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Conclusion - Pros

  • Decent image quality in good light (but soft low contrast detail and some shadow noise)
  • Very useful zoom range
  • Excellent build quality and handling
  • Highly customizable and flexible user interface with a large number of external controls
  • Very nice 3.0 inch, 920,000 pixel TFT screen
  • Good operational speed
  • New Multi-P white balance mode for mixed lighting
  • Optional distortion correction (does not work when shooting RAW+JPEG)
  • Efficient Image Stabilization system
  • Electronic level
  • High-res optional electronic viewfinder
  • User-controllable noise reduction
  • Comprehensive software package included (with GXR body)

Conclusion - Cons

  • Smearing of low contrast detail and shadow noise, even in good light and at base ISO
  • Fairly strong corner softness at some focal lengths
  • High chroma noise levels at high sensitivities
  • Battery life not great
  • No manual controls, exposure compensation or stereo sound in in movie mode
  • Some minor glitches in the user interface (see operations and handling summary in S10 review)
  • Tripod mount not in the center of the lens
  • Price

Overall conclusion

Since we already tested the Ricoh GXR body with a couple of modules in this Quick review we are focusing on the P10 28-300mm's specification and image quality. To get all the in-depth information about the Ricoh GXR, specifically the handling, operation and features of the body unit, please also read our reviews of the GXR with the A12 50mm and S10 24-72mm modules.

Mounting the P10 28-300mm VC lens module on the body turns the Ricoh GXR pretty much into a 'Travel Zoom' compact camera. From a dimension, weight, handling and operation point of view it is identical to the GXR/S10 24-72mm combination. The Ricoh's build quality and comprehensive user interface are superb and a step above what you'd find on a 'conventional' travel zoom camera. However, on the downside the camera is a little less pocketable than a Casio EX-FH100, Panasonic TZ series or similar models. Having said that, while it might be slightly too beefy to stick it into your shirt pocket the GXR/P10 28-300mm is still small enough to carry it with you most of the time, either in a coat pocket or a little bag.

In terms of image quality the P10 28-300mm is, as expected, in the same ballpark as the cameras we tested a little while ago in our Travel Zoom group test. We found the colors to be pleasantly vivid without being too unnatural. The camera also gets the basic stuff such as exposure, white balance and focus right. At base ISO it appears to be using a little more noise reduction than its travel zoom rivals Casio EX-FH100 and Panasonic ZS7, resulting in some more smearing of fine detail in low contrast areas. There's quite a bit of noise to be found in the shadow areas and at some focal lengths we found the lens a bit softer in the corners than some of the competition. As usual though these differences would only be visible at large magnifications. At higher sensitivities the P10 28-300mm is again on a similar level as the Casio EX-FH100 and Panasonic ZS7. At default settings (NR off) the Ricoh output appears a little less blurred but also shows more noise and artifacts. At ISO 1600 and 3200 it also produces higher than average chroma (color) noise levels. As with most cameras of this type the highest settings should be reserved for emergency use.

The Ricoh GXR's concept of interchangeable camera modules is still unique in the market and therefore difficult to compare. However, as we've mentioned above, with the P10 28-300mm camera module the GXR comes closest to travel zoom cameras such as the Casio EX-FH100 or Panasonic's ZS/TZ series, albeit with a more advanced user interface and more solid build quality. Fortunately in recent months prices for the GXR components have been dropping and you can now bag yourself a GXR body/P10 28-300mm kit for approximately $500. It's still more expensive than its 'conventional' travel zoom rivals but the difference is not prohibitive anymore. And of course the GXR gives you the flexibility to use it with one of the other camera modules. For existing GXR owners the purchase decision could be more difficult. The P10 28-300mm module on its own retails for around $300 which is just a little bit more than a Panasonic ZS7 would cost you, with its more compact form factor, and built-in GPS.

All in all, the Ricoh GXR with the P10 28-300mm module offers tank-like construction and a user interface that is a step above most cameras with similar sensor/lens combinations. However, the image quality is pretty much typical for a travel zoom compact camera and cannot match the camera's build quality and operation. You'll have to decide for yourself if the GXR's unique concept justifies its premium price.

Like the GXR S10 24-72mm we decided to score the P10 28-300mm as an 'interchangeable lens camera (rather than a compact camera), mainly due to its price and the fact that it's a system camera. Bear in mind when looking at these scores that had we scored it as a digital compact camera it would have done a little better in some areas.

Ricoh GXR P10 28-300mm F3.5-5.6 VC
Category: Premium Enthusiast Compact Camera
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Exposure and focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Flash performance
Low light / high ISO performance
Optics
Performance (speed)
Movie / video mode
Value
PoorExcellent
Good for
Users who want the flexibility of a travel zoom lens and DSLR-like controls in a relatively small package.
Not so good for
Anyone who requires better than compact camera image quality.
Overall score
59%
The GXR P10 28-300mm VC comes with GXR's excellent user interface and operation but the lens/sensor combination in the camera module only produces average compact camera image quality.

Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean

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P10 28-300mm Samples Gallery

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Ricoh GXR P10 28-300mm Review Samples

42 images • Posted 06 August 2010 • View album
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