Ricoh GXR/S10 24-72mm F2.5-4.4 VC Review
This is the second of two reviews of the GXR; as each module is effectively a completely different camera we've decided to treat them as such and produce separate reviews. This review covers the GXR with the S10 24-72mm equiv (10Mp 1/1.7" sensor) module, the previous one had a look at the GXR/A12 50mm f2.5 equiv (12MP APS-C sensor) combo. The first half of both reviews is the same, covering the GXR camera body and system.
In the short, frenetic history of the digital camera it has often been the smaller, less high profile manufacturers who have taken all the risks and experimented with more unconventional designs and solutions. For despite all the technological advances in the last decade the majority of digital cameras have designs that follow the same basic blueprint as their analog predecessors: they're essentially the same cameras with a sensor in the place of film.
This is especially true in the interchangeable lens camera sector, where the big players (coincidentally those who led the market in the days of film), hampered by the need (desire) to retain compatibility with their legacy analog systems, produce digital SLRs that would feel reassuringly familiar to any photographer from the late '80s or early '90s who by choice or circumstance had missed out on the digital revolution.
Last year saw the first serious challenges to the dominance of the single lens reflex (a design that can trace it roots back over 100 years, and that hasn't changed fundamentally since the 1950s) in the interchangeable lens camera market - thanks to the introduction of Micro Four Thirds by Olympus and Panasonic. Since then Samsung has also introduced a very similar system ('NX') which is based on a larger APS-C sensor.
So when we first heard from Ricoh that they wanted to come and show us a new system camera we presumed it too was going to be variation on the 'mirrorless' design. Then we started to get hints that it was actually a totally new idea (or, as mentioned at the bottom of this page, a very old idea resurrected).
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). Thus the idea that these 'hybrid' cameras can offer SLR quality and versatility combined with compact camera size is simply not possible.
Ricoh's answer to this problem is, to say the least, novel. 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 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.
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
The standard components of an interchangeable lens camera are split between the GXR body and the lens unit in such a way that the performance of the camera (focus speed, image quality and so on) is to a large degree defined by the latter, with the body taking care of operational aspects and the actual process of taking the picture. Both camera and lens unit have their own Ricoh Smooth Image Engine processor (complete with RAM), though it appears the one in the lens unit is only used for capture and to get raw data off the sensor and convert it from analog to digital before it is sent to the body for processing and file creation. A fast, wide data bus connects the two halves together. To get a rough idea how the components and tasks are split see the table below (or check out the block diagram on the next page).
|GXR body||GXR lens unit|
|Controls and menus||Lens|
|JPEG processing and file creation||Shutter & Aperture|
|Raw file creation||Sensor (CCD or CMOS)|
|Live view processing and display||AD conversion|
|AV and PC interfaces (external I/O)||Raw file processing (incl noise reduction if used)|
|Flash, audio||Autofocus motor|
|Battery / power||Image stabilization (gyro and sensor shifting)|
|Internal memory and SD card||Raw buffer|
|LCD screen and EVF (if attached)|
|All playback functions|
Each lens unit contains instructions and parameters specific to its own sensor and optics, meaning that different lens units will change slightly the features, behavior and performance of the camera body when attached. Some of the lens unit dependant attributes (that we currently know of or can deduce) include:
- Image processing parameters
- Noise reduction
- Menu options - lens units define what menus you see
- Distortion correction (and, presumably, other lens corrections)
- Shutter speed and aperture ranges
- Program mode parameters ('program lines')
- Specific features (manual focus ring, sensor-shift stabilization etc)
- Focus speed
- Continuous shooting speed
- Buffer (no of frames and speed)
- Movie capture capabilities (resolution and frame rate)
Essentially, as mentioned elsewhere, with each lens unit you're getting a completely new camera with very different capabilities. Whether this is a good thing or not is going to depend on how well Ricoh does with its stated aim of using highly optimized lens/sensor combinations, and how much it is prepared to invest in producing a range of options that's compelling enough to tempt buyers away from more conventional systems such as Micro Four Thirds.
In the first part of this review (pages 1-12) we will have a close look at the GXR's body, features and user interface. In the second part (studio and real-life tests) we focus on the GXR with the A12 50mm module. The tests with the S10 module will be published in a separate review.
- 17 Photographic tests
- 18 Movie Mode
- 19 Compared to
- 20 Compared to (JPEG)
- 21 Compared to (JPEG)
- 22 Compared to (JPEG)
- 23 Compared to (RAW)
- 24 Compared to (RAW)
- 25 Compared to (RAW)
- 26 Compared to (RAW)
- 27 Compared to (Higher ISO)
- 28 Compared to (Resolution)
- 29 Compared to (Resolution)
- 30 Conclusion
- 31 Samples
Photographers shopping around for Lightroom alternatives have likely encountered Alien Skin's Exposure X3. Here's an overview of its organization and editing controls, and how they differ from the competition.
Alien Skin has released a significant update for its Exposure X3 image editor, adding greater precision to adjustment tools and more printing capabilities, among other improvements.
