Ricoh GXR

2009, Photography


Many thanks to Which? Reviews for sharing the first impression of Ricoh’s latest camera which was announced Tuesday, November 10.

Ricoh-GXR-1
The camera will come with two lenses at first. A 24-72mm f/2.5-4.4 lens with a 10 megapixel CCD sensor which could well be the same small sensor as used for the GR Digital III. And there will be 50mm f/2.5 macro lens with a 12 megapixel CMOS sensor.

Update, 10 November 2009
The word is out. The new Ricoh GXR is there and dpreview has their preview of this camera just posted.

And Ricoh posted all the product info, including some impressive samples on their website. There is more at the special Japanese GXR special page. And Amazon.com are already taking pre-orders for this camera.

My first impressions are that it is pricey, and I am not really enthusiastic about the little zoom lens with the small CCD sensor which makes it a quite expensive GX200 in my opinion. Even though the 50mm macro lens isn’t the fastest lens around I am already impressed with some of the posted samples taken with that lens unit. And I could get more excited about this system if Ricoh actually plan to produce a cartridge with a M-mount. According to an interview by Amateur Photographer Ricoh is certainly interested in such possibility.

67 thoughts on “Ricoh GXR

  1. I just saw this on the Ricoh forum. Not sure what to think about it yet. Not quite what I expected. Innovative, yes, but practical?

    I really, really wanted something along the lines of the m4/3 concept of a small camera, large sensor, and interchangeable lenses. Having to buy a new sensor with each new lens does not seem efficient. The proposed 50mm lens is essentially a fixed lens camera and it’s huge!

    1. I agree that is innovative, but I have some doubts about the practicality too. Hope to now more soon. I personally think I would have preferred a camera system with a M-mount or something close to it. And I am surprised too that they use different type of sensors. CMOS for the 50mm and CCD for the zoom.

      And it is kind of pricey too 😦

  2. I just wish they would continue with the GX series (upgrade to f/2.0 and new 10mp sensor) and continue to compete with the LX3 and S90…seems with this new camera there is an empty spot in their lineup. The practicality and efficiency (both on their behalf from a cost point of view and the users) seems to be lacking.

  3. At least if you get dust and banding with one lens/sensor you can switch to a different one whilst waiting for a replacement from Ricoh. 🙂

  4. Well, ehm, they’ll probably tell us more tomorrow, but wouldn’t it be possible for Ricoh just to release a sensor ‘cartridge’ with whatever lens mount? (I.e. without a fixed lens to the sensor.) Kinda reminds me of the whole modular video thing Red is doing.

    1. That was my thought too Hans. As a matter of fact I wouldn’t be surprised that the sensor for the zoom lens is the same as the sensor for the GRDIII, while the sensor for the 50 lens is APS-C. It is innovative? Yes. Is it what I would have like to see? Not really. I think this is all quite restrictive, because it is all a very closed system.

  5. Indeed, really new, really innovative, really ricoh?

    Not quite what i expected (but what’s an expectation?) and it looks a bit like a ‘ toy’ now… I would have wanted to get some old lenses on a lovely ricoh body.. that dream has now ended?

  6. Hi Wouter,
    it has been a long time when i last commented here on your site, long time no see.

    The Ricoh new system is something that im very interested in. If there is a market and ricoh will produce more “sensor+lenses” the system has a future. I think its the way where semipro/pro digital cameras have to go – “modular systems”. Because the technology progress for different components in digital cameras is so rapid and for that camera makers relase new cameras nowadays every quarter or something like that. It’s crazy. It’s stupid to buy a new camera after every relase and we all here agree on that, (i hope). But with modular systems we have a choice. For example if for 2 years from now there is a new fullframe-35mm available. Or new big viewfinder. Or new cameramodule with ultra-awesome lcd and some other very cool thing, etc. But between that there have been different smaller relases that didn’t interested me: smallsensor-ultrazoom, better flash back, etc. It’s endless. You make your own camera. This works (for me) of course when the price is OK and the sensor-lens module is not priceier than new equivalent camera. And there have to be full compatibility, like medium format filmbacks for digitalbacks and all leica lenses on every M rangefinder and so on. Or the RED (http://www.red.com/) system maybe.
    I hope thats the way other manufactures go. Or Wouter what you think?

