Ricoh GXR official

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Some of Ricoh GXR accessories

Update: I forgot to mention the Ricoh GXR accessories: viewfinder, external flash, neck strapself-retaining lens cap, Ricoh TC-1 135mm tele conversion lens, Ricoh HA-3 Hood & adapter.

image source: Ricoh

image source: Ricoh

It was just a week ago when the word about a new "slide-in" design broke out and only a month ago I reported about the upcoming mirrorless Ricoh. Today it's all official:

Full press release after the break:

Tokyo, Japan, November 10, 2009—Ricoh Co., Ltd. (president and CEO: Shiro Kondo) today announced the development and release of the GXR interchangeable unit camera system featuring the world's smallest and lightest* digital camera with the ability to change lenses.

The new GXR is an interchangeable unit camera system in which lenses are changed by using a slide-in mount system to attach camera units to the body. The lens, image sensor, and image processing engine are integrated into the camera units so the body itself does not contain an image sensor.

With world-leading small size and low weight* enabling easy carrying, the GXR interchangeable unit camera system features a highly rigid magnesium alloy body and multiple camera units that can be changed to best fit the scene to be photographed. You can enjoy easy lens changes as well as amazing image quality and shooting flexibility. Concealing infinite possibilities in its small body, the GXR is a revolutionary camera system that pioneers a new realm of photography.

Distinctive characteristics

Lens, image sensor, and image processing engine comprise an integrated unit which can be changed to match the scene being photographed.

World's smallest and lightest* digital camera with interchangeable lenses

System potential expanded through use of interchangeable units

Main features of the new GXR

Ideal form for an interchangeable lens camera: The interchangeable unit camera system

By integrating lens, image sensor, and image processing engine into a single optimized unit, we were able to created a compact camera with interchangeable lenses.

The adoption of this new system has made it possible to achieve both "pocket size for go-anywhere portability" and "the highest image quality for every photographic situation and subject."

Since the image sensor is not exposed when lenses are changed, the camera's structure makes it inherently difficult for dirt and dust to get inside.

Putting image processing engines in both the body and the camera units, our focus was on achieving the highest image quality.

Elegant design

For the exterior, we utilized die cast magnesium, which has a strong track record in the GR series, and we covered the surface with a corrosion-resistant "pear-skin" coating. The end result is a body with superior levels of durability, light weight, and feel in hand.

Building on the operation control designs of the GR series and GX series, the GXR has several types of customizable buttons as well as the new DIRECT button, which the photographer can use to see many current settings at a glance. Sophisticated shooting settings can now be made faster than ever before.

The directional pad, the three My Settings, the ADJ.lever, and the function buttons all contribute to the even greater operability achieved by the GXR.

The grip form allows the GXR to be firmly held despite its small size, and the suitably yielding rubber material on the grip surface enables the camera to feel like an integral part of the hand.

Even greater power of expression

The automatic exposure modes include program shift mode, shutter priority mode, and aperture priority mode.

Picture settings can be customized with nine setting levels for easy creation of a diverse range of images.

ISO3200 facilitates shooting in low light conditions.

Enhanced rapid shooting capabilities help capture fleeting shutter chances

The Pre-AF function accelerates focusing speed by adjusting the focus to match subject movement.

The full press snap function shoots at a preset distance for a one-push full-press of the shutter-release button.

When shooting subjects up close, the camera automatically switches to macro mode so macro photography can now be enjoyed without having to worry about switching modes.(Auto macro setting)

High-definition 3.0-inch 920,000-dot VGA LCD picture display

The high-resolution LCD picture display provides a wide viewing angle and high contrast. The screen has a fluorine coat to prevent soiling, a hard coat to prevent scratches, and an anti-reflection coat to give excellent visibility even outdoors in bright sunshine.

With 100% sRGB coverage for color reproduction, the picture display vividly reproduces image colors.

Wide range of functions

Tilt indicator utilizing an acceleration sensor.

Three grid guides useful for framing images while shooting.

