Shrunk to fit: Ricoh's GR III
In the seductive world Japanese aesthetic ideals, “shibui” describes beauty in a simple, inconspicuous way. Unlike “wabi-sabi” that relates to beauty in imperfection, an object with shibui is clean, simple and pleasing.
It could be a chair, bowl or high-performance camera that fits in a pocket and looks great on a Noguchi coffee table.
The 11th iteration of Ricoh’s cult GR series since 1996, the upgraded GR III is true to the range’s four founding principles: high-quality images, quick response, portability and evolution. Debuting back then as a film point-and-shoot, the GR III has a
24.24 megapixel lens (up from 16 in the GR II), APS-C superfast sensor and fully touchscreen interface to easily switch from shooting in high-contrast black and white (or Instagram-friendly sepia) to Wi-Fi photo transfer and HD filming, all in a body that weighs 256 grams.
A key element of shibui is the belief that below an undecorated exterior lies depth and complexity. While the GR III may look like a straightforward camera with an appealing matt-black shell, it is an intentionally stubborn and challenging piece of technology both advanced and anachronistic. A AED3,800 camera without a zoom, flash, weatherproofing (the brand didn’t want to compromise that famous portability), and a short battery life.
Ricoh compares its camera to a pen or penknife, or any instrument that is fun to play with. Take it out of its box and it will be immediately enjoyable to use; a little secret, silent weapon of a camera but one that will take plenty of time to master. Ricoh purposefully only releases a new version “when it’s time”, choosing instead to add free-to-download firmware to increase the camera’s lifespan. Just try not to get it wet.