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Ricoh GXR Camera System
Digital Cameras/Camcorders | First Looks
Tue 09 Feb 2010

A New Kind of Camera

By Sutlej Soin

If there is one camera brand that is all geared up to take the imaging world by storm this year, Ricoh might just be it. While other top camera brands like Olympus and Panasonic are going the Micro Four Thirds way, Ricoh has decided to be an island and rethink its own camera system.

Meet the new GXR, which flaunts a never-before-seen interchangeable unit camera system where the lens, image sensor and image processing engine are all integrated into one neat unit separate from the camera body. The camera body does not have any additional parts attached to it, only the controls, flash, screen and card slot.

Integrated, you say...

Let's dive into this integrated unit, which combines both the image sensor and lens into one, and slides into the body of the GXR. We have seen similar all-in-one concepts featured in gadgets like Canon's Selphy printer series where the ink and paper are integrated with each other in a single unit but this is a first for a digital camera.

The beauty of this unit is that you can simply switch and change lenses (and image sensors) to better suit the situation that you wish to shoot. Also, because the lens unit is a separate entity from the camera body, this means that there is no dust entering the lens unit, which removes the need to invest in a camera box.

At launch, there are two such lens units available - the S10, which boasts a 24-72mm zoom lens with 10 megapixel 1/1.7-inch CCD sensor, and the A12, which features a 50mm macro lens with a 12.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. With this integration into a single unit, what you get is a portable high-end digital camera.

Robust Body

The body of the Ricoh GXR is made up of die cast magnesium with a corrosion-resistant 'pear skin' coating. The grip has a yielding rubber material that prevents the device from slipping out of your hand when you are snapping away. The size of this camera also bode well for users who are space-conscious. Measuring a sleek 113.9 x 70.2 x 77.1mm with the lens unit fitted, the device is only a tad larger than an average palm.

Thanks to this optimized unit, you'll get a small and light camera that will put a DSLR to shame. Located at the back of the camera is a high def 3-inch 920,000–dot VGA LCD picture display for high visibility even during outdoor viewing.

Expect More in the Future

Navigation of the menu settings is rather unintuitive as they are buried in sub-sections that will take a few tries to get accustomed. There is also a new DIRECT screen that enables you to change current settings quickly, as well as useful settings such as the PRE-AF function for faster focusing and ISO 3200 for shooting in low light.

These controls help to bridge the gap between compact point-and-shoot cameras and top-of-the-line DSLR devices. Most professional photographers will not think twice at the high asking price of US$549 for just the body alone, and what is even better is that there will be function enhancing firmware releases for the GXR similar to how Olympus gets theirs with the PEN series.

With this camera riding on the wave of the GR series' popularity (which is known for offering exceptional resolution and low distortion in a single lens unit), we bet that the unique GXR will pave the way for more of such technology in 2010.

Product Specifications

  • Picture Display: 3.0" transparent LCD; approx. 920,000 pixels
  • Shooting mode: Auto, program shift, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual, scene (movie, portrait, sports, landscape, nightscape, skew correction), "My Settings"
  • Picture Quality: Fine, Normal, RAW (DNG)
  • Storage: SD/SDHC memory card, internal memory (approx. 86MB)
  • Dimensions: 113.9 x 70.2 x 28.9mm 
  • Weight: Camera body (excluding battery, memory card, neck strap, and connector cap): 160g
    Battery, neck strap, and connector cap: 66g
  • File Format: Photographs - JPEG (Exif Ver. 2.21), RAW (DNG), Movies - AVI, Compression - JPEG baseline compliant
  • Interface: USB 2.0 (High-Speed) Mini-B connector; Mass Storage; AV output (NTSC), HDMI connector (Mini HDMI Type C)
  • Flash: Auto (flash fires when lighting is poor or subject is backlit), red-eye, on, slow sync, manual, off