    PS. Sorry for my poor english.

    Best regards,
    Raik

    1. I personally wouldn’t mind a modular system. In fact the RED system seems more interesting, because they basically change the sensor. You can however keep continuing to use your own lenses. The Ricoh camera system however appears to me as too proprietary. And since Ricoh is already a small manufacturer in a niche market and I don’t expect other manufacturers to produce lenses with sensors for this camera. I hope I will be wrong about this, but these are my first thoughts about this camera.

      1. Im almost totally sure that ricoh stays alone with her gxr system. But i hope that other manufactuers will come with their own modular systems.
        In ideal, sensor+body+lens would be near perfect system. But at reasonable price (in compact body) in today technology isn’t reality for mass market in my opinion, at least right now. Maybe ricoh strives that way. And maybe the “lens made for sensor” or vice versa idea gets us better quality from the lenses/sensors for now.
        Of course i like the craftmanship and quality/individuality of lenses from zeiss and leica but i don’t see a real digital future for them. Maybe the 35mm fullframe dissapears in digital. The quality of tiny sensors outtakse the fullframe 35mm of today… and so on and on. Thats now semi-fiction.
        Maybe Ricoh is watching forward, sorry, not only watching but does the first steps.

        1. A lot depends on their commitment, which is of course strongly related to the selling numbers. And I hope they already have a roadmap of lenses and sensors for the near future that could look promising with more and faster prime lenses and even fullframe sensors. But I expect the prices to be fairly high and this could all be beneficial for the m4/3 system.

  7. What a brave idea from Ricoh! I really like the focal lengths they have picked. 50mm is a very familiar focal length for prime lens users and very “natural”. Being a true macro lens, it should be very versatile with good characteristics for both portraits and macros. They already have a very good lens with the GX-200 so I’d expect very good results.

    Seems like they are using the Sony sensor in the GRD-III for the zoom block. Probably the same sensor as in G11 and S90. I have only heard good things about it. If the sensor in the APSC block is the same Sony sensor that is used in Pentax K-X, then even 12,800 ISO may be usable. We should probably not set our expectations too high though. I’d be happy to get decent 1600 ISO shots. In future, the camera can conceivably take a full frame sensor as well. You wouldn’t have to figure out a new body every time you upgrade. You can buy components separately every two or three generations (or never!) when the technological advances merit an upgrade.

    In terms of pricing, if you add up the price of a new Canon G-11 (probably the same sensor as this new camera), and a Panasonic GF-1 with its pancake lens, you will get pretty close. If Ricoh bundles an EVF with the system, then it makes it very competitive in my opinion. Overall package should also be lot more compact than carrying a small zoom camera and a big prime lens camera.

    What worries me is that If they released another prime lens for the APSC sensor in six months, I would have to buy another sensor with it. That seems like it goes against the idea of a modular camera system.

    Also, it is a shame that the current Sony compact sensor doesn’t allow HD video or else you would have a very capable HD video system here. I imagine the jello effect problems of the CMOS sensors have probably also not gone away in the APSC sensor with the 50mm HD video lens unit. I think the next generation of the Ricoh sensor/lens units will be much more competitive.

    What I find amazing is that a camera like this is actually going to be produced. I’d expect to see such a thing in a student design competition or may be in an R&D lab and perhaps think to myself, “hmm….that’s interesting!”. But to actually see it materialize is truly remarkable. Once again, hats off to Ricoh!

  8. video is here for whose hasn’t seen it. http://dslr-links.blogspot.com/2009/11/removed-video-of-ricoh-gxr-camera.html

    This system might not very efficient because sensor + lens sticks together (opposite of DSLR (sensor and lens are interchangeable).

    It don’t think it will sell well in mainstream market.

    I hope Ricoh releases more cartridges with large sensor in the near future.

    I won’t buy this right away, but maybe in the future when they have more lens-sensor option available. I will like 35mm, 50mm, 85mm prime with big aperture APS-C sensor and 24-70mm f/2.8 APS-C 🙂

    1. And they could also produce a cartridge with a larger sensor that has a M-mount so you are free to use a full history of lenses. And Ricoh was never mainstream outside Japan.

