Pros and cons of RICOH GRIIIx [Street photography camera review]

Taichi August
8 min readApr 2, 2023

Hi.

I like photography and often use Ricoh GR3x, a compact digital camera. It has been about a year and a half since I purchased this.

I always carry it in my bag or pocket when I go out, and I think I have used it for quite a long time. So this time, I’m gonna introduce the pros and cons I felt after using GR3x for a year and a half.

I personally think it is a camera that I can recommend especially to those who take street photography. After using it for a long time, I think both good points and bad points have become clear, so I will introduce them.

If you are interested in this camera, check it out.

Pros of RICOH GRIIIx

Let’s start with the pros.
There are many good points about GR, but among them, there are four points that I personally think are particularly nice.

Compactness

The first point is its compactness.

Most compact digital cameras are small, but GR3x has an APS-C sensor, which is larger than the 1-inch sensors of most compact digital cameras, in a small body.
So even though the resolution of the photos is as good as that of a DSLR camera, the body is really small.
It is really attractive to be able to take pictures as beautiful as a DSLR in this palm-sized compact body, and you will always want to carry it with you.

When I carry a DSLR camera, I have to carry a large bag with it, which is quite stressful. However, withGR3x, I can carry a high-performance camera with minimal baggage, so there is no stress at all. Moreover, I can easily take the camera out and continue taking pictures. I think this is a very good point.

Fast start-up speed

The second point is the high start-up speed.

GR3x starts up in 0.8 seconds after you press the power button, so you can take a picture immediately after turning it on.
So I never miss a momentary shutter chance, and I don’t have the stress of waiting for it to start up.

With ordinary compact digital cameras, it takes at least 1 second to take a picture after turning on the power, and with some, you have to wait almost 2 seconds or more before you can take a picture, which was one of the stressful parts of using a compact digital camera.

On the other hand, GR has a really short start-up time, so smooth that it feels like it takes less than 0.8 seconds from turning on the power to taking a picture.

Especially for street photographers, there are many situations where it is important to take a picture without missing a moment. So once you get used to the short start-up time of GR, I think you will never go back to other compact digital cameras.

Fixed focal length lens for a variety of situations

The third point is that GR is equipped with a fixed focus lens.

Like a zoom lens, GR does not allow you to change the focal length by zooming, so you can concentrate on taking pictures without thinking about unnecessary things. Moreover, the image quality is better than a zoom lens because it is a fixed focal length lens.

Especially for street photos, a fixed focal length lens will give you great atmosphere in your photos, and I think it is more fun to shoot with a fixed focal length lens because you have to move with your feet to determine the angle of view.

The aperture is bright at f2.8, so you can take pictures even in slightly darker locations, and it is easy to take pictures that take advantage of bokeh and other effects.

Also, the focal length of GR3x is 40mm, which I think is an easy-to-use focal length between the wide-angle range and the standard range.
This is a convenient angle of view for both landscape and portrait photography, so I think you can handle almost any situation with just this one digital camera.

Also, GR has a crop function for the fixed focal length lens, so you can crop the focal length to 50mm and 71mm, instead of just 40mm.

Focal length 40mm
Focal length 50mm
Focal length 71mm

You can take pictures with an angle of view similar to those taken with a telephoto lens. I think that is quite a useful point.

Although the pixel count is reduced by using this function, I think the crop function is useful when you really want to take pictures of distant objects.

Macro lens mode

The fourth point is the ability to use the macro lens mode.

GR is equipped with a lens that allows you to get quite close to the subject even without using the macro lens function, but using the macro lens mode allows you to get very close to the subject, which is very useful for expanding your range of expression.
For example, if you use the macro lens mode to take pictures of plants or food, you can easily convey the texture of flowers or the sizzle of food, making it possible to take pictures that are not only snapshots.

The same is true of the crop function I mentioned earlier, basically, GR3x is a highly versatile camera that allows you to express yourself in a variety of ways with just one camera.

Cons of RICOH GRIIIx

GR3x is a good camera with many pros, but it also has some cons, as a matter of course.
So, I would like to introduce three points that I personally think are not so good.

Automatically turns off when temperatures are high

The first bad point is that in hot seasons like summer, the battery heats up and immediately turns off.

As you are taking pictures, the battery gets hot and the power automatically turns off.
And even if you restart the camera, it will turn off again and again until the battery temperature cools down. So when you enter this state during a shutter release opportunity, the camera automatically turns off, which is quite stressful.

Not only does it automatically turn off, but the high temperature also consumes the battery unusually fast, making the battery life even worse.
I personally feel that I don’t want to take my camera outside too often in the summer because I often lose motivation when it turns off multiple times when I want to take a picture.

Dust and dirt easily accumulate on sensor and lens

The second disadvantage is the tendency for dust to accumulate on the sensor and lens.

This may be because the lens and body of a compact digital camera are integrated into a single unit, and it may be impossible to clean the inside of the camera, but I still feel that GR is particularly prone to dust.
I don’t know where the dust comes from, but it gets in just by putting it in my pocket or bag.
So, when I am not using it, I put a cover like this on the lens. I think it is much better at preventing dust from getting in.

If dust is too much of a concern, I think it is one of the disadvantages that it is easy for dust to accumulate, as it would need to be taken out for maintenance on a regular basis.

Poor auto-focus accuracy

The third bad point is that the autofocus accuracy is poor.

I realized that this is often stressful after using the camera for a long time, and I have lost quite a few opportunities because the autofocus did not come in focus at the perfect moment.
While there are many times when an out-of-focus photo is good in its own right, I would be happier with a little more precision about autofocus.

Especially in dark environments, it is often impossible to focus at all. Plus the speed of autofocus itself is slow to begin with. That’s why I don’t think you should expect too much from GR3x when it comes to autofocus.

Spring photos taken with GRIIIx

Let me show you some spring photos in Japan taken with GR3x.

Summary

So, I’ve introduced the pros and cons I’ve found after using GR3x for a year and a half!

Personally, I like and sympathize with GR’s design and brand philosophy, so I like to use such philosophical aspects of GR, rather than evaluate it only on its pros and cons. So if you check out those aspects, you might find GR attractive.

I thought there are quite a few people around me who recently bought GR3x, so I summarized what I felt after using it for a long time.
If you are considering buying one, I hope this article would help you.

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