It took Ricoh a long long time

Started Sep 21, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Tom Caldwell
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It took Ricoh a long long time
Sep 21, 2012

When the A12 mount was first announced it certainly took a very long time before it came to market. Were the results worth while? I think we have a resounding "yes" from practically everyone that owns one, perhaps even there are some multiple A12 mount unit owners out there?

Anyone with an A12 mount has had huge horizons of opportunity opened up. No longer must we fidget around when the first gloss is worn off wondering and arguing over which new lens/module must be released next and then hang by our fingernails waiting for our desire to be fulfilled.

The average A12 mount owner, once bored, just consults friend E. Bay and picks up another valium in the form of a manual lens to calm the boredom. I must get bored a lot, but it does not drive me to distraction because there is always an easy cure.

The A12 mount took a while, simply because it's design was no mean thing. Ricoh had to prevail upon Sony to manufacture specially adapted sensors in some volume, someone Ricoh/Sony had to "invent" focus peaking assist to make manual focusing a breeze, and of course it is well doumented that Ricoh designed a completely new focal plane shutter for the camera. All "easy" stuff if you are not charged with making this and only have loose dollars seeking gratification.

So if a FF mount module were to be made then Ricoh might not make a promise so far in advance as they did for the A12 mount module. They have to overcome the modified sensor supply problem, yet another focal plane shutter, which they presumably have now have the tooling to make, and a likely substantial revision of firmware.

Leica has promised it's typ240 for 2013, and presumably the sensor that works well in this camera will also work well in a Ricoh FF mount module. Whether Ricoh's sensor might be different to Leica's sensor is something behind confidential agreements. However if each company is going it alone then Sony must make separate batches in order. My assertion is that Leica "needs" their sensors first as they are even more overdue fro a new model than a FF mount module is needed by Ricoh. Furthermore Leica has now gone public. Their design must be past working prototype and ready for production. If there is any truth in the March rumour then Leica and Ricoh are in some sort of collaboration over manufacture - whatever this is is not revealed. But if we assume that there is commercial goodwill involved then it has been decided that Leica will get it's place in the sun whilst Ricoh gets to grips with any remaining problems in this as yet mythical FF module.

It wold be truly bad form for Ricoh to steal any of Leica's glory right now just when the have made an announcement of what is an exciting new camera and probably the first I might truly be interested in.

So what do we know? Ricoh has indicated that they are working on "new product"; no product has been announced recently other than the "on clockwork" GRDIV; the next CX model is "overdue" - it might not happen or it might become as radical a change of direction as the CX was to the R type; any new mount module for the GXR is plain vapourware in the minds of Ricoh acolytes - Ricoh has specifically not promised anything; things such as zoom or different focal length GRD versions I think are even more imaginary than my "imaginations" - for the simple fact that they could not possibly sell in any commercial volume; a small rumour from Pentaxia says that a K mount module "might happen" - this makes little sense other than a fully functional mount on GXR "rails" combined with a mix and match new GXR back with handgrip and built in evf. In other words a professional level GXR for professional level dslr lenses. Make it FF sensor and we might have a "killer" EVIL-type camera with access to all the Pentax range of lenses and also capable of mounting the "lowly" M mount aps-c module. In time a FF M mount would add complete versatility.

Of course only an idea from my fertile imagination. There are still problems in lining up a suitable supply of sensors, and of course someone has to figure out how to make this durned set of things in a way that assures quality and longevity. Above all, make them at a price that suits sufficient volume of demand.

Despite the disappointment of Photokina I am still convinced that Ricoh is alive and kicking. If they were about to shut the operation down they would hardly have added the expense of a Photokina booth to their worries.

No news is our worry that might be converted in time to being Ricoh's worry, but lack of product excitement is our problem alone. We would have been even more hard on Ricoh if they had rushed out a "Lunar" idiocy just to please our palate for the show.

Meanwhile Sony essential parts in Ricoh, Leica and Hasselblad (at least) show that Sony is very interested in supporting the niche market products by co-operating and supplying adapted components for other manufacturers. A good sign for the continuing niche market industry whilst gathering allies for Sony in the industry as well. Perhaps one way for a greater product blitz over rivals Samsung and Panasonic especially.

I am sure that Sony would supply product to almost anyone who would garantee to buy at least 10,000 units and guarantee funding. Plenty of room for armchair designers with plenty of gumption and deep pockets.

There is perhaps good reason why Ricoh have chosen not to prematurely annonce their next products. My advice and that of others is simply to get on with using what is already there and available (which is not bad) and all will be revealed in time.

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Tom Caldwell

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