Ricoh GXR - the world's smallest and lightest interchangeable lens digital camera


November 10, 2009

Ricoh's new GXR digital camera system, where the lens and sensor are made into an interchangeable unit that slides into the camera body

Ricoh's new GXR digital camera system, where the lens and sensor are made into an interchangeable unit that slides into the camera body

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After weeks of speculation and the accidental pre-announcement release of a demonstration video, the Ricoh GXR digital camera system has finally been officially announced. Not only is it claimed to be the smallest and lightest digital camera that allows lenses to be changed, but as the lens and sensor comprise one interchangeable unit, photographers can now choose different sensor/lens combinations for different photographic conditions.

Rumors of something special coming from Ricoh had been circulating for weeks but the company had managed to keep things more or less under wraps until the evening before the official announcement.

A video from the UK's consumer magazine Which demonstrating Ricoh's modular GXR was posted to YouTube and although only online for a few short moments, it was long enough for eagle-eyed camera lovers to spread the good news.

So what's all the fuss about?

The GXR is claimed to be the world's smallest and lightest digital camera with the ability to change lenses, a crown previously claimed by Olympus' Micro Four Thirds system. Unlike your typical digital camera, the 113.9 × 70.2 × 28.9 mm body of the GXR does not contain an image sensor or processing engine. The lens, sensor and engine are all contained in a separate unit which slides into the main body.

This effectively allows the photographer to choose to take shots using (at product release) a large 12Mp APS-C size CMOS sensor or a diminutive 1/1.7-inch CCD sensor at 10Mp. But the modular design doesn't stop there.

As well as framing shots on the 920,000 dot high resolution 3 inch LCD display at the body's rear, there's also the facility to add an external viewfinder in the hot shoe slot on the top which can be tilted for optimum comfort. Although there is an integrated flash, a GR DIGITAL III external flash is also available.

Lens unit specs

The A12 50 mm (equivalent) F2.5 MACRO camera unit uses a 23.6 x 15.7 mm CMOS sensor which offers just over 12MP. The unit measures 68.7 × 57.9 × 38.6 mm, has an ISO sensitivity of up to 3200 and supports 720p video at 24 frames per second. In normal mode the lens offers a focus range of approximately 30cm to infinity, whilst macro mode will give approximately 7cm to infinity.

The 10MP S10 24-72mm-equivalent f2.5-4.4 wide-angle lens unit uses the CCD-shift method of camera shake correction. It's housed in a similar sized unit and offers the same ISO3200 sensitivity as the A12. It features the Smooth Imaging Engine IV processing engine and a clever self-retaining lens cap, a teleconversion lens and a wide conversion lens can all be added as optional extras.

Adding it all up

Of course there is quite a heavy price to pay for all this relative freedom that the modular approach can offer - the overall cost. According to the now fully reinstated Which video (see below) the body will cost £420 (about US$700), the A12 macro lens £600 (about US$1000) and the S10 £300 (about US$500) when the system is released in December.

Other bodies and lens units are thought to be in the pipeline, visit the product page for more information.

The disappearing and reappearing Which overview of the GXR:

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

Dumbest camera ever.

\"photographers can now choose different sensor/lens combinations for different photographic conditions.\"

Two conditions -- TWO!

Let me tell you what would have been smart. On APS-C sensor in the camera and a lens mount that would accept both Canon and Nikon lenses.

Yes, that would have been smart...


Ricoh says they will be launching a telephoto lens unit in early 2010, with other lens units to follow. The idea here is that as camera technology develops, instead of having to update your whole rig, you can just update the lens unit while keeping the set up you\'re familiar with. Pairing a lens and sensor together is smart as the components can be more finely tuned. Also not exposing the sensor to dust. Interesting move. Can\'t wait to see a review.

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