Ricoh GXR Review

Ricoh GXR Review

Smaller companies often take a different and braver route in satisfying demand for digital cameras. This particular bunch of boxes is Ricoh’s answer to the need for more compact, versatile, yet more powerful digital capture devices.

Ricoh GXR with GR prime lens camera unit_product shot.jpg

Described as ‘the world’s smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera system’ the Ricoh GXR unit integrates lens, image sensor and image processing engine into a single interchangeable unit: when you change the lens, you also change the sensor, shutter, aperture, processing engine plus the motors to drive auto focus and zoom (if needed).

The basic unit holds little more than the LCD screen, card slot, camera controls and flash.

A different lens module can have a different sensor size and type (CCD or CMOS?). The whole structure is dictated by the lens, not the body. A true interchangeable system.

The review package included the die cast magnesium body, the A12 module — an f2.5/33mm lens — and the VF-2 electronic viewfinder.

Set Up

Ricoh GXR camera body.jpg

Taking the GXR body in my left hand I slid the A12 module leftwards across the camera body to attach it. The VF-2 viewfinder (AUD299) simply slid into the accessory shoe. I then had a faux DSLR with two viewing options.

The A12 is a 33mm lens, equivalent to 50mm in 35 SLR terms, imaging to a 23.6×15.7mm CMOS with 12.3 million pixels. Apparently a highly corrected optic, it protrudes from the body by 45mm … a pancake lens it’s not! But it could well serve as a portrait or macro lens with the latter benefiting from its manual focus capability.

RICOH zoom lens camera unit.jpg

Another module, the S10 is based on a more general use 3x optical zoom and a 10.0 megapixel CCD. Two more are expected early this year.

The viewfinder is worth a mention: you alternate the rear screen/viewfinder view by tapping a button on the camera body but it has a useful ability to tilt through 90 degrees, effectively making it a waist level finder.

Ricoh GXR Features

Stabiliser? Thought you’d never ask! The A12 portrait/macro combo has none. The S10 3x zoom combo however uses an image sensor shift arrangement, which would benefit from a fine correlation between lens and sensor… something other makers don’t enjoy.

Until you use it, you don’t realise how useful the viewfinder tilt display is: you’ll never shoot another picture with even a smidge of tilt in it.

Japanese bronze sculpture 1.jpg

The target selection mode can be used to set focus and exposure for off-centre subjects without moving the camera — ideal for tripod work.

The 3x zoom also enjoys a Pre-AF function that accelerates focusing speed by adjusting the focus to match subject movement. When shooting up close, the camera auto switches to macro mode.

ISO Tests

Ricoh GXR ISO 200 f5.0 1:30 second.jpg
Taken at ISO 200 with an aperture of f5.0 and 1/30 second shutter speed this one has excellent gradation and no noise.

Ricoh GXR ISO 800 f5.0 1:153 second.jpg
Moving up to ISO 800 (f5.0 and 1/52 second) this shot is still a winner, sharp, excellent gradation and no noise.

Ricoh GXR ISO 1600 f5.0 1:310 second.jpg
Reaching ISO 1600 (f5.0 1/310 second) we begin to see some noise appear but the shot is still useable.

Ricoh GXR ISO 3200 f5.0 1:620 second.JPG
Top speed — ISO 3200 (f5.0 1/620 second) and showing evidence of noise but, with the right shot, still a useable setting in terms of sharpness and image quality.


Things get a little muddy when we get to movie shooting.

The A12 unit can capture video at a maximum and useful HD setting of 1280×720 pixels, recorded at the cinema rate of 24 fps.

However, the S10 is limited to 640×480 or 320×240 pixels at 30 fps.

I found this odd, because the more general-use S10 lens combo with its 3x zoom would seem to be the more general-purpose unit but is severely hobbled in the movie department. Strange!

Macquarie st foyer.jpg


The whole approach is a controversial one: begin with a basic body, then add lens modules to it. So each time you buy another lens you shell out for another CCD or CMOS, plus shutter, variable aperture section, processing engine and the motors to drive auto focus and zoom! The upside is that, when changing lenses there is no risk of dust entering the camera, unlike DSLRs … and each lens/sensor combo can be finely tailored to a specific task.

