Home Photography A Real-World Review from Vietnam

A Real-World Review from Vietnam

by kyngsam

Ricoh will not be a model uppermost within the minds of most photographers available on the market for a brand new mirrorless digicam. Sony, Fuji, and Panasonic appear to have dominated market visibility, if not the precise market, for high-end mirrorless cameras methods for the previous 5 or so years, with late-comers Canikon gaining traction with their most up-to-date choices.

Ricoh might be extra well-known for having acquired the Pentax model (through Hoya) in 2011 than it’s for any explicit digicam. However, no less than in a single area of interest, Ricoh has all the time been there. Earlier than Fujifilm reinvented retro-chic in its X-series digital cameras. Earlier than old-school movie cameras and vinyl report collections turned the sine qua non of hipster cred, the Ricoh GR digicam was there and has been there because the first GR compact 35mm movie digicam hit the streets in 1996.

The GR sequence has a storied historical past, particularly amongst avenue photographers, and the Ricoh GR III is the newest digital iteration of the digicam.

The GR III is an APS-C sensor compact digicam, weighing in at a mere 257g. Out entrance, it has a set 18.5 mm (28mm full-frame equal) f/2.Eight lens with a built-in 2-stop ND filter. It options 3-axis in-body picture stabilization (IBIS), rated at 4 stops. On the again is a 3” 1.04 million dot rear panel, however no EVF.

It has hybrid section and contrast-detect autofocus, and outputs 14 bit, 24-megapixel information in DNG RAW format, making it immediately suitable with the Adobe Photoshop suite of processing software program.

As with the Fujifilm system, straight out of digicam (SOOC) jpegs are very interesting, owing to the built-in colour and B&W profiles — extra on that later. The digicam has been out for over a 12 months now, so in case you like the pictures right here and the philosophy behind the design, however nonetheless have to know all of the tech-specs, there are tons of nice opinions on the interweb. I’ll present hyperlinks to the higher ones under.

This submit will probably be extra of a real-world account of my private expertise capturing with this little pocket rocket. In case you’re not up for the complete learn, you’ll be able to lower to THE CHASE on the finish for a abstract.

First impressions

The field and its contents are small and light-weight. Inside, there’s the digicam, a really tiny battery, USB-3 (C-type) charging cable (however no charger), tiny wrist strap, and the standard paperwork, together with the these days redundant paper model of the operation handbook.

I used to be a bit fortunate. I dwell in Vietnam, the place Ricoh makes this digicam, and a neighborhood distributor had a promotional package deal that was laborious to withstand — three further batteries, a real Ricoh leather-based case, a silicone rubber ‘camdom’, Sandisk 32GB card, and an aftermarket charger. All for a similar value because the digicam alone.

Although I had carried out two months of analysis earlier than deciding to drop the kablinki for the digicam, I used to be nonetheless stunned by how small it’s. Nevertheless, this tiny measurement doesn’t get in the way in which of the capturing expertise — fairly the alternative, truly. All of the controls, except for the button for film mode (nobody will ever use this — clarification later), are inside simple attain of my proper hand and are intelligently spaced in order that I don’t find yourself smushing two or three buttons on the similar time.

The entrance rubberized grip is shallow however substantial sufficient to take care of first rate safety in the precise hand, and most buttons are throughout the attain of the precise thumb. I all the time put on a wrist strap simply in case I get clumsy. Though the digicam feels sturdy on account of its magnesium alloy building, it wouldn’t fare nicely if dropped onto a tough floor.

Good display screen, however no eyehole

The rear display screen is sharp and shiny sufficient in most conditions and is touch-activated — a function that may be switched off. The contact performance helps menu scrolling, swiping by the pictures for assessment, and can be utilized to pick out focus factors.

The newest firmware model (v. 1.41) permits for touch-screen activation of each focus and shutter launch. In different phrases, you level the lens on the topic, compose the picture on the display screen and easily contact the place you need the main target level to be and also you’ve captured the picture.

You’ll by no means unintentionally activate the contact display screen along with your nostril while you use the digital viewfinder (EVF) as a result of, nicely, as a result of there isn’t one. Because of this, I go away the contact performance switched on always.

