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Monday, 23 November 2009

Comments

Oh good Lord, how lovely the noise is. It looks so ...
Well, don't expect me to be coherent, nice digital noise does things to me that are not entirely dissimilar to seeing my SO dressed very lightly.

Anyway, it seems like this is a great camera. And the shots are good too.

I'm so happy since I have the grd3. It has become a extension of my arm and eye and it goes with me everywhere I go. The handling, image quality, operation, portability and expandability (21mm, viewfinder, frequent firmware updates...) of the grd3 makes a quite unique camera.

The 5d is resting in the bag for some time now...

Very happy with it!

Nice write-up Mitch.

Can you explain further why you think the camera meters differently in Manual as apposed to say A mode?

I was just reading an account of a guy using his D700 in manual because it blows fewer highlights than in aperture mode.

Am I understanding this right?

Looks interesting. I've been thinking about buying a smaller camera.

I was looking at the specs online, though, and it has a 28mm lens. I'm not exactly sure what that means in terms of the 35mm equivalent. Is it roughly 50mm?

Great blog with cool shots. I've used that Ricoh GR Digital III. Was really impressed. I teach on a few Photography Holidays around the world and I will definitely be recommending this blog to my students.

Lovely photos.

Incredulously Mitch, photographers seem to be demanding medium format film-like quality from their compact cameras. An outstanding small sensor camera, as the GRD, renders images with a unique beauty and perspective that's unattainable with a larger sensor.

Great article and photography! Thankyou!

Was looking possibly interesting, though 28mm-e is a length I have mostly bad history with. But then I looked at the price on B&H. Yikes. Guess I won't be trying one of these any time soon!

"But then I looked at the price on B&H."

B&H doesn't carry Ricoh....

Mike

Okay, never mind--that is a 28mm equivalent lens. Amazon didn't have that, should have gone to dpreview.com first.

I was just reading an account of a guy using his D700 in manual because it blows fewer highlights than in aperture mode.

I would suspect this is the case with any auto exposure camera, in certain situations, PROVIDED you know what you are doing when setting the exposure yourself.

Auto exposure systems can be very clever, but they're not really intelligent, and certainly don't know your intentions. If a scene exceeds the dynamic range of the sensor (eg. a bright spotlight, dark shadows), the auto exposure will do its best to average out the exposure, but this will generally mean blocked up shadows, blown highlights, or both.

Manual exposure lets you decide how you want the image exposed - you may want to sacrifice shadows for highlights or vice-versa.

Try shooting at dusk - as the light drops, the camera will keep adjusting the exposure so that all the shots (up to a point) look as if the light was constant. If you want to capture the look of fading light, you will either have to dial in exposure compensation or take a manual reading to get the required exposure.

Cheers,

Colin

That certainly is one "unassuming" camera, the perfect looking camera for street or otherwise clandestine hand-held photography.

Do you have any samples of color images straight from the camera or, perhaps, b&w image that you've not Moriyama-ed yet? Perhaps original frames of some of the shots you showed at Rangefinder?

What you've shown makes it impossible to make informed judgements, as what we're seeing is your heavily-processed street snaps. Very nice work but not good for this purpose.

By using the 21mm converter, you've effectly lost the extra light that your new f1.9 lens might have otherwise provided. No, your aperture size (f1.9) hasn't changed, instead the light allowed to reach that aperture has been reduced and you've been forced to use a slower shutter speed to compensate. You haven't created a fast ultra wide lens at all. You've merely slowed down a fast lens without changing it's aperture.

Now that you mention it, I do believe I failed on B&H and actually found it on Amazon. Sorry for the confusion!

Mitch, I think you may have finally tipped me into replacing the D-Lux 3 in my purse with a GR-D III. You're getting fantastic results with this camera.

I'm curious, how you think it compares with your M8.2? Could you compare both in terms of the files they produce and the shooting experience?

Well done on the write-up and choice of photos!

Dear Mitch,

Minor nitpick--

Meters don't do a "18% gray thing" they do a "12% gray thing." 18% is a (very widely repeated) mistake.

Point is still correct-- night scenes don't typically integrate out to anything like an 12% gray, either!

pax / Ctein

"B&H doesn't carry Ricoh...."

