Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Ricoh’s GR beckons again: But the choice just became more complicated

Ricoh’s GR beckons again: But the choice just became more complicated


There is no doubt that the Ricoh GR is something of a cult camera. I have long been a fan of this little 28mm snapshooter, having owned the original APS-C version and enjoying it immensely. We are now on the GR’s third iteration and it has just been joined by the GR IIIx, equipped with a longer 40mm focal length lens.

At first, I thought that the IIIx was a replacement for the 28mm GR III but soon realised that it is an additional model. What’s more, some of the new features of the IIIx will be ported to the III by means of a firmware upgrade. This means that both cameras will be more or less identical other than in their focal length.

Encouragingly, also, the new camera settles one niggling worry, that of the future for the GR. It seems there is indeed life at Ricoh and that the GR will be around for a few more years at least. That’s a very good sign which will be welcomed by aficionados worldwide and all the more reason to now consider getting your own GR.


The GR, in any of its guises, is the quintessential compact travel camera, with its unassuming point-and-shoot image and size and its ability to offer a 24MP APS-C sensor and fripperies such as IBIS and ultrasonic sensor cleaning. In fact, there isn’t much that hasn’t been shoehorned into that eminently pocketable magnesium alloy chassis.

I really enjoyed travelling with my Mk I GR while it lasted. Here at Macfilos, we have published many articles featuring Ricoh GRs, including earlier small-sensor models. You will find links to these articles below, including those written by our colleague Jean Perenet in Normandy. He has travelled the world with just a GR in his pocket. He’s a long-time Ricoh fan and can do wonders even with the earlier small-sensor versions. As it stands, Jean is to the Ricoh GR as our other colleague, John Shingleton in Australia, is to the Leica X1.

The GR isn’t a mass-market camera and is well below the radar of most amateur photographers. Its appearance is so bland that many assume it must be an equally bland performer. It doesn’t look much for the money and, in the showroom, other models tend to look far more “professional”. Yet nothing could be further from the truth; this is a very capable camera. The GR is bought by a relatively small band of connoisseurs, photographers who have tried many cameras, many of whom, I am sure, also have the odd Leica or high-end Canon in their bags. Whenever I see a GR in the hands of a photographer, I can sense the experience.

If I may commit heresy, the Ricoh GR can even be compared with the Leica Q. The concept is very similar. Both have the same 28mm focal length, both produce impressive results. The Leica ultimately outperforms the Ricoh, not just because of its larger full-frame sensor, but because of the truly excellent and faster Summilux lens. But in many situations, the Ricoh can equal the Q and it wins hands down when it comes to size and weight. The Q2 will never fit in a trouser pocket, but the GR slips in happily. And you know what they say about the camera in your pocket.

Those who know and understand the GR swear by it.


As for me, I have had my reservations, as I hinted earlier. I bought the GR I when it first came out and had many happy outings with the little beast. You can see some of the results in this article. I did find the controls a little fiddly, but then that is a common feature of all really small cameras, the Sony X100 series being a case in point. But the GR I did have one egregious feature, the exposure control button perched right in the top corner of the camera back and right under the wandering thumb. It was a bad design and I am pleased to see that the layout has been changed on later models.


I admit that I am now tempted to give Ricoh another try. However, there is now an additional complication. Is the 40mm focal length a suitable alternative to 28mm? Does the new IIIx offer an attractive compromise between the old “standard” focal length of 50mm and the now popular 35mm? Or is 28mm the most versatile after all? While you can crop 28mm, you can’t UN-crop 40mm to get a wider view.

During the years I used my old GR, I grew used to 28mm as a versatile focal length. The Leica Q further added to my comfort and I grew to prefer a pocket camera with a wider angle of view for its ability to capture city scenes when it was impossible to move further away from the subject for whatever reason. I also love the huge depth of field provided by 28mm. It’s ideal for zone-focus photography—the fastest AF you can get—with almost everything in focus at a fixed f/8.

