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
Mar 24, 2011
Mar 17, 2010
Nov 10, 2009
Mar 15, 2013
|Iconic Tree by Jerry-astro|
from Fall colors
|USA1053a by embie|
from We salute you!
|Pot of Gold by Take5|
from Flower center
|Zombie DP by MarioSS|
The Profoto A1 most certainly isn’t for everyone [...] But for those who are used to using the Profoto systems, and want something that pairs seamlessly with the strobes you already have, there is no better companion.
Fujifilm has asked a US district court to clear it of any wrongdoing, after allegedly being threatened with trademark litigation by Polaroid.
While a couple of our reviewers are out testing the Sony a7R III in Arizona, back in Seattle we slapped the camera in front of our studio scene to get a close look at its image quality. See how it stacks up against the competition.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #8 ranking belongs to the Nikon D7500.
B+W has announced a new aluminum filter holder that offers three slots so users can use multiple filters at the same time. The holder goes with the 2mm thick 100mm square filters it launched earlier this year.
8K video is coming a lot faster than you think, and Blackmagic is ready for it. Meet the DeckLink 8K Pro, a new high performance PCI-E capture and playback card built to handle 'real time high resolution 8K workflows.'
"Glass is everywhere in photography. From Eugène Atget’s reflective vitrines to Lee Friedlander’s sly self-portraiture, photographers have long been in thrall to the visual complications glass can inject into a composition."
Former Apple Aperture lead developer Nik Bhatt has designed an iOS app called RAW Power that lets you edit raw photos from your professional camera using your phone and tablet.... color us intrigued.
Advertising photographer Blair Bunting got his hands on the new Microsoft Surface Book 2, and it blew him away. Bye bye MacBook Pro...
The OnePlus 5T retains many of the 5's features and specs, but comes with an edge-to-edge display and a dual-camera that is optimized for low light.
Sony's recently announced IMX461 backside illuminated medium format sensor will bring 100MP resolution and almost 2x the speed to the next-gen Fuji GFX and Hasselblad X1D.
With the ‘Rent a Hasselblad’ camera equipment renting program, the camera makers is aiming to give enthusiast and professional photographers easier access to its medium-format photography products.
They say seeing is believing, and that's exactly what happened when one DPR staffer took the Google Pixel 2 out for an afternoon shooting under challenging conditions.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #9 spot we have the Fujifilm GFX 50S, a medium-format camera that took CP+ 2017 by storm.
Instagram is testing a new feature that lets you follow hashtags in addition to people, making it possible to keep track of your favorite #landscapes or #portraits without leaving your home feed.
Despite the gigantic volume of second hand film bodies in existence, it seems there is still a demand for new 35mm SLRs with a retro feel. The latest is a remake of the Ihagee Elbaflex from the 1960s, but with a Nikon F mount.
The Polaroid Insta-Share Moto Mod straps an instant printer directly to your Moto Z smartphone, so you can print your photos as soon as you've captured them.
The Mitakon Speedmaster 135mm F1.4 lens is being relaunched in 7 different mounts, including: Sony A, Sony E, Canon EF, Nikon F, Fujifilm G, Pentax K, and Leica L. Got an extra three grand lying around?
In January, Kodak announced it would bring back the beloved slide film Ektachrome. The timeline has been pushed back a bit, but Kodak says you can expect to purchase Ektachrome again in 2018.
Instagram popularity is threatening some of the most beautiful landscapes in the US, as hordes of 'nature lovers' trample over the same spots over and over again in search of the same exact shot.
You’d have to be pretty brave to immerse your $50K RED cinema camera underwater. But if you've got the guts, Gates just released a new housing you can be pretty sure won't wreck your unbelievably expensive toy.
Adobe has released a 'Lightroom Downloader' app for Windows 10 and macOS High Sierra that allows you to download all of your images from the Adobe Cloud, all at once.
After releasing a popular 4K action cam and an affordable mirrorless M43 camera, Chinese camera maker YI is diving into yet another market: 360° VR. Meet the YI 360 VR: a powerful little two-lens camera that can shoot and stream in 4K.
The DJI Spark has received a lot of attention thanks to its diminutive size, but how does it stack up? In our review, we take a look at what it's like to fly this pint-sized drone, as well as what's in it for photographers.
Between now and the end of the year we'll be counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Coming in at #10 is a fast wide prime and part of the highly-acclaimed Sigma Art series.
DxOMark has awarded the Pentax 645Z 101 points, making it the second-highest scoring medium format camera it's tested (or the highest scoring from 2015 to now, based on the originally published results).
A small explosion that sounded like a gunshot caused a panic and 24 flight cancellations at Orlando International Airport last Friday. As it turns out, it was a camera battery that exploded inside a traveler's bag.
At last, a premium superzoom bridge camera with phase detect autofocus. Is this the best all-in-one camera ever made? Read on.
Unlike most smartphone cameras, the new Google Pixel 2 devices combine optical and electronic image stabilization for a smooth video experience. Here's how it works.
It might be tempting to skimp on a wedding photographer and 'crowdsource' your wedding photos instead. But as this couple found out, you could end up with no photos and a big headache.