Ricoh GR II vs GR III Comparison

Ricoh GR II vs GR III Comparison Front

Ricoh GR II vs GR III Front View

Post updated Jan.22.2019 (official GR III release date)

The Ricoh GR II successor model GR III was released today on January 22nd 2019.

As longtime Ricoh GR II fan and user, I was curious how the technical specifications and new control buttons layout of the new GR III compares to the older GR II model. My comparison is based on publicly available text and image information and includes only new and changed aspects.

Ricoh GR II vs GR III Comparison Highlights

The Ricoh GR III presents itself as an overall improved predecessor. Below I highlight and comment the most important changes between both cameras.

+ Positive Improvements

  • ~0,5 sec. faster start up time (from 1.3 to 0.8 sec.)
  • 4 cm closer minimum focus range (from 10 to 6 cm)
  • 50% higher resolution sensor (from 16 to 24 MP)
  • 16% higher bit-depth when shooting RAW .dng (from 12 to 14 bit)
  • 2 stops higher max. ISO (from 25600 to 102.400)
  • 4-stops saving Shake Reduction System
  • Built-in Dust Removal System
  • Preciser Phase & Contrast detection Auto Focus System
  • Touch-Screen focus & other functions
  • Bluetooth Image Transfer
  • New Highlight-weighted Metering Mode
  • No AA-filter

On the positive side future GR III shooters can expect higher image quality through more resolution and bit-depth, faster focus times, closer focus distances, longer shake-free exposures, fewer dust problems and the possibility to control the camera using the new Touchscreen. Still to be revealed is whether the sensor will deliver less image noise in high-ISO settings.

= Neutral Changes

  • Smaller Camera Body
  • Removal of dedicated TAv Shooting and Movie Recording Modes
  • Introduction of an Adjustment Wheel around the Four-Way Button Controller
  • New GA-1 lens adapter hood with electronic contacts = Introduction of a new adapter lens (21mm)

No better or worse but dependent on each photographer habits are the smaller body design and the introduction of an Adjustment Wheel around the Four-Way Button Controller. The removal of the dedicated TAv and Movie shooting mode might cause disapproval. Since TAv is basically Manual mode with Auto-Hi ISO it will most likely be still available to use.

– Negative Changes

  • Removal of In-Camera Flash
    • Fewer exposure possibilities in low, back light and any other creative situations. Additional flash makes the whole package bulky and speaks against the minimalist GR-philosophy.
  • Removal of 3 physical camera controls buttons
    • AF-S/AF-C Switch
    • Exposure Compensation Buttons
    • Fn2 Button
  • 37 % lower battery life(from 320 to 200 shots according to CIPA)

The body reduction and control interface redesign introduced a couple of sacrifices with regards to basic functions and the much-loved customizable direct controls. First of all the built-in Pop-Up Flash is gone. No more spontaneous in-your-face closeup flash street-photography, bring your own flash! Three direct physical controls have been removed, the dedicated Exposure Compensation Buttons, the AEL/AFL/C-AF Switch and the Fn2 Button. The new battery allows  37% less shots per charge.

Ricoh GR II vs. GR III – Detailed Comparisons

Table data sources: Ricoh GR II Manual & Ricoh GR III Specifications

What changed and what remained the same between the old and new Ricoh GR Camera bodies? Below I compare the changes in physical control buttons, the body and battery, the lens and sensor and the camera functions.