Image flag function to enable the quick display of specific images from among those in the camera. Up to 20 images can be flagged.

The new DIRECT screen enabling current settings to be displayed and changed.

Features of the GR LENS A12 50 mm** F2.5 MACRO camera unit

This camera unit uses a 23.6 mm×15.7 mm (APS-C size) CMOS sensor with approximately 12.30 megapixels. In combination with image processing engine GR ENGINE III, it achieves high-image-quality photography with high definition, low noise, and smooth tonal gradations.

A newly developed GR LENS with an 8-group, 9-element configuration (aspherical lens: 1 element, two surfaces) is featured. Representing a further advancement in the GR tradition of high image quality, the lens thoroughly corrects for various types of aberrations. Despite the compact size, it is also a full-fledged macro lens with a floating lens structure. At shooting distances from infinity down to the 1/2x maximum magnification macro range, it achieves strong imaging power all the way to the edge of the frame. In addition, the low level of vignetting means that the photographer can enjoy rich and genuine bokeh effects.

The manual focus ring is perfect for use in macro photography as it makes highly precise focusing possible. It can also be used to make fine manual adjustments to the focus after autofocus is done.

Features of the RICOH LENS S10 24-72 mm** F2.5-4.4 VC camera unit

This camera unit uses a 10.00 megapixel 1/1.7-inch CCD sensor boasting high-sensitivity capabilities enhanced through the adoption of an new process. In combination with advanced image processing engine Smooth Imaging Engine IV, it achieves high-image-quality photography with high definition and low noise.

The lens is a 24 mm to 72 mm high-performance 3x wide-angle zoom with superior usability. Utilizing a 7-group, 11-element configuration (aspherical lens: 4 elements, 4 surfaces) that includes special low-dispersion lenses, this lens achieves high dimensions of both compactness and imaging power.

A camera shake correction function (image-sensor-shift type) is used to reduce hand- motion blur.

The self-retaining lens cap has been a popular GX series option, and a GXR version is available as option LC-2.

New options enhance series expandability

Two soft cases, one for each camera unit.

The GXR can use the GR DIGITAL III external flash (GF-1), which can do TTL flash using auxiliary flash.

Convenient for shooting in bright outdoor situations, the newly developed 920,000-dot- equivalent high-definition LCD viewfinder is removable and can be tilted up to 90 degrees. With a 100% field of view, it displays information in the same way as the picture display, thus enabling the photographer to shoot in a film camera style.

Functions expanded using firmware

Function-enhancing firmware releases for the GR DIGITAL series have proved very popular, and this practice will be continued for the GXR. By updating their firmware, GXR owners will be able to use the latest functions.

*Internal flash, interchangeable lens digital cameras with lens attached.

As of November 10, 2009, Ricoh research.

**All of the focal lengths in this release are converted to the equivalent values for a 35 mm film camera.

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  • NikoDoby

    Image quality looks pretty good. A very interesting and unique camera !

    • Josh

      It will be unique…to the one person that buys it.

  • Lorenzo

    Well… it is an interesting idea, but… 1) far too expensive, 2) not enough interesting combinations, yet (a “normal” macro that costs almost as much as a D300 for being usable, or the equivalent of the GX100 for three time the price of the GX100…); 3) what if in the future there are cool sensors and cool lenses, and I want to use a sensor (e.g. b&W one) with a different lens than the one built with it? I can’t! It sounds wrong…

  • Erich

    I’m not sure what I think of this yet. The size is awesome, the metal construction is awesome, the concept seems to have potential. I think it’s going to come down to lens performance and image quality.

    But one issue I can foresee, which makes me agree with Lorenzo, is that sensor technology is advancing at a far more rapid pace than lens technology. Which is a pretty darn good reason to keep the lenses separate from everything else on a camera. (And, Nikon, Canon, that includes IS features.)

    Here’s an idea… what about a micro four-thirds lens-module as an option?

