Where will the GXR go?

Started May 23, 2012 | Discussions
Andrewteee
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Where will the GXR go?
May 23, 2012

Over the past few weeks I've been slimming down my camera gear collection as a way to reduce complexity and get back to the core of the art of photography. That, and the fact that I tend to use my GXR system most often and the A16 zoom really sealed the deal. Over time my respect for the GXR has only increased.

It's obvious that I like the GXR system. But I don't believe it is perfect. The external EVF is a blessing and a curse and somewhat behind several of today's EVFs in resolution. The A12 units are, technically speaking, out of date (the A16 is clearly superior). AF is slow in comparison to many of today's cameras. But mostly it feels incomplete and I wonder where Ricoh will take the system.

Will they sunset it? Will they update all current units? Will they expand it? Honestly, I cannot predict what they will do, and the relationship with Pentax complicates the picture. Pentax seems to be releasing new gear whereas Ricoh is not. There was even a rumor that the Ricoh brand would disappear (unlikely IMO, and the Ricoh brand is huge in Japan).

We all have our wish lists for the GXR system and I won't repeat them here. All I'll say is that I hope the GXR system stays with us and gets some fresh love from Ricoh soon.

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Mirrolessfullframe
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to Andrewteee, May 23, 2012

Just started my life with GXR few months back. It is unbelievably soothing and now I feel sick holding a DSLR for the size, weight, not wysiwyg etc. I only regret to have taken it too late.

Surely there is quite a few imperfection. EVF, buffer, af speed. And I guess that's where we grow hope for.

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Godfrey
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to Andrewteee, May 23, 2012

While I'm quite happy with th system as it stands, I'll never say no to sensible improvement. I'd like to see a "pro" grade body with improvement in buffering, IO speed, etc. An even better EVF, built in or not, still articulated would be great.

The A12 camera units are just fine too, but of course adopting the latest sensors would also be cool. Really, for me, the only one that I'd be willing to re-up for is an M-bayonet camera mount as the A12 28 and 50 are just fine the way they are. (As is the A12 Camera Mount, but I use it the most so an improved version would be worth it to me.)

Ricoh will tell us all when they're ready.
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Tom Caldwell
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to Andrewteee, May 23, 2012

A tricky concept.

One might have wondered why Ricoh might have bought Pentax if they were disillusioned with the digital camera game. It might have been simpler and cheaper to either fold the Ricoh camera division or sell off its assets and patents to the highest bidder.

But why might any company buy up the assets of a company that makes very innovative but slightly out on a limb camera gear that the market does not understand? Even Pentax was out on its own twig in certain areas and maybe hard to find a buyer for. However Ricoh and Pentax were probably a good fit.

It seems a rather strange concept that Ricoh might buy Pentax and then stop making its own branded cameras.

The only way I can get it right in my head to make commercial sense is the fact that companies need a certain margin of profit per unit combined with sales volume to keep pumping money into developing new product. Leica does this on low volume by maintaining high margins based simply on its reputation for excellence. I have already had my grimace over the difficulty that Leica must have in finding funds to develop new product and I will not repeat it. However Ricoh does not carry a similar reputation where they could sustain much higher prices for their product although we can all testify to its product excellence. There is a simple expectation that Ricoh will be cheaper. Being consistently cheaper needs more sales volume. As marketing can end up a high proportion of product unit cost (20%?) then heavy marketing of a low volume product can be problematic in itself. Catch-22 unless you have huge resources to throw at increasing market share or you have a well known name that retailers will stock by rote.

Therefore they presumably must maintain a greater volume of product sales to keep designing new product. The compact camera versions would have given substantial volume and provided the margins necessary from this but we all can testify that the popular compact camera must be increasingly under seige from mobile phones and also that outside Japan Ricoh is hardly a household word for its cameras. Therefore a diminishing base from which further r&d funds could be raised.