I didn't know there was anything that B&H didn't carry! You can find the most disused products there (slide mount for 127 film comes to mind) so it is surprising that a current retailer is not featured on their shelves. I am sure it is a business decision on one part or the other (or maybe both), I'd be curious to know why.

Let me respectfully differ from Mitch's conclusions, because what I see is nothing that any decent small-sensor camera like the LX3 or any G series couldn't do. Whether the new GRD is better or worse than the old GRD in this respect is surely a subjective opinion. What makes the new GRD files more "robust" than the ones from the old GRD, Mitch? We seem to be entering into wish-fulfillment territory, I think.

Nor do I think the small sensor cameras are any kind of new paradigm for black and white or any type of photography. Let's be real here. In color, above 400 ASA, the files look like crap. I know, I know, I don't have the new GRD. But I do have an LX3, and folks, it's not the second coming. In black and white, noise from any camera can be made to look "filmlike." Oh how I hate that term. The noise in Mitch's samples looks nothing like film, even Delta 3200 that I once shot lots of. It looks like ... digital noise. You want some? Get any four year old CCD-sensored DSLR and set it at 1600. For $100 on eBay you get all the black and white digital noise you want. If it makes you feel like you can't get enough loose and fluid framing style, tape over the viewfinder and LCD and click away.

To each his own.

I agree, to call anything noisy film like seems like making excuses.
In any event, they are lovely cameras, I have the GRD2, but with the new DMD's(Mike I think that's what you called them) hitting the market, it believe the time of the GRD for serious photographers is coming to an end. One can always 'rough up' better files to get that look.

stephan kleiser

Try shooting at dusk - as the light drops, the camera will keep adjusting the exposure so that all the shots (up to a point) look as if the light was constant. If you want to capture the look of fading light, you will either have to dial in exposure compensation or take a manual reading to get the required exposure.

Cheers,

Colin


Sorry to turn this into a forum but...

If I spot meter the sky in Aperture priority and get say f8 @ 1/250

I then set the camera to Manual, choose f8 and spot meter the sky it will give me a different reading?

I don't think so.

I must not be following what people are saying.

I use A mode all the time and spot meter as needed under tricky situations. I use EXP compensation regularly. If I use M and compensate for the same reasons, what the heck is the difference?

It's the same meter no?

Anyway, sorry if I am just clueless.

As far as I'm aware, Adorama Camera is still the exclusive US distributor of Ricoh

Helen Oster
Adorama Camera Customer Service Ambassador
[email protected]
www.adorama.com

Lovely photos, but I am sorry. Tri-x is still more beautiful... Going to load my FED again soon.

Thanks anyway, digital cameras have their place beside film, I am sure! ;)

If I spot meter the sky in Aperture priority and get say f8 @ 1/250

I then set the camera to Manual, choose f8 and spot meter the sky it will give me a different reading?

What you say is correct, but we are not here (I think) comparing spot metering (which many cameras don't have) with auto exposure, but rather trusting the camera's auto exposure of a scene vs determining your own exposure.

Of course 'manual exposure' (ie auto-exposure overide) could be achieved in a number of ways - taking a spot reading (and locking it) of a selected area, reading off the back of the hand, or with experience, just guessing it.

Cheers,

Colin

I have to agree with Andy, something like Neopan 1600 is very different (and much more beautiful) than digital BW. I have an LX3, GX200, and both Sigma compacts. Only the Sigma BW conversions are aesthetically special in any way, though still lacking against film. Look at junku-newcleus' stream on Flickr for a good example to compare with the above images.

BTW, the girl in that second shot (and the man behind her) look about 5 seconds from attacking the photographer. Maybe saying hello or something before taking the shot might have been a good idea.

I've seen the claim that Adorama is the exclusive distributor of Ricoh's cameras before. While I bought my GR-D, GX-100, and GR-D2 (and maybe GR-D3) from Tony Rose at Popflash. Since Popflash has been offering Ricoh for at least the last six years, what makes Adorama's relationship with Ricoh exclusive?

scott

"What makes the new GRD files more "robust" than the ones from the old GRD, Mitch? We seem to be entering into wish-fulfillment territory, I think."

There are several tests on the web that show the GRD II capturing noticeably more DR than the GRD II. The GRD III also seems to be at least a stop better in noise performance.


I'm torn between buying a M43rd camera and the GRD III.

The M43 cameras deliver noticeably better IQ and are more flexible.

