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Ricoh GXR - Design and Features 1

By Cliff Smith

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

6

As a combined lens and body the GXR is about the size and weight of a large compact. The body unit measures 113.9 x 70.2 x 38mm and weighs 198g including battery and memory card. With the versatile 28-300mm f/3.5 – 5.6 lens unit attached the weight goes up to 359g and the depth increases to 50mm with the lens retracted. This compares well with the Canon G11 which measures 112.1 x 76.2 x 48.3mm and weighs 402g. However a more interesting comparison is the Sony NEX-5, which measures 110.8 x 58.8 x 88.2 and weighs 482g including the standard 18-55mm lens.

The design of the camera body section is derived at least in part from Ricoh's excellent but expensive GR Digital compact. It is made from tough but light magnesium alloy, and is finished in a scratch-resistant high-friction matt black crackle coating. The front handgrip and rear thumbgrip area are covered in textured rubber, and the whole thing feels very robust and solidly made.

The control layout is also derived from the GR Digital, with a small shooting mode dial on the top panel, with a locking button to prevent accidental jogging. It has the same user-configurable Adjust lever at the top of the rear panel, and a single adjustment wheel mounted on the top of the handgrip. The D-pad is slightly unusual in that it has eight directions rather than the usual four, allowing quicker diagonal movement of the adjustable focus point but not really conferring any other advantages. The secondary functions of the D-pad can also be configured by the user. There are dedicated buttons for the self-timer, macro mode (also used for focus adjustment in MF mode), display mode, switching between the LCD monitor or the optional electronic viewfinder, and also for activating the new Direct menu, a quick menu system for adjusting main camera settings.

I've always admired Ricoh's control interface for its versatility and ease of use, but with the GXR I think they may have gone a bit too far. With so many ways of accessing various functions the result is jumbled and confusing, and the layout of the controls is also a bit of a mess. Even with the rubber thumb grip the camera is not particularly comfortable to hold, and the position of the buttons does get in the way. The vertically mounted zoom control is also less than ideal. One stand-out feature however is the LCD monitor, which is a big three-inch unit with a resolution of 920,000 dots. It has a good anti-reflective coating, and extremely wide angle of view and works well even in bright sunlight.

Ed

August 23, 2010, 7:59 pm

I actually really like the principle of this camera. The idea of having a compact camera that can switch from being a versatile super zoom with a smaller sensor for general photography to a fast 50mm (or indeed 70-100mm) for portraits/arty shots while having the total package still be very compact appeals greatly. It would certainly be an interesting alternative to carrying around an SLR with a couple of fast lenses (24-70, 70-200) or a super zoom lens and a prime. Sadly Ricoh doesn't seem to have got the balance right. Hopefully the company will have the chance to give it a second go.

joose

August 23, 2010, 8:53 pm

@Cliff - Are all shots taken from the P10 lens?

jopey

August 23, 2010, 10:05 pm

I'd like to see what gets a 1 or a 2 out of 10 for value.

Matt

August 23, 2010, 10:16 pm

I suppose by changing the sensor size, they can keep the total package a compact size, whilst giving the choice of big sensor + prime or small sensor + zoom. For the money though, I'd rather get a NEX-5 or G2 - they're small enough whilst giving the benefit all the time of a large sensor. Otherwise, something like a TZ will give you all the versatility you need, in a very cheap, compact package (though I guess won'd give the dof or low-light abilities). People are used to investing in lenses, as although expensive they can be used over several generations of cameras. Whereas integrating them with fast-obsoleting electronics could seem like poor value in the long run.

Hedgeporker

August 24, 2010, 4:20 am

The concept is commercially crippled from the start by disallowing the interchange of the lens as well as sensor. One way of adding value would be to market a Foveon module, alhough commercially that would still be trying to make the best of a bad job. Ricoh should be getting in bed with Foveon anyway.

Cliff Smith

August 25, 2010, 2:55 pm

joose - Yes, that's the only lens unit that was supplied with my review sample. I'd like to see what sort of image quality the 12.3MP 50mm APS-C lens unit can produce, but at £500 it's still very poor value for money.





jopey - No, you really wouldn't.





Matt - Correct on all points.





Hedgeporker - An interesting idea, but Foveon is owned by Sigma now, so that's unlikely to happen.

Driver

September 2, 2010, 12:39 am

I used to own one of the very first film based superzoom/bridge camera in the form of a Ricoh Murai so I was expecting great things from the digital equivalent; but reading all the reviews available in the photographic press the Ricoh GXR comes out as an overly expensive rubbish system, irrespective of the sensor/lens combination.





Ricoh must have spent tens of thousands developing what should be a class leading camera system. Somewhere along the way they saw fit to hamper it with the full range of underdeveloped and incapable software, tiny noisy and inadequate sensors coupled to milk-bottle bottom lenses.





All of which produces results that are no match to Ricoh's own compact cameras. One wonders just where all the money was spent; it cannot all have gone on fitting two metal rails into a hollowed out GR body, or the sensor/lens connectors with their protective caps!.





Stir in a lens focus system which might or might not produce a sharp result...sometime, even in ideal conditions. The final system really has nothing going for it; for either entry level or creative photographer searching for a flexible lightweight alternative to their DSLR.





A quick study of the Ricoh CX3 or GR shows where this camera should be in terms of quality and ability. I so wanted the Ricoh GXR to be a step up from my Olympus 510 but the quality of pictures and cost involved mean the GXR is a photographic cul de sac. Ideally this camera should be finished in LEMON YELLOW with BLACK BANDS to warn off potential purchasers.

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