Dec 022010
 

The Ricoh GXR Digital Camera Review with the 28mm and 50mm Camera/Lens Modules

By Steve Huff

Many months ago, Ricoh, a company loved by many photographers for designing and releasing cameras that are actually made for Photographers released something new and unique in the camera world. The GXR is a camera, that for the first time in the world of digital cameras (besides medium format) allows us to not only change lenses, but also change the sensor of the camera. Unfortunately, you can not change them separately and individually, but the magic of this system seems to be that the sensor and lens module are perfectly paired together for optimum results. No dust, no muss, no fuss. No funky light rays, no odd distortions…just a great sensor and great lens paired together as one. Pretty cool.

 

ABOVE: Ricoh GXR with the 28mm at 2.5 – ISO 3200 – Click for larger and better version

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I have been hearing about this camera for many months and a friend of mine would always send me over images of his from the GRX, and yea they looked very good but I thought “why do I need another camera that takes good quality images”? I already have a couple cameras here that do pretty damn well so what is the draw to a camera that costs $369 for the body and $700 for each *good* lens and sensor module? For a few months I saw how great the images looked but with my limited funds I could not buy one just to try it out, especially considering the only lens module out for it that was really fantastic was a 50mm macro that focused dog slow. So I waited..I was patient. I wanted to see if there would be anything good coming out in the way of lenses/modules and to see if this system would be dead in the water or if it would pick up some steam…

So here we are near the end of 2010 and Ricoh has released a new module that tipped me over the edge to finally try out this camera system! The Ricoh A12 28mm f/2.5 GR Lens contains a nice sized APS-C sensor with 12.3 Megapixels and Ricohs GR ENGINE III. Hmmm. This is where it gets interesting. See, Ricoh did not release a typical camera body and lens set. We now have a body that is *almost* future proof. What I mean by that is the body, as long as it continues to work, will always be current due to the sensor being in with the lens itself. I say ALMOST because who knows if Ricoh will release a new body down the road with a swivel lcd or built in EVF, etc.

New lens and sensors may come and go but seriously, we are at a point now where what I am getting out of these two modules is as good as I could ever want from a digital camera of this size and cost. The 28 and 50mm modules have the capability of jaw dropping quality (I’ve seen it from others) so yea, in 5 years it will also provide this same quality.

The big question is….with this hobby of ours, we all have upgrade-itis and even if the sensor and lens combo takes great images in 5 years time, will those of us that are gear heads and camera junkies be satisfied with it when there will be new fancy ISO 200,000 sensors available by then?

If this body and two lens/module set was still working for me in 10 years, and I still owned it (unlikely for me) it would still be taking fantastic images, no question. So to those who want a system to keep for the long haul, and a system to master,  the GXR may be what you are looking for. Using this camera has made me a fan of Ricoh and makes me want to try out their smaller and more compact GRDIII.

BTW, the GXR does have an external EVF available but I did not have one on hand when trying out the camera.

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GXR – 50 at 2.5 0 ISO 766 (Set on Auto ISO)

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ABOVE: Brandon shot with the GRX and 50mm Module at 2.5 – From RAW, converted to B&W in Alien Skin 3

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In this REAL WORLD review…yes, I said REAL WORLD because that is how I used this camera, meaning I did not do a bunch of lab testing with it. Just real photos like many of you would take on a daily basis. After all, most of my readers photograph their families, friends, and every day life. So this review will tell you what you can expect from this camera in these situations. It is small enough to take anywhere, so I have been taking it with me EVERYWHERE! I also have been writing this review for the past week, a little at a time so it is thorough, has plenty of samples and also has all of my thoughts on this system.

In this review I am going to tell you why I think Ricoh is really on to something here. I know that this system has not taken off incredibly well sales wise, but also know it has been picking up steam lately, and I am happy for that. When shooting with the GXR it feels like a “REAL” camera. It does not feel like an electronic gadget or gizmo. It feels very well built, and is. It feels solid and comfortable in my hands. It gives me confidence that when I fire the shutter I will get a nice looking file that is contrasty, colorful, sharp and also smooth.