  9. Very interesting concept, with the major benefit of providing the user with the same interface for widely different lens/sensor combinations. This, to me, is a great plus because I find switching between different digital cameras can be confusing: not like switching between two film cameras, like a Leica-M and a Nikon-F, for example. So, now, one will be able to use different (Ricoh) camera formats, while maintaining the same user interface. Given how good Ricoh lenses have been I’m less concerned about this not being an open system.

    —Mitch/Bangkok

    1. I agree that it might suite those who want to benefit from both smaller and larger sensors. The camera always remains the same. And I hope a roadmap of lens/sensor combinations will be released soon too.

  10. i’m suspicious about this: now they released this type of cartridges, sensor with lens, but in future they will do system of three modules – BODY+SENSOR+LENS, i hope it’s just first step to really modular system, if it’s so – then i’m so frikkin in this train!

    Bells and whistles is not ricoh style, also nonsense is surely not too, so i hope we just don’t know something in what’s already done and what’s in their plans. isn’t better to spit good plans in first place? wasn’t it in hurry to be one of the first ones in evil cam niche? it’s like with ep1 and ep2. but i think ep2 wasn’t possible in time of ep1, cause there must be GOOD evf, not just few pixel puzzle (gf1 evf), but there was good time to release such cam.

    1. This camera likely gets a lot of the proven technology and quality from the GX200 and the GRDIII. They were the first to produce a removable EVF. Ricoh has always been able to produce good optics. So I don’t see it as a quick project.

  11. Can someone please confirm one little detail?
    Is it April 1st? Coz I’m thinking it must be after seeing this.
    You could buy all Ricoh’s latest for less than this whole system.
    What *are* tehy thinking?
    Why Ricoh? WHY???

  12. After checking the price, the cost of buying a cartridge is almost like buying a new camera with lens. When the sensor become obsolete, you will lose the lens also.

    In DSLR system, you can invest and hold on the lenses for a long time, because you know it will retain the value and also you can use it in the new camera body with new sensor.

    20-30 years old lenses are still great now, but 5 years old image sensors are now obsolete.

    It is a also risky to invest and hold on to the GRX camera body because it holds processor which determine performance of the camera and also LCD screen which is still improving.

    Now the whole system seems counter intuitive to me, but I believe Ricoh guys are smarter than me, and I am waiting if they have something special in the official announcement.

    1. Why should a sensor become obsolete? I really wonder. Many for instance think the Leica Digilux 2 is still a great camera with an fantastic sensor and lens. I would personally still prefer the 2007 sensor of the Ricoh GX100 instead of the 2008 GX200 sensor.

      For this system you could have the benefits of both small sensor cameras with small lenses and huge depth of field or larger sensors and shallow depth of field.

      1. Sorry maybe obsolete is too strong of a word. I mean out of date. It is still usable but it will lose most of its market value because people will prefer to buy a newer one.

        looking back, 5 years ago, sensor (small or large) are doing poor job in image resolution, dynamic range and low light photography (high ISO).

        1. and if they do, they need to come up with it fast! Before other systems/people pass them by..

  13. Wouter and others, reading some negative comments about this new concept I get the impression that you don’t really understand the idea.

    To make my point short imagine following travel/PJ kit:
    Body +
    large sensor prime module +
    small sensor zoom module +
    3 1-terrabyte storage modules, chain-linkable like firewire, so you can backup a card to 3 hard- or flash- drives simultaneously.

    Maybe a instant-printer module to give prints away occasionally which can help makeing friends.

    The point of the small sensor in the zoom module is to keep the zoom small! This is the inherent problem of m43, either you use primes to stay compact, or you live compactness for zooms. With this Ricoh you get best of both worlds.

    I often thought that I need a compact like LX3 along the Epson RD-1, in case the prime on the Epson isn’t appropriate. But I don’t like switching between different cameras. The Ricoh could solve this situation, maintaining a consistent user interface, plus giving other modular options we don’t even dream of yet. As mentioned, storage while travelling is always an issue.

    1. I can of course only speak for myself, but slowly I get the same impression too after a day. At first I was amazed, because of the technology applied, but now I think it is, like you said, the best of of both worlds. Even though I don’t have the answers I think there is a good reason why Ricoh named this camera the GXR.

