The Ricoh GR III has an ISO range from 100 to 102400. It’s one of several upgrades from the GR II—the previous model maxed out at ISO 25600.
But in some respects, that sounds more impressive than it turns out it is in practice. That’s because there are marked trade-offs at those very high ISOs that limit their usefulness in many real-world shooting situations. While the GR III does have a significantly better sensor, it doesn’t mean that the image quality of the GR III at ISO 102400 is the same as the image quality of the GR II at ISO 25600.
Unlike some cameras, the Ricoh GR III doesn’t explicitly distinguish between a native ISO range and an extended ISO range, and it’s not immediately clear where the threshold is between the sensor hardware’s native sensitivity and where the camera’s built-in processing engine takes over to apply a software-powered boost. But if you shoot in the very high ISOs, you’ll quickly notice that the image quality drops off markedly at the top end, with much more image noise, much less dynamic range, and much less accurate colors.
Where the useful upper limit lies is entirely a matter of personal tolerance for these image quality issues. If it comes down to getting the shot or not, I’m willing to live with much more image noise. Ditto if I’m converting to black and white. But for everyday shooting with the GR III, ISO 16000 is probably my practical upper limit. But even below that, shadows can get quite muddy in low-light shots.
Beyond that, the noise just becomes too intrusive for my tastes, and I know that photo editors are going to balk at any images I submit to them that are shot at higher ISOs than that. By the time you get to ISO 32000, the dynamic range is getting very thin, and the image is becoming quite harsh. At ISO 51200 and above, it’s in the break-the-glass territory. That’s not to say that the images at ISO 32000 and above aren’t usable–it depends entirely on what you’re aiming for and how you’re using them, so it’s going to come down to personal preference. And if you’re posting them to something like Instagram, where they’ll be viewed on something small like a smartphone, many of the image flaws might well just melt away, leaving for a great-looking capture.
One other thing that’s worth noting is that when you’re shooting with the very high ISOs, there’s a good chance you’ll find you get a better-looking image by using the camera’s own processing engine to output a JPG rather than using a RAW version and processing it yourself. Or, more precisely, you can get a better-looking image more quickly because the camera’s algorithm is tailored to this specific sensor.
Ricoh GR III ISO Performance / Practical Examples
Here are some I’ve shot with the GR III in real-world shooting at high ISOs. I’m focusing here on ISO 6400 and above.
But there are some things worth noting when looking at these photos. Like most cameras, the GR III applies noise reduction to its JPG images. By default, that is—it is possible to turn the noise reduction off completely. That noise reduction setting also applies to the JPG thumbnail previews that are embedded within the DNG RAW files, but it doesn’t have any effect on the underlying RAW data. All of these photos were shot in RAW, with the JPGs you see on the page generating directly from the RAW image, thus bypassing the camera’s own noise reduction. I’ve only applied the lightest touch of noise reduction, using Lightroom’s default setting (Luminance: 0, Color: 25, Detail: 50, Smoothness: 50). So there’s plenty of room to crank up the aggressiveness of the noise reduction either in Lightroom or a dedicated app like Noise Ninja. But my purpose here is to provide some examples of the camera’s performance, not the software’s effectiveness.
You can click on each image to open a full-size version for a closer look.
Things Worth Knowing
There are some things about the GR III’s behavior with respect to ISOs that are worth knowing.
I typically have the camera set to Auto ISO. In that setting, you can set maximum and minimum limits as well as a minimum shutter speed threshold.
Somewhat oddly, when using the Auto ISO setting, it’s possible for the actual ISO used when taking the shot to differ from what you see on the display screen. I assume that’s because the exposure will be recalculated at the time you actually take the photo, but I haven’t confirmed that.
And there are some limits when shooting with smaller image sizes set. You can find more details about this on page 84 of the PDF manual.
Where to Find the Ricoh GR III
You can find the Ricoh GR III at B&H Photo and Amazon.
Ricoh GR III Accessories & Replacement Parts
Here are the model numbers of some of the core accessories and replacement parts for the Ricoh GR III.