There are one or two things I wish they did incorporate in to the body. A swivel LCD ala the Sony NEX-5 or even a built in EVF would have been just about perfect. While I wish the body had these two things, not having them is by no means a deal breaker because let me tell you…this camera is really the first semi-compact camera that I have seen that is capable of Leica like quality (besides the X1 of course) in regards to crisp but smooth and sharp results. The color is also very good (if not a little on the bold side)  and the files are highly tweak-able, even giving more dynamic range than a Canon 5DMKII file.

The Auto White balance of the GXR may be the best I have ever seen on a digital camera, or at least one of the best. The GXR is really good in mixed lighting. I have yet to find a situation where it has failed me or given me yellowish funky colors. It’s amazing, and I am now wondering why the big expensive $3-7000 cameras do not have this kind of AWB technology. I will get into all of that and much more as this review goes on. I am also including a TON of images because I found that almost every image I took with the GXR looked pretty good and that is due to the superb quality of the files. The only other time that has happened was with the Leica M8,  M9 and the little powerhouse X1 :)

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ABOVE – The GXR and 28mm Module at 2.5 – 1/30s

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First Up…my Video intro…

Just a quick look at the GXR body and 28mm lens module and a brief rundown on the camera..

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The GXR  Body and System  – The Lens Module Explained


The Ricoh GXR is a camera SYSTEM. Many people seem to be either confused or turned off by the fact that the lenses are actually MODULES that have a perfectly matched sensor behind it. The 28 and 50 prime lenses are FANTASTIC in their own right but what makes this unique and somewhat special is that each lens has a sensor that has been mated to it for optimum results in image quality, color and ISO noise.

The other cool thing is that there is NO CHANCE for dust to ever get on your sensor because it is never exposed. Also, I have found that the lens modules are VERY tough. No need to baby them. They are well built, solid, and very easy to slide on and off (as you can see in the video above).

To those who are in the camp that HATE the idea of a lens “module” ask yourself why. Here is the reason usually given: “I just do not like the idea of having to replace the lens when a better sensor is out. I don’t like modules”.

My take: You wouldn’t have to replace anything! The sensors in the 28 and 50mm module are FANTASTIC APS-C sensors. They provide wonderful IQ and their own unique look with their color signature, sharpness, and file quality. They can provide a super file that is capable of large prints if desired. There would be no need to upgrade the lens or sensor as  they are already doing what they do best. Today or in 5 years. The body will always stay (though they should have put in a swivel LCD!) and there would never be a need to re-learn a new body or have costly repairs if you scratch your sensor during cleaning. Todays sensors are very good and personally, I like the “look” the GXR produces.Deep, rich, and sharp but smooth.

It’s kind of like film stock…some will like the look of a Sony NEX, some a Leica X1 and some from a Ricoh GXR. They are all unique in their signature and it’s all personal preference. But to those worried about having a sensor mated with the lens, I understand because there are also cons to this…

For example. Maybe the GXR will not sell well and Ricoh will stop production. Then what? Worst case is you have a GXR and a couple of modules that take fantastic images. Best case, Ricoh releases more modules like an HD cinema module, the rumored Leica M-mount module, and the rumored fast 85 portrait lens module. Buying a module is not much different than buying a lens. It is meant to be used with the Ricoh GXR System and they work well with this system. It is a LENS, but with a sensor that has been perfectly mated with said lens!

With all of that said…the Ricoh GXR is not a perfect “system”  (does that even exist?) but I do applaud Ricoh for doing something different. I like it, and can’t argue with the results. If you are not into buying a “system” camera then the GXR may not be for you but then again, buying a Nikon D7000 is also buying into a System as is buying a Canon 5D MKII.

ABOVE: The GXR with 50 2.5 at 2.5 in Macro mode.