      First off, it will replace to seperate cameras, the GX and GRD. Secondly we will be able to expend it with larger sensor prime lens units, which is just unbelievable. So many systems, one camera body.

      And I hope Ricoh is also brave enough to develop a cartridge with a large sensor and M-mount to give many rangefinder owners, or those who still have some M or L-mount lenses around a new system to use these lenses. Basically the same as what happened with the m4/3 system last year. The main differences though is that you are not fixed to a single sensor.

      I know use the GX200 for street or landscape, because of the huge depth of field and the preferred sketch look. The DP1 for the gorgeous look and the slightly shallower depth of field and a Canon 10D with some legacy lenses for shallow depth of field and low light photography. With this camera system however you could have it all in once.

      I just really hope that they succeed.

      1. Yes, I really hope that they are brave enough to make the step and develop (or co-develop, or even let others develop) a M/L mount back. I must say that I don’t yet have pondered the real possibilities of this system…

        Say, for the M mount you need a large sensor to unleash the power of the lenses, but you can’t implement a compact zoom on such a sensor. So you have the small sensor for the zoom. And the m43 module for that 14-54 II that I miss so hard but can’t use because I don’t have an Oly any more…

        I am a good example: I have a Pentax 31 1.8 Ltd, with which I don’t wanna part, I want that Zuiko 14-54 back for some applications. And mainly I want to use the M mount lenses for their tactile feel alone. Besides, a matter we haven’t mentioned yet, I want to have ONE flash and ONE power pack, and I want TTL with my ONE flash, even off camera. And I want this for all my lenses. So, the system is not only body and lenses, but also accessories, like flashes, remote control, batteries, chargers and so on. I think that the future will show how good this new concept is, my only concern is that it will not be successful due to conservatism in thinking. Just to make sure: I don’t blame anyone, I myself am just starting to imagine the thing…

      2. I think it can fly if they are able to provide more choice (like a wide open prime around 1.7 maybe? wide angle primes?). If they can, it might really turn out to be the ultimate travel kit. With the current choice it’s already quite good, since macro lenses for APS-C only come as primes for bodies where the body will be already much bigger than the GXR. And Ricoh has one thing going for them: the superb usability of their system. The MFT stuff from Panasonic is close (that’s why I stick with it, as it gives me what I want right now), but in comparison the GRD still wins over it in handling.

        It’s still all far too far away and too niche for me to actually think about buying into it, so it didn’t delay decision on my new system, but give it a year or two and a few additional modules and it might turn out great. At least Ricoh proves that they are able to think out of the box and that’s always a good idea, that’s where innovation comes from.

  14. Sorry for repost, but I meant “…to stay compact, or you _leave_ compactness…”.

    And one point I forgot: Of course Ricoh has to come up with an M-mount-module in order to make the Epson example work, and to make many of us happy 😉

    And imagine Ricoh enters the m43 world and brings a m43 module… endless possibilities.

    Manufacturers have to think different: such interchangability won’t cut sales from each other, but make people buy more items in absolute terms. Because as it is now, I won’t buy a 20 1.7 m43 lens because there is no according body for me. Or I won’t buy a Pentax 43 1.9 because I am not happy with the current Pentax bodies and I am uncertain about their future. But what if I could use theses lenses on Ricoh modules, or Oly resp. Pentax modules for Ricoh backs? I would buy 20 1.7 and 70 2.4 Pentax. Think about it…

    1. Hopefully they make sensor-only based module also. If they make that, Ricoh could hit a home run, because it can steal customers who currently use other formats and across camera brands. But I haven’t heard/read anything about it yet.

      So far I read that they plan to make lens+sensor module, the next one will be travel zoom lens, around 10X zoom.

  15. After doing some research especially comparing to micro four third system, i will say that the price is correct. It is high quality stuff here, no wonder it is expensive.

    Consider this:
    50mm f/2.5 macro with aps-c sensor (bigger than 4:3) plus special optimized sensor = $830

    vs

    Leica 45mm f/2.8 macro lens only = $899

  16. I’m still probably going to get a GRD3, just because I am looking for a good point n shoot with manual features for street photography.

