A couple of weeks ago I was shooting some editorial for a brand. The owners became fans of the Ricoh GR after I used it for some of their photos, so they let me know they would enjoy for it to be used whenever possible. That would have been a pleasure as usual, if I didn’t get my first dust on the sensor.
Yes indeed –– after years being careful, I finally got dust inside my GR II. I don’t know when or how it happened, as you may remember from my Ricoh GR II review I have been quite careful with this. Some of the specks of dust are big enough to be visible at all fstop values and they are in a position where it is often not practical removing it in Photoshop.
Ricoh cameras have no assistance at all in Italy unless you buy them with Italian FOWA insurance, and since I had no idea about this I bought mine years ago outside FOWA circuit. So there is no place I can send the camera to for service in Italy. I could look for a place outside Italy maybe, but I think the total of costs would be too high compared to the cost of a new GR II. I will see what to do. So, what happened with the shooting?
I still brought the Ricoh GR with me and managed to shoot something (I share some of these here in the post), but for the majority of the session I went back to the Nikon D850 with the Nikkor 28mm f1.4, a truly magnificent lens. Yes, this way I lost the Ricoh’s unique organic look and colors, and of course I also missed the fast and flowing shooting experience, but at least I was able of capturing photos devoid of dust.
This brings me to the same old considerations: GR cameras need to have the dust issue solved, because it is not acceptable that such expensive cameras are bound to become useless or seriously limited over a short amount of time, with normal usage.
When we got the GR III we saw no real solution to the dust issue, and we received instead a new issue in the form of the heating. You all know my opinion about that camera. I just saw a video of a popular YouTuber that celebrates his 2 years of GR III. He is not mentioning the heating (as usual in his videos about the camera) and he says that even if his camera is now showing some malfunctioning that affects the AF, it is fine because he doesn’t “baby sit” his cameras and it is ok if they stop working properly at some point.
I can’t help but feel some disconcert if a person says it is ok a camera stops working as it should after 2 years because you didn’t “baby sit it”. I was raised to give money more value and expect objects to last more and keep working unless being seriously damaged. The GR III, like my beloved the GR II, is not very well built. It definitely has some design and quality control issues. That is why so many users are sooner or later having the same problems.
My GR II recently started having another issue that seems very common: during usage it registers button clicks that are not happening, so if you are in a menu it kicks you out of it, it doesn’t let you access effects, etc. It happens rarely and randomly and then it goes away. It may be some false electronic contact happening. Is this fine? Is it fine a camera paid 800 euros has such problems? I definitely don’t “baby sit” my cameras but I am also careful enough and I never dropped one or had any damaging event happening to them.
I still love the GR, even with all these problems. For me it is as close to perfection as a camera can be, and I will keep suggesting people to get one (a GR or GR II, of course, not a GR III). But I can’t ignore these little marvellous cameras have some issues that one must be aware of.
When Ricoh announced the GR IIIx I hoped it was a GR III with the heating and sealing issues sorted out. I really wanted it to be true. But instead what Ricoh announced is a GR III with a 40mm equivalent lens.
Many desired that focal length and I guess it is nice Ricoh listened, but still… I think there are other and much higher priorities in GR’s world. So, will I buy one? Probably not, and here is why.
First of all and most important: it is still a GR III, with all the issues I found in it and that you can read about in my posts, here and here. Unless Ricoh finally fixed major issues but doesn’t want to get credit for that, the GR IIIx will still overheat, get dust, randomly register false contacts, etc.
Some people wrote to me their GR III is working great and has no issues, and I am happy for them. But to this day I bought and sent back the GR III three times, because it always became hot after few minutes of usage. Tens of users wrote to me saying they also sent the camera back because of heating, and Internet is filled with people complaining about this. The problem is real and it is not so rare. Again, I am happy is there are people that can enjoy the GR III without problems, but I still must report my experience and the experience of people I know.
Second, I am not interested in the GR IIIx because I love the 28mm focal length. That’s why I bought a GR years ago. I would keep with me a second GR with a different focal length only if it provided a relevant difference in terms of composition. There is definitely a difference between 28mm and 40mm, but not big enough to make me want to carry two cameras and switch them on the fly. Yes they are light and small but I would still need to go from one to another, and if I am in the middle of a shooting I still need to keep both at hand. Most of the times you can get a 40mm framing moving your 28mm closer one meter. Compression may change but how many times is that truly relevant?
I think a 50mm or even better a 58mm equivalent lens would have brought enough differences to make this an interesting scenario. But as we know, each photographer has a different dream!
It seems Ricoh is wanting to do what Sigma did years ago with the DP1 (28mm eq), DP2 (41mm eq) and DP3 (75mm eq). The Sigma DP line had an amazing image quality if you managed to keep the ISO at base level or slightly above it. Values of 400 would already start crushing the image quality. That made these cameras an extremely niche product inside a very restricted market, and they didn’t have the success they deserved.
A 40mm Ricoh GR makes sense for people that prefer that focal length to 28mm. Some m43 users love the Panasonic 20mm 1.7, that brings a similar experience to a 40mm lens.
When ages ago I started taking photography seriously I used to shoot a lot with the Smena 8M, a soviet compact plastic camera, fully manual, with a 40mm f4 fixed lens: for this reason it became a focal length I learned to like and that I still enjoy from time to time, but for me the GR remains a 28mm camera.
I am happy whenever Ricoh / Pentax realeases something, even if it is something I won’t get. I hope people will buy the GR IIIx and enjoy it. I could eventually get one just to test it, but at the moment that’s very low among my photo priorities!
The GR IIIx is probably another camera release for taking time before (hopefully!) releasing a GR IV, and it is ok. Take your time Ricoh, but please for your next camera try to listen to photographers more than to YouTubers looking for a passive income and blind fans. The next GR has to fix the heating and dust issue, and we need to get better quality control. You are one of the most honorable companies –– you can do it. That is top priority.
As I said somewhere else, the GR occupies a niche and I think the first goal in a niche is to reach excellence within it. Ricoh should manifacture a compact camera with high quality fixed 28mm equivalent lens, a good APSC sensor, very high image quality, no heating, some degree of sealing, few but good and unique in camera film simulations, good battery life.
Let’s all hope they will get it right soon, because the GR truly is the last romantic camera.