Ricoh GXR - Design and Features 1


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.