Ricoh's GXR digital camera takes interchangeable lenses to a whole new level

Forget changing lenses, the GXR lets you change entire sensor modules!

  • Each lens unit will have its own image processing engine built into it, but the body also has image processing built into it. The GR LENS will use the GR ENGINE III image processor, while the RICOH lens will use the Smooth Imaging Engine IV. Image stabilisation availability is dependent on each unit.

  • The body houses the battery compartment and hand-grip, the built-in flash, the hot-shoe, the 3in LCD screen on which you can frame your photos, and the dials and controls that you can use to change the exposure, focal length and colour settings.

  • Ricoh today announced the GXR, an interchangeable lens camera that is unlike anything else currently on the market. The GXR is what Ricoh calls an interchangeable unit camera system. It doesn't have a built-in sensor. Instead, the lenses you use will have a built-in sensor that best matches the lens capability. This is the 'unit' that Ricoh refers to and it has allowed Ricoh to create what it claims is the world's smallest interchangeable lens camera.

  • This is a test picture taken with the 50mm lens. The lovely shape of the bokeh pattern is clearly evident.

  • A macro shot taken with the 50mm lens shows the excellent clarity the camera is capable of capturing.

  • An example of skin tones, as captured by the 50mm lens, and plenty more bokeh in the background. Images: Ricoh

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  • A 24-72mm (35mm equivalent) unit, known as the RICOH LENS, will have a 3x zoom range with a 10-megapixel CCD sensor and a crop factor of 4.7. It will cost $616 plus GST. This zoom lens will have an aperture range of f/2.5-4.4 and feature built-in image stabilisation (sensor shift type). This lens doesn't have a manual focus ring or a manual zoom ring. The focusing and zooming is handled by the controls on the body.

  • ... or an electronic viewfinder (VF-1) with a 100 per cent field of view.

  • Another shot with the 50mm lens, taken in slightly darker conditions than the previous shots and using a shutter speed of 1/80.

  • You can use the Ricoh GXR in full manual mode, or you can take advantage of its semi-automatic or scene modes. It's very similar in operation to the [[artnid:314812|Ricoh Digital GR III]] and quite easy to use. It has a 'direct' button that can bring up the current settings of the camera on the LCD screen, which is a similar feature to many digital-SLR cameras on the market.

  • Units slide into the camera body very easily and because the lens and sensor are not separate, there is no chance of dirt and dust getting in between them and contaminating your pictures. The body feels very well constructed, and there is little chance of the LCD screen breaking, despite how susceptible it looks to bending or snapping.

  • The hot-shoe can accommodate an external flash (GF-1)...

  • The flagship 'unit' for the Ricoh GXR is a 50mm (35mm equivalent) lens known as the GR LENS. This is the APS-C-sized lens, which has a 12-megapixel CMOS sensor built into it with a crop factor of 1.5. It will cost around $1100 plus GST. This is a prime lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.5 that is capable if capturing images with a wonderfully shallow depth of field. It has a floating lens structure that allows it to also be used for macro photography and Ricoh claims a low level of vignetting in macro and normal shooting modes. It has a manual focus ring.

  • One of the benefits of this new system is that is allows for an APS-C-sized sensor to be used in a very compact form factor (in selected units). An APS-C-sized sensor offers a smaller crop factor than most digital cameras (1.5), which means it's bigger and capable of producing better looking pictures. It's also bigger than the sensor in a Micro Four Thirds camera, such as the [[artnid: 323280|Panasonic LUMIX GF1]], which has a crop factor of 2.

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