Ricoh has replaced its popular but specialised GR II pocket compact with a new, improved, higher-resolution GR III. Like its predecessor, it’s a small camera with a big APS-C sensor and a fixed 18.3mm (28mm equivalent) f/2.8 prime lens.
The most obvious change is the sensor resolution, which increases from the old camera’s 16 megapixels right up to 24.4 megapixels. That’s not all, as the GR III’s ISO range is increased substantially and now goes from ISO 100-102,400. The all-round image quality is further improved by 14-bit RAW capture (the GR II captured 12-bit RAW files), and the new GR III also offers in-camera RAW processing.
It’s been a long time coming (the Ricoh GR III was first previewed at Photokina 2018), but although the new model looks very similar on the outside to the one it replaces, there have been quite a few changes under the skin.
The GR III gets a newly-designed lens, for example, that has the same basic specifications as the camera it replaces, but has been redesigned with five elements in four groups (the old lens had seven elements in five groups) to produce a shorter lens barrel. The camera also gets a three-axis Shake Reduction system for sharper shots in low light, and a new, faster hybrid phase detection and contrast AF autofocus system.
The Ricoh GR III loses the pop-up flash built into the old GR II, but the increased ISO range and anti-shake system make up for that. And round the back its 3-inch screen is now touch-sensitive.
This is not really a camera for videographers. Ricoh is still a little behind the curve in video technology and while it can capture full HD video at up to 60fps, it doesn’t offer 4K.
The GR III’s technology is pretty conventional in most ways and the lack of 4K video does betray Pentax’s general lack of progress in this area, but the GR III is still strikingly small for an APS-C camera, rather well made and still likely to appeal to a discerning and specialised photographic audience.