In the past decade, the film photography renaissance took major steps forward. One of the biggest parts of the culture was celebrities using vintage film cameras. That’s how the Contax T2 became the world’s single most expensive point-and-shoot camera. Even today, it’s pretty pricey- all because of some hype. But since then, there has been a demand for compact point-and-shoot cameras that most Japanese camera manufacturers refuse to believe exists. Yet despite this, celebrities are reaching for the Ricoh Gr III and other Ricoh GR cameras. Thankfully, prices on the second-hand market haven’t shot up. Why’s that the case? Well, photographers probably have an ongoing issue to thank.
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The Problem with the Ricoh GR Series
Look around the web, and you’ll find talk of how celebs use the little Ricoh cameras for their daily shoots. However, that hasn’t correlated to increased prices at all in the used camera market. In fact, considering the prices of the Ricoh GR III and Ricoh GR IIIX, we’d say that the value of the cameras has dropped. Why?
Ricoh hasn’t addressed a big continuing problem that accredited reviewers and journalists have called them out on. Instead, they’ve been pandering to Youtubers and influencers for hype marketing while providing questionable transparency. One big problem is enough, but there are actually several.
In our review of the Ricoh GR III, we bemoaned the camera’s lack of weather resistance. Immediately, most people think that this connotates to need to take the camera out into the rain. However, the word “weather” here refers to something weathering away in the same process that hard rains weather away the landscape and rock formations.
In our 2019 review of the camera, we state:
The Ricoh GR III feels almost exactly the same as its predecessor when it comes to build quality. Most street photographers who go about shooting are probably brave enough to only venture out and shoot during the daytime. In truth, most of the magic happens in the rain these days for me. But in addition to that, higher build quality demands are important for a photographer toting around a camera like this. Of course, I’m talking about weather sealing. I’m of the firm belief that every camera these days should be weather sealed. If an iPhone or a Pixel can survive the rain and shrug it off, so too should a specialized imaging tool.Our Ricoh Gr III review
Ricoh didn’t care about the feedback then. And when the Ricoh GR III X was released, they still didn’t heed the feedback. In that review, we called this out yet again. Over the years, customers have reasoned that we were correct the first time around — eventually casting their emotional connections to the product aside when they were let down like a romantic partner playing a bait-and-switch game with you. Sensor dust is a major issue with the Ricoh GR series of cameras. It’s well documented in findings on DPReview forums, Reddit, and even by Youtubers. Speak with any photographer who owns one, and they’ll eventually express that this is a problem, too.
Moreover, this has been an issue since the first one was released and reviewed by us in 2013. And that’s not the only thing. The autofocus feels like that of an early autofocusing film camera. Instead, Ricoh has often touted the zone focusing ability, which appeals to many street photographers. However, the point of a camera that you bring everywhere with you is that you often want it to be able to do various things. While the Ricoh GR series fulfills lots of the qualifications, it falls flat on its face for these big ones.
In the right hands, it’s undeniably something that can make great images. Above is a slideshow of photos that we’ve shot with Ricoh GR series cameras over the years. With that said, so too are any other cameras on the market.
Why the Fujifilm X100V Shot Up When the Ricoh GR Dropped
All of this obviously makes any photographer wonder why the Fujifilm X100V saw a major price increase on the used camera market vs the Ricoh GR III. Our theory around this is because of the weather resistance. The Fujifilm X100v is weather-resistant. The only problem that one might have to consider is the fact that the lens isn’t sealed, so you need a UV filter on the front, as stated in our review from 2020. That’s no big deal at all. But weather resistance still adds considerably to the long-term value of a camera. This translates into cameras that are in better condition.
Fujifilm isn’t alone here, though. The Canon G1x Mk III, which is an older camera with weather resistance, still holds its value. When it launched in 2017, the price was $1,299. Today, it’s still pretty high, and sometimes you find listings where the value didn’t even go down by 50%. That’s the lasting power of weather resistance.
Is There a Place for No Weather Sealing in Cameras?
This leads us to wonder if there is a place in this world for cameras without weather resistance. Ask any millennial photographer these days, and they’ll most likely say no. Further, they’ll state that everything should be far more durable. Considering environmental issues and all, this lines up. But brands then say they need to increase the prices of a few rubber gaskets.
In the case of the Ricoh GR III, no weather resistance has meant that the cameras have become much cheaper on the used market. But it also means that lots of them just aren’t working anymore or even usable.