Why I Switched From the Fujifilm X100V to the Ricoh GR III Diary Edition

If you had asked me a year ago what the best compact camera was, my answer would have been the Fujifilm X100V. I'm a big fan of Fujifilm's fixed lens compact line, having owned one ever since the original X100 was released in 2010. What captivated me about it 13 years ago were the straight-out-of-camera JPGs. The color rendition of the f/2 Fujinon lens was simply gorgeous.

As the years went by, I upgraded to the X100T, then the X100F, and finally the X100V. Each new model improved upon the last with an impressive array of new features. The X100V is undeniably one of the most stunning compact cameras created by any manufacturer.

However, somewhere along the line, it lost its magic for me.

Fall colors in Canberra, Australia. I love the straight out of camera JPGs the Positive Film sim produces from the GRiii. 
© Matt Murray

The Influence of Compact 35mm Cameras

Perhaps it's because my go-to film cameras are compact. Cameras like the Contax T3, the Ricoh R1s, and the Minolta TC-1 are among the smallest full-frame film cameras ever produced. During a trip to Sydney in January 2023, the X100V felt like a deadweight in my pocket and around my neck compared to these super compact 35mm options.

Maybe it's also because I delved into the world of Fujifilm film simulation recipes that everyone raves about. I even created a video on my YouTube channel trying three of them out. Upon reflection, I don't really think any of them look particularly "film-like," and endlessly tinkering with simulation recipes feels like a distraction from actually taking photos.

It was during this trip to Sydney that I met up with a group of photographers. As we sat down for coffee on a rainy morning at Circular Quay, one of them placed a Ricoh GR III on the table. Immediately, my curiosity was piqued - having a super compact digital camera that fits in my pocket seemed very appealing.

Watermelons bathing in late afternoon light. I love this photo - the colors, the contrast, the sharpness. I only took it because I popped the GRiii in my pocket on a trip to the supermarket. 

© Matt Murray

GR III Diary Edition Special Limited Kit 

I started researching Ricoh's compact cameras when I got back to Brisbane. I saw a lot of mentions of an upcoming release: the Ricoh GR III Diary Edition Special Limited Kit. I’ve never owned a Ricoh digital camera, but having fallen in love with the Ricoh R1/R1s 35mm point and shoot film camera, I became more intrigued by the company.

Ricoh Pentax plans to launch two new compact 35mm film cameras in early 2024, though after hearing their updates, I doubt any of them will look like my predictions in this article on Fstoppers

The Diary Edition camera is a new version of the GR III with a different color scheme. Instead of the usual black, this camera is metallic gray with the addition of silver accents around the lens. 

The special edition kit shipped with a few extra goodies:

  • A cream-colored canvas case with mocha-colored leather accents
  • A finger strap in the same mocha color
  • Redemption of a code to get an engraved hot shoe

There were also a couple of bonus features in the firmware:

  • On power-off, a screen tells you the number of images you've shot that day
  • A new film simulation - negative film - which was later rolled out to other cameras via a firmware update.

Ricoh only produced 2,000 Diary Edition Special Limited Edition Kits worldwide, with just 20 available here in Australia. While you can’t buy the kit anymore, you can buy the standalone version of the camera. 

Ricoh Design Philosophy

It wasn’t just the size of the camera or the limited edition kit that won me over — the marketing was slick. Ricoh produced two blog posts describing how the camera could be used by photographers. Here’s an excerpt on their thinking behind this latest Diary edition model: 

'Diary' has the following meaning: the photographer takes snapshots of daily life with the GR as if keeping a diary, and expresses him/herself with those photographs as if writing an essay. The accumulation of photos of casual daily scenes becomes a record of subtle movements of the heart in daily life, a story that only the person can write.

Maybe you'll love this explanation, maybe you'll just think it's marketing spiel. Personally, I think it's refreshing to read blogs like this from a camera company that shares its design philosophy with consumers, especially since they are actively looking to bring back film cameras. This approach seems to be paying off - Ricoh's latest financial results look quite promising.

Hose reel, Gold Coast. 

© Matt Murray

Online Talk About the Dairy Edition

There was a lot of chatter about the Diary Edition camera online — some loved it and some hated it. There were a few misspellings of the camera's name, with many calling it the "dairy" edition — no doubt an unintentional autocorrect fail.

Either way, this new camera was "moo-sic" to my ears. (Buckle up, there are a few more cow puns.) I have a lot of cameras, and I've been trying to "thin the herd," but who can resist a "dairy" edition camera? I managed to buy the last one available in Australia.

"Dairy" edition is not such a bad description, the colors of this camera remind me of a lovely creamy cappuccino or flat white. The comparisons don't end there: detractors have accused Ricoh of "milking the cow for all it's worth" by bringing out new editions of existing cameras. But why wouldn't they if the demand is clearly there?

I, for one, think it's an "udderly" beautiful-looking product and see these special edition cameras as a positive thing for two reasons:

  • Photographers love special edition cameras.
  • The more money Ricoh makes, the more they will be encouraged to launch new cameras - both digital and film.

Picture framing store, Wynnum, Brisbane. Positive Film simulation. 
© Matt Murray

Differences Between the Fujifilm X100V and the Ricoh GR III

In my next article, I'll review the GR III and give you a rundown of the specs and what the camera is like to shoot with. For now, I’ll describe seven differences between the X100V and the GR III.

1. The GR III Has No Viewfinder

This was a mindshift for me. The only camera I regularly use that doesn't have a viewfinder is my iPhone. There are some similarities with the iPhone and the GR III: you can keep both in your pocket and whip them out to take a photo pretty quickly.

