Review Price £299.95
The camera's overall performance is generally quite good. It takes approximately three seconds to start up and take a picture, which is a bit on the slow side, but in single shot mode it can maintain a shot-to-shot time of approximately 1.2 seconds, which is reasonably fast. In standard continuous shooting mode it can maintain a good speed of just over four frames a second apparently until the memory card is full, and also has several faster high-speed modes, although at reduced resolution.
The autofocus system is very quick in good light, although it does slow down noticeably in reduced lighting. It has a good AF lamp and can focus in darkness at a range of several metres. However I did find that the auto focusing was frequently very inaccurate, producing blurred shots even with good well-lit high-contrast subjects. This is a major flaw for an expensive camera with professional aspirations.
Image quality was also not without its problems. I was only able to test the GXR with the 10-megapixel 28-300mm P10 lens unit, which has the weakest sensor of the three currently available, a tiny 1/2.3-inch chip no bigger than those usually found in pocket compacts. The results were quite disappointing, with poor overall detail, excessive barrel distortion at wide angle, severe chromatic aberration, limited dynamic range and poor colour rendition, especially in the “Vivid” colour mode. Image noise was also a major issue, with visible noise from 400 ISO upwards.
Overall the GXR is something of a disappointment. I'm usually a fan of Ricoh cameras, and have owned several over the years. However the GXR system appears to be poorly conceived, with a number of disadvantages compared to other interchangeable lens systems, not least its very high price. The image quality from the 12-megapixel 50mm APS-C lens unit may be better, but for the cheaper P10 unit the results were very disappointing. Compared alongside other rival systems, especially Sony's outstanding NEX-5, I can't see a bright future for Ricoh's GXR concept.
While the GXR is well made, technically proficient and has good overall performance, the very high price of the lens/sensor units and the disappointing image quality shown by the test unit, as well as the unreliable autofocus system mean that the GXR isn't much competition for the other compact system cameras that are available.
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