Pocketable, Portable, Photography: Sony RX100M3, Panasonic GM-1, Ricoh GR

Sony RX100M3 Panasonic GM-1 Ricoh

 

I own all three of these cameras in my arsenal of go-to pocket devices and each one serves a different purpose. I often struggle with whether I should sell any one of them or simply continue to keep all three.

The Ricoh GR has been my all-time favorite. In fact, I’ve purchased a second limited edition camera to have in the event that my original camera ever decides to die. It features and APS-C sensor and delivers sharp images with some outstanding dynamic range for a camera that easily fits in my pocket. A firmware upgrade included the ability to shoot at 35 and 47 mm focal lengths although this is done via an in-camera crop and you do lose some megapixel size. I really love this camera with its built-in I Eye-Fi integration for ease of transferring photos to my mobile phone for editing and sharing. It has legendary ergonomics and continues the Ricoh distinction of being easy to use and operate with one hand for adjustments and shooting. Sometimes I’m a little frustrated with the fact that it doesn’t have an integrated viewfinder and you have to use the LCD screen, but it’s a quiet and very capable shooter that is fairly quick and very good for street photography.

The Panasonic GM-1 is the smallest interchangeable lens camera that is capable of using the full arsenal of micro 4/3 lenses manufactured by Panasonic and Olympus. It has a four/thirds sensor and is about the size of a small deck of cards without a lens and with a pancake lens attached, it’s not entirely pocketable but is easy to carry and small enough not to make people anxious when you’re taking pictures. It allows for fully manual shooting, with and integrated touch screen where you can either touch to focus and shoot or simply touch to focus, built-in Wi-Fi, and a built-in flash that you can use for adding some fill like or whenever you have a need where you lack light. The autofocus is very, very, very quick. The new GM-5 is marginally larger and incorporates an electronic viewfinder along with a hot shoe. If I continue to keep this camera, the only nagging thought is getting rid of it in favor of buying the GM-5 for the EVF and continuing this debate about whether I need all these small cameras in my personal collection.

Finally the Sony RX100 Mark III is a camera I bought after having had the original Sony RX100 only to get rid of it and then be tempted to get the Sony RX 100 Mark II. I bought the Mark III because it added a built-in viewfinder, a 1.8-2.8 aperture zoom lens, and faster processor, while maintaining the articulating screen and WiFi of the Mark II. The one-inch sensor is the smallest among the three cameras but the sensor has received rave reviews and after having used it for a while, I must’ve met that I’m also pretty proud of some of the pictures that come out of this device and it only begins to be outdone when the lighting becomes poor. It holds its own, but larger sensors fare better in low light.

Although all three cameras are very capable I have to admit that given the sensor size, the GR is the most capable in lowlight, the GM-1 is the fastest at autofocusing of all three cameras, and the RX100 M3 is the best all-around shooter if you need a camera that truly is pocketable and offers some outstanding versatility in terms of lens, viewfinder, screen and image quality in the smallest possible body with superb results.

It’s really kind of funny as I take a look at all of these cameras because I’m finding that the one camera that I continue to take with me most often and shoot with most frequently (at least at the current time) is my Fujifilm X100T. It’s larger than all three cameras, is not pocketable, and does not feature an articulating screen or touchscreen. However, it does have a viewfinder, has outrageously gorgeous retro looks, and the dials and ergonomics of this camera harken back to the days of film shooting and really make me want to use it to take pictures. I guess that’s the most important factor of any camera notwithstanding all the other conveniences of portability–if you truly are compelled to go out and shoot with whatever camera you have then some of the technology may be more of a burden than it is a benefit. Unless you’re a technophile like I am who enjoys having the cameras for the sake of what they can do and will use them from time to time without regard for the expense you might incur, then you may be better off deciding on a single camera that provides a compulsion to shoot versus all the bills and whistles that provide a compulsion to spend money. I’m going to try to control my own compulsions this year.

For the near term, I’m going to hang on to all four of these cameras with the possibility that the GM-1 and RX100M3 might leave me at some point. I’ve tried to sell the GM-1 on more than one occasion only to find that the resell value is unacceptable for what I gain from with keeping the camera as part of my micro four thirds kit. The GR is a proven partner and even though it doesn’t have a built-in EVF, I can’t really see myself parting with it as it’s just far too capable and has served me well.

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