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Ricoh GXR Mount A12 Hands-on Preview

August 2011 | By Richard Butler
Buy on Amazon.com From $550.00


Preview based on a pre-production GXR Mount A12 with firmware 01

The ability to resuscitate classic manual focus lenses has been one of the unexpected side-effects of the development of mirrorless camera systems. Ricoh has responded to this trend by introducing the Mount A12 module for its GXR system. This module, featuring a Leica-style M mount, allows the fitting of a wide range of lenses onto a GXR body for the first time.

The GXR system may originally have aimed to offer optimized combinations of lens, sensor and processor, but the customer demand for the ability to mount other lenses was too much for Ricoh to ignore. There is, after all, a certain appeal to shooting a well-built metal lens on a small camera, but very few of us are willing to move back to film in order to experience it, or to spend considerable sums on a digital Leica. Ricoh clearly isn't content to sit on the sidelines as the mirrorless systems begin to respond to this pent-up demand.

The use of the Leica M-mount brings flexibility in two respects. In part because it is no longer under patent, and also thanks to its age, there are a wide range of lenses available for the M-mount. These include Zeiss, Voigtländer, Konica, Minolta and Rollei lenses, as well as native Leica designs. Just as crucially, because the M-mount has one of the shortest distances from the mount to the imaging plane, there's room to fit an adapter allowing the use of a vast range of other lens types.

The GXR Mount A12 module offers a 12MP APS-C CMOS sensor but, unlike the existing modules, it has a redesigned microlens layout designed to better cope with the wide range of lenses that could be mounted on the camera but, more importantly, it has no low-pass (anti-aliasing) filter. The company says it feels it is more important to convey the full characteristics of the lenses than to suppress moiré. The module's firmware also brings several new functions to the system, including two 'Focus Assist' modes that highlight high-contrast regions in the preview to allow fast focusing.

The ability to quickly and accurately focus manual lenses has been something of a challenge for cameras without an optical viewfinder. Plenty offer fast access to magnified live view but few offer the range of options of the GXR, which offers three levels of magnification, a choice of inset or whole-screen magnification, the two focus assist modes and a jump back to full preview when you half-press the shutter. For the manual-focus-only camera that this module creates, getting this right was essential and our initial impression are pretty positive.

Beyond this, the Mount A12 module also includes options for correcting geometric distortion, vignetting and 'color shading,' which, along with the lens name and details, can be stored as custom settings to the camera or off to a memory card. These custom settings can then be manually recalled next time you re-mount a specific lens. The lens name and details are also included in EXIF image metadata.

Also unique to this module is an electronic shutter option, for completely silent shooting at up to 1/8000th of a second. The sequential read-out from the sensor means this mode isn't ideal for fast moving subjects (it also can't be used in Bulb or Time modes), so is available only as a scene mode.

Ricoh GXR Mount A12 specification highlights

  • 12MP CMOS sensor with no anti-aliasing filter
  • ISO 200-3200 in 1/3EV increments
  • Focus assist view for manual focusing
  • 1/4000 - 180s shutter speed (1/8000th - 1s in electronic shutter mode)
  • 720p30 HD movie recording
  • User-defined distortion, vignetting and corner color correction, recordable for multiple lenses


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2011 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 68
Viramati

loving it

0 upvotes
Salvatore Castrovinci

I think a full review wll not arrive..... Soon !

His name is RICOH, not CANON or NIKON......

I bought it and I am happy to use it ...... with his limits....

I should buy th VF-1 but before I should test it about his useful use.........

Is the VF-1 better than the LCD diplay ?

cheers

Salvatore

Comment edited 41 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
slncezgsi

seems like you were right ...

1 upvote
sroute

While the NEX-5N is a worthy camera to host M lenses on, the NEX-7 flagship camera is somewhat less so, especially for certain wide angle lenses.

The Fujifilm X-Pro 1 despite being marketed by Fujifilm as being a host for M lenses (they announced but have not shipped their own dumb M to X mount adapter), early adopters using a Kippon adapter have proved the cameras to be a less than able host for M lenses, showing significant smearing of detail progressively away from the centre of the image. Maybe there is a reason Fujifilm decided not to release their own M adapter at the product launch.

Now not every photographer demands edge to edge perfection even from lenses that can actually deliver, but plenty of us do need this capability at times if not all the time.

