I’ve now switched between Fuji and Ricoh for a second time in a few years, and I am convinced the current GR II is a very well designed and competitive imaging machine, but I am definitely hoping for a GR III within another year or two. So, here are my two cents worth for Ricoh’s design and engineering teams. If you’ve also used the GR series, let me know what you think.
For the impatient readers out there, here’s my bullet list of do’s and do not’s. These are roughly in order of importance.
…add high quality 14-bit raw file support, faster data handling and upgraded processing
…bump up the pixel density while also increasing the per pixel performance as long as the lens can handle it
…increase the AF speed a bit without sacrificing accuracy
…improve dust and drip sealing, if it does not negatively impact the crisp feel and performance of the shooting controls
…add iOS/Android app support for raw file wifi transfer and JPEG conversion
…increase video bit rate and improve the codec
…increase the dimensions and weight significantly
…decrease battery life
…drastically change the awesome lens design without some serious justifications
…change the well thought out shooting controls without a lot of validation work with outstanding photographers
…spend development money to add a huge number of rarely used in camera JPEG conversion options/filters when my phone can do it better
…spend development money to add 4k video unless it’s really easy these days
A few years back, I had the X-20 in addition to my main camera at the time (OM-D E-M5), and used both like mini DSLRs. At base ISO and maybe a little higher, I could get just enough flexibility from the image files, but when the tiny zoom lens on the Fuji had sucked up a lot of dust and after a couple exposures to rain and snow that made it lock up occasionally, I moved on to the GR. Great move!
I immediately loved the step up in image quality, the lens was awesome, and with some experimenting I found a workflow that gave my photos a look that worked very well for me. I held on to it for a few years, eventually using it side by side with my first full-frame DSLR (the great all-arounder D750), but then I somehow convinced myself to trade the GR in on an X-100T.
That switch was a good learning experience overall, although I started missing the GR after a few months. I got a lot of great shots with that 23/2 lens, and I started using the tele-converter occasionally. I even considered adding the wide-angle converter to have the 28mm option again, but I recently sold it and put in an order for the GR II. Why, you might ask?
The GR’s pocketable size and shape, which Fuji does not equal even with the X70, was a major deciding factor for me. The lens quality, shooting control layout, and sensor/image performance are still very usable in my opinion. The ability to grab the GR from a pocket for quick, but superbly high-quality snapshots isn’t really matched by any other camera that I’ve tried. The X-100 was not as ideal for me as a second camera, although the images I got from it were outstanding.
Without losing that unique GR form factor, I think a few things are essential for a successful GR III release.
A small bump-up in pixel count, assuming the lens is up to it, and Ricoh manages a per pixel performance increase as well, would be very welcome, and would make the 35 and 47mm crop modes a little more viable for those needing more resolution.
Dust and drip resistance would be killer, but only if the controls stay crisp and there is no impact on pocket-ability. This is a very nice to have, but not a deal breaker for me.
Processing power and RAW image quality probably need to be improved by a good sized jump to stay competitive in the next couple years. If the engineers find a 20 or 24 mp APS-C sensor that blows away the current one then that would be fine, but I would rather have 14 bit lossless DNG files whether they stay at 16mp or not. Adding more onboard processing power and a higher throughput data channels is important to do without screwing up battery life.
Upgrading video to a higher bit rate and better quality codec would be a really good move as well, but I don’t think 4k is a must have. Fine-tuning the in camera JPEG options would be welcome, but deeper lossless raw files are more important to me.
For JPEGS, I would appreciate just a few really good conversion options rather than a huge array of filters onboard. I can easily process the OOC JPEGS further on my phone while staying mobile, no need to waste engineering time on processing steps that could be done after transfer to a device with a better screen for post-processing. If they were to make RAW files wifi transferable to a fully functional iOS/Android app for conversion that would be cool, and avoid limitations of the onboard hardware.
Current full-frame 24mp+ sensor DSLRs and mirrorless ILCs are really upping the ante. I hope it’s clear that I don’t consider the GR any less useful than a much bigger hunk of metal, plastic and glass, it just has a little less flexibility and margin for error in many use cases.
Keeping the battery life, size, weight, shooting performance, and all the other parameters from taking a hit while increasing image quality will be a tough balancing act for Ricoh.
I am definitely cheering them on to get it done!