September 6, 2019

Macro With the Ricoh GR III

Up close and personal with the Ricoh GR III

One of the unexpected benefits of using my Ricoh GR III has been having access to a decent macro solution in my pocket.

Having been burned in the past by the poor close-up performance of the lens on other compact cameras like the Fujifilm X100 series, I didn’t even bother trying the macro mode on my GR III until a few weeks into owning it, imagining that things must be the same.

I was wrong.

Mini Macro

I’ve already said that the 28mm-equivalent lens on the Ricoh GR III is the sharpest 28mm I’ve ever used, but I have been surprised by how well that sharpness holds up even at close focusing distances.

The Ricoh is capable of resolving astonishing amounts of detail, and that capacity doesn’t diminish as you get closer to your subject; if anything, the background separation you get from shooting an APS-C sized sensor makes the in-focus area seem even more bitingly sharp.

This 1:1 crop from the header image reveals the intricate pock-marked details of the stink bug’s1 carapace:

Textures, including scales and fuzz, remain readily apparent.

The camera’s tiny size also has the advantage of making it more manoeuvrable, so I can sneak it into the brush to get more interesting angles without disturbing my subjects as much.

The only downside is that the camera’s tiny size also makes it very difficult to keep things steady as you attempt to keep subjects within the narrow in-focus area.

For the shot below, it took me a few tries to get the larger fly in focus instead of a different part of the flower, or—in the case of the second photo—the teeny baby white moth peeking up over the petal (click to zoom in on the shots).

The GR III doesn’t have the magnification or handling practicality to replace a true macro setup, but to have this level of close-up performance in a pocketable camera that also happens to be an excellent travel and street performer has been a treat.

  1. It’s a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, in case anyone’s curious. An invasive pest, introduced by accident.↩︎


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