Ricoh has announced the launch of its new flagship camera, the GR Digital III, which features a new F1.9 lens, new high sensitivity CCD sensor and a new image processing engine. The faster focusing GR Digital III offers an irresistible combination for professional photographers – the superior image quality and advanced manual control of a SLR, with the pocket ability of a compact digital camera.
New large-aperture lens
Not since Ricoh’s GR series was first given a digital makeover in 2005 has the GR Digital had a new lens. The F1.9 (28mm equivalent) fixed lens found in the GR Digital III lifts high-speed compact photography to new heights, enabling vivid images to be captured at faster shutter speeds and lower ISO settings than ever before possible. Macro photography has also benefited through the use of a newly developed lens drive system to minimize image curvature.
Enhanced image quality
The evolution of the GR series continues with the GR Digital III achieving outstanding shooting performance in low-light scenes through the use of a completely new 10 megapixel CCD sensor. Leaving the pixel war behind, rather than increase sensor size, Ricoh has focused on increasing sensor quality by incorporating more advanced noise reduction-process and light-collection technologies. The result: even at ISO 200, image quality is at or above the ISO 100 level of its predecessor.
Likewise, the GR Engine III further ensures images taken in challenging light conditions retain superior resolution, tone characteristics and hue saturation – the loss of which are all common complaints of SLR users who demand better image quality from digital compacts.
Faster focusing is another key strength of the GR Digital III. In combination with the new bright lens, algorithm improvements have reduced auto focus (AF) speed even in dark scenes while an innovative new Pre-AF function enables the camera to adjust focus to match the movement of a subject. To further ensure the capture of fleeting shutter opportunities, a ‘full press snap’ function has been introduced whereby focus is automatically locked on subjects at a distance predetermined by the photographer, without the need for a half-press.
Extended dynamic range
The GR Digital III borrows a number of key features from the popular Ricoh CX1 (launched March 2009). The first is the innovative dynamic range double shot mode which enhances the camera’s ability to process different light intensities. Using this mode, the GR Digital III takes two images with different exposures almost simultaneously then combines the best exposed parts of each image into a final recorded version. When taking photos on bright sunny days, selecting this mode ensures the subject and the background are perfectly exposed – no whiteout in light areas and no loss of detail in dark areas.
Multi-function auto white balance
The second feature is the CX1’s multi-pattern auto white balance function. Particularly powerful for people photography or in outdoor situations that combine sun and shade, this function enables the camera to define white balance to fit the light source of each segregated area of an image to deliver a more natural outcome. Past auto white balance functions simply used an average setting for the entire image.
Like its predecessors, the GR Digital III has been designed for optimum freedom of expression and includes a raft of features especially designed to enable image creation that more accurately reflects the intent of the photographer.
In addition to aperture priority AE, the fully manual camera is the first GR model to offer shutter speed priority AE, enabling the photographer to increase or reduce shutter speed based on the scenario. To maximize operability and flexibility when shooting in manual mode, a twin dial allows the photographer to adjust aperture at the front and shutter speed at the back, or visa versa depending on preference.
Providing further control, the GR Digital III provides a more extensive range of hue and saturation settings than previously offered. Whether it be to strengthen the blue in the sky or reduce the green in the grass, enhanced image quality parameters allow for optimum colour reproduction.
In a nod to GR fans, the GR Digital III continues to offer the customization levels that Ricoh has provided since the introduction of the GR Digital. To enable the photographer to personalize the camera, frequently used settings can be assigned to specific buttons and dials. Meanwhile, the number of My Settings on the mode dial has increasing from two to three and they can now be given specific names. The number of function (Fn) buttons on the back of the camera has also increased from one to two.
Adding to its versatility, the GR Digital III can be expanded to meet a variety of photographic needs. Optional accessories include an external viewfinder, external flash, 21mm wide conversion lens as well as a hood and adaptor. Regular firmware upgrades ensure GR Digital III owners can continue to utilise the latest functions for years to come.
Available in leading camera specialists from mid-August, the Ricoh GRDIII retains its classic, retro design with a die cast body and leather inlay handgrip. Images come alive on the 3-inch 920,000-dot VGA picture display which is protected from soiling and scratching by two hard coats. A further anti-reflection coat ensures greater visibility even outdoors in bright sunshine.
Price and availability
The Ricoh GR Digital III will be available in mid-August, at an RRP of $999.