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Ricoh GR DIGITAL III Digital Camera Review

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Digital Camera Review by: Katrina Putker

 

With a price tag just under $1,000, the 10 megapixel GR Digital III is a compact camera aimed predominantly at professional photographers and experienced photography enthusiasts alike. And rightfully so.

As successor to the popular GR Digital II, the GR Digital III continues to expand on the level of quality already achieved in the GR series by introducing a new CCD and processing engine, not to mention an impressive 28mm equivalent F1.9 lens.

And, despite its long list of credentials, the GR Digital III remains packaged into a neat, slim and understated little body that isn’t over-designed.

Indeed, it is fair to say Ricoh let the list of impressive specifications and the promise and delivery of high image quality speak for themselves: no eye-popping colours or flashy futuristic designs here.

The build of the GR Digital III is also extraordinarily similar to that of the GX200: it has a sturdy rectangular body with predominantly black coverings and ninety percent of its buttons/dials set in a similar, if not identical, configuration.

The two Ricoh bodies are almost exactly the same length, width and height (this model being 108.6 mm (W) x 59.8 mm (H) x 25.5 mm (D) respectively, not including projecting parts) while the GR Digital III’s fixed lens doesn’t protrude as far as the GX200’s does neither when power is off nor when fully extended.

What is noticeably different on comparison however is the size of the GR Digital III’s slightly larger 3-inch LCD screen (2.7 inch on the GX200), the shifted position of the pop up flash from directly above the lens to the top far left corner of the GR Digital III’s body and as a result of that, the changed location of the flash open trigger from the top of the GX200 to the side of the GR Digital III.

The option for an External View Finder (EVF) via the hot shoe is also available on the GR Digital III as well as an external flash unit for a boost in flash power if desired.

The GR Digital III has one less dedicated function button (than on the GX200) although it still offers the ability to assign one of eleven possible functions to one of two separate buttons on the unit in order to personalise functioning and make controlling the camera’s settings a quicker and easier process.

Users can customise the function buttons to control ISO, auto/manual focus, picture quality and size, white balance, and exposure compensation to name but a few.

Interestingly, the GR Digital III has no optical zoom ability and offers only digital zoom up to 4x magnification instead, so once the unit is switched on and its triple-tiered lens extends to a fixed position, that is where it remains throughout operation.

As the name suggests, digital zoom is an electronic process (as opposed to optical zoom where it is a physical process) and consequently, the results are rarely as good as they might be where optical zoom is available and used instead.

At 4x digital zoom images are unsharp and suffer significantly decreased clarity. 2x digital zoom generally offers good results however, so users should try and limit themselves to this degree of extension when possible.

In its favour, the GR Digital III offers an equivalent 28mm wide-angle lens, an impressive largest possible aperture of F1.9, an ISO range of 64-1600, as well as a generous thumb grip pad on the body’s back, which is larger than that seen on the GX200 helping to better secure the camera in hand.

As with the GX200, a favoured feature on the GR Digital III is the fairly inconspicuous electronic level function displayed on the info screen.

It repeatedly proves itself a welcome addition to digital shooting by ensuring vertical and horizontal lines are kept straight thereby virtually guaranteeing that post-production leveling and/or cropping is rarely required.

The level itself is easy to understand with a centered green bar indicating correct level, a yellow sliding bar indicating an incline or decline in either direction and a solid red section indicating a severe angle that may need readjusting and whether you’re shooting horizontally or vertically, the level function rotates with the camera accordingly to remain of use.

Similarly, a small live histogram is available for display during composition to help inform users of the quality of the exposure of the current scene and whether shadow and/or highlight detail is present or instead being clipped.

Again this is a small feature that if used properly will ensure better technical images and therefore less time wasted correcting images in post-production.

The GR Digital III offers a nine-option mode dial that includes: auto, program shift, aperture and shutter priority, manual exposure, scene, and three individual customisable ‘my settings’ options with which, users are able to immediately recall a host of previously saved settings (including shooting mode, white balance, ISO, exposure compensation, flash mode, noise reduction, exposure metering etc.

Basically, ‘my settings’ is a way of designing your own modes specifically relevant for conditions you regularly find yourself shooting under. For example, if you tend do a lot of night photography you may create a ‘my setting’ that has a higher ISO, switches noise reduction software on, triggers exposure compensation by a third of a stop, and changes exposure metering to multi.medal-gold-r.jpg

Generally, handling and functioning of the GR Digital III proves both comfortable and logical.

Users are offered two options of controlling and scrolling through menus, functions and images in playback mode: either via the four-way control pad and ‘ok’ button or using the up-down dial (located near the shutter, designed for use with the index finger) combined with the ADJ lever.

The increased sensitivity of the internal CCD, which has almost doubled from its predecessor, is partly responsible for the greater image quality achieved by the GR Digital III that users will undoubtedly notice and love upon first inspection.

For its relatively minimal size and weight, the GR Digital III is a fairly comprehensive unit that packs a long list of features and capabilities into a discreet little body capable of delivering quality images across an array of shooting conditions and scenes.

Appearance rating 4 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
4 stars
Lens quality
4 stars
View finder / LCD screen 4 stars
Value for money 4 stars
RRP (AUD) $999
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 10 Million mega pixels
Image Sizes 9 Sizes
Lens - zoom wide [mm] 28mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens -zoom tele [mm] -
Lens - Optical Zoom Yes, 10x
Resolution Settings From 640 x 480 to 3,456 x 2,592
Shooting Modes -
Face Detection No
Manual Focus No
Auto Focus Yes
Focus Range [cm] 30cm - infinity
Aperture Range F1.9 – F9
Aperture Priority Yes
Macro Yes
Macro Range [cm] 1cm
Shutter Speeds Auto, 180, 120, 60, 30, 15, 13, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3.2, 2.5, 2, 1.6, 1.3, 1 - 1/2000 sec.
Shutter Priority No
ISO AUTO, AUTO-HI, ISO64 / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600
LCD Monitor 3.0-inch Transparent LCD (approx. 920,000 dots)
Viewfinder No
Flash Auto (during low light and when the subject is backlit), Red-eye-Reduction, Flash On, Slow Synchro, Flash Off
Hot Shoe No
White balance AUTO / Multi-Pattern AUTO / Outdoors / Cloudy / Incandescent / Fluorescent / Manual / Detail, White Balance Bracket Function
Self Timer Yes, 10sec. and 2sec
Movie Options Yes. Limited only by memory card size.
Video Out Yes
Storage Type SD memory card
Storage Included [Mb] 88MB Internal Memory
Image / Audio Formats JPEG, RAW, AVI, and DPOF
Connectivity USB 2.0 High-speed
Power Source AC adapter
Battery Options DB-65 / AAA Dry Alkaline Battery (x2) battery
Dimensions 108.6 mm (W) x 59.8 mm (H) x 25.5 mm (D)
Weight Approx. 188 g (excluding battery, SD memory card, strap)
 
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