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07-18-2022, 06:15 PM   #1
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GR III vs DSLR for travel

We have an epic trip to Europe coming up and traveling with my K50 DSLR may present challenges. Is the compact GR III worth the premium price and a good choice for a travel camera?

07-18-2022, 07:12 PM   #2
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This comparison is like Apple to Orange, they can't compare.

Some people can go with only the GR 28mm for the entire journey, enjoying the compactness and instant photography joy. There is a saying that nothing beats a 28mm.

But on the hand, a camera SYSTEM would offer you much more flexibility and functionality. Even pairing up with the DA-21mm limited (30mm equivalent), which can be regarded as a direct alternative for GRIII 28mm, the system is stilly offering you much more than a compact GRIII can do.

So it is just your preference, you think a 28mm would do the job? Or you need some more ?
07-18-2022, 08:25 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I have shot with both a DSLR and a GR III-series camera when traveling. Both are excellent cameras WHEN USED PROPERLY - and that's the rub.

As Hayashi noted, a 'system camera' is more flexible and provides more functionality. They are generally also larger, bulkier, and heavier. If you need to pull it out of a camera bag to use it, they're also slower to use.

The GR III-series are compact cameras that take excellent images. I like being able to put my GR camera in it's (Ricoh) case on my belt - the case has a magnetic flap that holds the camera, and the camera can be pulled out of the case one-handed without looking. When walking around, I can pull the camera out of it's case, press the power button and the camera is ready to shoot by the time it's raised to my eye, with no lens cap to remove and no large case on my shoulder to fumble with. Press the shutter to get the shot, hit the power button again, and put the camera back in it's case replacing the flap as I do - all this in maybe five seconds - using only one hand and without having to look away from the action.

The GR III-series are about the same size as a pack of cigarettes - maybe a half inch longer, and the lens 'bump' sticks up maybe a quarter inch. The cameras are small and - since they're almost all black - they don't attract much attention when in use.

I'm going on an 11-day (domestic) trip next month. I'm carrying a DSLR with two travel lenses as my primary photo tool, but I'm also carrying a GR IIIx (40mm lens equivalent) as my backup/snapshot camera that will reside on my belt the entire time I'm traveling. I'll use the GR IIIx throughout the trip, but if disaster strikes, the IIIx will become my primary camera. I've traveled in Europe shooting with single focal length cameras before, so I am familiar with how to do travel photography with only a single focal length. However, I understand that not everyone would be comfortable doing that.

The GR III-series cameras will have some advantages over a typical travel DSLR kit. The GR IIIx has a prime lens, so it's photos will be a little sharper than most zoom travel lenses. At f/2.8, it's also substantially faster than travel lenses, too. The GR III-series also have a decent macro mode - no, they won't go to 1:1, but given that you're almost always shooting a GR III-series camera handheld, the macro mode gets about as close is you can realistically hand-hold and not lose focus.

Besides the limitation of a single focal length, you should also be aware that the batteries of the GR III-series cameras are good for only about 200 shots each. The good news is that the batteries are not particularly expensive, nor are they large - I carry 4 in a Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket memory card wallet along with 3 SD cards. Along with a battery in the camera, that's way more battery than *I* need for a day's shooting. However, if you are a 'spray and pray' shooter, the GR III-series probably isn't for you.

And be aware that the GR III-series are not weather resistant. You'll need to keep it dry and avoid pulling it out in sandy, dusty conditions.

Depending on what and how you shoot, a GR III-series camera CAN work for you. I will come right out and state that if you try to use shoot a GR III-series like it was a DSLR, you will be unhappy. It's not a DSLR. It's *different*. The GR III-series are excellent street photography cameras, and are also excellent travel cameras if you're looking to shoot with a small discrete kit. But they're not a DSLR substitute.

Last edited by wm_brant; 07-19-2022 at 09:43 AM. Reason: Corrected wording issues
07-18-2022, 09:19 PM - 1 Like   #4

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I've shot a fixed lens camera for years. And what was surprising for me was how many pictures I could get with this kind of camera AFTER I learned the strength and weaknesses of its focal length. It took some time and practice. And now I'm really comfortable using one. And getting one right before a trip doesn't give you much time to gain some experience with it. But don't let that stop you. Go for it!

07-18-2022, 09:20 PM   #5
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Also don't forget that the GRIII cameras don't have a viewfinder built in. One is available as an accessory that fits in the hotshoe, but it is rather expensive and somewhat hinders the idea of the small sleek form factor.