  • Erich

    Wait a second. Why not make a truly modular camera and separate the lenses from the sensors. That way if people want to pair each lens with it’s own sensor to keep it sealed, they can decide for themselves. In the meantime people can have one module for their super compact zooms, and one for prime lenses.

    • http://www.radiantlite.com/ Enche Tjin

      Ricoh makes profits through sensor+lens module. So i think they want to make some money first, before opening up the system.

      There is also image quality concern especially in high iso setting:

      here is the quote from ricoh global website

      “In order to make the best use of the inherent power of the lens and the image sensor, the ideal solution is to combine both in a single unit. Consider, for example, the low-pass filter covering the surface of the image sensor. The dilemma faced is that while the filter helps prevent color noise and color moiré, increasing this benefit results in an ever greater sacrifice in lens resolution. Traditional interchangeable lens systems use a single low-pass filter for all lenses so they are unable to avoid situations where the filter effect is excessive or inadequate. With the GXR, on the other hand, we can design a filter optimized for the resolution of the specific lens. In this way, Ricoh has succeeded in effectively preventing color noise while suppressing filter influence on lens resolution.”

  • Lorenzo

    In fact a module containing lens + sensor is an interesting idea. But results in expensive products, that ultimately leave less freedom to the buyer than a traiditional camera. If they produce sensor only modules with traditional mounts that would not stop them from producing closed modules, but would allow the buyer much more freedom…

  • Chris_M

    I think this lens+sensor system is a “evolutionary dead end”. They definitely need to separate the sensor from the lens and make it somehow affordable. This should be a camera for the photo enthusiasts, not for pros, nor for reach, spoiled leica cult followers.

    • Chris_M

      I meant “rich”, not “reach” …

  • Mel

    The zoom module is what the GX3 should have been — same zoom range as the GX200, but with tweaks (less banding at high ISOs) and a better sensor (the one in the Canon G11 and S90). The problem is that the module+body sells in the US for $500 more than the GX200 sells for right now. Ricoh fans who don’t want anything else have to spend more than twice the price of the GX200 — that’s crazy.

    Now look at the 33/2.5 macro module with the Sony sensor used in the D5000/D90/D300. You can get a D5000 plus a Tokina 35/2.8 macro for under $1000, or get the Ricoh equivalent for $1400. Yes, it’s much smaller. But its aufotofus is inferior. Quesabesde.com said it wasn’t as fast as the AF from the Panasonic GF1, and dpreview said, “We’re not going to talk about the performance of the contrast detect autofocus in this preview as this is a pre-production camera (and ours has some serious focus issues that we hope are not going to be seen in the final shipping product).” Even if the AF worked right, contrast-detect AF is inherently slower than good phase-detect AF in DLSRs.

    So, do you really want to pay a $400-$500 penalty for your modules (and in some cases get slowish AF) just to get a small camera? Ultimately that is what Ricoh is offering. And I don’t think it’s a tradeoff that most people will go for.

    If the price differential dropped by $200-$300 you could see a lot more sales, but the system would still have an uphill climb.

    • Lorenzo

      I see it far too problematic.
      If there were other 2-3 nice lenses (or lens/sensor combos), such as a pano one (20mm equivalent but pano ratio, e.g. 5:2, or 16:9, with 12-14 mp optimised for such format), or some other good idea (a square b&w sensor with a lens optimised for portrait, à la Hasselblad), the overall thing could make sense, and if the quality were excellent would worth the extra cash. But this way we are really buying what we already have (a normal lens with almost macro features, OR a compact camera à la GX200), investing into a very closed system that does not give any promise of near-future releases (bar the 10x zoom with a tiny sensor, for which I am not investing 1000 euros…)

  • tibor

    I would love to see a wide angle, regular & tele in SQUARED format sensor !

  • Shelly

    I see this as a good start, but there will have to be more options in the future, for me to start investing in it.

    i can see in the future that they could have the camera base, and then a sensor slide in and removable lenses 4/3 size and m4/3 size

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