Ricoh GRII and GRIII - a few comments


LennyBloke

Link Posted 11/01/2020 - 15:46
Having owned the GRII for a few years I was interested to see how the GRIII would improve on the previous model and whether it would be weaker in any aspects. I decided not to jump in right at the start but wait a few months and read some reviews and comments (once the initial over-enthusiastic reviews were done with), it was generally received well by reviewers and users alike and I got the opportunity to pick up a low usage model in excellent condition the other day, so finally took the plunge.

I'm not going to give a full appraisal or a full feature by feature comparision - and these are just my opinions based on a few days use, nothing scientific - just the stuff that's important to me.

Size: Well the GRIII is certainly smaller and more pocketable, yet with a slightly larger screen. This has been achieved partly by the removal of the built in flash from the GRII. The smaller size is well done - it has not resulted in the controls being any more fiddly, in fact there are fewer buttons on the GRIII so it's slightly simpler.

Battery: I'd read negatives about the battery on the new model, and it's true that the GRIII does have a shorter battery life than its predecessor (90 shots less?), so I would suggest at least one additional battery is required for most outings. There aren't too many full power non Ricoh batteries available, but the Olympus Li-DB92 appears to be exactly the same specification and can be found for around 10 less than the Ricoh offering (DB-110). From what I've read of cheaper makes the power is too low, resulting in frequent battery changes - so I've opted for the Olympus as my back-up.

Menus & touch screen: The menus aren't quite second nature to a Pentaxian, but aren't too bad once you get used to them, the change to a touch screen is IMO a positive - it's far quicker to get to particular settings, notably for me focus point selection and image deletion. I haven't got round to customising buttons with frequently used functions/settings but others have done this successfully.

Image Quality: The larger MP (24.24) count provides some benefits, particularly cropping, but the original 16.2 MP sensor in the GRII (same as used in the K5iiS I believe) is superb - I've often been surprised at how good the results were. I haven't given the GRIII a thorough workout as yet, but from what I've seen so far the images it produces are at least equal in most situations with improvements for some types of shot. I've found that short/middle distance images display very similar qualities on both models, distance shots is where I believe the GRIII has an edge - there is more detail and images appear slightly sharper.

Jpeg/RAW: These cameras will may well have a higher proportion of Jpeg shooters than high end DSLR users, and I have seen reports that the RAW files of the GRIII aren't that great - so I've been shooting in RAW (as that's my preference) to see how true that is - I've found no issues, I can pull images out of shadows fairly well and reduce overblown highlights fairly successfully so with my limited knowledge I don't see an issue. Jpegs do seem particularly good straight from the GRIII - so much so that I would have no problem just shooting Jpeg in future.

Shake Reduction: This is one of the biggest improvements with the new model. Over Christmas I got some poor results with my GRII when shooting family shots indoors, I was getting too many blurred shots - realising later that I was relying on the camera as though it was my K1 (which handles 1/15th and 1/8th shots well). I've tried a few similar shots with the GRIII and the 3 axis sensor shift shake reduction is very effective - a definite plus.

Dust Removal: One of the biggest disappointments with the release of the GRIII was the lack of WR - it seems strange that Pentax DSLR's with interchangeable lenses are produced with WR but a fixed lens compact camera of such high specification does not have it included. The saving grace (sort of) is that the highly effective ultrasonic vibration dust removal system has been introduced. The GR and GRII are prone to dust on the sensor, and it's not a simple end-user job to remove it, so this is a welcome addition.

Flash: I mentioned earlier that the built in flash has been removed on the GRIII - I rarely used it on the GRII, it never seemed particularly good unless it was on a fairly close subject (large family groups had fall-off) - but one bonus of the integration of Pentax and Ricoh development has meant that the Pentax Flash system is compatible with the GRIII - I've been using the AF201FG successfully on the GRIII and the results are excellent.

Macro mode: closest focus in normal mode has reduced to 10cm (from 30cm on the GRII) and in Macro mode to 6cm (from 10cm on the GRII) - clearly it is better to have this option to focus closer, but in terms of IQ I can see no difference in the results. Personally if I'm shooting macro then I would use a DSLR with a dedicated macro lens, but if the only camera you have with you is the GR then it's a good compromise.

Is the GRIII better than the GRII? : It would be surprising if the general view was that the GRIII wasn't better, but if it just came down to the images produced then most of the time there isn't that much in it. In actual use I find the GRIII easier to use, with the smaller size, touch-screen focus point selection, shake reduction and dust removal (hopefully) being the significant improvements. The sharper images on distance shots are also an unexpected bonus - I had never been unhappy with distance shots on the GRII, but the GRIII is better.

Here are a few sample comparisons, the setting were as close to each other as possible (Aperture priority, the shutter speed/ISO did vary very slightly, but only by 1 maximum) - you'd be hard pushed to see much difference IMO....

GRII - Close Focus Out of Camera JPEG (with cropping and basic PP)



GRIII - Close Focus Out of Camera JPEG (with cropping and basic PP)



GRII - Out of Camera JPEG (no PP)



GRIII - Out of Camera JPEG (no PP)



GRII - Out of Camera JPEG (basic PP)



GRIII - Out of Camera JPEG (basic PP)



Hope this has been of some use to some of you at least
LennyBloke

Nigelk

Link Posted 12/01/2020 - 09:04
Thank you for the write up LennyBloke,
I've no plans to buy one but, interesting to see how they are evolving the GR

ronniemac

Link Posted 12/01/2020 - 16:20
Interesting that we have reached the same conclusions, LennyBloke. Shake reduction, ability to crop to a greater degree, touch screen all make a significant difference to me

It's a real plus that the GR III is such a fine landscape camera.

Thanks for your review, it's a good read.

LennyBloke

Link Posted 12/01/2020 - 19:05
Thanks Nigel and Ronnie

Ronnie - I've always has a bit of a problem with the angle of view that a 28mm (or equivalent) presents, it's never suited my sort of photography so personally I don't find it ideal as a landscape camera (35mm or 20mm are preferable for me) but that won't stop me trying

I'll post a few mono conversions from this evening in the "Your Photos" section - the combination of the low-light handling of the sensor plus the shake reduction make the GRIII excellent for night shooting too
LennyBloke
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