Physical Control Buttons Changes

Ricoh GR II vs GR III Camera Buttons Comparison

Ricoh GR II vs GR III Camera Buttons Comparison

  • The first thing to notice when comparing the back camera button layout of the GR II and GR III Model is the removal of the dedicated + and – Exposure Compensation Buttons. On the GR III the Exposure Compensation seems now to be the default function of top ADJ.-Rocker-Button. On the GR II this ADJ. rocker was used to directly change Shutter Speed (when in TAv & M mode) or ISO (when in P, Tv & Av mode)
  • Assuming that the front wheel will be set to control the Aperture. The future GR III shooter will have the choice between the ADJ.-Rocker and the new Adjustment Wheel to make direct Exposure Compensation, ISO or Shutter Speed adjustments.
  • Going further down we notice that the big back AEL/AFL-Button is now marked as customizable Fn-Button.
  • The AEL/AFL/C-AF-Switch was removed.
  • The Touchscreen will also provide Touch Auto Focus functionality.
  • The Four-way-Button-Controller is now surrounded by an Adjustment Wheel.  As discussed above it might be configurable to either adjust ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture or Exposure Compensation values, depending on the chosen shooting mode.
  • The Fn1-Button is now marked as a dedicated ISO-Button.
  • Since the In-Camera Flash was removed the user customizable Flash-Button was replaced with a button to activate the Self-Timer and Continuous Drive.
  • The Fn2-Button was replaced with a dedicated Menu-Button. It seems unlikely that it will be user-customizable because once changed one would not be able to enter the Menu again.
  • The DISP. -Button remains the same.
  • The Effect-Button on the left camera side was relocated to a higher location and functions now as a dedicated Movie/Wifi-Button.
Mode Dial (Green, P, Av, Tv, TAv, Movie, Usr1, Usr2, Usr3)Mode Dial (P, Av, Tv, Usr1, Usr2, Usr3)
ADJ. ISO/Shutter Time Rocker ADJ. Exposure Compensation/? Rocker
Exposure Compensation Buttons-
Single/Continuous-AF Switch -
Back Button-AF/AF/AE-LockFn Button (Custom)
-Touch Screen (Custom?)
-Adjustment Wheel (Custom?)
Macro ButtonMacro Button
FN1 Button (Custom)ISO Button (Custom?)
WB ButtonWB Button
Flash Button (Custom)Continuous Drive/ Self-Timer Button (Custom?)
Menu OK ButtonOK Button
Fn2 Button (Custom)Menu Button
Disp. ButtonDisp. Button
Effect Button (Custom)Movie Rec./Wifi Button (Custom?)

Body and Battery Changes

Ricoh GR II VS GR III Camera Back Comparison

Ricoh GR II VS GR III Camera Back Comparison

The old GR wins the comparison

//Ricoh GR IIRicoh GR III
DimensionsApprox. 117 (W) x 63 (H) x 35(D) mmApprox. 109 (W) × 62 (H) × 33 (D)mm
Body Volume257,9 mm3224,8 mm3
WeightApprox. 251g incl. battery & memory cardApprox. 257g incl. battery & memory card
Build in Flashyes-
Touch Screen-yes
Screen Ratio4:33:2
Screen Resolution3.0 inch 1228K dots3.0 inch approx. 1037K dots
Physical Controls2016 (incl. Touch Screen)
Exposure ModesP - Program , Av - Aperture, Tv - Time, TAv - Time & Aperture, M - ManualP - Program, Av - Aperture, Tv - Time, M - Manual
Included Memory:54.0 MBApprox. 2GB
Wireless CommunicationWiFi , NFCWiFi, Bluetooth v4.2
Wired CommunicationUSB-2 micro HDMIUSB- C (Data Transfer: MTP Video output: DisplayPort )
Battery Life (CIPA)320 shots200 shots
Battery TypeDB-65, 1250mAh, 4.5WhDB-110, 1350mAh, 4.9Wh

Lens & Sensor Changes

Ricoh GR II vs GR III Comparison Top Lens View

Ricoh GR II vs GR III Comparison Top Lens View

//Ricoh GR IIRicoh GR III
Lens Start Up Timeapprox. 1.3 sec.approx. 0.8 sec.
Lens Elements7 elements in 5 groups (2 aspherical lens elements)6 elements in 4 groups (2 aspherical lens elements)
Min. Focus Range10 cm6 cm
Image Stabilization-Sensor-shift shake reduction (SR)(3-axis)
Dust Removal-Image sensor cleaning using ultrasonic vibrations \DR II\
Auto Focus TypeContrast DetectionHybrid AF (Image plane phase-matching and Contrast detection)
Effective Pixels16 (4928 x 3264px)24 (6000 x 4000px)
Bit Depth12bit RAW (DNG) 14bit RAW (DNG)
Max. ISO Sensitivity25600102400
Extension LensesYes (using GH-3 Lens Adapter)Yes (using GA-1 Lens Adapter)

Camera Function Changes

//Ricoh GR IIRicoh GR III
AF ModesMulti, Spot, Pinpoint, Tracking, Manual, Snap, InfiniteAuto-area, Zone, Select, Pinpoint, Tracking, Continous, Manual, Snap, Infinity
Metering ModesMulti-segment, Center-weighted, SpotMulti-segment, Center-weighted, Spot, Highlight-weighted
Shutter Speed1/4000 sec. to 300 sec. Bulb, Time1/4000 sec. to 30 sec.Timed Exposure 10 sec. - 1200 sec.. Bulb Time
Exposure Compensation+/- 4EV+/- 5EV
Self-Timer2 sec., Custom, OFF2 sec.,10 sec., OFF
Image Crop35mm, 47mm, OFF35mm, 50mm, OFF

Comparison Summary

All in all, camera usability does not seem to be changed for the worse. Important control buttons remain available using the new wheel and touch controls. The only real negative impact is the removal of the In-Body Flash and the considerably lower amount of shots per battery.

Once again the GR III stays on top of the list for Compact Cameras with a Fixed Prime Lens.

