The GR III is a popular camera among street photographers. Here’s my feedback after nearly a year of use. Read on to learn why it’s a good camera for street photography but also its shortcomings.
Good points for the GR III
It’s small, like a toy
One of the first things that attracted me to Ricoh’s camera is its size: 10.94cm wide, only 3.32cm deep, and 6.19cm of height! (Or 3.93 x 1.18 x 2.43 inches.) This is really a tiny camera that you can carry inside a pocket. This small size has also another advantage: it’s a discreet camera. It doesn’t attract attention to itself, it doesn’t look expensive or “pro”. This is important to blend in when you’re out taking photographs without attracting unwanted attention. Even if you get noticed, you’ll probably look like a (local) tourist.
It’s easy to use
I don’t hide that my lil’ GR was my first camera. It’s a compact shooter and it’s really easy to use. Once set up according to your usage, you just point and shoot. Most of the time. Even the manual mode and manual focus are easy to use. So, a big plus if it’s also your first love.
Multiple black-and-white modes
If you’re a monochrome lover like me, the GR III has plenty of appeal with 4 dedicated black-and-white modes: BW, Soft, Hard, and Hi-Contrast. Each of these modes is highly configurable from contrast to sharpness to the grain effect. Plus you can use the HDR mode in monochrome too!
The focal length works well in urban environments
The 18.3mm (equivalent 28mm) focal length works well in urban environments. It’s pretty wide to capture city scenes and architecture. It doesn’t take too long to get used to this focal length. And it’s easy to work with in real conditions. It’s subjective but I feel like it’s not very far away from the human visual field.
Quality of photographs
With a 24 megapixels sensor, the GR III takes beautiful and detailed photographs. The resolution is good enough to create physical products like prints, books, posters, etc.
The GA-1 adapter
This lens adapter makes the camera more flexible. Want to use a polarizing filter? Yes, you can use 49mm threaded filters. Want to go wide angle? You can get the Wide Conversion Lens. All that will come at the expense of its pocket ability, though.
Shortcomings of the GR III
Despite all its appeals, the little Ricoh has some shortcomings that you should know before getting it.
Not weather sealed
First, although it’s pocketable and although it has a built-in ultrasonic dust removal system. Getting dust on the sensor was one of the main concerns I’ve seen online before buying mine. To not have to stress about dust I explain in this article how I’m protecting mine. You’ll also need to be careful with rain and water.
Stuck with the focal length
It’s a compact camera with a fixed focal length. If you don’t like it, you’re still stuck with it. You can get the Wide Conversion Lens (equivalent 21mm) or even the Tele Conversion Lens (equivalent 75mm) that’s been released for the GR IIIx. But this one won’t work without any bugs on the non-x version.
Uncomfortably close to snap human subjects
Another shortcoming that can be a deal breaker for some: the focal length makes it harder to capture human subjects. You need to get close from less than a meter to around 1.50 meters. And you need to stay unnoticed. So, if you want to work on human subjects but feel uncomfortable getting that close sneakily. Maybe you should consider the IIIx or another camera.
Weak battery life
Finally, the battery life is pretty meh. I can get around 200-300 shots per battery or around an hour and a half without turning the camera off. You’ll need at least 2 batteries at around $/€50 a pop.
Regarding the GR IIIx
I can’t talk about it before using it in real conditions. I’ll report back once I’ll have the cash to buy it and play with it in the streets of Paris.
Make up your mind
If the shortcomings aren’t putting you off it’s an awesome companion for street photography. I love mine and I wouldn’t exchange it for a more expensive, versatile but bigger camera.