By buying Pentax they might be buying market share and a greater world-wide presence, especially in areas they might be or be becoming unknown in - such as compact cameras, dslr and medium format. On its own it would be a big ask to expect the Ricoh camera division to develop products for a wider market. To win greater market identification would take a huge expenditure in marketing. Obviously it was simply cheaper to buy the Pentax assets.

So where might Ricoh go as a guess? Obviously I have no idea on what plan is being followed.

But if they are following a commercial plan and not just some idealistic concept to make cameras that everybody loved but few might buy then Pentax might become their world wide recognition brand. The one that brings in the turnover to keep the r&d funds flowing.

Perhaps Ricoh might then concentrate on the developing the GXR and GRD as their premium lines just to show their pride and technical excellence of product. If this is the case then we might yet get some very high level products that are Ricoh branded. But such a course of action and smaller, more exclusive sales would require higher margins if the Ricoh camera division were to stand alone. It makes more sense therefore to pool the brand resources and allow some of the Pentax sales to support Ricoh camera development.

With Ricoh going more up-market they would probably have to acquire a similar reputation for absolute quality after the Leica tradition. They can do this by marketing truly superior products that capture the enthusiast market attention over a significant period of time, this must have been the concept behind the GXR. I was also only half joking about Ricoh buying Leica. One quick way to get quick market recognition that you have to pay a bit more for quality is to buy the name that says you must.

Meanwhile the lack of any leaks or official announcements from Ricoh might on one hand suggest that there is not anything forthcoming, on the other hand might they just be working on the next product designed to showcase their technical excellence? Not going to spoil the surprise by telling anyone about it until they are sure.

Great image Andrew.

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Tom Caldwell

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Andrewteee
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to Tom Caldwell, May 23, 2012

Thanks Tom.

You bring up a good point. Pentax as the moneymaker that fuels continuing development of Ricoh cameras. I don't think that Ricoh will go upscale, and not dare approach Leica territory, but they may need additional income to develop further Ricoh-like cameras (obscure but high quality photographer-focused cameras).

Pentax is still very small compared to the others, but not too big that Ricoh cannot manage it.

And if we think about this, each new GXR unit may not bring in more GXR shooters. They may simply appeal to existing GXR owners. Thus the margin on each new unit must be slim. The GXR may be stalled as a money generator for R&D - it sort of inches along with each new unit. And how many A12s will they sell now? Are new GXR owners going to snatch them up? Hardly I'd say. Thus, Pentax may subsidize Ricoh's lineup.

We are seeing a renewed industrial design path in Pentax; I wonder if Ricoh will remain the more pedestrian design. No matter to me as long as either way they are comfortable to hold and use.

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Andrewteee
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to Godfrey, May 23, 2012

Godfrey, I agree the articulated EVF is important. I use it a lot. But in contrast I'd prefer to see the A12 50 and 28mm units updated, closely followed by the Mount unit. In fact, I'd love to see an A16 21, 28 and 50mm lineup. It's hard to go super wide with the Mount unit.

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Andrewteee
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to Mirrolessfullframe, May 23, 2012

Hope you are enjoying it!

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Joel Stern
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to Andrewteee, May 23, 2012

Andrew, I would be happy if they had a 35mm equiv and a 85 or 90mm equivalent lens, small as well, 2.5 would be just fine for me.

I think once they get the bugs ironed out the Fuji X series zoom will be my take one camera everywhere (with my GRD in tow).

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Godfrey
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to Andrewteee, May 24, 2012

Andrewteee wrote:

Godfrey, I agree the articulated EVF is important. I use it a lot. But in contrast I'd prefer to see the A12 50 and 28mm units updated, closely followed by the Mount unit. In fact, I'd love to see an A16 21, 28 and 50mm lineup. It's hard to go super wide with the Mount unit.

The Voigtländer 12mm works pretty nicely on the A12 Camera Mount. That's an EFL of 18mm. The Voigtländer 15mm also works well, there's 22mm. I find I only rarely need to go wider than an optical 21mm (30mm EFL) ... not quite super-wide but it suits my needs.