Battery life

In an effort to maintain the digicam small and but nonetheless be capable of accommodate the IBIS, some battery capability was sacrificed. These DB-110 batteries are tiny (solely 1100mAh). CIPA charges them at 200 pictures. Good luck with that. In case you chimp loads like me, you’ll be fortunate to get 150 pictures per cost. They’re low-cost although, and KingMa makes an after-market model together with a package with two batteries and a charger. They work advantageous for me and I all the time exit with no less than two absolutely charged batteries.

Taking pictures expertise

This digicam is a pleasure to make use of, however you need to first perceive its raison d’etre, and settle for its limitations.

The GR III will not be a sports activities shooter

The autofocus and burst charge are lower than pace for that. Additionally, capturing sports activities motion with a 28mm equal lens? Nah.

Minimal protected distancing

The previous saying that lengthy lenses are for magnificence, whereas wide-angle lenses are for drama and emotion is just about right. So, can the GR III do portraits? Completely it could actually, however you have to be cautious with the composition — the 28mm lens will distort perspective in methods that may be unflattering to your topics.

If for instance, you get too near a face, the half closest to the lens — sometimes the nostril — will look disproportionately giant. This distortion can be utilized for dramatic impact, for instance by inserting a topic within the nook of the composition. Cautious composition is required if distortion of the facial options or the topic’s physique are to be averted.

Notice that this distortion is one thing to think about when capturing with any wide-angle lens — it’s not a flaw within the Ricoh lens, which has glorious efficiency specs. This considerate composition factor is a studying curve and a part of why pictures is such enjoyable.

ISO 200 f/2.8, 1/100sec
ISO 200 f2.8, 1/320sec
ISO 640 f/2.Eight 1/100sec

Not a hybrid shooter

Most YouTube reviewers fairly rightly don’t trouble discussing the (lack of) video functionality of the GR III. The video specs high out at 60 frames/sec, 1080p. The shifting pictures are fairly comfortable, and the continual autofocus is simply okay. I haven’t even tried capturing video with it, as my Samsung S10e is a greater video resolution.

So what is that this digicam for? Who’s it for?

Consistent with the heritage, the digital age GR cameras are primarily marketed by Ricoh as being avenue shooters. That is primarily true, nevertheless it sells the digicam quick. A greater description would come with one thing extra about its nice versatility.

Environmental portraits

This digicam is able to lovely environmental portraits, by which some context is included throughout the body across the topic. For me as a story-teller, this implies it’s a implausible documentary digicam. Inside the 28mm body, I could make grammatically full visible ‘sentences’ with every picture containing a topic, verb, and object.

Prior to now, the photojournalist’s go-to focal size was usually 35mm. Trendy photojournalism embraces a wider subject of view, sometimes supplied by a 24mm focal size, as that is the broad finish of {most professional} commonplace zooms available on the market. The GR III’s 28mm FOV is a wonderful candy spot in between 24mm and 35mm.

ISO 250 f/3.5, 1/160sec
ISO 500 f2.8/, 1/160sec
ISO 500 f2.8/, 1/160sec

Sidebar: Composing on the rear panel

Right here’s an fascinating perspective on rear panel versus viewfinder composing from a good friend and semi-retired professional photographer, Robert Morehead. Robert informed me that since switching out all his professional DSLR gear for level and shoot cameras a couple of years in the past, he has discovered himself paying nearer consideration to the composition on the rear panel and little to no time in cropping his pictures in submit.

I’ve discovered this to be true for my very own work, additionally. I normally crop to a 5 x 7 body in Lightroom, however with the GR III, I usually discover myself simply leaving the picture dimensions as shot. Attention-grabbing commentary.

Constructed atmosphere and panorama

The GR III can also be nice for architectural pictures, with the caveat being that if you wish to fill the body with a whole constructing or different construction, you would possibly have to zoom out through the use of your toes. This isn’t all the time attainable, after all.

Currently, I’ve been taking pics of the gorgeous previous French colonial villas in my adopted metropolis, Da Lat in Vietnam. These previous gems are normally located in the course of giant blocks of land, so this isn’t a lot of a difficulty. I can normally body the villa and surrounding gardens from the sidewalk.