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The 50 f/2.5 Lens Module/Camera Unit


The 50 f/2.5 Macro lens, as many of you already know from the reviews elsewhere is astounding. It is a semi fast 50 with a matching 12 megapixel sensor that can be used as a portrait lens or a macro lens. I also enjoy the B&W from this camera and lens combo quite a bit. It’s true what I have heard. Ricoh cameras seem to give you a rich, film like B&W experience. I have always admired street images I have seen that were taken with a small Ricoh compact. They always looked gritty, true to life, and dramatic. When I would see Ricoh images I would ask the photographer who shot the images what he did to the them during processing. He would say “Nothing, these are straight from the camera”. That always intrigued me about Ricoh. If they were so good and made for the mind of a photographer, why were they not more popular? Maybe it’s due to the fact that not many dealers sell Ricoh and therefore they are not really well known. The GRX may be the one camera for them that can change that because the GXR camera with this 50mm lens module is amazingly good.

When the GXR was announced, this was THE lens to get with the camera. I mean, forget about the crappidy crap zoom lenses with the GRX. Yea, I said it. CRAP. The Zoom lenses like the P10 module have small sensors so you get more noise, the color suffers, and the overall images just lack any kind of magic. The 50 Macro was the hot lens at release so I think that everyone who bought the GXR, bought this lens.

The main problem with the 50 though was that it was DOG SLOW to auto focus! Aim, compose, half press of the shutter – err, err, acck, err, acck…it seemed like the camera was having some kind of digestive problems. Thank the heavens that Ricoh released a firmware update and I am happy to say the AF speed is now MUCH better (though still slow in Macro mode).

I won’t lie. I love the 50mm focal length. I love fast lenses. While this lens is no Leica 50 Summilux ASPH 1.4, it is semi fast at 2.5 and can be used as a portrait lens or macro lens. When not in macro mode (you engage it by pressing the macro button on the back) the lens focuses quite fast. It also gives us some nice background blur (shallow depth of field) and the bokeh quality is quite nice (quality of background blur) :)

Below are a few of the very 1st images I snapped with the 50 sitting in front of my Imac at night, and in my bathroom. Nothing fancy but may give an idea of the qualities of the lens. To see better quality, click on the images for a larger view otherwise you are not seeing the better quality file.

As always, you can click on any image in this review to see a larger and better version :) The next set of images were all shot in macro mode with the 50, wide open. Many at ISO 1600.

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As I already mentioned, the 50mm f/2.5 Lens/Sensor module was the first REAL module that was released with the GXR and it’s also the most well reviewed. When my camera arrived (and I bought mine from Amazon HERE and and HERE with amazing one day service) I slid the 50 module on to the body and I was so upset! The AF was so slow (slower than the Leica X1) it was borderline unusable. I kept in mind that A: This was a MACRO lens, and MACRO lenses are notorious for slow AF, and B: Oh yea! There is a new firmware for this lens module!! I already mentioned above how this vastly improved the AF speed. Yea, it is now much faster, but in low light it does hunt a bit. But again, it is a macro lens. When out of macro mode (just a quick button press) it is pretty fast.

Size?

The camera is not pocketable with this lens unless you have very large coat pockets. I started to wonder why I would use this over a Sony NEX-5, a Leica X1 or even a Leica M9…what void would this fill for me? That..I still had to find out, but I did know I was enjoying it and when I was messing around with it just snapping silly test shots, I realized how QUIET this camera is. The reason for that is the lens modules all have leaf shutters (read about leaf shutters here) and it is just as quiet as the Leica X1 when snapping a frame.

Having leaf shutters in the lenses is good in many ways but also limits this camera a little bit. When I took the GRX outside in the AZ sun I had the ISO set to its base of 200. I had the aperture at 2.5 and wanted to get some cool shallow depth of field images :) When I went to shoot I noticed the camera would not set a shutter speed faster than 1/1000s. SO I went online and read that when shooting wide open you can not go faster than 1/1000s. This is due to the leaf shutter.

The 50 at 2.5, ISO 308, 1/45s – straight from camera

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Leaf shutters are not designed  to have fast shutter speeds. But the benefits are there..

It is SILENT. If this camera had a loud and clunky shutter it would have been a drawback to many. The NEX-5 has a pretty loud shutter, the GRX is silent. Just a faint click. Because there is no big shutter clank, you can also handhold the camera at slower shutter speeds in low light. This is a plus. Finally, using a leaf shutter, you do not have any flash synchro limitations though I wouldn’t use a flash with this camera anyway. I would suggest to Ricoh to give owners another firmware update that will add ISO 50 or 100 to the options, therefore allowing a wider aperture before we hit that 1/1000s limitation.