A16 21, 28 and 50mm camera units would be neat, but the only one I'd be willing to pay for is the M-Lens mount. I just prefer working with that and my Leica/Voigtländer lenses over any autofocus lens or zoom.
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carpediem007
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+1 for the Voigtländer 12 & 15 on M-Mount and A16 FF M-Mount would be PERFECT... NT
In reply to Godfrey, May 24, 2012

I'd buy the A16 (or more) FF Mount M right away...
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Tom Caldwell
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to Andrewteee, May 24, 2012

Firstly Leica make excellent cameras - full stop.

So I am not about querying Leicas esteemed position in the industry. However I do get a little amazed at what seems to the accepted notion of Leica camera company's indestructibility.

If Ricoh make an aps-c clone then Fuji make an even closer lookalike followed by the just announced smart LM mount adapter with acknowledgement of a similar lens tuning method as Ricoh pioneered then it is either a fawning tribute to Leicas expertise or a genuine encroachment on their traditional market. Most likely both.

So Leica shrugs and "why worry".

Those that hold Leica in utmost regard are not about to stop thinking that way. But if we worry that Ricoh, a company 100 times larger in both net assets and employees, might struggle to continue to develop new product then I get confused. On the other hand the epitome of camera perfection cannot possibly have any clouding by such thoughts as surely they can continue forever - just raising prices as is necessary if their market happens to dwindle.

Ricoh have shown that they wish to remain in the camera business - they bought Pentax already to prove it.

But I agree that once every child in every rural village has a mobile phone camera there must be some rationalisation in the camera business, maybe in fact the smaller specialist producers such as Leica and Ricoh are in fact more camera market saturation proof?

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Zhaopian
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to Tom Caldwell, May 24, 2012

I think some of this is a bit exaggerated. I have the GXR and the NEX5n. The GXR EVF in mode 2 is far better for focusing, especially in low light conditions. I don't think the higher resolution of the Sony actually gives any advantage, which is presumably why Olympus and Fuji are sticking with 1.44 viewfinders.

There's also minimal difference between the 12 and 16 megapixel sensors. The 16 is slightly better at 3200, and slightly better for bringing up shadows. In 99% of pictures you can't see any difference. I suppose there might be a bit more difference without the AA filter, but hardly massive.

The only area the GXR really lags behind, in my opinion, is speed. Shot-to-shot time and the buffer could do with a big improvement.

The mount came out last October, hopefully there will be another module around the same time this year. I think there are a few candidates - a wide alternative to the CV 12/15, a fast 35mm, maybe even a black and white mount module for those who think the Monochrom is a bit too much. I think any of those would be more desirable than the A16 zoom, and a good match for launching an updated body.

I'd be happy to see the m-mount skip the 16 megapixel sensor and go to whatever comes after it.

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RainerTKH
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to Mirrolessfullframe, May 24, 2012

Mirrolessfullframe wrote:

It is unbelievably soothing and now I feel sick holding a DSLR for the size, weight, not wysiwyg etc.

Me too.

For years I carried around a Pentax DSLR and up to six prime lenses. Now I have anything what I need for my way to take pics.

Last week I stayed in Scotland for a tent trip. With me were two GXRs. One with the A12 28mm and one with the A12 50mm.

I was totally happy...

Perhaps its a question of age of a photographer if one can live with such a small gear. Less
gear is for me now less problems...

I hope to Photokina Ricoh will bring a new EVF and a A16 85mm 2.5.

Rainer

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Tom Caldwell
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to Zhaopian, May 25, 2012

Zhaopian wrote:

I think some of this is a bit exaggerated. I have the GXR and the NEX5n. The GXR EVF in mode 2 is far better for focusing, especially in low light conditions. I don't think the higher resolution of the Sony actually gives any advantage, which is presumably why Olympus and Fuji are sticking with 1.44 viewfinders.

