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Ricoh GXR/P10 28-300mm F3.5-5.6 VC Quick Review

August 2010 | By Lars Rehm

Review based on a production Ricoh GXR body with firmware v1.18 and P10 28-300mm lens unit with firmware v1.18

This camera has been reviewed using our 'Quick Review' format which we use for cameras that are in terms of operation and/or image quality very close to either their predecessors or other models in the line that we already treated to a full review. For a fuller view of the camera's functionalities and qualities we therefore recommend you not only read this Quick Review, but also the full review of the Ricoh GXR with the S10 24-72mm module.

When Ricoh announced the GXR interchangeable camera module system in 2009, with its sealed lens/sensor units it was certainly one of the more extravagant camera innovations of recent years. However, as most completely new systems, the GXR initially only offered little choice to potential users. You could slide either the S10 24-72mm module with a 10 megapixel 1/1.7 sensor or the A12 50mm module with a 12 megapixel APS-C sensor into the GXR body.

Now Ricoh has given GXR users some more choice by launching the P10 28-300m F3.5-5.6 VC module (there's also a A12 28 mm unit currently under development). With this new module images are captured on a 1/2.3" back-illuminated CMOS sensor. The image-stabilized unit also includes features such as RAW capture, HD video recording and 5 fps continuous shooting (up to 120 fps at VGA resolution). Ricoh says the optical formula of the lens is the same as that of their CX3 compact camera but the lens construction has been changed and the design 'optimized' to offer higher quality images.

Ricoh GXR: Key features

  • Unique flat sliding lens mount
  • Interchangeable sealed lens/sensor units
  • Compact Magnesium Alloy die-cast body with 'GR coating'
  • Extensive customization options and external controls
  • 3.0" 920,000 pixel LCD
  • Built-in flash and accessory shoe
  • Optional electronic viewfinder
  • HDMI connector

P10 28-300mm F3.5-5.6 VC: Key features

  • Back-illuminated 10 MP CMOS sensor
  • 10.7x (28-300mm equiv.) zoom lens
  • RAW capture
  • High speed continuous shooting (up to 5fps in RAW mode)
  • Ultra high speed continuous shooting of up to 120fps at reduced resolution
  • 720p HD video capture

The interchangeable lens unit camera

Where Micro Four Thirds and similar systems aim to cut bulk by removing the mirror box, which slims down the camera body and somewhat reduces the size of the lenses (though by how much depends on the sensor size used), they still end up pretty big once you add zoom lenses (and if we're talking about long zooms or telephotos the advantage is all but lost - large sensors require large lenses). The fact is that with current technology, you can't get the image quality of a DSLR and the versatilty of a superzoom compact camera in the same sized package.

Ricoh's answer to this problem is novel, to say the least. Rather than selling a camera body with a fixed sensor, the GXR system uses interchangeable lens/sensor units - every lens comes in a sealed unit complete with sensor, shutter, aperture, processing engine (there's also one in the camera body) and the motors necessary to focus the lens (and drive the zoom mechanism if present). You are, essentially, buying a new 'camera' every time you buy the lens: the GXR body is little more than a shell containing the screen, card slot, controls and flash. This radical rethink of the 'interchangeable lens' has some important consequences:

  • Different lens units can have different sensor sizes and technologies (CCD or CMOS, for example)
  • By using a smaller (compact camera) sensor the GXR system can offer very small zooms
  • Lens units can be designed for specialist applications (video optimized lens and sensor for example)
  • The overall performance of the system is essentially defined by the lens unit, not the body
  • Each lens has its own leaf shutter - which will generally be quieter, and offer faster flash sync than the focal-plane shutters used by Micro Four Thirds
The GXR lens unit slides into the body and clicks into place

The GXR body (which is like a slightly over-sized GR or GX model) can thus be anything from a high speed compact super zoom (a la Panasonic TZ series) to an APS-C compact with a fast prime lens (think Sigma DP2 or Leica X1) simply by swapping lens units. By replacing the lens unit with a compact projector, printer or high capacity storage device it could stop being a camera completely, at least that's the theory.

P10 28-300mm F3.5-5.6 VC Specifications

You can find the P10 28-300mm module's specifications in the table below. Please have a look at our GXR/S10 24-72mm review for the specs of the GXR body.

Designation P10 28-300 mm F3.5-5.6 VC
Price $500 / £470 as a kit with the GXR body
$300 / £250 module only
Focal length 4.9-52.5 mm
Stabilization Sensor shift
Focal length (35mm equiv.) 28-300 mm
Aperture range F3.5-F5.6
Construction 10 elements in 7 groups (4 aspherical lens elements)
Focus range • Approx. 30 cm – ∞
• Macro: 1cm
Effective Pixels Approx 10 million
Image Sensor • 1/2.3" CMOS
• Total pixels: 10.6 Million
• Max file size: 3648 × 2736
Focus • Contrast detect AF
• Manual focus
Shutter speeds • Stills: 30 sec - 1/2000
• Movies: 1/30 sec - 1/2000
Sensitivity • Auto
• Auto-Hi
• ISO 100-3200
Continuous Shooting • 5 fps (RAW)
• 30 fps
• 120 fps
• Raw buffer: 3 or 4 frames
File types • JPEG (2 levels)
• Raw (DNG)
File Sizes 3648 × 2736, 3648 × 2432, 3648 × 2048, 2736 × 2736, 3264 × 1840, 3264 × 2448, 3264 × 2176, 2448 × 2448, 2592 × 1944, 2048 × 1536, 1280 × 960, 640 × 480
Movie mode • 1280 x 720
• 640 x 480
• 320 x 240
• 30 fps
• Motion JPEG AVI
Battery life (CIPA) DB-90: approx. 440 shots
Weight 161 g
Dimensions 114mm × 58mm × 50mm
(when mounted on the GXR body)
Collapsible Yes

Foreword / notes

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

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Dpreview use calibrated monitors at the PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the 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 also A, B and C.

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