Ricoh GR II vs GR III Comparison

Ricoh GR II vs GR III Preproduction Comparison

Ricoh GR II vs GR III Preproduction Comparison

The Ricoh GR II successor model GR III was announced just a two days ago on Sep 25, 2018. It is still a pre-production model so things might change slightly.

As longtime Ricoh GR II fan and user, I was curious how the Technical Specifications and new Control Buttons Layout of the GR III compare to the current model. My comparison is based on publicly available text and image information and includes only new and changed aspects.

Post updated Jan.13.2019  – All statements below are subject to change as things get confirmed over time.

Ricoh GR II vs GR III (Preproduction) Comparison Summary

On paper and from the first images, the Ricoh GR III preproduction model presents itself as an overall improved predecessor. See the detailed Technical Specs. Comparison Table on the page bottom.

+ Positive

  • New lens design = 1 lens element and 1 group less means quicker lens movement/time to focus (source).
  • 50% higher resolution sensor = More image data to display/print from
  • 16% higher bit-depth for RAW DNG = More image data to display/print from
  • 2 stops higher max. ISO = Improved light sensitivity
  • Introduction of an Anti Shake/Dust Removal System = Less camera shake, less dust on the sensor
  • Introduction of Hybrid (Phase+Contrast) Auto Focus System = Faster and more precise Auto Focus (unconfirmed)
  • Introduction of a Touch-Screen = Touch Auto Focus and touch Shutter Release (source)
  • Introduction of Bluetooth Connectivity = Improved way for wireless image transfer
  • Closer Minimum Focus range = More detailed macro, closeup shots
  • Addition of new (Highlight-weighted) Metering Mode = Improved exposure help

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

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

No better or worse but dependent on each photographer likings 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. The dedicated Movie Mode was relocated to a Movie Record Button on the side where the Effect Button was before.

– Negative

  • Removal of In-Camera Flash = Fewer exposure possibilities in low, backlight and any other creative situations. Additional flash makes the whole package bulky and speaks against the minimalistic GRlosophy.
    • I created a Petition to bring back the Built-In Flash. Join, sign and share the Petition here
  • Removal of 3 physical camera controls buttons = Less direct controls with tactile feedback.
    • AF-S/AF-C Switch
    • Exposure Compensation Buttons
    • Fn2 Button
  • Less Battery Life (CIPA) 200 shots with the GR III vs. 320 shots using the GR II

The body reduction and control interface redesign introduced a couple of (yet to be confirmed) 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 user-customizable Effect Button was replaced with a direct Video Recording/Wifi activation button.

Side by Side – Ricoh GR II vs GR III Camera Buttons Comparison

Ricoh GR II VS GR III Preproduction Back Camera Control Button Comparison

GR IIGR III (Preproduction)
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?)
  • The first thing to notice when comparing the back camera button layout of the GR II and Preproduction 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. Another possibility would be direct adjustment using the thumb on the nearby Touchscreen (unconfirmed)
  • Going further down we notice that the big back Auto Focus/Auto Exposure Lock Button from the GR II is now marked as customizable Fn button on the GR III. The Touchscreen will also provide Touch Auto Focus functionality. The AEL/AFL/C-AF Switch was removed.
  • 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. (unconfirmed)
  • The Fn1 button is now marked as a dedicated ISO button. It is unclear whether it remains user-customizable.
  • Since the In-Camera Flash was removed the user customizable Flash Power Adjustment Button was replaced with a button to activate the Self-Timer and Continuous Drive. It is unclear whether it remains user-customizable.
  • 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. However, a Touchscreen function might help out.
  • The Display Change settings 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 activation button.


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 so far is the removal of the In-Body Flash. I think it is a fair tradeoff between the newly implemented In-Body Stabilization/Dust Removal system.

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

My 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!

Technical Specs. Ricoh GR II vs GR III (Preproduction) Comparison Table

The table below compares only changed aspects for both cameras. Any not changed function or part is not listed. Technical improvements are highlighted in bold.

 //Ricoh GR IIRicoh GR III
BodyDimensions117 x 63 x 35 mm109×61.9×33.2 mm
BodyBody Volume257,9 mm3224,8 mm3
BodyWeightApprox. 251g incl. battery & memory cardApprox. 257g incl. battery & memory card
BodyBuild in Flashyes-
BodyTouch Screen-yes
BodyScreen Ratio4:33:2
BodyScreen Resolution3.0 inch, 1228K dots3.0 inch, approx. 1037K dots
BodyExposure ModesP - Program,
Av - Aperture
Tv - Time
TAv - Shutter & Aperture
M - Manual
P - Program
Av - Aperture
Tv - Shutter
M - Manual
BodyIncluded Memory:54.0 MBApprox. 2GB
BodyBattery Life (CIPA)320 shots200 shots
BodyCommunicationWiFi, NFCWiFi, Bluetooth
LensLens7 elements in 5 groups (2 aspherical lens elements)6 elements in 4 groups (2 aspherical lens elements)
LensMin. macro focus range10 cm6 cm
LensExtension LensesYes (using GH-3 Lens Adapter)Yes (using GA-1 Lens Adapter)
SensorEffective Pixels16 (4928 x 3264px)24 (6000 x 4000px)
SensorMax. ISO Sensitivity25600102400
SensorImage Stabilization-Sensor-shift shake reduction (SR)(3-axis)
SensorDust Removal-Image sensor cleaning using ultrasonic vibrations "DR II"
SensorEV Compensation±4EV±5EV
SensorAuto Focus TypeContrast DetectionHybrid AF (Image plane phase-matching and Contrast detection)
SensorUncompressed Format12bit RAW (DNG)14bit RAW (DNG)
SensorMetering ModesMulti-segment
-Datasheet sourceGR2 Specs.GR3 Specs.

Table data sources: Ricoh Germany Press Release & Blog Post

Post updated Jan.13.2019

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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.

  • 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.

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