First Impressions: Ricoh GR III (Street Photographers, Pay Attention)

We got to take a closer look at the Ricoh GR III recently; it seems to be a whole lot of the same.

The Ricoh GR III is a camera street photographers have been waiting for for a really long time. Depending on who you are you perhaps wanted different things. Its predecessor, the Ricoh GR II, still proves to be popular amongst the street photography community for its small size, great image quality, leaf shutter lens, and overall low profile look. Lots of photographers use it, but it surely does have its flaws. The Ricoh GR III promises to improve on some of those flaws and also adds new features such as image sensor stabilization. Photographers have been waiting years for this camera and there was even a period of time where its predecessor was tough to come by due to supply issues. To be honest, I think Ricoh could create a higher end and lower end model for this camera to build out the offerings even more.

Editor’s Note: This isn’t going to be our typical first impressions post as I didn’t even get a chance to touch the camera. However, a review unit will be sent to us soon.

The Ricoh GR III from the front still more or less looks like a typical Ricoh camera. Something that is sort of annoying me though is the massive GR logo on the bottom. Photographers are obviously going to put some gaffer tape over it, but why even bother putting the logo there? Ricoh could have just not put it there, or have made it black and perforated. The stealth look is one that’s valued by a lot of photographers.

The lens is mostly the same as the previous camera (which is pictured above). The grip is also more or less the same with perhaps just a bit more extra protrusion. From the texture that I saw on the grip, I believe the camera, combined with the image stabilized sensor, will work well with the one handed operation many photographers will most likely employ when shooting with the Ricoh GR III.

Looking at the top, the Ricoh GR III is almost identical to its predecessor, which can be seen below. It seems that photographers really liked the design of the camera and didn’t want a lot of change. This is similar to the Fujifilm X100 series of cameras in many ways.

In terms of usability, I really wonder why the Ricoh GR III doesn’t have an EVF. If you consider the one handed operation many photographers will most likely defer to when shooting with this camera, a viewfinder seems so much more instinctive to include and use. An EVF could also ensure that the LCD screen doesn’t come on and drain battery.

On the back of the Ricoh GR III, you can see that there also hasn’t been much change at all. The camera is still dominated by that massive screen.

I sort of want to question this. I believe that the Ricoh GR III’s screen could honestly have been made smaller–at least thus far I believe that more real estate could have been used for other buttons, controls, etc.

Here is where you start to see some of the other major changes. In the Ricoh GR III you can find the +/- switches removed. In the older Ricoh GR II above, you’ll see that they were retained from the first iteration of this camera. The AF type switch was also removed. I’m not sure how I feel about that as it was a nice place for the thumb when holding the camera. If Ricoh had removed all these and added a viewfinder, I would be happier. But in its current state, I’m not really sure how I feel.

The Ricoh GR III got enhancements under the hood, but I’m not sure how that will translate into actual use and functionality. I understand the low profile look, but I think some of the functionality and practicality aren’t jiving so far with how I’ve seen folks use the previous camera.

Of course, I’ll need to wait until I get my hands on one.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.