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Home arrow Digital Camera Reviews arrow Ricoh > arrow Ricoh GXR Digital Camera Review
Ricoh GXR Digital Camera Review

ricoh091221.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Katrina Putker 

 

Here we introduce what can only be described as a new breed of camera that has sprung up somewhere between the compact and DSLR worlds and will either shake up the market entirely or make just a small ripple in the extensive camera pool currently in existence.

Headlined by Ricoh as ‘the world’s smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera system,’ the GXR combines its lens, image sensor and image processor into a single unit that easily detaches from the body itself.

In other words, it is the first non-DSLR to offer an interchangeable lens system and the first camera system known to ever combine these three crucial elements (lens, sensor and processor) into a single removable component.

Unlike regular detachable lens systems where removing the lens means literally that, do so with the GXR and you remove and swap both the sensor and processor as well.

So, instead of twisting the lens on and off as is currently the DSLR norm, GXR owners simply use the lens to maneuver the whole core of the body out using a slide-in mount system so that literally all that remains is the 3-inch LCD panel and the meaty right-hand side handgrip.

In other words, the GXR suddenly becomes merely a shell of its former self until a different lens/camera unit is mounted.

Buy-n-Shoot.com was privy to a sneak preview of Ricoh’s GXR pre- production model prior to its international release in November and unsurprisingly, not much has changed on the unit since then.

But, now that the released model has dropped onto our desk, we can give you a full review this time - including notes on image quality that were difficult to offer in the initial preview as we were only able to view images in-camera at the time.

As suggested, the GXR offers a degree of image quality that rests nicely between higher end compact cameras and lower end DSLRs.

Particularly outdoors and under sufficient lighting conditions, images from the GXR are razor sharp, well-exposed and colour correct.

Move indoors however or to scenes with lower light and the GXR becomes slightly less reliable, at least without use of fill flash.

If you prefer to shoot under natural lighting conditions in this case, be prepared to sacrifice some sharpness and boost exposure somewhat in the editing suite.

If you have no qualms using the GXR’s built-in and sufficiently spring- loaded flash on the other hand, you’ll be in for some pleasing results. In most cases, the flash exposure balances well with the ambient light and again, helps to ensure a good level of sharpness throughout.

The GXR’s ability to deal with noise is far superior to many models in this price range and certainly helps nudge the unit further towards DSLR quality, at least in this particular area.

An ISO range of 200-3200 is available (along with Auto-Hi) and uniquely, is usable right across the range.

In fact in most cases, there is no obvious visible difference until reviewing the images side-by-side at one hundred percent. Indeed, we’re very impressed with the noise management of the GXR to say the least.

In terms of appearance, this unit looks as though it should: it’s stamped with Ricoh’s unique all black and blockish design, which despite appearances rests sturdily in hand.

It’s ultra compact especially considering its ability to interchange lens/camera systems, which on their own are compact little units that help increase the overall portability and capability of this GXR system as a whole.

The interface of the body is simple, clean and easy-to-use and a degree of user-friendliness extends to the logically laid-out internal menu system.

Interchanging the lens/camera systems is just as easy, if not easier, than regular DSLR systems given the discreet size of the units and the foolproof slide-in mount mechanism.

Auto, manual, shutter and aperture priorities, program, scene, and three customisable modes are available and currently, the GXR is compatible with two individual interchangeable lens/camera units: a 50mm F2.5 prime that houses a 12.3 megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor, and a 24-72mm F2.5-4.4 lens combined with a 10 megapixel CCD sensor - and it’s safe to suggest a telephoto unit is likely to be the next addition.

The 50mm is a fixed lens without zoom capabilities but the ability to shoot full HDMI video, where the 24-72mm offers some zoom but only standard video recording capability.

Macro mode is also available and offers pleasingly coarse bokeh. This makes your selected area correctly focused and all other planes in the composition delightfully blurred, making it great for isolating small subjects such as flowers and insects etc.

So, let’s get to the crux of it shall we? What is actually the point in housing the lens, sensor and processor all in the same detachable unit? What benefit to the user is there in choosing this system as opposed to a standard DSLR system?

Ricoh claims that in opting for the GXR, users can be assured the three individual elements (lens, sensor, processor) are finely tuned for optimum performance where with DSLR operation, regular changing of a variety of lenses can result in minor image quality anomalies.

Dust spots on the sensor will no longer be a danger as the GXR’s internal mechanics are never exposed to the elements. The lens/camera units are tightly bound and from all appearances seem very well protected.