On the other hand the GRD is smaller, lighter and wins hands down in terms of interface and handling. Ergonomics are extremely important, because the best sensor in the world is useless, if it is mated to an interface that gets in the way of shooting.

Maybe the new Ricoh GRX is the answer, if they release something like an APS-C module, with the equivalent of a fast 28 or 35.


"Can you explain further why you think the camera meters differently in Manual as apposed to say A mode?"

Charlie:

Colin explains the difference above. Of course it's the same meter, but my use of it is different from what I was doing before: firstly, I now using the spot metering mode rather than "multi" metering; and secondly, with aperture priority and EV adjustment, I would have to point the camera all over the place and do a half-shutter press to freeze the metering before I shot — with manual spot exposure I hold the camera steady and change the shutter speed up or down until I get the look in terms of exposure of highlights and shadows. This means that exposing in this way gives better control than having the camera on A and, say, EV -0.3, using multi metering.

—Mitch/Chiang Mai

"I was looking at the specs online, though, and it has a 28mm lens. I'm not exactly sure what that means in terms of the 35mm equivalent. Is it roughly 50mm?"

mwg, it's a 6.0mm lens with an effective field of view, in 35mm camera terms, of 28mm. The 6.0mm focal length gives a huge depth of field, which I find useful for street photography.

—Mitch/Chiang Mai

"Incredulously Mitch, photographers seem to be demanding medium format film-like quality from their compact cameras. An outstanding small sensor camera, as the GRD, renders images with a unique beauty and perspective that's unattainable with a larger sensor."

Player, I agree with you — not everything can be done in post-processing; nor was everything possible in the darkroom either.

—Mitch/Chiang Mai

"Was looking possibly interesting, though 28mm-e is a length I have mostly bad history with."

David, when I bought the GRD, as my first digital camera, in mid-2006, moving from the Leica M6 on which I had shot with 35mm and 50mm lenses, at first I found it difficult to shoot with the 28mm EFOV, but soon found it ideal for street photography. However, I wish that Ricoh would make a 40mm converter for the GRD III, like the one they made for the GRD II.

—Mitch/Chiang Mai

"Do you have any samples of color images straight from the camera or, perhaps, b&w image that you've not Moriyama-ed yet? Perhaps original frames of some of the shots you showed at Rangefinder?

What you've shown makes it impossible to make informed judgements, as what we're seeing is your heavily-processed street snaps. Very nice work but not good for this purpose."

Ken, there are other reviews that do exactly what you are asking form such as the excellent ones on Sean Reid's (pay) sites. My review on the Rangefinder Forum shows what a photographer can do with the files the camera produces and tends to push things more to the limit than more standard, technical-type reviews, which some readers value. DNG files from the GRD III for downloading are available for downloading on several websites.

—Mitch

"By using the 21mm converter, you've effectly lost the extra light that your new f1.9 lens might have otherwise provided. No, your aperture size (f1.9) hasn't changed, instead the light allowed to reach that aperture has been reduced and you've been forced to use a slower shutter speed to compensate. You haven't created a fast ultra wide lens at all. You've merely slowed down a fast lens without changing it's aperture."

Richard, would you like to document this with some specific data showing the difference in light absorbed by the extra glass? Sure, theoretically, this should be true; but in practice, it seems to me, the effect is minimal.

—Mitch/Chiang Mai

The noise just looks like digital noise, and the images, while nice, just look like black-and-white conversions from a low-end digicam. Compared to Tri-X at 1600, not great. Maybe someday digital will catch up.

"I'm curious, how you think it compares with your M8.2? Could you compare both in terms of the files they produce and the shooting experience?"

Maggie, the absolute image quality of the Leica M8.2, which can approach that of scanned medium format film is substantially better, although I can "destroy" the quality in processing to move away from the "exquisite" look to the rougher, more expressionist look, that I want. However, as stated in another comment above, not everything can be done in post-processing and the depth-of-field and perspective is different.

In terms of shooting experience, I find that I do much better with the GRD III because, using the LCD for framing with a small, light camera encourages a looser and more fluid style that I value. Indeed, after using the M8 for eight months, it felt like a liberation to shoot with the GRD III.

