Ricoh GXR – Quick Hands-On

I had the opportunity to play with a Ricoh GXR yesterday. For those of you not familiar with its craziness, it is a camera with a removable lens+sensor package rather than just a removable lens. Why? There are a few. 1. So you can switch sensor sizes but still retain a relatively compact frame. A small P&S style sensor gives you a lot of depth of field but mediocre low-light performance. A large sensor gives you very shallow depth of field but better image quality and much better low-light performance. 2. In theory, you can just upgrade your lens+sensor package instead of buying a whole new camera. Of course, this is contingent on Ricoh staying in business after taking a punt on a very bold idea and continuing to make these lens+sensor packages.

DPreview has an outstanding preview of it as always – http://www.dpreview.com/previews/RicohGXR/

I was playing with the GXR and the large sensor / 50mm (35mm film equivalent) lens module. In brief:

  • Very nice build and near identical controls to the Ricoh GRD III.
  • Somewhat wimpy flash, seemed identical to the GRD III.
  • Much larger than I expected, similar to the Canon G11 and almost as big as the Panasonic GF1.
  • Very nice image quality from both the sensor and the lens. It is after all a DSLR sized sensor, even bigger than m4/3. The lens itself is sharp even at the edges.
  • Autofocus is quite slow.
  • 50mm is a tad narrow, I wish they made a 24 or 28mm.
  • Expensive! I had a look while I was in Hong Kong and they wanted around $1400 for the “body” + lens+sensor

[image with a Panasonic GF1/40mm 1.7]

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