Open Wish List

If I had a wish to improve the Ricoh GR III usability I would like to see the following:

  • Possibility to switch shooting modes using a user customizable Fn-button instead of turning the Mode-dial. I often switch between Av and TAv (now M-mode?) when making photographs in public and would love to change modes faster.
  • Possibility to assign and change customizable values by swiping my thumb up/down on the nearby Touchscreen.
  • Possibility to choose a faster Shutter Speed then 1/250 as “Change Shutter Speed” value when using Av-mode with ISO Auto-Hi.
  • Improvement of the Electronic Level Indicator to show the level indication when shooting straight down or up. Olympus cameras provide this useful feature.
  • Improvement of the Camera Menu by adding small icons. On my GR II find myself searching up/down for items all too often.
  • A 40mm or 50mm Telephoto Lens Adapter!

What would You like to see implemented trough a Firmware upgrade on the GR III? Add your comments below!

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  • Eric

    very informative, GR III is definitely good for street photographers who enjoy quicker snap action without being noticed. The high ISO performance is something I would be most interested to see.

    • Thanks, Eric! From my experience, the GR camera series is essentially about the speed of operation and customization. Using the GR with Snap/Manual Focus makes unnoticed shooting much more likely. My hope would be that GR II ISO 800 quality equals GR III ISO 3200 at least.

  • Sounds like a must buy to me. Thanks for putting all this together. Assuming the lens is as good as the previous GRs it should be a buy for anyone who doesn’t use flash and/or appreciates smaller devices. I am hoping for a new VF solution and improvements to some if the film simulations too.

    • Thanks for stopping by and reading Mat! It’s crippeling that the built-in flash is no more but it won’t stop photographers from using the hot shoe. I think the GR III will be awesome to shoot in combination with small wireless flashes like the recently released LightPix Q20II. Hopefully, their system is compatible with the Pentax P-TTL standard implemented in the GR III. Learn more details about Pentax Flash system here.

  • EvilTed

    The best decision that impacts me is the removal of the exposure compensation buttons :)

    As a street photographer shooting one-handed, I ended up gluing the buttons of my GR with epoxy resin because my hand was constantly hitting these and messing up my shots.

    All the other speed improvements are great.
    Hopefully we can also shoot auto ISO in Manual mode now too?

    • Quite a radical solution Colin! The only time I needed glue was to re-attach the hand grip rubber, it gets loose with heavy usage. Yes, I think we can expect to set Auto ISO when shooting in Manual mode. The dedicated TAv-mode setting is missing on the GR III preprod. dial. It would be a huge step back in terms of usability when Ricoh would totally remove TAv shooting mode. It is basically M mode with Auto-ISO.

      • Nelleke Bouman

        On my R1 the whole rubber body came loose and i had to glue it several times, aspecially in the summer. I would like to see an electronic shutter on a future model. Not that the shutter of the Ricoh is loud but on some occasions a electronic shutter is usefull. I’m still doubting what to buy, the RII or III. If i buy the III i will miss the tav and the exposure compensation dial for sure

  • david

    uh I am super excited about the highlight weighted metering mode. I really think the GRIII will go nicely and even oust my beloved X100F…
    common Ricoh, lets do this!!!

    • Highlight-weighted metering is a welcomed addition for sure. The camera will expose correctly for the brightest part without the need for user adjustments. Perfect when shooting street and aiming to capture silhouettes and deep urban shadows. It might bring more post-production work because shadows details will be underexposed. I think it will be best to shoot RAW DNG with low ISO to capture as many image details as possible. Here is an article that describes it in more detail.

  • edwn

    Thanks for this excellent comparison. I would put smaller body as a + even though it is only a small improvement, it must help pocketability which is such a key feature of this camera. Also no wifi hump on top like the ii.

    I’ve toyed with buying a GR to join my Pentax MX-1 in the past but I always bump the exp comp +/- button when I’ve tried them and also I shoot 50% of my shots macro so the iii has welcome features that may tip me over …

    The touch slider would be OK if it was switchable but if active in shooting modes then there seems to be a likelihood of accidental sliding with one’s thumb?

    • Thanks edwn! I admit I never stored my GRs in the pocket in the actual sense of “pocketability” because of the high risk of dust particles entering the camera. I always used camera bags and for sure the GR III bag will be smaller :) But a smaller camera body does not have to be better. The smaller form factor will affect the way people handle the camera. If you happen to have bigger hands it might be a little bit more tricky, we will see.

      Interesting how the MX-1 compares to the GR shooting wise. I would like to try a MX-1 for sure. 50% Macro sounds a lot, do you make use of the additional Macro Lens?

      I also have my doubts about adjusting the camera using touch operation but in fact, I use my smartphone quite often and it works without accidents!