—Mitch/Chiang Mai

"Let me respectfully differ from Mitch's conclusions, because what I see is nothing that any decent small-sensor camera like the LX3 or any G series couldn't do. Whether the new GRD is better or worse than the old GRD in this respect is surely a subjective opinion. What makes the new GRD files more "robust" than the ones from the old GRD, Mitch? We seem to be entering into wish-fulfillment territory, I think."

Andy, I couldn't disagree with you more, and, clearly you haven't tried all these cameras, at least not the GRD III. I've owned and shot with the Ricoh GRD, GRD II, GX100 and the Leica D-Lux-3: none of them could produce the look that I'm getting with the GRD III, which essentially consists, as I state in the article, of being able to achieve a high-contrast look while maintaining relative long mid-tones.


"Nor do I think the small sensor cameras are any kind of new paradigm for black and white or any type of photography. Let's be real here...I know, I know, I don't have the new GRD. But I do have an LX3, and folks, it's not the second coming. In black and white, noise from any camera can be made to look "filmlike." Oh how I hate that term. The noise in Mitch's samples looks nothing like film, even Delta 3200 that I once shot lots of. It looks like ... digital noise."

I believe that the GRD III is quite different from the LX3 in terms of the look of the files. How the noise looks like when printed you would have see prints to judge — you cannot tell by looking at compressed JPGs or 100% crops. Delta 3200 can and, often does, look extremely ugly. My objective is not to imitate film but to produce prints whose look I like.

—Mitch/Chiang Mai

"In any event, they are lovely cameras, I have the GRD2, but with the new DMD's(Mike I think that's what you called them) hitting the market, it believe the time of the GRD for serious photographers is coming to an end. One can always 'rough up' better files to get that look."

Stephan, as stated above, files can be roughed up but not everything cannot be done with post-processing. Whether high-quality, serious small-sensor cameras survive — I think that there'll always be point-and-shoots — depends whether there are enough photographers that value the look these cameras produce.

—Mitch/Chiang Mai

"Lovely photos, but I am sorry. Tri-x is still more beautiful... Going to load my FED again soon...Thanks anyway, digital cameras have their place beside film, I am sure!"

Erik, whether Tri-X is more beautiful or nor you can only see from prints, not from compressed JPGs. In any case, I'm not willing to take an ideological position either way, as I have seen prints from film and from digital that take my breath away. It depends on the photographer not the medium.

On the issue of getting "film-like" digital prints: I don't specifically process files to get a film-like look, but work on each file individually to get the look that I like. Now, some people feel that one should make digital prints that take advantage of the high-resolution, grainless files that the cameras with the best digital files can produce; but these are people who seem to value minimal processing, not having absorbed, or not being aware of Ansel Adams' dictum of the negative being the "score" and the print being the "performance".

Film has been around a long time and the look possible from various films and developers has been fine-tuned for ages, and has become a part of the vocabulary of photography and prints — that photographers have these images and looks in their heads and produce digital prints using the same vocabulary is nothing unusual, surprising or false.

—Mitch/Chiang Mai

Helen

That's not true and it's difficult to believe that you don't know better
Popflash photo in California is also a Ricoh distributor .
and on the web , Ricoh products can also be bought from amazon
H

"Look at junku-newcleus' stream on Flickr for a good example to compare with the above images."

How in the world can you tell? From those tiny little oversharpened JPEGs...it's like looking at a contact sheet. The pictures have to be half seen and half imagined.

Mike

Dear Charlie,

What Colin was saying was that if you want to record the darkening twilight as darkening twilight, you take ONE meter reading and then make all your exposures at those settings. If you set the camera on "auto," the meter will keep increasing the exposure as the light fades, to compensate, because it has no idea you want to make darker pictures.

It's just supposed to be an example of how meters can't know intent.

pax / Ctein

"BTW, the girl in that second shot (and the man behind her) look about 5 seconds from attacking the photographer. Maybe saying hello or something before taking the shot might have been a good idea."

triplight, that was not what their looks meant at all, curiosity or surprise yes, not antagonism. What are you into, posed portraits?

—Mitch/Chiang Mai

"Erik, whether Tri-X is more beautiful or nor you can only see from prints, not from compressed JPGs"

But when you view both on screen,they look different. Printed, they may both look good but different.

"As far as I'm aware, Adorama Camera is still the exclusive US distributor of Ricoh"

Helen, that was the case but seems to have changed: http://www.ricoh.com/r_dc/contact/contact_us.html

Dear Folks,

I feel I should say something about trying to evaluate noise-like qualities akin to "grain" and "texture" from JPEG illustrations posted here (or elsewhere).