I love my Leica Q2 and it is the camera I use most, but there are many occasions when I don’t want to carry the weight unless I have a particular photographic project in mind. Up to now, I’ve been using the little Sony X100 VI or my trusty old Leica X2 in this supporting role, although I confess that during lockdown I have relied more on the iPhone. The Sony is compact and has the advantage of a built-in EVF, but it doesn’t fill me with enthusiasm. It doesn’t have the cult status of the GR. Nor is it as easy to use as the super-simple Leica X2.

Surprisingly, the Leica X1/X2 body is just a few millimeters longer than that of the Ricoh, although it is a bit deeper (4.8mm compared with 3.5mm). The Leica is almost as pocketable and, if it were not for the sad fact that it is now a 12-year-old design, it would be capable of squaring up to the GR and acquitting itself remarkably well.

In many respects, the Leica is the easiest to live with of the lot. I just love its simple controls with traditional speed and aperture dials on constant display.


For anyone now considering the GR, perhaps encouraged by this latest vote of confidence in the future, there is now a choice, rather than just one simple model.

I know that I am perfectly happy with a fixed 28mm focal length, but would the new Pinocchio, the IIIx, prove as satisfying a companion. Would it become a little frustrating as a sole travel companion?

I can quite imagine owners of 28mm GRs deciding to invest in the GRIIIx to carry around as a second camera. I’d probably buy the GR IIIx without a qualm if my old 28mm model were still in the land of the living. Our old Ricoh author, Bill Palmer, plans to do just this. The size of both cameras is the same (small) and carrying two little cameras makes as much sense as, say, toting an APS-C mirrorless camera with a brace of lenses. But when the lens is fixed to the camera, choosing just one focal length is a leap of faith.

While it is tempting to think that the GR IIIx must be the better choice because it’s new, I have a sneaking suspicion that the popularity of the 28mm GR III will not diminish. And it just might still be the better choice for ultimate versatility.

It’s a real dilemma. I can see the logic of sticking with the original 28mm focal length, not just in saving a bit of money but also in having a tiny APS-C camera to complement the Q2 without needing to think about the different focal lengths.

What would you do? Assuming you were in the market for a Ricoh GR, loving it for its tiny dimensions, bullet-proof construction and pocketability, would you prefer the versatility of 28mm or the compromise of a longer lens?

Jean Perenet’s travels around the world with the Ricoh GR

More on the Ricoh GR

Announcement of the Ricoh GR IIIx

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  1. I’ve recently got the xe4 kit with 28/2.8 which becomes 40mm angle of view with an inbuilt evf.
    I like the form factor of Ricoh but an inbuilt evf is a must for me for the pure joy of holding a camera close to me 🙂

    • I understand. That is the big negative factor with the GR as it was with the X1. At least Fuji addressed that problem with the X100, although that camera is bulkier as a result.

  2. If I recall Mike, you still have the Leica TL2. If so, that with the 18mm pancake lens should fit in a pocket (at least a jacket pocket).

    • Yes I do still have the TL2 but I sold all my TL lenses except for the 18-56. Mind you, the Summaron-M is no bigger and would give a 42mm focal length, similar to that of the Ricoh IIIx… food for thought.

  3. Andrebianco seems to have great many chips on his shoulder. As I continue my ambling towards buying a Leica, I have had the sheer pleasure of using 2 cameras recently one of which is the Ricoh GRiii. It is exceptional in its performance and image rendering. The high contrast black and white setting doesn’t work for everything but it produces wonderfully rich black and whites and doesn’t neglect the mid tones. The camera does occasionally get warm upon prolonged use taking stills but not to the extent it becomes alarming. Fixed lens cameras are indeed restrictive in nature. Being a new photographer I refuse to confine myself to one focal length and only use primes. The GRiii being unobtrusive and underwhelming in its appearance doesn’t attract attention as compared to a SLR or my Contax G2. Digital cameras are largely vulnerable to electrical faults or even improper firmware. Assigning blame to a digital camera because of this is largely unnecessary. Impending obsolescence plagues almost all digital cameras as compared to their analogue counterparts. I for one will proceed to purchase the GRiiiX. It will lend itself handsomely to black and white portraits and work as a second camera. By the by, the GRiii lens is exceptionally sharp and has good contrast and detail.

