The Ricoh GR IIIx is an great little street photography camera and the new 40mm equivalent lens is simply amazing! Images are sharp and punchy with sense of striking clarity that gives this camera its own unique visual signature. Hit the jump for my GR IIIX street photography review!
Ricoh GR IIIx Street Photography Video Review
The Ricoh GR III is one of my all-time favorite cameras. The combination of small size, usability and image quality made it an obvious choice for shooting on the street. But time marches on. And now we have this little beauty.
This Is The Ricoh GR IIIx
This is the Ricoh GR IIIx.
And if it looks familiar, that’s because it’s essentially a GR III with an all-new 40mm equivalent lens. I mean, they really didn’t change anything!
It’s the same 24MP APS-C sensor.
Same body size and handling.
Still includes snap focus and highlight priority AE.
It uses the same batteries (and you still need for 4 or 5 of those batteries!)
And the same super stealthy magnesium alloy body.
It’s the same camera!
And we already know I’m a fan of the GR3 – click here to check out my review! So I’m probably going to like the GR3X. The only issue might be that new 40mm lens and that’s what we’re going to talk about.
Lets’ Talk About That Lens
Ricoh GR lens design is pretty much legendary at this point. The way they’re able to pack so much optical quality into such a small package is nothing short of amazing.
But this lens in particular has PERSONALITY PLUS.
The image character reminds me of the GR1V film camera I used way back in the late 90s. There’s a dark, liquid quality to the images almost as if you’re shooting through crystal clear water.
This sort of “transparent clarity” gives the GR3X a unique visual SIGNATURE that you can’t find on any other camera. That alone is worth the price of admission.
Here’s a few more shots I took with this camera and it’s excellent little lens:
GR IIIx Street Photography Gallery
Shooting With A 40mm Lens On The Street
I put this lens to the test at the Toronto Pride festival where a bajillion people hit the streets for 3 days of celebration with the LGBTQ+ community. It was wall to wall people so it was a perfect chance to see what this lens could do!
I’m normally a 35mm kind of shooter. 40mm is pretty darn close to 35 but the slightly longer focal length means you have to look for subjects that are a couple more steps away than usual.
But with that many people on the street it was difficult to find a clear path to my shot. And my subjects ended up being buried in the crowd somewhere in front of me.So I started “shooting through” the crowd and allowing my subjects to be seen as part of the world they’re in.
The foreground and background interacted with each other and became an essential part of the composition in every shot. And I realized… Isn’t this just shooting with layers? It’s not the easiest thing to manage but once I started thinking this way and composing my shots in 3d space I started to see new possibilities at every corner.
Now, you don’t need this camera or this lens to come to this conclusion… This is just the path I went down while shooting GR IIIs street photography.
Any change in focal length is going to force you to rethink the way you approach your subjects. But the 40mm hits that sweet spot between 35 and 50 and I had no problems using it.
Even with a gazillion people on the street!
Snap Focus With The 40mm Lens
It’s a common misconception that you need to be more precise with snap focus on the GR3X because the 40mm lens has less depth of field so there’s less margin for error when estimating distance to your subject.
But that’s just not how snap focus works.
Snap focus is just Ricoh’s version of zone focus. Instead of guessing the distance to your subject, snap focus lets you pre-set your focus distance then use depth of field to create a range or “zone” of focus that includes your subject.
It’s like you’re casting a big net to catch a little fish. And It doesn’t matter if your subject is 10, 12 or 15 feet away as long as your depth of field includes your subject.
On the GR3 (with its 28mm equiv lens) I’d set aperture to f9 and snap focus distance to 2 meters which is pretty close to the hyperfocal distance of the lens. When you do this everything from about 1 meter to infinity will be in focus.
So that’s a pretty big net.
On the GR3X (with its 40mm equiv lens) I set aperture to f10 and snap focus distance to 3.5 meters. That’s also pretty close to the hyperfocal distance for this lens. And everything from about 1.7 meters to infinity is in focus.
So you can see it’s not about being precise about distance to your subject. On the 3X you lose about 2 feet on the close end of your depth of field. But the slightly longer focal length means you’ll probably be a step or 2 back from your subject compared to the GR3.
So it all works out to be about the same.
Other Snap Focus Distances
Snap mode isn’t limited to the hyperfocal distance of the lens. Ricoh gives you several snap distances that you can set depending on what you’re shooting.
When I was shooting flash at night I knew my subjects were going to be right in front of me so I dropped the snap focus distance to around 2 meters and bumped my aperture to f11. This gave me an “in-focus zone” from about 1.5 to about 6 meters so I was covered for just about anything that came my way.
Totally works as advertised. No guessing required.
WTF Is Snap Distance Priority?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the new shooting mode that Ricoh added with the urban edition firmware. It’s called Snap Distance Priority Mode.
And I don’t like it one bit.
Snap distance priority mode lets you choose how much depth of field you want (using the camera’s manual focus scale) and the camera picks the shutter speed and aperture to deliver proper exposure for that dof.
This is exactly counter-intuitive to the way that photography works. DOF is controlled by your aperture. The smaller your aperture (the higher the aperture number) the more depth of field you have.
And if you just shoot hyperfocal using snap focus mode then pretty much your entire frame is going to be in focus. So I really don’t see the need for this backwards weirdly visual implementation of controlling depth of field.
Of course, you don’t have to use this new mode. And having it there doesn’t change all the other good stuff about this camera. But if you’re going to add features then it would have been nice if they just let us program in custom distances for snap focus so we’re not limited by the few choices they give us!
The GR3x is a lovely little camera and the character of the images is unmatched by anything else on the market. Including my favorite X100V.
So this begs the question… Would you rather have this or an X100V? Both cameras sort of steer you into a different style of shooting because of the way they’re designed.
The Ricoh is an LCD only shooter but it’s perfectly suited to single hand operation and is one of the stealthiest cameras on the market.
And the X100V is more of a rangefinder style shooter. The OVF and analog dials give you a unique shooting experience that I really appreciate.
Which one is better? Honestly? I think they compliment each other. I could totally see having this as a second camera and using it for times when I wanna get my Daido on.
Let’s face it… I’m pretty much married to my X100V at this point. But I might be having a torrid affair with the Ricoh GR3X.
It’s just that sexy.
You can pick an Ricoh GR IIIx at your favorite online retailer:
Canadian viewers can find the X100V at Canada’s favorite camera store:
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What’s your take on the Ricoh GR IIIx? Is the crazy good 40mm lens enough to sway you to the Ricoh side of the force? Or do you hate shooting with a non-articulating LCD? Post your ideas in the comments below and keep the conversation going!