Ricoh GR III Camera Review
Connectivity and Firmware
The GR III is a fully connected camera. Supporting USB type-C, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, it leaves little to be desired regarding connectivity.
In theory, Bluetooth offers a low power connection, which can even work when the camera is turned off. Bluetooth can be used to transfer images from the camera to a phone. Wi-Fi, on the other hand, is meant to allow both image transfer, and remote control of the camera.
That’s in theory… as of the beginning of May, 2019, the Image Sync app from Ricoh does not support all those features, whether it's on Android or iOS. The camera can connect to a phone via Bluetooth (tested with a Pixel 2 and Galaxy S10e) but the app does not recognize the connection. In other words, Bluetooth is, for the moment, useless.
As for Wi-Fi, the current version of the app (2.0.4) does allow image transfer, but nothing else.
Trying to activate remote control returns an error message.
Ricoh states the following:
This version can conduct Viewing images via Wireless LAN and Image Transfer only.
The release timing of the version corresponding to other functions for GRIII will be announced in RICOH IMAGING website when it is fixed.
The Image Sync app, in its current version, is straightforward. There are three tabs. The first shows the files previously transferred to the phone from the camera. The second shows the files currently on the camera. The third is for settings. On Android, a round icon at the bottom right will eventually give access to remote controls.
The app mostly follows the Material Design guidelines and is easy to use. It shows potential, once Ricoh makes the remote control mode operational.
Third-party Apps Support
There are a number of third-party apps that can communicate with Ricoh/Pentax cameras. We have tested two of them on Android: Pentax Photo Sync and Pentax Image Sender. Both of these apps are able to communicate perfectly well with the GR III. They offer the same functionalities as the official Ricoh app. None supports remote camera control for the moment. While the updated official Image Sync app has improved tremendously since the first versions, it is good to know that other options are also available for those interested.
Ricoh has been known to support its GR line with relatively frequent firmware updates. That is commendable, and a trend that we hope continues.
The firmware version included with the camera at launch was fully functional, however many users have been underwhelmed by the AF performances of the camera. AF speed has been reported as somewhat slow, and low light reliability sub-par. Ricoh quickly released a firmware update, version number 1.10, in order to improve AF performances. The technical notes of this update are listed below.
- Improved AF performance in dark places and low contrast.
- Correspond to Image Sync connection.
- Please use with Image Sync version (2.0.4) or later.
- With Image Sync version (2.0.4), you can only view and transfer images via a wireless LAN connection.
- Improved stability for general performance.
We are happy to confirm that the firmware does improve AF speed, especially in low light. The camera doesn’t feel like a speed demon, but things are better. See our Focusing test page for details.
AF reliability has also improved tremendously. Prior to the firmware update, the camera could, at times, hunt for no particular reason, in conditions where we wouldn’t expect a modern camera to struggle.
In this regard, firmware 1.10 is a godsend. Even in light levels as low as -0.32 EV, the camera’s AF is fast enough, but more importantly reliable. Even with low contrast subjects, such as the fake wood on the following image, the AF locked properly under one second.
The only occurrences of incorrect AF operation seem to occur close to the toggle point between the macro and regular ranges.
Also note that the macro toggle can be easy to switch on without intending to, which can lead to frustrating moments trying to figure out what the problem is. This is especially true since many GR III users are also DSLR users, for whom there is no such thing as “macro mode”.
In short, we urge GR III users to upgrade to the newer firmware, and hope that Ricoh continues to improve the camera’s performances.
The GR III has the potential to be a powerfully connected camera. With Bluetooth for low energy files transfer and Wi-Fi for both transfer and remote control, plus USB Type-C for fast wired transfers and easy charging, it lacks for nothing in this regard.
The current firmware (1.10) and app version (2.0.4) severely limit the camera's capabilities, however. Bluetooth communication and Wi-Fi remote control are inoperative, a major hindrance. We can only hope that Ricoh continues to release improved firmware versions in the near future.