MESAGI ⚀ Artist Photographer

I show you the real Paris with my street photography

Manual focus on the Ricoh GR III Explained

The manual focus of our ‘lil GR III is so easy to use that I’ve never felt the need for the autofocus. In this blog post, I’m explaining how it works and why you should give it a try. Read on.

What’s the manual focus and how it works on the GR III

The Ricoh GR III’s manual focus is represented by a bar on the left of the screen. The small yellow bar is the focus distance, the green one is the focus range. You move the yellow bar up and down to set the manual focus.

It gives you the possibility to focus your camera on a fixed distance range. For example, you may decide to focus from 1 to 3 meters. Everything at a distance from 1 to 3 meters in front of you will be in focus, the rest will be out of focus.  This range is aperture-dependent: the tighter the aperture’s opening the wider the range. The 1-3 meters range at f/2.8 becomes 0.5m – to infinity with an aperture of f/16.

Why you should try the manual focus

Why should we bother setting the focus manually when autofocus exists? For two reasons, personally. First, you’ve precise control over what you focus on and not. This gives you more creative control over your photographs. Second, it gives more satisfaction. Deciding for yourself is much more satisfying than letting the camera decide for you for such a critical aspect of your photography.

With the focus on manual, you can use the zone focus technique for your street photography sessions. I recommend you to read how to point and shoot with the Ricoh GR III: the zone focus technique to learn more about it.

Manual focus drawbacks

There’s a major drawback to the GR III’s manual focus, though. If you need, for creative reasons, to frequently change the focus range: the process is quite slow. You’ve to push the macro button, rotate the control dial then push the ok button. But as I said earlier, the range is aperture-dependent. You can rotate the front dial of your GR III to change the aperture and expand and contract quickly the focus range. I’ve done it many times and it works well with auto ISO.

There’s another drawback. Although the focus bar is easy to use and understand, I think it could have been more accurate. Displaying the focus range in plain numbers below or beside the bar would have been much better. We wouldn’t have to guess what’s not on the scale.

Try it yourself

Is the manual focus worth the bother? Is it better than snap focus? Is it more satisfying than autofocus? Only you can respond to these questions. So, take your camera for a walk outside and get happy moments with your ‘lil GR.

Something breaks when the glamour illusions are confronted with the real Paris.