ILL ASK THEM HERE: Ricoh…give us a firmware update that adds ISO 50 or at least ISO 100 to the ISO menu!

The color is BOLD but NICE. Very RICH IMO.

 

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After more and more shooting and even a quick comparison with the Sony NEX-5 I came to realize that the GXR was capable of some very high quality imagery, especially with the 50 Macro. With this lens you can get some shallow depth of field going on as well as use it for portraits, or of course, macro. The 50 can be slow to focus still, even after the update, but if you are not in macro mode it is much quicker. Still, I wouldn’t want to use it for any kind of action. But if you look at the images above you can see a certain quality that is very pleasant with the GRX and the 50 2.5 Macro. Can’t get this look with the NEX-5 unless you slap a fast 35mm on it, and still, it won’t be macro. This 50 is what was making me fall in love with this system…but there was still the 28 f/2.5 that I had to check out as well :)

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HOW SHARP IS THE 50mm MACRO LENS?  100% CROPS

The results I was seeing from the 50 were spectacular..especially considering that this camera system is MUCH MUCH smaller than any bulky fat DSLR. It has the same size sensor as those bulky DSLR’s as well as the Leica X1, which you all know I adore for its size, style and quality but the GXR is also very small compared to the big DSLRs. The GXR is not as sleek or stylish as the X1 nor as small but it is more versatile because you can use different sensors and lenses and one of those is this macro lens that is sooooo good! How good is it? Here are some images with full 100% crops..CLICK ON THE IMAGES TO SEE  THE LARGE SIZE WITH 100% CROPS

BELOW: SHOT WITH THE 50mm at f/5.6 – CLICK IMAGE FOR LARGE VIEW TO SEE THE TRUE 100% crop…

BELOW: HOw about wide open at 2.5? Click image below for a large view with true 100% crop…

You can see…the 50mm module is pretty damn good! It’s sharp, it gives superb color and detail, and at the same time it gives you that smooth look that I see quite a bit in Leica files. This lens is a great portrait lens as well as a great macro lens. Plus, you are getting a real 50mm equivalent because the lens is actually a 33mm so with the crop you get a 50mm. So how does it compare to a Leica M9 with 50 Summicron…I do not have a 50 Cron on hand but if I had to guess it would be close in many ways. The whole shooting experience is wayyyy different because the Ricoh is not a rangefinder camera but as far as image quality goes, its not really too far behind. Imagine if Ricoh does release the rumored Leica M module with a sensor matched to shooting M lenses? Hmmmmmm. Now we can start to see the benefit of the module system…

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FULL SIZE FILE FROM THE 50 – CLICK THE IMAGE BELOW TO DOWNLOAD

Below is a full size out of camera file from the GRX and 50 Macro. The shot was taken at f/2.5 and ISO 200, handheld…

HIGH ISO WITH THE 50 f/2.5

High ISO on the GRX with the 50 is good, actually very good. While it only goes up to ISO 3200, it is usable at 3200, especially in black & white where your images will take on an almost filmic look. I like the in camera black & white setting with the contrast boosted up a few notches. The result is very nice quality out of camera B&W images. Color is also usable. Below are a couple of silly straight from camera JPEG images shot at high ISO (1600 & 3200). When shooting between 200-800 noise is a non issue in my opinion.

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This Is Not A Fast Action Lens Module!

The Ricoh GXR with the 50 attached is not a camera for recording fast action or sporting events. The lens even after the firmware update will not give you BLAZING AF speed though it is much speedier. This is a lens built for people and macro. Even some street work could be done with this lens module. This is a stellar lens but it’s not built for speed.