In short, you can't.

JPEG compression is particularly destructive of such characteristics. You need to use extremely low compression ratios to get something that looks like the original "grain."

The destruction is nonlinear and nonuniform; you cannot compare the subjective impacts of two cameras' "grain" by comparing JPEG illustrations-- relative merit is NOT preserved.

Futhermore, illustrations in Mike's mag are limited to 800 px maximum dimension: that typically means downsizing by a factor of 4 from the full digital frame. You've already massacred the information you wanted to present at the pixel level. But even if you're willing to live with that, a JPEG that accurately preserves texture at that level in a 800x600 px file runs 300-400 KB, and most sites (including this one) won't support illustration files that large.

pax / Ctein

"By using the 21mm converter, you've effectly lost the extra light that your new f1.9 lens might have otherwise provided. No, your aperture size (f1.9) hasn't changed..."

But f/1.9 is not a size, it's a ratio. If you maintain an aperture size while changing focal length, then you are changing your f-number. The shorter lens with the same aperture size will be faster (i.e., the "n" in f/n would be a lesser number). An add-on converter complicates things--you'd assume that more glass and more tube would transmit less light to that "faster" aperture. I have no idea what the effective f-stop would be in this case, but I don't think it's as straightforward as you think.

Mike: Were you looking at the full-size shots? (500 pixels, unfortunately still pretty small.) Junku's stream is set to reduced size by default. Apologies if you were.

Mitch: I wasn't there, so I'll take your word for it. I just don't like an angry face unless it seems appropriate. Chatting with or otherwise putting a subject at ease essentially makes a photo posed, but not necessarily artificial. I'm thinking of Howard French's work at the moment. As for formal posed portraits -- yes, good ones, I'm very much into.

Thanks all for the clarification.

I understand the principles presented, both in theory and practice. I simply misunderstood what Mitch was saying, assuming he was also spot metering in aperture mode.

I have a habit of reading too quickly.

I'm sorry. No offense meant, but I truly don't get it.
The photos just don't look that good. I appreciate street photography as much as the next Leica-toting ninja but these just look like grab shots. The subject matter isn't arresting, the compositions aren't interesting or dynamic. Kind of boring.
Also I really don't think the image quality is good at all. Some of the images look like rescue attempts of seriously underexposed frames.
From all the comments I feel like I'm supposed to be impressed, but I'm not.
I don't like to be negative because TOP is not a negative place, so is it just me?

"...I just don't like an angry face unless it seems appropriate. Chatting with or otherwise putting a subject at ease essentially makes a photo posed, but not necessarily artificial. I'm thinking of Howard French's work at the moment."

triplight, it seems to me that you're ignoring, or simply not interested, in the fact the the first photo above is expressing something, which, in mind makes it "appropriate". Had I spoken to the man and the woman, which wouldn't have even been possible in the situation above, the whole point and context of the photograph would have been lost. Some of Howard French's work is quite good, but it isn't what I'm usually interested in photographing or expressing.

—Mitch/Chiang Mai

I never thought Delta 3200 or T-Max looked very "Film-Like" either.

I think that in general all the currently available reasonably priced* digital cameras produce images that are more alike than images from reasonably priced* film cameras ever did.

Since most cameras produce images that look about the same when used in their optimum range, I think it's more interesting to see what cameras look like when pushed to their limits where they show some sort of personality.

I wish someone would start talking about digital noise in a qualitative rather than quantitative way. Knowing how the noise is distributed in the frequency domain

The DxOLabs ratings remind me of those image quality ratings that Pop Photo uses. They are measuring something but I'm not sure what.

The same goes for "color accuracy" testing which seems to have something to do with reproducing a Gretag-Macbeth Munsell color chart when I'm more interested in things like what are the response curves of the red blue and green filters? How much overlap? where do the 589.0nm and 589.6nm bands register? (NYC streetlights are a big factor in a lot of my work, and different sensors are very different with the sodium bands) I haven't seen a set of color response curves for a sensor in a camera review yet.

*reasonably priced - for me means about the same as a nice used car in 1970 to 2009 dollars.

yes and the ixus 980is36mm with no raw we can do the same or better.