  17. Hi Wouter,am pretty happy with this,the 50 equiv;lens makes an almost perfect package for me with the aps-c sensor,although Ive never thought of myself as a very commercial market.Manual focus too……..somebody pinch me…best to you Wouter,Neil

    1. I think we both are not really interested in cameras for truly commercial markets, but just this camera with the 50 could be great. But so is my 10D with my older Pentor 35mm f/2.8, the Helios 58mm f/2.0 or the Tokina 28mm f/2.8 I got from Kevin.

      Take care, Wouter

  18. I have my doubts about this system. I just want to see what this camera can do in the hands of someone who knows how to produce good photographs. I generally find the images from the company literature and dpreview.com to be random and crappy. So if Ricoh is reading this and really wants to sell this camera to me, please send one to Wouter.

    1. Maybe the dpreview.com images in the sample galleries are too random and crappy, but I think they do give an honest impression on what the average Joe the photographer can do with a camera. What other photographers might be able to demonstrate with a camera is how it can be stretched to the limits to extend someone’s creativity.

  19. Wouter, I probably have no new thoughts to contribute on the new system. It looks like a mixed bag. With the current choice of APSC module, I still consider this a small sensor system camera. I, like everyone else, am wondering what they will be introducing next but I don’t like what I hear: 10x zooms etc. It looks like Ricoh is introducing a small sensor interchangeable system. it a beefed up version of GX200 and CX2s. I wish they did have APSC version of GRD3. But here is my question to you, or anyone else (and I am sorry if this is covered somewhere else: but the dpreview is too chaotic these days) Look at this sample taken with zoom module at ISO 800:

    I think I like what I see, but considering your expertise and familiarity with the GX line, do you consider this a huge improvement justifying double price tag? And your overall impression of the rest of the zoom module samples?
    I should also mention this: Your recent posts made me thinking. I am fascinated with your ability to adopt to any camera so quickly: the M8, the Canon DSLR, Sigma etc. It seems like you are able to sing your own tune, whatever you have at your hand. The consistency of your work is remarkable. Best to you,

    1. Thank you Roni.

      To be fair and honest. Even though I see the potential of this camera system I do think that it is currently stil way overpriced. The main reason so is the now limited options of lens units, only the S10 and the A12. The main advantage of course is just having one camera body and two lenses with different sensors and characteristics, but for less you can buy a good small sensor camera with a zoom and an APS-C sensor equiped dSLR with a fast 35mm lens.

      But back to the ISO 800 sample and the price tag. The sample is likely originally a DNG which was processed in Adobe ACR. From what I see this is a major improvement over the GX200 and finally more in line with the GRD3 and cameras like the Panasonic LX3 and the Canon G11. To me it looks like ISO 200 performance from the GX200 or a very well exposed ISO 400 from the GX200. But is it worth the price? To me it is simply not. For much less money you can get similar performance from a small sensor camera and of course don’t forget the m4/3 cameras.

      And I would personally not be interested in the zoom module either. I would only be really interested when they develop more modules with larger sensors and different focal length prime lenses. And to me the most important module would be a module with a M-mount. Or a module with a full frame sensor, although I understood that they don’t have anything (yet) planned for a module with full frame sensor.

      I have a GX200 and I personally don’t like zoom lenses. So I have here a hardly used GX200 which I would rather exchange for a GRD3. But I will find use for this camera. It draws lovely at low ISO with bright light, hard contrast and dark shadows. I can use the other cameras for all other situations.

      But what are your thoughts about the GXR? Concept, price, etc.?

  20. Hi Wouter,

    The samples on http://www.dpreview.com are impressive. The ISO 1600 pictures are really, really impressive. I (like millions of others no doubt) came up with this idea 5 years ago, in fact, in went a little further in having a sensor contained in a standard cartride that can be fitted into cameras from all sorts of manufactures.

    Kudos to Ricoh for such a revolutionary idea.

    I think the price will preclude many.

    Cheers

    Chris.