The FAA has ordered helicopter pilots and operators to halt certain doors-off flights in the wake of a tragedy that killed five passengers.
Analysts TechInsights have torn down a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus to have a closer look at the device's internal components and their cost.
Oppo's new high-end phones bear an uncanny resemblance to the iPhone X, with features like face unlock to a portrait lighting mode.
Recently we visited the 2018 CP+ show in Yokohama, Japan and as usual, we booked interviews with senior executives from several major manufacturers, including Sigma.
At this year's CP+ show in Yokohama, we sat down with senior executives from several major manufacturers, including Canon. Topics of conversation included Canon's ambitions for high-end mirrorless cameras, and the importance of responding to the demands of the smartphone generation.
We were recently able to follow local frame builder Max Kullaway as he created one of his AirLandSea bikes. Here are our picks of the photos we got, as the project progressed from bare tubes all the way to rideable bicycle.
On paper, the Sony a7 III is a tempting option for photographers who've been considering a switch to full-frame mirrorless. But how does its image quality stack up? We compare it to the Mark II and a few of its other peers.
Erez Marom shares the details behind this beautiful aurora photograph, captured on Haukland Beach in the Lofoten Islands, Arctic Norway, on a moonless evening.
Google Lens uses artificial intelligence and 'computer vision' to identify and provide information about businesses, landmarks and other objects using your phone's camera. And now it's available for iPhone users, too.
The company posted a record quarterly revenue of $2.08 billion for the first quarter of the 2018 fiscal year. That represents incredibly healthy year-over-year growth of 24 percent.
In the job posting, the Times' describes this role as "one of the most important and high-profile jobs in visual journalism." If you're looking for a high profile job in photojournalism, you could do a lot worse than being Photo Director at The Gray Lady.
According to a recent report out of South Korea, Samsung is increasing production of its ISOCELL image sensors in a bid towards market leadership for image sensors. To reach this goal, Samsung will have to dethrone current market leader Sony... no small task.
In this video, large format photographer Ben Horne shows off the incredible resolving power of 8x10 slide film by pixel peeping a massive 709.6-megapixel drum scan of one of his landscape shots. And you thought 100MP medium format was big...
Photographer Wendy Teal tells the heart-breaking story of a wedding she shot at a hospital on just 24-hours notice. The mother of the bride had been given one week to live, and Wendy responded to the couple's desperate social media plea for someone to capture their special day.
This tiny little plug-and-play VR/AR camera for Android phones uses a pair of greater-than-180° FOV fisheye lenses to offer both 360° video/photo capture and 360° livestreaming at 1440p resolution.
Syrp has announced the Magic Carpet Pro: a slider that offers filmmakers an 'infinitely extendable' range thanks to built-in track levers that let you connect lengths of track without the use of tools.
At CP+ we sat down with executives from several major manufacturers. Among them was Kenji Tanaka, of Sony, who talked to us about the a7 III as well as its plans to attract more pro shooters – without ignoring APS-C and entry-level customers.
How do you shoot macro photography on an 18x24cm large format wet plate camera? You 'connect' two large format cameras together! That's how wet plate photographer Markus Hofstaetter did it, and you can read about the whole process in this article.
The Fujifilm X-H1 is a top-of-the-range 24MP mirrorless camera with in-body stabilization and the company's most advanced array of video capabilities. We've tested the X-T2's big brother extensively to see how it performs.
Motorsports photojournalist Jamey Price recently flew to Canada with Lamborghini for the car company's Winter Accademia 2018, where clients get to drive the latest Lamborghini supercars on snow and ice. Yes... it is exactly as awesome as it sounds.
For the Pixel 2 smartphone's Motion Photos feature, Google built on its existing Motion Stills technology by adding advanced stabilization that combines software and hardware capabilities to optimize trimming and stabilization.
This "high-capacity advanced spider tripod" system can handle a maximum load of 65kg / 143lbs thanks to its reinforced design and 8-layered carbon fiber legs.
Photographer William Briscoe captured the beautiful two-for-one timelapse just outside Fairbanks, Alaska on January 31st, braving -31°F (-35°C) temperatures to get the shot.
"After his camera was stolen from his room in the orphanage, he switched to an iPhone for his photography, reasoning that the image quality of a big, heavy camera was less important than the freedom of a cell phone. 'Quality? Screw it, I’d sketch things with a pencil if I could draw,' he wrote in a blog post."
Chinese manufacturer Vivo has announced some AI-powered Super HDR tech to compete with Google's HDR+ system. Both systems combine multiple images to create a final shot with more dynamic range and less noise, but Super HDR claims to do so more intelligently.
The YouTube channel JerryRigEverything recently tore down (or rather, tore apart...) the new Samsung Galaxy S9, giving us the closest look at yet at the new smartphone's camera hardware.
The Leica l Model A, dating from between 1926 and 1927, comes with a card signed by Earhart herself. Unfortunately, this is the only 'proof' that the camera really did belong to her.
The Rokinon AF 35mm F2.8 FE is a budget-friendly option for users of Sony's a7-series that are looking to get into the 35mm focal length.