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Ricoh Launches GXR Interchangeable Camera Unit

Gordon Kelly


Ricoh Launches GXR Interchangeable Camera Unit

And now - as Monty Python would say - for something completely different...

Ricoh has today formally announced the 'GXR', a compact DSLR alternative which eschews the micro four thirds system in favour of an "interchangeable unit camera system". Or in short: a camera where you swap out the entire lens and sensor!

While initially very strange to look at, the GXR does make a lot of sense. For one, the body and lens unit are both completely sealed meaning they eliminate the threat of dust and for other, body and lenses snap together very easily and quickly making it faster than changing a standalone lens.

Furthermore, while the GXR body contains its own image engine, Ricoh claims the dedicated processing chips in each lens unit means the two can be perfectly paired every time to guarantee image results. Clever stuff. From launch two lens units will be available: the 12.3 megapixel GR A12 50mm F2.5 Macro with CMOS sensor and the 10 megapixel S10 24-72mm F2.5-4.4 VC with CCD sensor. Initially Ricoh will be the sole manufacturer of all GXR lenses, but it hasn't ruled out the option of licensing the technology should other parties express interest.

Away from this, users will also find an ultra high resolution 3in 920k-dot screen at the back of the GXR body, integrated flash (though dedicated flash can be fitted) and HDMI output.

Predictably, such technical wizardry won't come cheap. Ricoh is charging £419 for the GXR body, £219 for the optional optical viewfinder and lenses start from £300 meaning enthusiasts can top a grand without blinking.

So do we think the GXR will be a success?

It certainly has the potential to be, but the real question is likely to be whether it is too radical for its target audience of enthusiasts and professionals. After all, many already have an extensive collection of lenses (the real cost with DSLRs) and only buy new cameras which are already interoperable with this. The Ricoh GXR means you will need to start again. That said, innovation never has come cheap and here we have a genuinely impressive, practical and more compact alternative to the Olympus PEN E-P1 and E-P2...


Ricoh GXR Product Page

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