See next comment

0 upvotes
sroute

For those with a stable of high quality rangefinder lenses, currently the best currently produced or supportable hosts for them on crop or full frame cameras are:

Leica M9 (full frame)
Leica M8 (crop) | Ricoh GXR (crop) - yes, I put them on par
NEX-5N (crop)
NEX-7 (crop) with limitations

From what I've seen the X-Pro 1 shouldn't even be on the list unless it's only to be used for fast lens shooters working in close, wide open, where edges truly do not matter; or to be used by those who'd buy a $1600 camera and slap a 1 - 3 K$ (or more) M lens on it only to get mediocre IQ and be happy with it.

In that light, given the GXR is right up there with the M9 and M8 in terms of usability and image quality from M lenses... ought not there be a more fulsome review of this camera? It's the only Digital M camera after all that isn't made by Leica, no small distinction.

What might Ricoh have coming down the road one wonders, after having executed the GXR Mount A12 so well?

1 upvote
snake_b

Still in preview?

0 upvotes
bigbikefan

I wish Sony would do something like that, so I could use my old Minolta manual lenses. Dream on... Sony is too greedy for that... OK, I'll keep using my Maxxum 7D with an AF/MF adapter.

0 upvotes
carpediem007

A full review would be very much appreciated...
Thank you...

And a quick request to DxO: Please add DNG support to DxO Optics Pro!!!

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
lajka

Why not a full review. There`s been time enough for that. Ricoh is one of most significant m-less concepts. It allowes for the lens-unit change under unfriendly condition (strong wind combined with snow, dust,drizzle), it`s m-module is optimised for short wides and is the only one whose sensor stays capped during lens change. Meanwhile we get tonloads of point and shots descriptions and so on. . Few people realize that module concept could be brought to a level unattainable by other m-less systems. If ®icoh makes weatherproof/watertight GXR body, and set of weatherproof/watertight lenses (superwide, wide, and normal or 24-70/4 zoom), you could practically change lens units under water. Something, I`m sure Nikon will consider recreating digital Nikonos. The only hope for future is that Ricoh will maintain it`s original thinking, letting Pentax experiment on it`s own. Finally, Ricoh please make a Amoled EVF finder articulated both horisontal and vertical (PORTRAITS!).

1 upvote
Salvatore Castrovinci

Wonderful solution !!!

If this module should have a FOVEON Imager, the same of SIGMA SD1 M or DPx M or the SD15 - DP1 x - DP2x with the same LEICA M bayonet mount to be able to mount on the module with adapter, all the lens ( PENTAX, CANON, NIKON, SIGMA, SONY etc...etc...)

We can arrive to a universal body for all lens mount..... :-)))
For me this ricoh would be the best camera of the world !!!

Cheers

Salvatore

2 upvotes
lajka

Bravo, Salvatore

0 upvotes
ramron67

I am eagarly awaiting this review. They sometimes take a long time...

0 upvotes
lajka

Me too.

0 upvotes
unlearny

I wish this came with a rangefinder. Going through my GF1 images using the M mount adapter, about half of all the images are out of focus to some degree, which sucks. My Epson RD1s, on the other hand, are tack sharp and require less cropping.

0 upvotes
kanzlr

your GF1 has no focus assist, the GXR has.
on the NEX it works well, the GXR mode 2 seems to work even a bit better.

0 upvotes
lajka

Even better my friend. EVF placed in left corner so it could be used leveled and upright BOTH horisontal and VERTICAL!

0 upvotes
petepictures

I wish they make one full frame with a Contax G mount for I have great lenses to use.

1 upvote
inevitable crafts studio

to make it easier i made a concept 3dmodel :

http://inevitablecrafts.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/ricoh-super16/

0 upvotes
inevitable crafts studio

ok ricoh, and now for the next item on my wishlist

a 16mm c-mount module that records motionPNG in 12 raw and has a build in rod support for 15mm rods

framerate 24fps to 60fps

but realisticly spoken those files are too big for 60fps i think

and please make a BUS cable to connect the module with the back, and a support system for a flexible arm that slides into the camera back, so you can add the cameraback/monitor to the camera rig.

the module should look like a cube, with various threads with different diameters all over it

thank you

ps @nikon, yes i know i told you i will buy your mirrorless if it has movie settings like this, but you know, i think you are not cool enough to build in a rod system, that kind of coolness is ricoh territory

2 upvotes
lajka

Long ago I dreamt about video m-module with just HD resolution (2MP) but noiseless highISO. (the Canon C300 philosophy).