  21. Im wondering if Ricoh had made the small sensor zoom module with a black and white only sensor the increase in quality over the gx200″s b&w output might have been a more convincing demonstration of their system rather than a duplication as just a more expensive reincarnation.I think many who are interested in this camera take mainly black and white photos and would maybe pay a premium for higher quality from the much loved small sensor………Neil

    1. I would personally love to see a pure B&W sensor for this camera. I would even be fine for me if that would be a small sensor too, preferably in combination with a nice and very fast 35mm lens. But I don’t know if Sony does produce such sensor.

    2. Doubt it because it will be too narrow. But I understand many Ricoh camera users shoots B&W.

      my question is, what is the different BW sensor vs color sensor? Why some people want that because if we use color sensor, we can always convert it to BW right?

      1. More data is used to record the subtleties and broader tonalities while now most data is used to record color differences with a preference for green (Bayer sensor). Yes, you can convert it later and yes, you can apply color filters in post processing, but when you do so you pretty much throw most of the recorded data away. Not so with a true B&W sensor. And for color based B&W conversion you use color filters in front of the lens.

          1. Im not sure of the quantative increase in the quality of the output when changing the sensor to black and white only,but would be interesting to have a gx200 with the quality of an M8.I dont think the increase in quality would be so big but even so ,its interesting…….Neil

  22. Let’s be honest, Ricoh never been a great competitor for price… but quality is also higher than competitors, this time not different.
    Looking at samples from the 50mm f/2.5 APS cmos unit they certainly seem superior to any 4/3 camera such as Panasonic GF-1 (color rendition, sharpness, high iso).
    Another factor for higher price, let’s consider the serious build, it’s magnesium alloy chassis, so how about competitors here (olympus ep1/2, panasonic gf1, sigma dp), same build?
    Quality = price
    I’m expectating to see new units boosting this new ricoh idea.
    M mount would be awesome, could be another system selling point.

    (I still love and use my Ricoh GRD)

    1. Ciao Cesare,

      Last Friday, February 5, I received another test sample from Ricoh Europe and have been playing with it. It may not be perfect, but I really do like the look of the 50mm lens. And I totally agree that quality comes at a price. Ricoh is not in there to compete with Olympus or Panasonic. In my opininon they try to fill in a gap for longtime Ricoh users to also have a camera with a larger sensors that is still based on the Ricoh principles, magnesium body, great user interface and superb lenses.

      Have a nice day in Amsterdam!

      Cheers,
      Wouter

  23. Wouter, On the site of Apple’s Aperture 3.0 and 3.1 support for the Rocoh GX200 isn’t mentioned. Do you know if Raw conversion between teh Ricoh and Aperture 3.1 works and if so does it well?

    1. Aperture has feel DNG support and it will work. The only thing is that there is no specific profile for the GX200 in Aperture. I tried Aperture last year with the GX200 and it worked OK, but I am still more a Lightroom guy. When you really plan on working with Aperture you might actually want to ask Marco of http://www.luminousdarkroom.com/ for more information. He had the GX200 and might have already edited some GX200 DNG’s in Aperture 3.

  24. Hello Wouter,
    I do not know about the rest of the world but the price on GXR house/body has dropped significantly recently. Now I think it is good value for money. Apparently they are hoping more people might be tempted with a more reasonable price tag.

    I have hopes up for the A12 28/2.5 which will suit me well, I do hope they can step up the pace and release it sooner than advertised as I see wide primes as Ricoh’s forte. Even if Ricoh would cancel this GXR system in two years I would be happy with the A12 modules 50 and 28; a perfect and minimalistic traveling combo for me. With the new GXR body price I even consider getting the 28/2.5 module a dedicated GXR body. Two bodies and a spare battery means business in my small binocular bag.

    I am also hoping Ricoh will announce a 20/21mm lens around f2.5.

    Anyone tried the external flash yet?

    Best regards, Henrik, Stockholm, Sweden

    1. Hi Henrik,

      I personally still have my doubts about the value for money. I have used the system both in December and February and I remain very skeptical. The A12 50 module is too slow for my taste. Renders beautifully, but too slow. A fast 40mm module would have done the trick for me. Can’t yet speak for the 28mm module. It isn’t there yet and will likely be after Photokina. And Ricoh never uses such large events to announce something new.

      I think, based on the worldwide reception, the amounts of modules, the kind of modules, and the current price reduction, that the GXR isn’t really a great success by Ricoh’s standards.

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