Ricoh GRIII Hands-On: Compact Street-Shooting Camera

While budget compact cameras are being replaced by smartphones, there still exists a market for premium compact cameras whose larger sensors and abilities make them far more useful. Ricoh's new GR III falls into that category.

An update to the niche but crowd-pleasing GR II, the GR III features a higher-resolution 24.2-MP APS-C CMOS sensor, an 18.3mm f/2.8 lens, and an optional accessory lens that allows you to take wide-angle shots. The Ricoh GR III will be available in March for $899. We had a chance to try out a prototype; here are our initial impressions.

Measuring 4.3 x 2.4 x 1.3 inches, the GR III should be slim enough to fit in a pocket, but you'll definitely know it's there. It's a touch larger than the Sony RX100 V (4 x 2.3 x 1.6 inches), but not by much. 

The camera has 3-axis motion stabilization, good for four stops, phase and contrast-detection autofocus, and an ISO range from 100-102400. It can record video up to a resolution of 1080p/60 fps. It's too bad that it can't record in 4K. 

However, there are some features — or lack thereof — that may give some photographers pause. The GR III l has a 3-inch touchscreen (a first for this line), but it does not tilt or articulate; that will make it more difficult to compose shots from low or high angles. Also, the camera has a fixed lens, so you'll have to get closer to subjects than you would with, say, Sony's RX100 line. 

But you can get close — just 6 cm away — and get some pretty good macro shots, such as this packet of Cholula hot sauce.

The reds in this shot of a poinsettia were also particularly vibrant. 

As somewhat to be expected on a compact camera, the GRIII's controls are on the small side. On the rear is a thumb rocker for adjusting the exposure, and a small scroll wheel just in front of the shutter button can be used to change shutter speed and aperture. I would have preferred if the latter was just a bit more pronounced. 

We'll reserve our final judgment until we can try out all of the Ricoh GR III's features, but it looks to be a capable pocket shooter that will appeal to fans of the brand.