  4. I would try one before buying as there are severe issues of heating on the GR3. If the 3X has not coped with that issue it would be worth trying before. Here are the link of Ricoh shooters,one a pro photographer concerning the GR3
    The add-on lenses are bulky and destroy the concept of the pocket camera. I use the hood on the GR2 and the older GRD4 and GRD3 with some black electric cellotape to prevent dust from entering the camera. I personnaly use the X2 and old GRD4 almost exclusively, at least more often than the GR.
    The X2 36mm lens is not far from the Ricoh 40mm lens, just a tad wider. I prefer the old CCD small sensor of the GRD4 to the aps-c sensor of the 16MP GR.
    If your mind is set on 40mm why not try the little panasonic GX9 + the 40mm f1.7 asph lens. From the images Farhiz did with it, it looks like a pretty small and sweet lens. You’d have the advantage of a viewfinder + a tilting screen, the possibility to clean the sensor and better battery life in a small package as well. That also gives you the possibity to complete the system with the pancake 12-32 zoom or the 14mm pancake lens.
    I’ve got plenty of similar images done with the GR and the X2 and the X2 is always the winner in term of image quality.

    • My gut feeling is that the overheating issue is one of those that people talk about more than actually experience. In virtually all the online discussion that I’ve seen, it’s either mentioned by people warning about it (often citing that second link, rather than offering first-hand experience) or by people interested in buying it, but worried by what they have read.

      Personally, I haven’t had any overheating issues and that includes times when another camera shut down because of the heat. Prior to buying the GRIII, I tried it on a Ricoh photowalk, run by Clifton Cameras – this was on a very sunny, hot day and due to the amount of people (over 20), the small amount of test cameras were being used by more intensively than in normal conditions and there were zero issues.

      I would certainly recommend the GX9 – it’s a wonderful camera and my most used one for street and urban shooting – but it’s a different beast to the GRIII. Although it’s a compact camera even with a small lens like the 20mm, it’s nowhere as pocketable as the GRIII. I can get the GX9 in a coat pocket (but mainly because being able to fit the camera into a pocket is one of my buying factors when it comes to coat buying, much to my partner’s bemusement) whereas the GRIII will fit in a shirt pocket.

      In some ways, a better comparison is the GX800 – there isn’t a viewfinder or IBIS, but size-wise it’s closer.

      The GRIII isn’t a camera for everyone and Sean Tucker, who is a huge fan, articulates that very well. For me, it’s a one that I’ve found it great to carry along with another camera or one that I can have on me practically all the time – and probably going to get a GRIIIx

  5. If Leica came out with a new version of the X, with a 24MP sensor, up-to-speed autofocus, that sharp little Elmarit lens and maybe even a built in optical finder, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

    In the meantime, there’s the Ricoh GRIII. And the GRIIIx, as the Leica would cost as much as both those cameras combined.

  6. Used A 38mm on my Contax T2 for years and the focal length was perfect for travel.
    Similarly the little 40mm on a Leica CL.
    Go for the 40!

  7. Love the GR. I have the III and I use it when I want to go as light as possible. I take it with me when I go cycling or want to travel really light. It really produces great images. The announcement of the 40mm makes me quite excited and I think I will swap my GRIII 28 for the new 40, a focal length that works bette for me in a one camera setup.

      • Mike , I have ordered the 111x, it will be my digital “Olympus trip”.
        Also I always have a 28mm in my pocket – my iPhone mini.
        Can’t wait for it to arrive – I can take her more photos of the pointless Hammersmith bridge.
        Regards Mike

        • I think I am convinced! But I am hoping to get a test camera out of Ricoh and help make up my mind that way. I chatted to a guy at the Show in the NEC on Saturday and he’d already used a pre-production IIIX and said he found it more useful and satisfying than the III.