So, I learned something today; and you are right, I should have known that the position had changed......so, I should change that posting to: "It is probable that a retailer that doesn't stock Ricoh, is not an official distributor"

Mitch, what seems to be continually overlooked is that the GRD is truly a compact camera allowing the photographer to grab shots that might be impossible with a DSLR, or even a 4/3rds camera. The tradeoff, which I don't really see as a tradeoff, is that the compact design necessitates a smaller sensor, but the GRD files reward the non pixel-peeping discerning photographer with a unique loveliness all their own. Bigger isn't always better, or even always desirable.

I'm not sure I see the point of this. The shots look pretty grey and gross on this end (I'm not saying they are bad photos, just badly retouched) So, you want to emulate B&W film with your digital "grain?" Why not just shoot B&W film? This constant desire to relive the film days is bizarre and bad for photography. If you a weirdo and want to live in the 60s and pretend you are Winogrand, fine. But it makes zero artistic sense. It's the photographic equivalent of keyboards in the 80s. Sure, it kinda sounds like a saxophone or string quartet, but not really. Fast forward a few years and bands and producers have realized that it's better to just use a real saxophone or string quartet.

photogdave,
So then I guess a GRD III for shooting at 1600 and converting to B&W would not be a good purchase for you then, huh.

Mike

"Andy, I couldn't disagree with you more, and, clearly you haven't tried all these cameras, at least not the GRD III. I've owned and shot with the Ricoh GRD, GRD II, GX100 and the Leica D-Lux-3: none of them could produce the look that I'm getting with the GRD III, which essentially consists, as I state in the article, of being able to achieve a high-contrast look while maintaining relative long mid-tones."

Mitch, with all due respect, you're just asking readers to take this on faith. Your photos show little to nothing of the sort, even if I assume that what you mean by long mid-tones is what I mean by mid-tones. You've chosen the one and only one way in which small sensor cameras make photos that don't look like crap at 1600ASA. There is nothing wrong with those type of photos-- as pointed out above, Moriyama (and William Klein among others) had successful runs using high-contrast, grainy stylization. What I am saying is that any kind of small-sensor file shot at a highly boosted ASA will generate gobs of noise which can look OK converted to black and white, or put another way, the difference in "mid-tones" between all of them is smaller than the overwhelming similarity in the achieved look.

There seems to be a small mostly Flickr-based fan club of exactly the types of images you're showing with adherents of the LX3 and the GRD arguing what you seem to be-- that there is a new "paradigm" of small-sensor style images. Sorry, I just don't buy it.

"Mitch, with all due respect, you're just asking readers to take this on faith."

Of course he's asking readers to take it on faith. As Ctein has pointed out until he's blue in the face--including in this very comment thread--if there's a discrepancy between what a magazine or web writer says and what the illustrations show, believe the words. The illustrations are only illustrations, not direct evidence, and not proof.

Mike

Two things I always remember when shooting on the street. Use manual but more importantly to have faith in what I’m doing, because if I don’t, I’m going to “expose” myself to blown chances. Doesn’t matter what camera I’ve used, I can go unnoticed with a 1ds mk lll (35-50mm range) simply because I don’t think about being noticed, I don’t mind being noticed, I know what I’m doing is worth while.

It’s respect for and love of subject that gets you through. Without that even a Leica’s a brick.

Mitch, I was only expressing a distaste, not disparaging your intent. I have no context for the shot. If you want to provide a little back story to change that context, great, but otherwise my interpretations or preferences about what I see can't be ignorant.

To the topic of Ricoh, I hope you'll get a GXR and publish a similar evaluation. I'd look forward to it.

"Erik, whether Tri-X is more beautiful or nor you can only see from prints, not from compressed JPGs...[snip]"

Dear Mitch,

thank you for your thoughtful reply. Of course I should not have commented on the beauty of your pictures after having only seen small jpegs. I am sorry for that.

I guess that I in a teasing manner wanted to express my personal opinion that film is superior to digital photography for this kind of work. But the suitability of the camera can only be judged by the photographer him-/herself, and in relation to his or her goals.

And, thank you for your review, which gives interesing insights into what this camera can acheive!

/Erik

I'd take the LX3 over the GR III any day! http://tinyurl.com/ygbvcun

@Mike:
"As Ctein has pointed out until he's blue in the face--including in this very comment thread--if there's a discrepancy between what a magazine or web writer says and what the illustrations show, believe the words."