Picture quality: above average.
Why you would buy the GXR: you want to explore an entirely new camera style.
Why you wouldn’t: you don’t need more complexity.

Ricoh GXR Body Specifications

  • Memory: SD/SDHC memory cards plus 86 MB internal memory.
  • LCD Screen: 7.6cm (920,000 pixels).
  • File Formats: RAW (DNG), JPEG, Motion JPEG.
  • Flash Modes: Auto, red eye reduction, forced on and off, first and second shutter sync.
  • Flash Range: 20cm to 3.0 metres.
  • Interface: USB 2.0, AV, HDMI.
  • Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
  • Dimensions: 113.9×70.2×28.9 WHDmm.
  • Weight: 160 g (exc battery, memory card, strap, connector cap).
  • Price: Get a price on the Ricoh GXR Body

A12 lens/CMOS module Specifications

  • Image Sensor: 12.3 million effective pixels.
  • Lens: f2.5/33mm (50mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
  • Focus Range: 30cm to infinity; macro 7cm
  • Metering: Multiple (256 segment) and centre-weighted metering, spot.
  • Effective Sensor Size: 28mm CMOS.
  • Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, aperture and shutter priority, manual.
  • Shutter Speed: 180 to 1/3200 second.
  • Image Sizes (pixels): 4288×2416, 3776×2832, 4288×2848, 2848×2848, 3456×1944, 3072×2304, 3456×2304, 2304×2304,2592×1944, 2048×1536, 1280×960, 640×480.
  • Movies: 1280×720, 640×480, 320×240 at 24 fps.
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 200 to 3200.
  • Dimensions: 68.7×57.9×71.3 WHDmm.
  • Weight: 263 g.
  • Price: Get a price on the Ricoh A12 50mm f/2.5 Macro GR Lens with APS-C 12.3 MP CMOS Sensor

S10 lens/CCD module Specifications

  • Image Sensor: 10.0 million effective pixels.
  • Lens: f2.5-4.4/5.1-15.3mm (24-72mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
  • Focus Range: 30cm to infinity; macro 1cm to infinity.
  • Metering: Multiple (256 segment) and centre-weighted metering, spot.
  • Effective Sensor Size: 14.9mm CCD.
  • Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, aperture and shutter priority, manual.
  • Shutter Speed: 180 to 1/2000 second.
  • Image Sizes (pixels): 3648×2432, 3648×2736, 3648×2048, 3264×2448, 3264×1840, 3264×2176, 2592×1944, 2448×2448, 2048×1536, 1280×960, 640×480.
  • Movies: 640×480, 320×240 at 24 fps.
  • ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 3200.
  • Dimensions: 68.7×57.9×38.6 WHDmm.
  • Weight: 161 g.
  • Price: Ricoh S10 24-72mm f/2.5-4.4 VC Ricoh LENS with 10MP CCD Sensor
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Ricoh GXR
Author Rating

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Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

Some Older Comments

  • Dave May 14, 2012 09:42 am

    This camera looks great. I am also looking at the Ricoh GR3...

  • Marcus June 13, 2011 01:11 pm

    About the comment on the body. That is precisely why this GXR system is so interesting. The body is cheap to change! So lets say down the road new flash cards with 100mb/s write time comes out, instead of buying a new body that is freaking expensive like say GF1, GF2, GF3 (see?), you buy the ricoh new GXR body that supports such cards and its going to be at least 60% cheaper than buying other systems body.

  • David Candra December 12, 2010 09:43 pm

    Read about it from someone who owns it and been using it in.

  • Ben September 10, 2010 10:01 pm

    One thing that most people and I think Ricoh missed is that the RAW image processor, VR, auto focus, and sensor is on a module. The body does JPEG compression and menu control. This is fantastic, screw the dust part. I totally disagree with wanting a new interface when I upgrade. I can have a compact camera and years down the road (I say years hoping but judging from the build quality it would be) that I can upgrade the sensor, better VR and not have to relearn the camera. That is the worse part about a new camera is figuring out how the d@#! thing works! Once you get over the initial investment and assuming the grips lasts a new high end camera 3 years from now only 3-4 hundred bucks as opposed to 600, I am sold.