ISO 100 f/5.0, 1/320sec
ISO 100 f/8, 1/80sec
ISO 500 f/2.8, 1/100sec

The GR III also can seize landscapes, and 28mm is nicely suited to this job. NiSi makes a set of filters for the GR III for individuals who like to make use of sluggish shutter speeds to be able to blur waterfalls and flowing rivers. I haven’t tried them but, however they’re receiving good opinions.

Mini macro monster

I used to be stunned and delighted to find that the GR is an excellent little macro shooter. Whereas out taking pics of the native French villas at some point, I found a colourful orb-weaver spider ready in ambush within the middle of its net. I switched into macro mode and snapped away at totally different apertures to attempt to seize its advantageous particulars.

ISO 200 f/5, 1/400sec
ISO 200 f/5, 1/400sec. 100% crop from a unique picture to above.

As soon as I had settled on f/5.Zero to be able to get many of the critter in focus, the outcomes had been glorious. I used the touch-screen autofocus technique for this. You compose the picture, then contact the display screen the place you wish to focus, half-press the shutter to amass this level, then push all the way in which. It labored nicely, however if in case you have the luxurious of having the ability to use a tripod within the subject, you might additionally attempt the handbook focus setting.

There’s focus help peaking and in addition a magnification setting which helps you to focus with extra precision. Focus is then acquired through the use of the scroll wheel on the again of the digicam. It’s sluggish, requiring many turns to tug focus, nevertheless it’s correct.

One nifty function of handbook focus is that it may be immediately overridden through the use of the screen-touch technique talked about above. No want to modify out of handbook mode to do that. I had a play with manually focusing in macro mode at house and actually didn’t see a lot distinction in accuracy in comparison with utilizing the autofocus technique.

Meals focus

I’ve been doing slightly meals pictures for a consumer currently, and while I haven’t used the GR professionally for this but, I can see its potential on this regard. In macro mode, you will get shut sufficient to the topic meals merchandise to create a dreamy out-of-focus background and draw the attention of the viewer to the culinary creation on the plate.

ISO 400 f/4.5, 1/160sec
ISO 1000 f/4, 1/50sec


The GR III is the primary within the GR sequence to sport 3-axis in-body picture stabilization. That is rated by Ricoh at 4-stops. In follow, I’ve discovered I can get sharp pictures of stationary objects at shutter speeds all the way down to about 1/8sec. If I restrict my consumption of robust Vietnamese espresso, I can obtain sharpness while hand-holding at 1/Four sec. Fairly spectacular for a tiny level and shoot.

f8 and be there

The design ethos of the Ricoh GR III facilities on its health for avenue pictures. There are a number of options that make this so.

Snap focus is principal amongst them. Snap focus means that you can pre-set a focusing distance to which the digicam mechanically ‘snaps’ at a full shutter button press. It will also be set as much as work on the contact of the rear display screen. This implies the digicam won’t waste time buying focus within the regular manner. It can instantly leap to the focal distance you set — 1m, 1.5m, 2m, 2.5m, 5m, or infinity.

It’s primarily zone-focusing by one other title. In case you select, say 1.5m and f8, the moment you squeeze the shutter, all the pieces from about 1m to 5m will probably be in acceptably sharp focus.

Right here’s the caveat, although — that is solely true for shifting topics if in case you have chosen a quick sufficient minimal shutter pace to freeze their movement. Usually for individuals doing stuff on the road, 1/200sec is sufficient for this. For faster-moving topics like automobiles, experiment with quicker shutter speeds, or comply with the topic and shoot as you pan.

Ninja stealth

The understated minimalist design of the digicam doesn’t entice consideration. Its diminutive kind issue, black physique, and near-silent leaf shutter imply you’ll extra probably be seen as a gormless vacationer who’s strayed from the crushed path, somewhat than as a critical photographer.


The digicam is definitely operated on the road with simply the precise hand. In case you’ve arrange the snap focusing distance and an aperture to permit for a deep sufficient focal airplane, you’ll be able to shoot with one hand and drink a beer with the opposite — native legal guidelines allowing. There’s a depth of subject scale on the left facet of the display screen which exhibits you the approximate vary of acceptably sharp focus.

