Hands-on with the Ricoh GR IIIx
Ricoh recently released the GR IIIx, a truly pocketable compact camera with a large, APS-C sized sensor, in-body stabilization and a 40mm full-frame equivalent F2.8 lens. For fans of the GR series, the GR IIIx will be immediately familiar in every way except for that lens, but if you’re not a Ricoh aficionado, fear not! We’ll take you on a tour of the GR IIIx to take a look at the ins and outs of how it handles.
40mm-equivalent F2.8 lens
Let’s start with what is the defining characteristic separating the GR IIIx from the GR III: an all-new, retractable 26.1mm (40mm full-frame equivalent) F2.8 lens. The series has been known for lenses that offer razor-sharp performance (the GR III had a 28mm-equivalent lens), and our initial testing shows that this new unit doesn’t disappoint.
The new lens’ construction comprises 7 elements in 5 groups, including two aspherical elements, and light makes its way through a 9-bladed aperture diaphragm on its way to the sensor. There’s a built-in two-stop neutral density filter so you can keep the aperture wider in bright light (and you can stop down to F16 if needed), and because this lens features a leaf shutter, you can shoot with very high flash sync speeds if you wish. You’re able to focus down to 12cm (4.7″) from the front of the lens, though you’ll need to press the ‘Macro’ button on the rear first.
The GR IIIx is also compatible with a new, GT-2 teleconverter, allowing you to increase the reach to 75mm-equivalent and getting you close to traditional portrait territory.
24MP sensor and stabilizer
Behind the lens is a familiar 24.2MP sensor from the previous GR III, which sits on a 3-axis in-body stabilizer to ensure sharp images at slower shutter speeds. Image quality is, overall, excellent, and the GR IIIx includes a range of JPEG color modes that provide nice effects right out of the camera. A new GR Engine 6 image processor helps get images from the sensor to either a memory card or the 2GB of built-in memory if you left that card at home.
Touchscreen and rear controls
The controls on the Ricoh GR IIIx have been designed with one-handed operation in mind, and there are plentiful options for customization. The ADJ / exposure compensation lever allows you to adjust exposure compensation by pressing it left or right, and pressing it in allows you to access up to five banks of options, such as ISO, focus settings, and more. The ‘Fn’, ‘ISO’ and ‘Drive mode’ buttons can be customized as well.
The touchscreen is fairly standard, measuring in at 3″ and 1.04M dots, and you can use it to place your AF area, navigate the menus or browse images in playback. You may want to boost the brightness when composing in bright light, and to help with this there’s a ‘Bright Weather’ mode for the LCD, which is one of the functions you can assign to the ADJ menu. This is handy if you want to occasionally engage it, to avoid burning through batteries.
Alternatively you can attach the optional GV-3 optical viewfinder to the flash hot shoe mount for composing your images, but it only provides 85% coverage and has no settings overlay, so it won’t be for everyone.
Top plate controls
Along the top of the camera, again clustered to one side to encourage one-handed operation, are the a standard mode dial, power button, shutter button and a small front command dial just in front of that. It may look a little fiddly, but in practice, it works well.
In front of the mode dial you can also see one of three mounting points for a wrist or neck strap, and we have to admit the textured body provides excellent grip despite the camera’s small size.
There’s also a flash hot-shoe, but there’s no internal flash to speak of.
Wireless / movie record button
The only control that isn’t clustered on the right side of the camera is the combined wireless / movie mode button shown here. It’s customizable, so you can easily assign it to something else if you don’t intend to shoot videos. It can also be set to control two functions: tap vs long press.
Above that, we can see the second mounting point for wrist / neck straps.
USB Type-C port
One of the updates we loved on the previous GR III that’s made its way to the GR IIIx is a standard USB Type-C port for charging and data transfer, rather than the propriety ‘looks almost like Micro USB’ ports on previous GR models. It’s a really handy way to keep the GR IIIx topped up on the go, as well, and in our experience, it will charge from most any power bank.
Battery and storage
Speaking of charging and power, the GR IIIx uses the same DB-110 battery from the GR III, which is CIPA rated to a rather paltry 200 images. You’ll likely get more in real-world use, but keep in mind that image review, wireless transfers and boosting the screen brightness for ease of framing will chip away at the camera’s outright stamina. Frankly, we encourage carrying a second battery or USB power bank with you for extended shooting sessions, or for working in cold weather.
The camera comes with a standard SD card slot, though we’re pleased to see Ricoh continue the tradition of including at least some internal memory (2GB, in this case) so that if you forget a card for an outing, you’re not totally out of luck. Keep in mind though that 2GB is only enough space for ~35 images (hey, it’s almost like a spare roll of film!) if you’re shooting Raw + JPEG.
Finally, on the right side of the battery, you can see the third mounting point for a wrist / neck strap.
Hands-on with the Ricoh GR IIIx
And that does it for our tour of Ricoh’s latest GR IIIx. Is the new lens enough to tempt you into purchasing one? Should Ricoh have gone further with this update? What would you want to see in a GR IV? Let us know in the comments.