Ricoh GR III unveiled: niche compact gets a big update

Ricoh Imaging has launched its GR III compact, after teasing the camera at last year's Photokina event.

The GR III ushers in a new 24.24MP APS-C sensor, which is a significant step up in pixel count over the 16.2MP sensor inside the GR II. This also means there's been a big jump in the upper ISO limit, from 25,600 on the GR II to 102,400 on the GR III. 

This new sensor is paired with a new processing engine and a newly designed lens, the Ricoh saying this combination is "designed to further upgrade image quality, strengthen many of the functions and improve the user interface".

The new lens on the GR III maintains the same 18.3mm focal length (equivalent to around 28mm in 35mm terms) and f/2.8 maximum aperture as the lens on the GR II, but there's a revised optical design that sees six elements arranged over four groups (including two aspherical elements), in contrast to the seven-element, five-group design common to GR II and the original GR.

3-axis in-body image stabilization

The GR III drops the GR II's built-in flash, but now benefits from a three-axis sensor-based Shake Reduction system that should be good for four stops of compensation, while there's now a hybrid phase- and contrast-detect AF setup that promises to greatly improve the focusing performance over the previous model. 

Disappointingly, though, the GR III will only record Full HD video rather than 4K, although this will at least be available to 60p. The LCD screen on the new model also appears to have a lower resolution than the GR II's, at 1.03 million dots compared with the previous camera's 1.23 million.

Other features include an AA Filter Simulator, a DR II Dust Removal system, a built-in ND filter and post-capture raw processing. Somewhat strangely, the spec sheet also reveals the camera will have 2GB of internal memory, although it's still set to be compatible with SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards, with support for the UHS I specification. 

There's also a USB Type-C port on the side of the camera, while a hotshoe is designed into the top plate. While it appears that the GR III will be marginally smaller than the GR II overall, at 251g, it's set to weigh roughly the same.

The GR line began life in the analogue era, and the series has traditionally appealed to street and documentary photographers, thanks to its small size and understated design. 

The GR III will be priced at $899 / £799 and available from mid-March. Pricing and availability for Australia are yet to be confirmed.

Phil Hall

Phil Hall is an experienced writer and editor having worked on some of the largest photography magazines in the UK, and now edit the photography channel of TechRadar, the UK's biggest tech website and one of the largest in the world. He has also worked on numerous commercial projects, including working with manufacturers like Nikon and Fujifilm on bespoke printed and online camera guides, as well as writing technique blogs and copy for the John Lewis Technology guide.