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The 28mm f/2.5 Lens Module/Camera Unit

The 28mm f/2.5 Lens Module/Camera Unit is highly sought after right now for those that own the GRX system. This is a 18.3mm lens with a 12MP APS-C sensor inside that delivers VERY good performance for a wide angle lens. The images from the 28 seem to have the same color signature as the 50 module and having a semi-fast 28 is a godsend. Once I attached this to the GXR body I knew I was going to like it. The image below is a straight from camera B&W, taken at night in my kitchen. My son was wearing an old gas mask he bought so I had to grab a shot :)

The images from the 28 are smooth but detailed at the same time. Very smooth tones and the color is also nice. The image above was an out of camera JPEG and the one below has had some tweaks via Photoshop.

The 28mm is actually an 18.3 mm lens but with the APS-C sensor the lens behaves like a 28mm. For $699, the price is actually very good for a 28mm 2.5 with this kind of quality. Is the lens perfect? No…it does have some slight distortion and the corners are not bitingly sharp when wide open like a Leica 28mm but for $699 you get the lens and matching sensor. I can’t complain about the price for what it is, plus, the quality is fantastic. A 28mm, f2.5 with matching sensor – $699. Not bad at all. All of the images below were shot with the 28 wide open…

 

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AF SPEED of the 28mm Module

WHen on the GXR, this lens module/camera unit can be compared to other cameras like the Leica X1, the Sony NEX-5, the Olympus E-P2, The Panasonic G2, etc. All somewhat small cameras that pack in really good IQ. As far as image quality goes, the GXR is up at the top of the heap with maybe the X1 beating it slightly, but the X1 is also a “system” cameras as you only have ONE lens, the 24 Elmarit (35mm equivalent) and it is the slowest of the bunch (though I still love the X1 for its strengths) in regards to AF.

The AF of the 28mm module is much faster than the 50mm and is equivalent to the micro 4/3 cameras and almost to the Sony NEX. One thing I have noticed though is that when this camera says something is in focus, it IS IN FOCUS. I have had quite a few misses with the NEX-5, none with the Ricoh. So this tells me Sony may be pulling some trickery to boost their AF speed. Maybe not, but maybe so.

It is what it is though and the main strength of this GXR system is it’s image quality, build quality, versatility and future possibilities. For example…maybe there will be a future lens module with lightning fast cintinuous AF for action..maybe there will be a dedicated HD Cinema module with a perfect lens and sensor combo and built in IS. The possibilities are endless.

The image of the dog below was shot at ISO 1600, f/2.5 and 1/13s. It was DARK but the lens made it look brighter than it was. Still, I could have used ISO 3200 like I did with the image of the dog at the  top of this review. Shooting this lens module at 3200 is not a problem and it retains its sharpness, color and detail. One plus for mating a sensor to a lens. :)

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As soon as I walked up he wanted to shake my hand. GXR, 28mm at 2.5, 1/13s, ISO 1600

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HIGH ISO WITH THE 28 2.5

I went out for a late drive one night with the GXR and 28. I set the camera to ISO 3200 and wanted to see how it did IN LOW LIGHT. Any camera can do well at high ISO if there is light present but not many can hold up when the lights go down. Here is how it went…

ABOVE: Click the image so you can see the 100% crop inside the photo. At 3200, at night. Not bad and the detail is VERY good for 3200. This is a GREAT lens.

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ABOVE: Before I left Brandon was laying on the couch watching TV. ISO 3200, and the only light was coming from the TV. Click image for larger..

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ABOVE: As I was driving I saw this guy pushing a pickup truck through the light. I lifted the camera and snapped. ISO 3200, B&W.

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ABOVE: CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE OOC FILE. ISO 3200 – UNTOUCHED. NR TURNED OFF.

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ABOVE: ISO 3200 – 28mm at 2.5

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ABOVE: ISO 3200 – f/2.5

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X-Mas Explosion – ISO 1131 (was in Auto Mode) – f2.5 – 28mm

HD Video Capabilities of the GXR

BIG FAIL! Sadly, there is one area where the GXR falls short. VIDEO recording. Actually, I am going to say its pretty pathetic and useless. You cant auto focus, you cant manual focus and you can not change or set the aperture. There is no IS so video is out of focus, jerky and doesn’t look all too good with either lens module though the 28 seems better than the 50. It can be done, but it is not even close to being ideal or user friendly. If you want a high quality vidoe capable camera then check out the Panasonic GH2 which would kill the GXR for HD Video.