  • edwn

    I would ask that the firmware has an optional auto macro feature. Such a pain to keep switching macro on and off. However auto macro must be switchable as it would probably slow down AF and I know people like fast AF.

    • Auto Macro sounds great! I didn’t know that cameras have such options.

  • defdefred

    My GR”I” just die this morning. After “the classical closed shutter after power on”, now the AF is not working at all.
    Considering the price, I ‘m not happy will the Ricoh quality.

    I used the old GR Digital (v1) for year without problem (only 1 dead pixel), and now looking at the GR III, I’m not convinced to buy it as the dust problem should always be present considering the pull out lens.

    Make the same camera with a sealed body/lens!
    Who cares taking video or wifi or bluetooth or GPS or stabilization ? We all have smartphone…
    Aperture still 2.8? come on…

    • Sorry to hear that it happened. In fact, my second, now one-year-old GR II started to have the closed shutter problem recently. It made roughly 50k photos as it happened for no good reason. The lens was protected by the GH-3 hood all the time, no bumps, no falls or anything. It is a serious, common and reappearing quality problem that has to be addressed. There is not a lot of written info about. Did you contact Ricoh support?
      As for the GR III I am also not convinced, more resolution is great but cutting away physical buttons & the flash is not my cup of tea.

  • Baran Kaypakoglu

    still I cannot find any information regarding the buffer speed of the new GR…

  • Eric

    Am I correct that there is no available Auto Flash mode? Meaning, when using an external flash (required), it is either turned on or turned off, the camera does not attempt to determine if the flash is needed or not (as is the case with the internal flash on the GRII).
    Also, I am having issues with the metering. Which of the metering modes is the best for amateurs like me?

    • Hello Eric, I am not a specialist with regards to GR flash functionality. From what I understood reading the GR2 Manual is that Automatic TTL is only supported when using the external Ricoh GF-1 Flash. The manual states on p.167 “When an external flash other than the GF-1 is used, you cannot set the flash mode. The flash always operates with [Flash On].

      Hard to say what is best for amateurs or professionals with regards to metering. With the GR2 is use center-weighted metering most of the time. Take time to learn and understand how different metering works. The cameras histogram helps to visualize the changes in a comparable way.

  • Richard Calvo

    I’d appreciate a more precise button-style shutter release rather than the soft pad release that continues to be used. The shutter release should be similar to those on other professional cameras so that switching back and forth from one camera to another doesn’t become so distracting. I’d also like THE OPTION of having a louder shutter sound, to help in noisier environments. An audible shutter sound would help when using an optical viewfinder and not viewing the LCD.

    • Paul

      Great review. Thank you ! I had/have 3 GR1s and a lone GR21 (all 35mm and Sadly all no longer working) that I used for years for travel and climbing. To this day I’ve never had better cameras. The simplicity, ease of use and quality of the the negs was incomparable for the camera size vs any other camera. The digital versions are nice but not in the same class. I’d pony up handsomely for something close from any manufacturer. I now use an X100F though it’s 35mm equip focal length vs 28/21mm and way too many buttons and dials (for me) that get knocked etc vs the gr1/21 gems of so long ago. Thanks again.

  • Charlie

    I just purchased a GR iii and my initial experience is very negative compared to the GR ii that I also own.
    Main negatives are :

    1) The low light autofocus is considerably slower than on the GR ii .. its so terrible, I almost cannot believe it – I used the exact same settings in low light (ISO even a few steps lower on the GR ii) and the GR ii is running laps around the new model .. I’m really very disappointed.

    2) Ergonomics – the new model is not nearly as comfortable to hold / carry as the old model — the GR iii is simply too small and not so comfortable for one-hand operation anymore.

    3) The menu has changed – not extremely significantly, however enough, to make me not like it in direct comparison with the GR ii, which in my opinion had the fastest / most intuitive / well thought out menu on the market. The GR iii is an unnecessary step down from what used to be superb.

  • Hi Michael.
    Did you get a new Ricoh GR for yourself?
    If so, are you seeing a significant increase in “keeper” images due to closer focus and the shake reduction feature? (or that last one is a gimmick and not of much use?)

    • Hi Edd. I rented a GR III from my friendly local photo gear place. After configuring and shooting for an hour I returned it to the shop. To me, safe handling and direct control buttons are more important than having a miniaturized camera body. The GR III felt cramped and also the body temperature increased noticeably. The GR II is all right, all the time.

      I guess the last time the keeper rate increased significantly (quantitatively), is when photographers started exposing light on digital sensors instead of film negatives. Minor technical changes such as closer focus and shake reduction broaden the creative possibilities but they will not increase the rate of keepers. Only you as photographer says keep or ditch, not the camera. Identify if you are into longer exposure photography or extreme closeup work. If yes, they might become useful, otherwise they are nice to have only.

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