With both, you can also do stealthier shooting. People don't seem to take as much notice of you with a smaller camera, especially when you're not raising it to your eye to look through the viewfinder.

Of course, you can shoot just using the screen with the X100V, but I must admit, I rarely do.

2) Field of View

The X100V has a 35mm equivalent lens in full frame terms, whereas the GR III is more 28mm. For street and travel I prefer the wider view, but if you like a longer lens, Ricoh also makes the GR IIIx, which has a 40mm equivalent lens.

3) GR III is Super Light and Super Compact

The GR III weighs around half of what the X100V weighs and has a much smaller footprint. It may not be quite as compact as some of Ricoh's film cameras, but it's not far off. Being super light and super compact means this truly is a candidate for your everyday carry.

4) Ricoh's Smartphone App Works Well

One issue many Fujifilm owners have complained about for years is the Fujifilm smartphone app. The Ricoh smartphone app is a breeze in comparison. Within 60 seconds of first using it, I was transferring images from the camera to my iPhone.

5) GR III has Shake Reduction

This might be important for you, or it might not. If you like taking images with slower shutter speeds, this could be a game-changer for you.

6) GR III has No Flash

The GR III has no flash. This isn't a big deal for me as I rarely use the inbuilt flash on the X100V. The GR III does have a hotshoe though, so grab a compatible flash and you're set. Check out my review of the Godox Lux Junior here on Fstoppers

7) GR III Film Simulations 

At first glance, this is no competition. Fujifilm cameras have a roll call of famous film simulations like Acros, Provia and Velvia. Ricoh's film sims have generic names, but they are good. I love the colors of the Positive Film sim, and the Negative Film sim is great for portraits.  

Deer in Nara, Japan. A sneak peak from my next article about the GRiii for street and travel photography. 
© Matt Murray

Final Thoughts 

So, despite switching from one camera to the other, I don’t think the GR III is better than the X100V or vice versa. They’re both extremely capable cameras. Whether you prefer one or the other will depend on what you shoot and how you shoot.

Despite the ridiculous prices the X100V is going for now, I have resisted the temptation to sell mine, as I do still love it. For now, I’m enjoying exploring the world through the GR III - especially as I've been traveling more this year and love having it in my pocket as I walk through cities. Having a super compact digital camera with an excellent lens and beautiful colors suits me very well at the moment.

Make sure you look out for Part Two of this series coming soon: a review of the Ricoh GR III Diary Edition camera with lots of street and travel photos from Japan.

Matt Murray's picture

Matt Murray is a travel, portrait and stock photographer from Brisbane, Australia.

Matt is an avid film photographer and hosts an analogue photography podcast 'Matt Loves Cameras' featuring reviews of classic film and instant cameras.

Matt also hosts a new photography YouTube channel Matt Loves Cameras.

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I have the original Fuji X100 and a Ricoh GRIII. The small size and 28mm film equiv. view of the Ricoh make it my primary camera. I have to emphasize the size difference between the two models. The Ricoh is MUCH smaller. I use a small Pentax-branded vertically-adjustable flash for in-door bounce lighting on the Ricoh. Also, indoors the 28mm view is more practical. The resolution is more than adequate for cropping to simulate a longer focal length.

I wish I'd never sold my original X100... love the JPGs it produces! I'll have to check out Pentax flashes, thanks for reading!

My "Diary camera" is the Fuji X70. So, I understand the whish to have a really compact capable camera.

Nice! That's a great little camera too!

Thanks for your story, but not mentioning the leaf shutter is a notable omission.

Yes good point! This wasn't meant to be a comprehensive analysis of the 2 by any means, just the features and specs that came to mind most for my type of photography. Thanks for reading :)

So, Matt, let me understand why you switched: 1) The GR III has no viewfinder (the Fuji has); 2) The GR III has a wider field of view (Fuji used to offer a now discontinued version of the same field of view; 3) The GR III has no flash (this is no advantage, and rather an inconvenience); 4) the GR III has no film simulations (vs. Fuji’s generally acclaimed several ones). So basically you switched to a lesser camera, albeit a very good one) basically on account of its lighter weight and slightly better portability?

In a nutshell, yes I switched because of the size and weight :) I wouldn't say it's a lesser camera, it's just different to the X100V and suits me better at the moment. Ricoh's film simulations are good, I think the Positive Film and Negative Film are as good, if not better, as anything Fujifilm has created. Also bear in mind I'm specifically talking about street and travel photography in this article. Thanks for reading :)

Great article and great photos from the lil GR... I get why people love that camera and I get why people love the X100. The Fuji just checks so many boxes for me. No viewfinder is a tough one to swallow. Thanks for the great content!

No worries, thanks for reading Michael!

I can't even fathom the Ricoh being anywhere near the same level at the X100V. The Ricoh is almost toyish while the X100V feels solid and very well built, not to mention the X100V's old rangefinder look gets compliments left n right from people who aren't even photographers

Perhaps you should try one and find out for yourself? It's a lot of fun and the image quality is excellent.

Viewfinder is definitely a must for situations where ambient light is strong. Moreover, Ricoh lacks the dial for exposure compensation. It seems to me by no means the GR could match the X100V

I have one of the dials on the GR III set up for exposure compensation and use it all the time.

There is a dedicated dial for exposure compensation. Just above your thumb,and you can always use it to access other settings in the menu by pressing in on it, but it always defaults to exposure compensation when you turn it to the left or right.....very handy!