Ricoh GR III gets a dreamy successor, but it’s not the GR IV I was hoping for

<div>Ricoh GR III gets a dreamy successor, but it’s not the GR IV I was hoping for</div>
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Attention, Ricoh fans! There’s a new Ricoh GR series compact camera – in fact, there’s two. Sadly, there’s no GR IV in sight, but new ‘HDF’ versions of the GR III and GR IIIx. And what’s different about these new models? It’s all in their new filter. 

The new Ricoh GR III HDF and a Ricoh GR IIIx HDF have a newly-developed, built-in highlight diffusion filter (HDF) instead of an ND filter, but are otherwise identical to the original versions. (OK, the shutter button is a dark silver rather than black, but that’s about it.)

A diffusion filter reduces overall sharpness to give a dreamy soft effect, especially around highlights, much like a Pro Mist filter popular with filmmakers. Ricoh says the new versions make it possible to “produce images resembling those captured in film photography or vintage movies.”

This new hardware makes perfect sense – filmic looks are definitely in vogue, what with a film photography revival and the popularity of Fujifilm’s film simulations. And the HDF models can give you the old school look at a push simply by engaging the filter – or you can just as easily disengage it and continue enjoying the crisp 24MP photos that the Ricoh GR III models can capture.

There’s more information about the filter in the announcement on Ricoh’s Youtube (above), and Ricoh has shared a few sample images, too. However, as a Ricoh fan myself, and despite the new creative effect the HDF models bring, the announcement is a little bit of an anticlimax.

Disappointment for most Ricoh fans

When faint murmurings on rumors sites early in 2024 hinted that a new Ricoh camera was on the way, I like many other Ricoh fans hoped for a new Ricoh GR IV. That model could still materialize one day, but for now it’s the GR III HDF ($1,069 / £1,049) and GR IIIx HDF ($1,149 / £1,199).

I’ve used my own GR IIIx as an every day camera over the last two years and there’s much to like, but it has its flaws. I’ve listed the 5 improvements I’d like to see in a potential GR IV, chiefly a pop-up flash, rugged build, tilt-LCD, better autofocus and maintaining its super compact size. 

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So when the ‘HDF’ versions of the GR III and GR IIIx were announced, it was an anticlimax – I’m keen for a new GR camera with better handling. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good that Ricoh is still in the game, and its champion product remains one of the best compact cameras today, despite its flaws.

Ricoh GR III HDF side by side images of sunlight floor with diffusion filter on and off

(Image credit: Ricoh)

But the GR III was launched in 2018, and the GR IIIx came in 2021 with a new lens alongside the same tech, such as the 24MP APS-C sensor and autofocus system. Technically, these cameras are a long way behind the larger and pricier Fujifilm X100VI and could do with a new and improved successor.

I’m not demanding X100VI-quality features in a potential GR IV, just hoping for some of the aforementioned handling improvements. But right now we don’t even have a new GR IV, just a GR III iteration that trades in the super-helpful built-in ND filter for a creative filter with limited use, even if it does create in-vogue vintage photo effects.

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Ricoh has a three-yearly product launch cycle, but I’m hoping it isn’t done yet this year after these HDF models. I still prefer the pocketability of the GR III series over the technically better Fujifilm X100-series. And I don’t mind the Ricoh’s compromises including poor battery life because the compact size means I really do have a decent camera on me all the time, whereas the larger X100VI requires conscious thought. I just hope that a new and improved GR model is also on the way.

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