Perhaps the most significant benefit of this system however, is the simple fact that the camera shell can be retained for much longer than any DSLR body currently survives in the ever-upgrading market (at least in theory anyway.)

Users should be able to keep the same GXR shell for an extended amount of time and instead invest in upgrading the lens/camera units as they come along with varying focal lengths, sensor sizes and processing engines.

This means that the photographer should retain an amount of proficiency and familiarity with their GXR’s interface, menu system and function control and only need to learn the capability of each lens/camera unit as it comes along.

GXR buyers will also have the option to purchase an external electronic viewfinder that offers a full 90-degree tilt and a preview of the composition with the same 920,000 dots as seen on the LCD screen.

The EVF does suffer more lag than the LCD preview however, but overall presents a clear, bright image that certain users may prefer over LCD viewing.

By far the biggest gripe with the GXR though is its painfully slow auto focusing. The quickest we were able to focus was approximately two seconds and the slowest was anywhere up to - if not occasionally slightly beyond - four seconds.medal-gold-r.jpg
While in the grand scheme of things, it’s probably not that slow, if you’re used to a snappy compact with almost instant AF or the swift focusing of a high-powered DSLR, you will notice the lagging performance of the GXR in this department.

Overall though, this is an exciting little camera certainly likely to appeal to a niche market of photographers for its portability, image quality and absolute uniqueness if for no other reason.

Ricoh have undoubtedly broken away from the mould and let’s hope it’s a step in an exciting new direction for them.

In the current saturated market, manufacturers have to evolve and adapt and congratulations to Ricoh for taking the initiative to move with times.

Try one out for yourself before buying as this system is a world-first and as a result, will be unlike anything you have used or seen before.
 

 

Appearance rating 3.5 stars
Functionality rating 3 stars
Image quality
3.5 stars
Lens quality
4 stars (reviewed with 18-55mm kit lens)
View finder / LCD screen 3.5 stars
Value for money 3.5 stars
RRP (AUD) GXR Body $699
A12 50mm $999
S10 24-72mm $649
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels A12 50mm F2.5 MACRO - 12.3 million pixels
S10 24-72mm F2.5-4.4 VC
- 10 million pixels
Image Sensor
A12 50mm CMOS / S10 24-72mm CCD
Image Sizes 4 sizes
Resolution Settings A12 50mm 640 x 480 to 4288 x 2416
S10 24-72mm 640 x 480 to
3648 x 2048
Manual Focus Yes
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority Yes
Shutter Priority Yes
Shutter Speeds A12 50mm 180 - 1/3200 s (upper and lower limits vary according to shooting and flash mode)
S10 24-72mm 180 - 1/3200 s (upper and lower limits vary according to shooting and flash mode)
Exposure Metering System
Manual (+4.0 to -4.0 EV in increments 1/3 EV or 1/2 EV), auto bracketing (-2 EV to +2 EV in increments 1/3 EV or 1/2 EV)
Exposure Modes TTL-CCD metering in multi (256-segment), center-weighted, and spot modes with autoexposure lock
ISO A12 50mm Auto, Auto-Hi, ISO200/ISO400/ISO800/ISO1600/ISO3200
S10 24-72mm Auto, Auto-Hi, ISO 100, ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800, ISO 1600, ISO 3200
LCD Monitor Yes
LCD Size 3.0" transparent LCD; approx. 920,000 pixels
Viewfinder Yes, External Viewfinder VF-2
Hot Shoe Yes, External Flash GF-1
White Balance Auto / Multi-P AUTO / Outdoors / Cloudy / Incandescent Lamp / Fluorescent Lamp / Manual Settings / Detail; white balance Bracketing
Self Timer Self-timer (shutter release delay of approx. 10s or 2s, or custom setting); interval timer (intervals of 5s to 1 hour in increments of 5s) color bracketing
HD Movie Option Yes
Movie Sizes 1280 x 720, 640 x 480, 320 x 240
Video Out Yes
Storage Type SD memory card (SDHC compliant)
Still Image Format/s JPEG (Exif Ver. 2.21), RAW (DNG)
Movie Image Format/s AVI (Open DML Motion JPEG compliant)
Audio Format/s PCM 32kHz, 16 bit monaural
Connectivity USB2.0
Power Source -
Battery Options DB-90 rechargeable battery (3.6V)
Battery Life
Approx 320shots
Dimensions 68.7mm x 57.9mm x 38.6mm
Body Weight 161g

 


 


 

 

 
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