Compacts have their work cut out in today’s smartphone era, but premium models like the new Ricoh GR III still have their advantages. Michael Topham reviews the latest member in the GR-series
Ricoh GR III: Verdict
With today’s smartphone cameras being so good, you might be under the impression that the compact camera has run its course and no longer has reason to exist. Premium compact camera manufacturers like Ricoh have been forced to look at ways to differentiate their models from smartphones to ensure they continue to appeal and don’t die a death.
By offering high quality optics, a large APS-C size sensor, robust body, intuitive control layout and modern conveniences such as touchscreen control and Wi-fi connectivity, there’s still a valid reason to carry a premium compact in your pocket, which will ultimately deliver superior image quality to that of a smartphone.
The Ricoh GR III, like its predecessors, is a photographer’s camera. It’s simplistic in terms of its design, yet provides the manual control and level of customisation you want from a camera that’s great for capturing instantaneous moments with. It’s a good companion for travelling too where the bulk of an interchangeable lens system isn’t always wanted.
There’s a lot to like about the GR III. Menu navigation is aided by the touchscreen, autofocus response has improved, the image stabilisation is effective, it has a fabulous selection of picture styles and the image quality from the fast lens and new sensor is staggering for a camera of its size. Things that let it down are its AF performance in low-light, lack of optional EVF, wireless connectivity setup and poor battery life, which forces you to carry quite a few spares and charge on the go.
Compared to the GR II, which was a relatively minor update on the Ricoh GR, the GR III has advanced quite a long way from the GR II. The sensor, lens, processor, screen, body and operational improvements do come at a price though. Costing £200 more than the GR II was at launch, the GR III is very expensive and works out at only £180 less than the sensational Fujifilm X100F at the time of writing (20.06.2019) when you take cash back promotions into consideration.
For spending £799 I’d at least expect the GA-1 lens adapter and spare battery to be included in the box. Fujifilm’s XF10 (£449) is a considerably cheaper alternative, however the GR III would remain my first choice if money didn’t come into it and I had to choose between the two.
The GR III is a bit niche and isn’t without pitfalls, however for photographers who fancy a large-sensor compact and one that takes great shots, it certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. The more you use it the more you start to fall in love with it.