  • Robbie Lopez June 17, 2010 11:42 pm

    I like the novelty of the idea, but like most of you , I agree that this won't necessarily be smashing on the market.
    I am impressed with the image quality and with noise levels, but the compact cameras with interchangeable lenses are affordable because you buy one component of the camera as an upgrade. Including a sensor, proc, and lens only serves to increase the price per new module unless if they make available more lens options and they are initially sold in kits ( kind of the way you can buy a cheap D90 with "5 lenses" on ebay. You get ok kit lenses, but the better lenses cost more $$.

  • guusdehoog June 17, 2010 05:41 pm

    Hi there! Thanks for the great article on the Ricoh GXR! I have the used the GXR extensively in the last month and I have to say I really like it. I'm not a professional photographer; I'm a product designer. But I carry at least one digital camera with me at all times; taking pictures of everything I find interesting to capture or find memorable. But I also use (toy) film cameras for those arty pants moments.
    For those of you who are familiar with the Ricoh GR series (I, II, III), that would be my favourite everyday camera to use. Eventhough it is a fixed lens (no optical zoom, only digital) this camera gives me all the freedom I want with a camera: an extremely sensitive lens, shooting in RAW format, compactness, great grip, an amazingly intuitive manual settings interface (shutterspeed and aperture effectively under your thumb and index finger) and several of those modular, interchangeable parts like viewfinder, flash, lens adapters, etc. that some of you were talking about.
    This legendary (and award winning) design is the base for the design of the GXR; but the GXR adds great lenses and well suitable sensors that go along with them, to the great interface and image quality. In that sense this camera beats the competition (Olympus PEN, SONY NEX (which I also tested) and others) by far.
    Keep track of Ricoh and the GXR: because there is more to come!

  • dogwatcher June 17, 2010 03:18 pm


    Many others have had this idea before. But I'm afraid a modular camera like this would be too expensive for potential buyers. Well, you could save money in the long term, but to spend the money in the first place will be the problem I'm afraid.. plus the companies may have no interest in such products. They are happy to sell every customer a new body every couple of years or so.

    Well, back to the GXR.. I don't know, but I remain sceptical. The whole "compact system camera" market (or whatever you want to call the system cameras without pentaprism and mirror) seems to fall into pieces.. there is micro-four-thirds, the new Samsung system, Sony with the NEX cameras, Ricoh... and more to come.

    I bet that we will see some dying systems in the future, some of these new bayonets or.. hmmm.. how to call the Ricoh-solution.... "system"?... won't stay in the market for a long time, I'm pretty sure.

  • Lon June 17, 2010 01:50 am

    dogwatcher, i like your idea about customizing your camera - maybe that is something manufacturers would offer in the future - like say I want a smaller rebel size bady but made of metal, and with interchangeable focus screens and a pentaprism, replace the pop-up flash with a larger more powerful, directible pop-up flash, and could choose a less powerful cpu or sensor to save money (cut corners where I want them cut), etc.

    Probably something that would only be available on top level bodies, but would be insanely popular if done right.

  • dogwatcher June 17, 2010 01:28 am

    I think the whole strategy is somewhat... well.. strange.

    On some cameras, i can still use 20 year old lenses with good results even today (... without AF and often manual-mode-only of course).

    But will I use a 20 year old GXR module. Can't imagine that. Will it work in 20 years? I have my doubts.

    If there were a camera where you can change the sensor, the motherboard und parts of the body (like the handgrup) more easily, this would be real nice.... but it remains a dream.

  • Lon June 16, 2010 08:00 am

    cool idea, could potentially reduce the amount of electronic junk that goes in the garbage, but I don't think it will go over well in the market - this type of thing could do well if it was an open standard and there were third parties making modular lens-type optic add-ons (stereoscopes, infrared, very powerful telescopic lenses document scanners, slide/negative film adapters, high speed shutter/sensors, etc.).

    But I think people prefer to also see a change in ergonomics when they upgrade, who wants to see the same old lcd, buttons & dials etc. And what happens when they invent 50mp modules that require some new faster and bigger storage medium? It's like upgrading the motherboard on a computer - after a couple years you still need to upgrade the box.