Billed as the world’s first “interchangeable unit camera system,” Ricoh’s new compact camera system puts the lens, image sensor, and image processing engine into a integrated camera unit, so – unlike conventional DSLRs – the camera body itself does not contain an image sensor.
It’s a curious concept, with the camera units sliding into the GXR body, letting Ricoh squeeze the size down enough for it to claim the title of the, ‘World’s smallest and lightest digital camera with interchangeable lenses’.
Ricoh claim that their new system allows for “pocket size for go-anywhere portability” and “the highest image quality for every photographic situation and subject,” with the sealed units guaranteeing that the sensor will remain dust free.
The camera’s styling is almost identical to the company’s highly rated Ricoh GX100/GX200 cameras which we’ve felt considerable love for, with Ricoh’s distinctive all-black and sturdy lines.
Two camera units are being launched with the GXR: the A12 50mm F2.5 MACRO camera unit which comes with a 12.3 megapixel APS-C size CMOS sensor, and the S10 24-72 mm F2.5-4.4 VC camera unit packs a 10 megapixel 1/1.7-inch CCD sensor.
The Ricoh GXR will be available next monthr priced at £419 for the body, plus £600 for the 50mm camera unit, £330 for the 24-72mm camera unit, £239 for the external flashgun and £219 for the electronic viewfinder, making it a very pricey proposition and far more expensive than its obvious rivals, the Lumix GF-1 and Olympus Pen E-P1/2.
There’s no questioning that Ricoh have – once again – produced an interesting and innovative camera, but we have to say we’re not quite sure of the concept, and we suspect that photographers may find the whole ‘camera unit’ paradigm too, well, weird, for their tastes.
However, we’ve always been very impressed with Ricoh’s enthusiast/pro cameras in the past, so we’ll hopefully get the chance to test drive this camera shortly.
Ricoh Press Release
Ricoh announces the GXR interchangeable unit camera system
Lens, image sensor, and image processing engine integrated into a single interchangeable unit. World’s smallest and lightest*.
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.
1. Lens, image sensor, and image processing engine comprise an integrated unit which can be changed to match the scene being photographed.
2. World’s smallest and lightest* digital camera with interchangeable lenses
3. System potential expanded through use of interchangeable units
*Internal flash, interchangeable lens digital cameras with lens attached.
As of November 10, 2009, Ricoh research.
Main features of the new GXR
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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)
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
Hood & Adapter *1, *4 HA-3
Wide Conversion Lens *2, *4 DW-6
Teleconversion Lens *2, *4 TC-1
External TTL Flash *1 GF-1
LCD Viewfinder *1 VF-2
Cable Switch CA-1
Soft Case *1, *4 SC-55S
Soft Case *1, *3 SC-55L
Neck Strap *1 ST-3
Self-retaining Lens Cap *1, *4 LC-2
AC Adapter *1 AC-5
Rechargeable Battery *1 DB-90
Battery Charger *1 BJ-9
*1 Newly introduced options.
*2 Hood & adapter required when using the conversion lenses.
*3 For use with GR LENS A12 50 mm F2.5 MACRO
*4 For use with RICOH LENS S10 24-72 mm F2.5-4.4 VC
*All of the focal lengths in this release are converted to the equivalent values for a 35 mm film camera.
GXR – Major Specifications
Mode: Auto (flash fires when lighting is poor or subject is backlit), red-eye, on, slow sync, manual, off
Range (built-in flash): Refer to camera unit specifications.
Flash compensation: ±2.0 EV in increments of 1/2EV or 1/3EV
Manual flash amount: FULL, 1/1.4, 1/2, 1/2.8, 1/4, 1/5.6, 1/8, 1/11, 1/16, 1/22, 1/32, 1/64
3.0˝ transparent LCD; approx. 920,000 pixels
Auto, program shift, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual, scene (movie, portrait, sports, landscape, nightscape, skew correction) My Settings”
Fine, Normal, RAW (DNG) *1
SD/SDHC memory card, internal memory (approx. 86 MB)
Refer to camera unit specifications.
Photographs: JPEG (Exif Ver. 2.21) *2, RAW (DNG)
Movies: AVI *3 (Open DML Motion JPEG compliant)
Compression: JPEG baseline compliant (photographs and movies)
Other shooting options
Continuous shooting (continuous, M-Cont Plus);
self-timer (shutter release delay of approx. 10 s or 2 s, or custom setting); interval timer (intervals of 5 s to 1 hour in increments of 5 s) *4; color bracketing; B&W (TE); color space selection; noise reduction; histogram display; framing grid; depth-of-field indicator; tilt indicator; hot shoe
Other playback options:
Auto image rotation (when camera unit attached); multi-frame playback; playback zoom (up to 16 ×); resize
USB 2.0 (High-Speed) Mini-B connector; Mass Storage *5; AV output (NTSC), HDMI connector (Mini HDMI Type C)
Video signal format:
DB-90 rechargeable battery (3.6V), AC adapter (AC-5 option; 3.8V)
Refer to camera unit specifications.
Dimensions (W × H × D):
113.9 mm × 70.2 mm × 28.9 mm (excluding projections)
Camera body (excluding battery, memory card, neck strap, and connector cap): 160 g
Battery, neck strap, and connector cap: 66 g
Tripod screw hole:
0 °C to 40 °C
Date storage time
Approx. 1 week
85% or less
–20 °C to 60 °C
*1 A JPEG file is also recorded (the JPEG file may be a fine or normal quality file with the same dimensions as the RAW file or a VGA file). RAW files use the standard DNG format promoted by Adobe Systems Incorporated
*2 Compatible with the Design rule for Camera File system (DCF, a JEITA standard) and DPOF. Full compatibility with other devices is not guaranteed.
*3 Audio: PCM 32 kHz, 16 bit monaural
*4 Flash off.
*5 Mass Storage is supported under Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X 10.4–10.5.7.