0 upvotes
inevitable crafts studio

anyone comparing the nex system to this, obviously never held a ricoh in his hands or used one.

not only are they built like tanks, the user interface is the best i used so far, also its fully customizable.

also i why should someone buy from sony, when real camera companies make products like the gxr?^^

0 upvotes
tiberiousgracchus

it looks like a stunning piece of gear ! I think i found what im looking for. (current 350d user looking to 'upgrade') Im really getting lost in the m 4/3 area.

1 upvote
FFord05

Hi -

Why are '35mm full-size' sensors so expensive?

If Ricoh made a full-size 35mm back (module) for their system, I would be a very happy bunny! I would then be able to use my Zeiss Contax G lenses (or maybe my Zuiiko f/1.4 50mm lens) with a digital imaging system.

No, i don't want the 'advantage' of a longer effective focal length by using APS-C or whatever; most of my work is done in wide angle - the wider the better (other than for portraits)

why is it such a labour of love (or money) to get something which is confirgured for a full-frame 35mm system? Or even a 24x24mm system (aka the format made famous by Rollei and Hasselblad)?

OK, i know digital imaging systems like the lenses to be telecentric; but I am told there exists software to cope with the vignetting whcih one might encounter

Best regards

FFord05

0 upvotes
inevitable crafts studio

i guess this is meant more like a rethorical question, like, why cant there be peace on earth dont people get it, that war leads to nothing

hints: its about money :)

0 upvotes
lajka

I don`t understand it either. When Nikon can sell D700 for 2000$ why Ricoh doesn`t make FF m-module for let`s say 1000$. I´ll buy it at once. Never mind the colorcast and vigneting.I shoot mostly B/W where I need full coverage of wides. For color I`ll settle for present m-module.

0 upvotes
Mssimo

Can someone explain Stills (Focal plane shutter): 1/4000 - 180 sec VS
• Stills (Electronic shutter): 1/9000 - 1 sec

There must be a downside to Electronic shutter, otherwise, they would not have the physical one.

0 upvotes
Martin Datzinger

The downside - if they didn't resolve the issue yet - is sensor blooming. Point the Nikon D70 (which has an electronic shutter + focal plane shutter) to the sun and things can go nasty.

0 upvotes
Pangloss

"There must be a downside to Electronic shutter, otherwise, they would not have the physical one."

The electronic shutter is a rolling shutter, which can cause very strange image artifacts if the subject moves even a bit.

BTW this is one of the points that the preview barely touched upon (not criticizing - this was just a preview), and that a review will certainly go over in full detail.

1 upvote
stroboscopic

It's true an hybrid electronic/focal plane shutter (like this and D70's) suffers blooming, but it would be much worse if it was a purely electronic shutter.

BTW, focal plane shutters also suffer from rolling shutter artifacts (Just look at famous Lartigue's photo: "Car Trip, Papa at 80 kilometers an hour"), so no advantage there.

Comment edited 30 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Blackbeard

I don't think i't aimed at the same target as NEX users. It's for people who already have an M9-M8 with several M lenses.

0 upvotes
Pangloss

Possibly. But I keep wondering why a rangefinder user would suddenly switch to LCD or EVF composing, focusing and shooting. That doesn't make sense. Also if one already owns an M8 (1.3x crop factor) or an M9 (FF sensor), why would one put up with an APS-C sensor and its 1.5x crop factor?
The way I see it, this camera unit is aimed at owners of legacy MF lenses that have been put off by Leica prices (not that a GXR back, M-mount unit and EVF would come cheap, the three bought togethercost around $1250) and at the same time never tried a NEX camera (with recent firmware upgrade).
A very, very small niche market indeed...

0 upvotes
ljclark

Don't for get that there are a bunch of very nice Voigtlander (Cosina) lenses out there in M-mount and LTM...And a bunch of even nicer Zeiss M-mount lenses. My favorite lens on the M8 (I have lenses from Leica, Zeiss, and Cosina) is the Zeiss 25mm f/2.8.