For some people the lack of viewfinder is no issue whatsoever. For others it is, to one degree or another.
07-18-2022, 10:58 PM   #6

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Europe isn't small, so it all depends where you will be going in Europe. What you want to see, and what you want to take pics off.
So you will firt have to decide what you want to take the pics off. Then you can see which camera (and lenses) to take.
07-18-2022, 11:03 PM - 2 Likes   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by kjfishman Quote
We have an epic trip to Europe coming up and traveling with my K50 DSLR may present challenges. Is the compact GR III worth the premium price and a good choice for a travel camera?
Yeah, you may need nothing else ...

07-18-2022, 11:10 PM - 1 Like   #8
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I only take my GRlll with me (although we also now have the lllx) - and it can be switched to 35mm (as well as 50) still giving you 16mp files to play with. I really cannot be arsed dragging more than a small camera around with me when I am on holiday.

Last edited by Unregistered User; 07-19-2022 at 04:06 AM.
07-19-2022, 12:33 AM - 1 Like   #9
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Depends. If it is photography trip - DSLR all the way, nothing beats system camera when you travel somewhere for photos (unless street photo). But if it is normal holiday when you want to rest, sightseeing, enjoy yourself at restaurants etc then GR. It is small, unobtrusive and there is bigger chance that you will carry it around then bulky DSLR with rather big travel lens.
07-19-2022, 12:34 AM - 1 Like   #10

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QuoteOriginally posted by kjfishman Quote
We have an epic trip to Europe coming up and traveling with my K50 DSLR may present challenges. Is the compact GR III worth the premium price and a good choice for a travel camera?
Not only do you need the K50, you will also need as wide a lens as you can get.
There will be many nice historical buildings where it will be hard to move further back and as such a UWA will be essential.

I'd rather have a K50 and a 8-16 / 10-20/ 10-24mm for some sort and no other lens.
Throw in a small 50mm for any shallow DOF stuff and you are done.

If it was a fixed 28mm, like a Sigma DP1m or the GR, I'd have to bring along a pano mount or DIY a simpler one (since the optical center will be fixed ). Then I can do vertical panos.
07-19-2022, 12:36 AM   #11
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For an 'epic', as in 'once-in-a-lifetime' trip I would take both a DSLR and a compact camera, in my case a K50+18-135mm, my 15mm Ltd, and my Panasonic TZ100 for use primarily in urban settings. Both combinations cover the all-important 24-200mm range, and give maximum flexibility. The lack of a viewfinder on the GRIII would make that a non-starter for me. Painful experience has taught me not to consider a camera unless it has both a VF and a level gauge. YMMV, of course, and anyway, welcome to Europe, and I hope you have a great trip!
07-19-2022, 12:47 AM - 1 Like   #12

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Since I bought my GRIII almost 2 years ago, my DSLR has spent most of its time at home. If I'm travelling in my car and space/weight isn't a consideration, I will take my DSLR and a couple of lenses. If I'm traveling by air or rail I tend to leave the DSLR at home. I'm off to Paris for a week next month and I'll just take my GRIII and one of my small film bodies.

The GRIII is superb for city/street photography anyway. To be honest, the image quality of my DSLR (Canon EOS 6D) is better than the GRIII, particularly with one of my better lenses fitted...... but, and its a big "but" the image quality isn't better by a huge amount. That APSC sensor and sharp 28mm lens is something to behold in a camera that small.
07-19-2022, 04:22 AM - 2 Likes   #13

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Faced with a similar problem some years ago when preparing for a trip to New Zealand I bought a high end bridge camera with sensible zoom range.

No regrets other than its sensor was smaller than that in my dslr and it noticed in overall IQ, but it left me to enjoy the sights and bring back the memories.

Last edited by JohnX; 07-19-2022 at 07:10 AM.
07-19-2022, 06:53 AM   #14
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For this kind of trip I personally would use a DSLR with my SMC DA*16-50mm f/2.8, and a couple of primes in the bag including the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Art - for interior shots where it might be quite dark. I'm not sure I could make it work with just the 18.5mm lens in the GR III. But part of me would love the challenge of taking just a GR IIIx (if I had it) for the 26.1mm lens, as I love the 40-45mm-equiv focal range. That is a camera I would love to justify buying
07-19-2022, 02:17 PM - 1 Like   #15

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Since I bought my GR 8 years ago it's been on every trip with me. There's usually another camera whether it's been a DSLR or M43 or film. But the one constant is always the GR. It's not just the image quality and the convenience. It's a fun camera which encourages you to take photos. It's going to Europe again in September. This time it'll be accompanied by the KP.

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