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Ricoh GXR - Design and Features 2

By Cliff Smith



Our Score:


The interchangeable mechanism itself works well. The lens-sensor unit is released with a large accessible switch on the side of the handgrip, and slides in and out sideways. The mounting rails are metal, and the unit slides into place with a satisfyingly solid click. Electrical connection to the camera body is via a wide multi-contact edge connector, and I can't help but feel that this is a potential weak spot of the design. Electrical contacts, and especially edge connectors, do wear over time, and are also vulnerable to dirt and dust. However I experienced no problems with this while I was testing the camera.

There are currently three GXR lens/sensor units available. The A12 50mm f/2.5 macro unit has a resolution of 12.3 megapixels on a CMOS APS-C sensor, and offers a maximum still image size of 4288 x 2848 pixels, and maximum video resolution of 1280 x 720 at 24fps. The S10 24-70mm f/2.5 – 4.4 standard zoom has a 10.0 megapixel 1/1.7-inch sensor, with a maximum still image size of 3648 x 2736 but only 640 x 480 video resolution at 30fps. The new P10 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 unit seen here has a 10.0 megapixel sensor, but only of the tiny 1/2.3-inch size, with a maximum still image size of 3648 x 2736 pixels, and maximum video resolution of 1280 x 720 at 30fps.

The list prices of these units illustrate the main stumbling block of the GXR design. The P10 unit costs around £270, the S10 is £300, while the A12 with its big sensor is around £500, roughly the kit price of a Sony NEX-5 with an 18-55mm lens. Add to this the price of the body unit, currently listed at around £350 and you really have to wonder who is going to buy the GXR system when there are better specified compact system cameras available for much less.

Considering its very high asking price the GXR is lacking in several key areas. It has no mechanical image stabilisation in either the body or the current lens units, and the degree of photographic control is also more limited than I would have expected. Shooting modes include program auto, full manual and both shutter and aperture priority, as well as a limited range of scene modes. Shutter speeds from 30 seconds to 1/2000th of a second are available, but for the P10 lens unit at least only minimum or maximum aperture can be selected, hardly the sort of versatile control likely to lure users away from a digital SLR system.

The usual array of metering modes – multi-zone, centre-weighted and spot – are available, and it has a range of autofocus modes including multi-point, spot AF, multi-target AF, infinity, manual focus and a a snap-focus mode with a selection of pre-set distances. Colour and tone control at least do offer some versatility, with a range of pre-sets as well as two user-configurable settings that can be customised for saturation, sharpness and contrast as well as individual colour balance settings.


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.


August 23, 2010, 8:53 pm

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


August 23, 2010, 10:05 pm

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


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.


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.


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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