          As for Hammersmith bridge, it is a little less pointless now I can walk across. My dentist is in Castlenau and I am saved the trek via Barnes. Much easier.

          • Mike, if you have any qualms about whether to buy that Leica, you can always ask your dentist.

            Boom, boom, as Basil might say.

  8. Mike, you have a 28mm Q2. So the 40mm lens would be a refreshing change. I loved the 40mm Summarit on my Leica CM. Framing would be tighter, calling for a little more care with composing your picture; but the results would be more cleanly defined. The focal-lengths are not interchangeable. Tou need a specific mind-set for either lens..

  9. Ricoh has offered a variety of adapters, over the years, to change the ‘fixed’ focal lengths of several of their cameras – or modules – to wider or longer focal lengths ..so you’re – probably – not ‘fixed’ at 28mm, or 40mm.

    I can’t remember all of them (..and am too lazy at the moment to look up all the adaptors on the web, as I’m suffering with a twisted / injured foot, making me thoroughly miserable!..) but I do have here, for example, the 0.79x (DW-6) adaptor for the 24-72mm zoom module for the (really nice and compact, interchangeable-module) Ricoh GXR ..a great, tiny, camera – in good light, anyway.

    That changes the 24mm zoom wide-angle to about 19mm ..and I’m a wide-angle junkie!

    So when considering whether to plump for the 28mm (not quite wide enough for me) or the 40mm, do have a look and see if there are additional Ricoh adapters to give even more capability with either of these cameras, Mike.

    ( I do see, using our friend Google, a “Brand New* Ricoh GW-4 0.75x Wide Conversion Lens For Ricoh GR III” on eBay, and that would give you 21mm on the 28mm lens. Ah, but you probably don’t want the width that I like: I don’t (yet) know if there’s a wide adapter for the 40mm, which would give you – optionally – a close-to-28mm 30mm equivalent. But it might be worth thinking about it, or looking.)

    • There is a 75mm tele adaptor but no mention of wide-angle. There was a 21mm adapter for the GRIII and maybe it will work on the GRIIIx, perhaps widening it to 28mm or something like that. But I don’t know.

  10. Funny; just returned from a Stockholm walk with my well worn GR ver.1 (which has never let me down so far), and now I sit down to read this… Actually, I´ve never been happy with the wide “28” lens of my GR, so I´ve all but decided to order the IIIx ASAP. The one thing that holds me back is my almost mint X2, which I feel is a better camera in its simplicity, only it´s bigger and slower to get the shot. And, the difference between a “35” lens and a “40” one (both on an APS sensor) is hardly worth the price of a new IIIx. But then, there´s the higher resolution… and the IS… and the faster response… &c… Afraid I won´t be able to resist the temptation (sigh). And, at least, my wife won´t see the difference, so no quips about “another new camera again”…

    • I also love the X2 and, frankly, it isn’t that much bigger than the GR. However, it’s now several generations old in terms of sensor, though perhaps not in its abilities. I wish Leica had developed it over the years instead of making so many changes of direction in their APS-C offerings. It seems they are always searching for something different, rather than concentrating on improving what they have. The GR is definitely more pocketable, though, and doesn’t need a Len’s cap because it has the automatic protector. So, if you want this type of camera with the latest generation sensor, the GRIII or IIIx is really the only choice.

  11. Why choosing when you can have both?
    Seriously, my favorite FL are 28 and 50, but the 28 is the one used the most when traveling. If I had to choose one of the GRs, it would then be the 28mm.

  12. The choice would be easy for me – the 40mm lens. The vast majority of my pictures are taken at 50mm. The 40mm offers a little more flexibility.
    However, I once owned the first GR and the images were wonderful but I hated the shooting experience without a built in viewfinder. So I put it up for adoption. I would be happy if it just had a built in glass viewfinder instead of a evf.


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