There's also minimal difference between the 12 and 16 megapixel sensors. The 16 is slightly better at 3200, and slightly better for bringing up shadows. In 99% of pictures you can't see any difference. I suppose there might be a bit more difference without the AA filter, but hardly massive.

The only area the GXR really lags behind, in my opinion, is speed. Shot-to-shot time and the buffer could do with a big improvement.

The mount came out last October, hopefully there will be another module around the same time this year. I think there are a few candidates - a wide alternative to the CV 12/15, a fast 35mm, maybe even a black and white mount module for those who think the Monochrom is a bit too much. I think any of those would be more desirable than the A16 zoom, and a good match for launching an updated body.

I'd be happy to see the m-mount skip the 16 megapixel sensor and go to whatever comes after it.

Thanks for the useful opinions. I was quite impressed by my son's NEX5n when used with legacy manual slr lenses recently but still prefer my GXR A12 mount. Many suggest that the A16 is a noticeable improvement on the A12, but whether or not I am in no particular hurry to upgrade.

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BG_CX3_DPREVIEW
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to RainerTKH, May 25, 2012

Raine,

thanks for these shots,

exactky what i wanted to see fro a long time with the 50.

The second pic with birds-on-a-wire; i wanted to see if you open the lens how much bokeh it can create in front and behind and object.

This pic shows incredible result;

the wire in front of the bird on upperside is out of focus, and the second lower bird behind the first one too.

At F4 the lens was not even open, so it has a very narrow DOF.

I woul dlove to have one for portraits or shooting people in crowds, and try to focus on just 1 in that crowd. Somethin which i have seen only with FF at f1.5 or faster. But your picture shows that the50 can do that too.

The watch , wow, sent it to the brand of the watch, they will publish it in their catalogue.

Thanks for sharing

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RainerTKH
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to BG_CX3_DPREVIEW, May 25, 2012

Thanks for your warm words...

Sorry I cannot show any pics of the birds with f2.5. I was lazy in my tent when I was surprised to see the little friends. I grap the GXR and fired and teh camera was preset on f4:

Every month I read all the nice photo magazines and I must sya there is nothing finer than strolling in a camera shop and put your fingers on all these Olys, Fujis and so.

But given my GXRs away for any of them???

Only fron my dead, cold hands....

Rainer

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Andrewteee
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to RainerTKH, May 25, 2012

RainerTKH wrote:

Every month I read all the nice photo magazines and I must sya there is nothing finer than strolling in a camera shop and put your fingers on all these Olys, Fujis and so.

But given my GXRs away for any of them???

Only fron my dead, cold hands....

Yes!

Nice photos BTW!

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Tom Caldwell
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to RainerTKH, May 25, 2012

Excellent images Rainer - looks like you have the exact camera gear you need.

Your choices for photokina are good. I wonder whether the silence from Ricoh on the GXR is a prelude to a serious level announcement.

I better shot to shot speed with bigger internal buffer is on my wishlist even though it probably needs a GXRII body even though the present one is pretty well sorted out. The GRDIV got a slightly higher resolution lcd.

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Andrewteee
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to Tom Caldwell, May 25, 2012

I'm not quite sure what I want right now. Perhaps a fast 50mm (f2 is fine) with an updated sensor. An updated EVF, built-in or not, but still swiveling. A 21mm.

If they revamp the current A12s to A16s who here would upgrade? I'd probably do the 50mm, but not sure about the others.

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PGR streetshooter
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Re: Where will the GXR go?
In reply to Andrewteee, May 26, 2012

Andrew,
I would upgrade my A12 units to A16+ if it was an option.

I really wanted to participate on this thread because of the love I have for the GXR. I tried and tried to be fair in my thinking and can still only come up with just one tiny itty bitty single request.

Change the stupid strap lugs so that I can use my Luigi Straps.

That's really it for me. The camera lets me do what I do without interfering at all.
Sorry, I wish I had more complaints.
Don
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