When Ricoh announced the GXR system in November of 2009, it certainly made people sit up and notice. While firstly Panasonic and then Olympus had gone down the route of adapting the traditional SLR system of lens mounts and interchangeable lenses, the GXR had a unique modular design, with the lens and sensor combined as a removable, interchangeable unit.
Over a year after the system was released, Ricoh has announced it will be bringing out an expansion unit, tentatively called the GXR Lens Mount Unit. What Ricoh seem to want to do with this new module is to give the GXR the best of both worlds. Users will still be able to use the ‘old’ combined lens-and-sensor units but with this new mount unit they will be able to attached lenses such as Leica M series of lenses.
One of the advantages of the design of the modular units was that the lenses were always combined with a specific sensor, which was optimized for use with that specific lens. With this new mount however this advantage will be lost. The mount will come with an APS-C sized12.9 megapixel CMOS sensor and will also feature a newly developed focal plane shutter. Another advantage the modular system had over the interchangeable lens system was it didn’t allow dust get onto the sensor as it was fully enclosed, which again will be lost.
Ricoh put the following caveat at the bottom of its press release: “The development model name, specs, and introduction timing indicated above are subject to change.” All very unspecific but Ricoh did say it hopes the GXR Lens Mount Unit will be available by autumn of this year but no word on pricing has been announced. With Leica M Mounts running at about £180 and a APS-C GXR unit costing £560 you can try and work out for yourself how much it might cost – if it ever appears that is.