One thing to think about though…it is possible that Ricoh may come out with some sort of “Cinema Module” for the GXR. Possibly a nice lens mated with an optimum sensor created just for HD video. I am not saying they are doing this, just saying it is possible because with the module system, ANYTHING is possible because they are not tied down to the specs of the body.

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Battery Life

Battery LIfe with the GXR is decent. I think I was able to get about 300 images before the battery died. About average for a camera of this type.

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Manual Focus

You can also manually focus the lens you have on the GXR. The lens focus mechanism is smooth but nothing like focusing a Leica M lens. When in Manual mode you get a distance scale that pops up on the screen. Easy but with this camera I prefer the Auto Focus.

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Built In Flash

The body has a built in flash but I admit I never use flash so I the only shot I took was the silly test shot below. Looks even and well exposed…cant complain!

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PROS AND CONS OF THE RICOH GXR

PROS

  • Great build and feel. Solid but not too heavy.
  • The lens modules are perfectly mated to the included sensor, so makes for great quality every time.
  • No chance of dust on the sensor.
  • Beautiful file quality with the 28mm and 50mm lenses.
  • Faster AF after the latest firmware update, no on par with other smaller cameras.
  • The 50 Macro is FABULOUS as a double duty lens..macro or portrait and the bokeh quality is very nice.
  • The future may bring some very cool modules like video modules, Leica M modules, etc. Anything is possible.
  • High ISO quality up to 3200 is very good and usable. Especially with black and white.
  • Very robust RAW files.
  • Great Dynamic Range with the 28mm and 50mm modules.
  • User interface is quick and easy to navigate.
  • Highly customizable to your liking.
  • Shutter is SILENT.

CONS

  • Modules…some just don’t like them or fully understand the benefits and this is what is hurting sales of this otherwise great photographic tool.
  • Expensive. The body is cheap at $350 but the modules are $700 each, but the lenses in the modules seem worth it. For two modules and the body you are looking at $1800.
  • The zoom modules use small sensors and basically have crap image quality. Avoid them.
  • The HD video sucks. Don’t use this camera for video unless you HAVE TO.
  • The future of the system? If this doesn’t sell then will Ricoh stop making Lens modules? Something to think about.

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My Bottom Line Conclusion on the Ricoh GXR

The GXR is a different kind of camera and there are so many unique  things about it that I have not even touched on yet in this now 5000 word review. There is Snap AF where you set a distance in the menu and anytime you go to fire the shot it is preset at that focus distance. You can also set it to infinity if you don’t want to mess with focusing. For example, you can set a distance for street shooting and not have to worry about AF or MF. It would be pre-set. Then there are other things like the detailed customization you can do with the color settings like change the hue of each color as well as the vibrancy.

There are so many things you can customize with the camera and  the menu interface is quick and easy  to understand. You can customize the buttons on the back and make the body your own. The one thing that makes this camera system stand apart from others though is the fact that it uses lenses already mated with a sensor. These are called “camera units” or as some call them “Lens Modules”.

With this comes the ability to mate a specific sensor to the Lens for perfect results. The lens module is almost like a camera system in itself. Each lens has a sensor perfectly matched for optimum results and each module will have different traits like ISO performance, color performance, etc. You also never have to worry about cleaning or damaging the sensor. It’s all enclosed safely in the metal housing. Just snap on the body and snap off when you want something different. It’s as easy as changing a lens and basically this is what you are doing. With the 28 and 50 Lens Modules you are basically paying $699 each for not only a kick ass semi fast lens, but also the sensor that will bring out the best of each lens.

Many say this camera is a gimmick or that they do not like the module idea. Personally, I think it is a great idea and see no downsides because with the GXR and the two good lens modules, the 28 and 50, you are buying into a “system” that will deliver beautiful and consistent results every time. The camera is small, built very well, feels good in the hand and has plenty of manual control. It may not be the sexiest looking camera out there and as a matter of fact, it is probably one of the LEAST Sexiest looking but the style is all Ricoh. It’s a photographers camera, not for  those looking for flash or trickery.

