shooting sessions, or you spend time reviewing images, or if you boost screen brightness. In our experience, a single charge should last through a weekend of casual shooting, provided the screen brightness isn't maxed out.
The good news is that the GR III now uses a more-or-less standard USB-C connector for charging, rather than the fiddly 'looks like mini USB but actually ha ha! We tricked you, it isn't!' proprietary connector of the GR and GR II. A full charge of the battery takes about 2 hours, but in a pinch, even ten minutes attached to a power bank should be enough to get you a handful of shots.
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