Picture high quality

This can be a abstract of my findings after a short while with the GRIII. For a deeper dive into this facet, take a look at DPReview‘s review.

This digicam is able to producing beautiful, extremely detailed pictures. The 24mp sensor permits for some cropping latitude, and there may be additionally a 35mm in-camera crop setting, which supplies you a 35mm subject of view on the expense of a 3rd of the megapixels within the file.

The lens and sensor are completely matched (a bit just like the Fujifilm X100 sequence with its 23mm f/2.Zero lens, and the Leica Q with its 28mm f/1.7). This implies there aren’t any compromises relating to sharpness. The lens is definitely able to resolving the complete 24mp of the sensor. Huge-open at f/2.Eight pictures are middle sharp however slightly comfortable within the corners, as is regular for many lenses, however stopping down to only f/Four offers edge-to-edge sharpness. Good!

In low mild, the digicam performs about on par with its competitors. That’s to say, at ISOs as much as about 1600, information aren’t noticeably noisy, however by 3200, the noise begins to affect on the advantageous particulars. My most auto ISO is about to 6400, though in most conditions I’d desire to be capturing at 3200 or decrease. In fact, all this relies loads in your finish objective, too. Excessive ISO noise is extra seen on bigger screens and in giant prints.

ISO 2500 f/3.5, 1/15sec
ISO 2500 f/3.5, 1/25sec

In any case, the pictures that come from this digicam will probably be subjected to post-processing with settings that add noise, or no less than some grainy ‘character’ to the pictures. The very nature of the topic materials this digicam was designed to shoot invitations the usage of ‘grungy’ or old-school movie presets in modifying. I’m a giant fan of utilizing these myself as a result of a few of them simply look so good.

That’s to not say the RAW information don’t look nice with the default settings of Adobe Color and conservative sharpening once they open up in Lightroom. It’s somewhat that prime distinction, excessive construction black and whites merely ‘look proper’ for the road. To see what I imply, take a look at the work of well-known Japanese avenue shooter, Daido Moriyama.

Sidebar: Wabi-sabi

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetic which celebrates the wonder present in imperfection. Daido Moriyama’s pictures exemplify this aesthetic. His topics are hardly ever in sharp focus, the pictures are so contrasty that skies are blown out to white and shadows are crushed into blackened oblivion. All of which ought to quantity to an epic photographic fail. However not so. His photos are compelling, difficult, stuffed with drama, and intrigue.

For an amazing overview of the philosophy of wabi-sabi, check out Jamie Windsor’s YouTube episode on his favourite photographer, Nan Goldin.

Even with out making use of presets the pictures out of this digicam have a sure ‘look’ to them. They appear ‘gritty’ to me, even on the base ISO of 100, and I actually dig this look. I’ve heard pundits guessing the rationale for this being the pixel pitch, the baked-in sharpening of the DNG information, or one thing else. I’m not a tech geek, so I’ll go away it to engineering varieties to work out. Suffice to say, the GR pictures appear to have an edginess to them that truly enhances the road or documentary vibe of scenes shot with the digicam.

For many who wish to exploit the GR legend absolutely, there’s an in-camera jpeg ‘Picture Management’ setting referred to as ‘Optimistic Movie’ — it’s barely old skool, with strongish distinction and desaturated colours. Greens have a tendency extra towards blue, reds are a bit magenta-ish. This preset even has its own Flickr page as a mark of the reverence that fanboys have for it. Adobe LR and Adobe RAW don’t but provide any of the Ricoh presets. This can be a disgrace as a result of the B&W ones are additionally glorious. However concern not, there may be a cheap workaround.

YouTuber and Ricoh GR aficionado Samuel Lintaro Hopf has produced a set of GR Optimistic Movie emulation presets for Adobe Lightroom and Digicam Uncooked. His package deal additionally contains some glorious variations of Fujifilm’s beloved Acros black and white movie. They are often bought right here.

While I’m giving him free plugs, Samuel’s YouTube channel is a wonderful useful resource for GR fanboys and ladies.

In abstract, I’m actually having fun with the pictures from this digicam, in addition to the entire expertise of utilizing it. It’s portability, paired with stellar picture high quality and flexibility have made it my new on a regular basis carry. I like it!