- Ring Cap: GN-1
The ring cap is the small plastic ring that attaches around the lens. Chances are, it’s fallen off. While you do have to remove it to attach the lens adapter, it’s a poor design that tends to fall off and get lost far too often. I’ve lost a couple of them now.
The camera will work just fine without it. But that will leave some contacts exposed around the lens barrel, which isn’t ideal.
The official replacement part is overpriced. But you can also pick up much less expensive aftermarket versions. They’re also available in different colors, so you can bling up your camera with a personal touch—or make it look like the Street Edition.
The GR III has a USB Type-C connector port. When you get a cable, you can get them with another USB Type-C connector on the other end or a more traditional USB Type-A connector. Which you choose depends entirely on what you’re plugging into. For example, some newer laptops only have USB-C, while most other computers have USB-A.
Battery & Charger
- Battery: DB-110
It’s a rechargeable lithium-ion battery rated at 3.6V 1350mAh 4.9Wh.
There are some other cameras that also use the same battery—notably, some Olympus cameras (the Olympus model number for the same battery is LI-90B). So they’re quite widely available. You can get the official Ricoh version. There are also aftermarket versions that can be much better value but work just as well.
- Charger: BJ-11
You can charge the battery in the camera (using a USB-C cable). There are also external battery chargers available. They’re especially useful if you’re using spare batteries, so you can charge and shoot simultaneously.
- AC Adapter: K-AC166
This is used to power the camera for longer shoots, such as time-lapse, or if you happen to be using the camera for live streaming as a webcam. It connects via the camera’s USB-C port.
Wide-Angle Conversion Lens
Ricoh has produced a wide-angle conversion lens that takes the standard 28mm view down to a 21mm (in 35mm equivalent). While it does add some extra bulk to an otherwise small camera, it works well and adds a more dramatic, wider view. I have an in-depth review of it separately.
Something to be aware of, though, is that you will also need to pick up the lens adapter separately. For reasons I really don’t understand, the wide-angle conversion lens doesn’t come with the adapter, and both are required to make it work. So make sure you pick up one of those at the same time.
Remote Shutter Releases
- Wired Shutter Release: CA-3
This is the official Ricoh remote shutter. It connects to the camera via a USB cable, and it’s a simple shutter release (i.e., there’s no timer or intervalometer).
You can also find aftermarket shutter releases for the GR III.
- Standard External Viewfinder: GV-1
- Mini External Viewfinder: GB-2
The Ricoh GR III doesn’t have a built-in viewfinder. But they make two versions of an external viewfinder that slides into the camera’s hot shoe. It covers both the standard 28mm view as well as the 21mm view if you’re using the wide-angle conversion lens. There’s also a mini viewfinder; that model seems to be hard to find.
The back screen of the GR III is quite exposed, and if you lie the camera on its back, the screen comes in contact with the surface. Even if you’re putting the camera in your pocket, there’s a risk of keys or coins scratching the screen.
There’s no official screen protector, but there are good aftermarket versions. The one I use is this one. It’s essentially a consumable that protects the screen. If you scratch the protector, you can quickly and easily replace it with another from the pack.
- Soft Case: GC-9
You can, of course, use the GR III with just about any camera case or bag. But Ricoh does make a dedicated soft-case that fits snugly around the camera and offers some protection even if you’re toting the camera around in your pocket. I’ve been using one for a couple of years, and it’s held up very well, and it keeps my camera safer from bumps and scratches.
- Neck Strap: GS-3
Again, there’s no particular reason you have to use the official GR neck strap, but there is one. The main part is leather, and it even has a discreet, embossed “GR”.
If you do use a different strap, be aware that the strap loops on the camera are very small and won’t take thicker (i.e., stronger) attachment loops. So you might need to use some D-rings as well.
- Hand Strap: GS-2
There’s even an official “GR” leather hand strap! But, again, aside from the branding, there’s no special reason to use the official strap. If you do use a different one, you might need D-rings if the thread doesn’t go through the camera’s small attachment loops.
The GR III doesn’t have a built-in flash. It supports the Pentax P-TTL flash protocol.Pentax External Flashes: