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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.

Movies

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

Comment

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
Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Ricoh GXR
Author Rating
3

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Barrie Smith

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

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