0 upvotes
Csaba Farkas

...or those who hasn't. If you couldn't fork out 7000 US for an M9 but has a film M sitting in the drawer with lugubrious but dusting M lenses, you might consider this fellow. Actually, I'm considering one to go alongside the M9. Why? Built-in flash, super silent shutter, and the APS-C format allows tighter crop for portraits e.g. Or just a back-up, or second body with a longer lens. Might come in handy for a wedding photog: 28 or 35 on the M9, a 50, 75 or 90mm on the Ricoh. Perfect pair.

0 upvotes
RDMPhotos

I would argue that instead it is more for people that own M7 and earlier models, that could not afford the prices of the Digital M8 and M9 cameras.

2 upvotes
ProfHankD

There is a lens pricing issue here. I've purchased a lot of excellent old lenses via eBay to use on my NEX-5, especially Minolta MC/MD and Canon FL/FD, and for the most part both good lenses and adapters to NEX E mount are very cheap. Unfortunately, neither M mount lenses nor adapters to M mount are cheap, and I don't see M lens prices going down as demand increases. Further, compared to E, M has a slightly narrower throat and much longer flange distance -- for example, C-mount lenses would have to be recessed 10mm into the flange, which would be quite awkward at best.
There's also the just 12MP sensor, which only goes to ISO 3200 despite the largish pixels and doesn't have a serious HD movie mode.

1 upvote
love_them_all

If I didn't have the NEX I would consider this camera. The M mount register distance may also limit the ricoh's ability to use other RF lenses I am afraid.

0 upvotes
jameshamm

I just placed my pre-order with B&H. I'll be using it for portraits with a 40 or even 50mm.

0 upvotes
Ulfric M Douglas

NEEDS a viewfinder, now the NEX7 is coming out to complment the m4/3rds bodies.
NEEDS!

1 upvote
Andy Crowe

You mean like the viewfinder that's already available?
http://joelypolly.blogspot.com/2010/01/ricoh-gxr-vf-2-review-after-day-2.html

1 upvote
vlad_b

Very cool Auto-Focus highlighting features! I want that on my Canon!

0 upvotes
xmeda

I think, that before spring 2012 we will see K-mount version of this module...

2 upvotes
dbateman

I fully agree. Take the same chip and add a K mount with auto focus and they have something.

But go one further and develop a full frame sensor (24x 36mm) add the K-mount with auto focus and you have a serious camera. Future ones could have the image stabilization and weather sealing.

1 upvote
Ashley Pomeroy

I can't see it mentioned in the specs, but given the electronic shutter, will this have an incredibly high flash sync speed? Like the old Nikon D1 / D40 etc?

The lack of an antialising filter sounds interesting, reminiscent of the old Kodaks. I used to have a DCS 560, which had a six megapixel APS-H sensor without an anti-aliasing filter (and a very, very thin infrared filter) and the results were very detailed. Not earthquake-making, but good for something from the last century.

0 upvotes
Andy Crowe

It sounds like it uses a rolling electronic shutter so will probably have the same flash sync issue as a regular mechanical shutter

0 upvotes
VladimirV

Unfortunately the flash sync speed is 1/180 despite the electronic shutter. This is true for both the internal and external flashes.

0 upvotes
Godfrey

Thanks for the excellent feature review. I'm just waiting for mine to be arrive now. :-)

2 upvotes
John Bean (UK)

Why am I not surprised? :-)

0 upvotes
tkbslc

Nice! This GXR system is finally starting to make sense.

2 upvotes
Fazal Majid

This module doesn't have a rangefinder coupling cam, which makes it harder to detect lens focusing action. I've used M lenses on a m43 body with adapters, and the user interface is far worse than "native" manual-focus lenses like the Voigtlander m43 ones, where turning the focus ring automatically brings up whatever focus assist mode you selected.

0 upvotes
VladimirV

Sorry to disappoint but the Voigtlander Nokton m4/3 lens has no coupling and works the same way as any other adapted lens, you have to engage the magnified view manually. Only AF lenses from Olympus and Panasonic actually communicate with the camera and engage the magnified view.

2 upvotes
FlashInThePan

Vladimir is correct, the only m43 lens Voigtländer offers does not have electrical contacts and does not communicate with the camera.

I have found that automatically triggered focus assist can be awkward at times, as the slightest movement of the focus ring triggers it. Usually I leave it off.

0 upvotes
Francesco Gianni

Hmmm

How long before we can get a full frame module?
I know it's wishful thinking, but I don't want my summicron 35 to become a 53mm lens, and I can't afford an M9 right now.
I guess I'll have to stick with film for a little longer.

