A Photo Walk With Ricoh's New GR III Camera

Weeks ahead of its release, we got to spend an hour walking around San Francisco with a new camera that's not much bigger than a smartphone, but promises to take much better photos.

17 photos
Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area
The Ricoh GR III, with its f/2.8 28mm-equivalent lens, can focus on objects as close as 2.36 inches away, making for some interesting perspectives.
Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area
The GR III lacks a zoom lens, but makes up for it with optical quality: Here, the lines of the building and the street remain undistorted from edge to edge.
Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area
Devotees of the GR camera line call it the "ultimate street camera" for its ability to capture natural moments like this, quickly and without drawing too much attention.
Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area
During our photo walk, we happened upon a press conference at the entrance to Chinatown.
Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area
In this detail cropped from a wide-angle photo taken with the Ricoh GR III, San Francisco Mayor London Breed exchanges a glance with State Assemblyman David Chiu.
Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area
In this photo taken with the Ricoh GR III before its release, San Francisco police officers gathered at a press conference to promote safety during lunar new year celebrations.
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Our media colleagues, photographed with a Ricoh GR III compact camera before its release. Devotees of the GR series say its speed and unassuming looks contribute to its ability to capture natural facial expressions.
Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area
Fans of the Ricoh GR series say the small cameras are great for photographing dogs without spooking them. Especially if those dogs happen to be made out of solid metal.
Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area
The Ricoh GR III has a 24-megapixel APS-C sized sensor — the second-biggest sensor size commonly found on cameras. Its makers say that allows it to capture far more detail than the tiny camera on a smartphone, although the devices are similar in size, weight and price.
Sometimes, monkeying around with a new camera is just part of the job.
Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area
Since the first Ricoh GR camera came out in 1996, advances in computing technology have changed both cameras and skateboards in countless ways.
Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area
Ricoh says its new GR III can capture a lot more detail in shadows than a smartphone can — making photos like this one, in harsh sunlight, look more like what you'd see with your eyes.
The GR III's large sensor and wide aperture allow for a sharp subject and a blurry background.
Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area
In photo-speak, the soft, out-of-focus portion of the image is called "bokeh" — though there's disagreement over how to pronounce it. The word is Japanese, and has no direct English translation.
A San Francisco fire hydrant outside of Chinatown, photographed with the Ricoh GR III camera before its release.
Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area
A horse is a horse, of course — except when it's a decorative hitching post on a San Francisco side street.
Jonathan Bloom/NBC Bay Area
Flowers for sale, photographed with Ricoh's new GR III camera before its release.
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