The Chase

What’s nice

Discreet design: Excellent for not attracting the ire of individuals you’re capturing

Silence is golden: You’ll be able to shoot individuals at a somber indoor occasion with out being ticked off for noisy shutter sounds.

It’s tiny: This digicam received’t be left at house as a result of it’s too large to hold out and about- it matches in your hoodie pocket.

Picture high quality: The 24mp sensor and lens collectively are able to taking extremely crisp and detailed pictures.

Ricoh’s Optimistic Movie jpeg preset, and the B&W preset choices: The Optimistic Movie preset has nearly as large a cult following because the digicam itself. Old fashioned-ish, with out wanting like an inexpensive Instagram filter.

Macro: An excellent bonus function of the digicam is its means to get shut and seize particulars of flowers, critters, merchandise, or meals. Yay!

Haptics Regardless of it being so small, the GR’s management structure is definitely navigable with ‘regular’ sized arms. It’s designed for one-handed operation on the road.

Snap focus: This can be a nice function for avenue, or for any scenario the place you could reply rapidly to a altering scene. This function additionally partly negates the primary merchandise on the ‘What sucks’ checklist.

3-axis IBIS: Glorious for hand-holding to shoot static topics in low mild.

Three customizable consumer modes: Though I’ve set two of them up, I discover that the fast menu is really easy to make use of, that I don’t trouble unlocking the mode dial to alter mode settings in real-world conditions.

Lastly, It’s simply such nice enjoyable to shoot with! I’ve by no means owned a digicam earlier than that simply makes me wish to take photos as a lot because the GR III.

What sucks (a bit)

Autofocus: In comparison with a lot of its competitors, and contemplating that the newest GR has phase-detect in addition to contrast-detect focusing, it’s not the snappiest digicam to lock on to topics. That is very true within the case of low mild and/or when utilizing the macro function, when it could actually hunt for focus fairly a bit. Additionally, I discovered that utilizing ‘Pinpoint Focus’ hunts extra in low mild than both ‘Auto Focus or ‘Choose Autofocus’. ‘Choose AF’ is my go-to setting.

Low mild, excessive ISO efficiency: It’s not a full-frame Sony, so don’t count on clear pictures into the ISO stratosphere. I discover the GR excessive ISO efficiency on par with my Fujifilm X-T4.. Don’t overlook there are flash choices (see under), and in addition the IBIS, which may cut back the required shutter pace, and assist you to shoot at decrease ISO values.

Worth: It’s not low-cost, particularly contemplating its restricted video specs.

Unremarkable video: Meh. There are different choices for this- the most effective of them are from Fujifilm, Sony, and Panasonic They received’t slot in your pocket, although.

Battery life: So purchase some extras, Low cost Charlie!

No climate sealing: I dwell in a spot the place it rains for 5 months of the 12 months, so this does suck.

The Backside Line

In case you shoot avenue, documentary, or simply desire a genuinely pocketable journey digicam with glorious picture high quality, and in case you can afford the admission value, simply purchase one!

Further stuff

Listed below are some hyperlinks to issues of curiosity across the GR III:

Ricoh hosts a GR community webpage that includes many ‘GRists’ – well-known customers of the GR sequence.

Most traditional speedlight methods are unwieldy on the tiny GR III. Listed below are two which were well-reviewed and play nicely with the shape issue and portability: the Lightpix Labs Q20 II flash (handbook solely) and the Pentax AF201FG flashgun (TTL metering).

Most YouTube pictures channels concentrate on gear opinions. That is nice and gives helpful data for potential consumers of recent gear, however listed here are two guys whose focus is extra on the philosophy of taking images: Jamie Windsor and Sean Tucker. I’ve discovered each to be informative and galvanizing.

P.S. While I’m actually responsible of turning into a fanboy of whichever new digicam I personal, I’ve by no means written a digicam assessment, so this will probably be my first. I‘ve had my GR III for less than three weeks, so I’ll go away this submit open and replace it over time.

In regards to the creator: Fred Abery is a photographer and author presently based mostly within the vibrant metropolis of Saigon, Vietnam. The opinions expressed on this article are solely these of the creator. Yow will discover extra of Abery’s work on his website. This text was additionally revealed here.

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