I don't believe that for a minute. I think Ctein's been pointing this out until he is cyan in the face, not blue. I'm ready to use my non-calibrated monitor to prove it, too.

@Michael Daniel: Cameras are interesting. Pixel-peeping is boring.

I've got an LX3, and trying a GRIII would be somewhat tempting -- if the prices were comparable :-). The LX3 is wider, and not significantly (f/2 vs. f/1.9) slower at the wide end, though, and is more versatile as well.

On the other hand, the exposure controls for quick manual work on the GR III sound rather attractive; that could easily be the dominant point in such a decision.

I don't have enough of an idea of what the images look like between the two to have much opinion there.

" I can go unnoticed with a 1ds mk lll (35-50mm range) simply because I don’t think about being noticed, I don’t mind being noticed, I know what I’m doing is worth while. It’s respect for and love of subject that gets you through. Without that even a Leica’s a brick." - sean

I agree that if you act sneaky or nervous while shooting you are guaranteed to attract attention and receive a suspicious or hostile reception from your subject. Part of being successful at street photography is to develop an openness towards your subjects and give the appearance that you are comfortable with what you are doing.

But...

I do not agree that you can make yourself invisible carrying something like a 1ds mk lll, simply by adopting the proper attitude. That's just wishful thinking and in my book the Jedi mind trick only worked in the movie.

Carrying a big DSLR around suburbia or in the heart of a city won't draw a lot of attention, because it doesn't look out of place and isn't a totally uncommon sight. So, yes, you could get away with it. But outside of those areas or in many foreign countries it gets more complicated.

A while back I had a Canon 1-V HS (about the size of a 1Ds) that I used to shoot with a 35 or 50.

Back then I was shooting in areas around a major US city that ranged from shady to about as bad as they come without being located in Detroit. I shot the Canon exactly ONE time. It was too big, too expensive looking and most certainly marked me as an outsider who wasn't supposed to be there, regardless of my
old clothes and not having shaved that morning. I tried the same thing a few years later with a Canon 5D. Smaller camera, same result only made worse by the fact that it was digital and could potentially be easily sold to a pawn shop. These days even criminals know that film cameras are low demand items. So, I went back to the old Leicas and a beat up Nikon FM.

I travel a lot and this holds true not only for rough inner city areas. A big expensive camera like that draws attention.

There have been many times where I avoided trouble by being able to stick my camera in a jacket pocket or conceal most of it with my hands. Obviously you can't pocket a 1Ds or even a D300. But you can pocket or palm a Ricoh GRD III quite easily.

This past year Gary Knight mentioned in a several interviews that he now uses the Canon G10/11 on many occasions, because it is low key and unobtrusive, while still producing high quality results.

Something like the Ricoh also looks less official or serious. When people see you with a big DSLR they ascribe a certain level of seriousness to what you are doing. Something like the GRD is perceived very differently or is simply lost in the 'static'.

the ixus is more better than the grd3

I've been using a GRD II for color work for some time -- best UI of any point and shoot I've used, and I've previously owned a few Canons, Nikons, and a Panasonic. For color work, I won't shoot above ISO 200 with the GRD II. If ISO 800 was reasonable on the GRD III I'd consider upgrading.

Mitch,
Thanks for taking the time to do this.
Shooter

i just don't see the appeal of these photographs, neither their content nor form. Very disconnected from the subjects and almost look like random shots of people at very odd and untimely moments.

Late to the comment party...
I'm glad Mitch put this view forward, not just for the GRDIII but for this manner of using small sensor cameras. As evidenced by many of the negative comments, this is a particular way of using a small sensor camera in low light that is contrary to the majority view/review.
It's another way of looking at getting good results from a small sensor. I feel too few reviews bother to look towards particular strengths of particular cameras/systems, instead trying to shoehorn them all into the same small box.

This comment is mostly for Mike, although perhaps his response will be useful to many of us.

Mike, you have the image of a DMD (I read and enjoyed your piece a lot). Granted that in some ways, as Mitch beautifully illustrates, the digital camera we'd like to own and that helps represent our eyes is very much idiosyncratic (in part by definition). But I'm curious about what camera or cameras today comes closest for you to the ideal DMD?

BTW, just discovered this website and it threatens to absorb even more time from the day job that supports my photography habit!

Thanks.

Mark

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