3 upvotes
Henrik Herranen

So Ricoh hasn't been able to put there a proper anti-alias filter (short flange distance, angle, etc). My guess would be that there is a very good likelihood that there will be no proper infrared filter either. Perhaps it would be a good idea to put this module through the same motions as the Leica M8 eventually was. Or, as a minimum: point a generic IR remote controller at it and see whether you can see the light flashing on the screen. If yes, there may be problems especially in tungsten light.

0 upvotes
Andy Crowe

I can't see any technical reason why they can't put one on (m4/3, NEX have them with shorter flange distance), I think they've just left it off so they can claim it as a headline feature.

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake

Leaving out the AA filter reduces the depth of the filter stack over the sensor and so, in principle, allows use of a wider range of lenses that protrude into the camera body (most obviously wideangles). Meanwhile here's no evidence of IR contamination in any of the initial samples we've shot (e.g. with black artificial fabrics in direct sunlight).

0 upvotes
ljclark

Maybe Ricoh didn't want to put an AA filter on the module. I'm certainly glad that my M8 doesn't have one -- and the my X100 has a weak one.

0 upvotes
mrpraline

If there's really no IR filter and no anti-alias filter, this would potentially be a very good astro camera. The IR filter in most current digital camera's take away much of the near infrared red that is very important for astro photography (Hydrogen Alpha nebulae light at 656 nanometers)

0 upvotes
lajka

Soory, no anti-alias but with IR. You would have to use Leicas M8-8.2 for that purpose, unfortunately they don`t have lifeview. The solution, hmm a Visoflex maybe.

0 upvotes
policeman0077
0 upvotes
ArtKetchum

The new Leica Lens module will put the Ricoh GXR camera on the map. A great idea and Ricoh being the first to offer Leica compatibility will make the GXR a very desirable camera.

0 upvotes
Andy Crowe

Actually m4/3 has had official Leica M support (1st party adapter) pretty much right from the get-go

0 upvotes
rami

but even a 1.5 crop is too much for many (I have the M8 which has 1.3x and I certainly cannot afford the M9). x2 as with 4/3 is really useless. and I do have 7 Leica lenses from 21 up to 135. the fastest wide I have is the 28 which is a short tele on the 4/3. that's not what Leica was made for... the Ricoh is very tempting and beautifully crafted camera. Nevertheless, I will probably wait for the Nex7 but I haven't decided yet.

1 upvote
Andy Crowe

The 2x crop of m4/3 is great if you want short - medium tele, for example my Voigtlander 40mm normal becomes a compact 80mm portrait lens

0 upvotes
rami

But it is not that Leica is in any lack of short to medium teles. such as the 75lux (which I own, and like much more than my canon 85L 1.2, for example) or any 90 lens, which Leica is so good at making. The problem is the lack of fast wides. The only "solution" is the 21lux, which is a 6000$ lens. Obviously, if anybody is planning to buy a body to use with M mount lenses, any crop is a disadvantage, not an advantage.

1 upvote
Andy Crowe

Having a higher crop sensor gives you a big size advantage if you want tele lenses, my 40mm f1.4 is half the size of a Leica 90mm f2.5

It's all tradeoffs, a 2x crop gives you smaller tele lenses vs thinner depth of field / wider angles with APS-C and larger.

0 upvotes
rami

I am glad you are happy using your CV 40 lens on your 4/3. I don't see how it addresses my point.. Leica has a full range of full frame lenses which would become quit useless on a high crop system. I have the M8 (1.3x) and find it extremely limiting. Leica lenses, and in general, rangefinder lenses were made with an emphasize on particular focal ranges, mainly fast 28-35 extending to 21 on the wide side and 50, 75, 90 on the short, stretching up to 135. the classical fast 28-35, which were always the heart of the system, simply have no parallel when used on a x2. Fuji, Ricoh and Sony are smart to introcude fast 24 lenses (actually, Ricoh goes wider). Nevertheless, they cannot reach the traditional depth of field of the desired focal lenses. That's a compromise I can understand. I cannot imagine anybody buying a 3000$ FF lens to use on a x2.

1 upvote
ramron67

I just inherited an old M4 system with 3 lenses. As much as I used to love shooting film, I was wondering what I would do with it, now I know...

0 upvotes
Viramati

loving it

0 upvotes
Total comments: 68