The downsides of this camera is that it does not have a swivel LCD (which I have grown to love with the NEX-5) and the lenses use leaf shutters so we are limited to shooting outdoors in sunlight with smaller apertures. No shooting at f/2.5 in full sun because the max shutter speed is 1/1000s when set at f/2.5. So those two things I do not like so much about the GXR but those are the only things that bothered me a bit.

So…the big question…is it worth a buy?

Only if you are wanting a camera that delivers fantastic results as a “system”. If you want a 28mm lens that can shoot in low light at 2.5 and give super color, detail, tonality and high ISO performance and also happens to have fast AF and pleasant Bokeh with a sensor perfectly mated to it for optimum results then yea, this is a killer setup. I was thinking and the GXR with the 28 module is not only faster than a Leica X1 in the AF department but it also has a little bit of a faster lens, focuses closer, and has equal or better high ISO performance. It is also more customizable and comes in at half the price of an X1. How about the Sony NEX-5? There currently is no AF lens for the NEX that is a 28mm equivilant. How about the Micro 4/3s cameras? Panasonic has the 14 2.5 Lens coming out that will deliver a 28 2.5 on Micro 4/3 but I have not had the chance to try yet. I can say that the sensors are smaller with M4/3 so the GXR should have better IQ and Dynamic Range regardless. The Panasonic lens is $400 but you are stuck with the M4/3 sensor. Again, the “modules” are starting  to make more sense the more and more that I think about it.

So all in all, the Ricoh seems like a misunderstood camera. Those who own one LOVE it. Those who don’t dismiss it because it is different. Me, I like it and I am having a blast shooting with it. The camera really is for  those who put quality photos first. For $1000 or so the body and 28mm would make a great starter set. Adding the 50 makes it much more versatile.

You can buy the GXR at AMAZON and using that link will help support this site, so if you do buy one and use my link, I THANK YOU!

When it is all said and done the choice is yours, all I can tell you is the camera delivers the goods even though it does it with less flash and pizazz than its competitors. The GXR is a solid system. I hope to see it grow in the future and get into the hands of some great photographers.

 

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  90 Responses to “The Ricoh GXR Digital Camera Review with the 28mm and 50mm Modules”

  1. Again, colour is great. Reminds me of provia, which is awesome. Still, I’m missing the proposed m-mount module, an EVF, somewhat higher ISO before I’d consider it.

  2. I like the look of that camera a lot.

    A really interesting, well written and reasoned test. Good job.

    It’s got me intrigued. I have been looking for a tough and strong compact to replace a dead Lumix..

    This may fit the bill. For me, however, I would prefer a lens with the equivalent of 35mm. My favourite length. 28mm is a little bit wide and 50mm a bit long.

  3. Hi Steve
    thank you so much for posting this review.
    Very interesting
    I have an odd request
    can you please post an image of the charger and the battery?
    if you get a chance.
    thank you in advance.
    am

  4. Ok, so there’s a clip-on EVF, I’d prefer an integrated rangefinder-style one. Ow well, since I’m asking: a fullframe Fuji X100 with m-mount please!

  5. A lot of green for what it is, but you’ve taken some great photos with it Steve.

  6. hey steve,
    nice review !
    would you say the files of the gxr 50 2.5 are better then the sigma dp 2 you reviewed a while ago ?
    thanks
    boris

  7. I’m impressed. I particularly like the sharpness of the photos on the night shot w/ the “Smirnoff” sign and the macro shot with the rusty word “OPEN”. That “Smirnoff” photo is not only sharp, colorful, but w/o much noise. Steve, what was the ISO of that shot?

    As for modules that contain sensor + lens, it adds to the price tag when you have to buy a sensor each time you buy a module. I think a more economical solution would have been interchangeable sensor module only, plus separate lenses (assuming such a thing is possible). So for example, given that the 28 and 50 most likely share the same APS-C sensor, allow for the use of the same sensor module for the two lenses. In essence, it would be the same concept as the rumoured upcoming M lens module. It would be a module containing just a sensor that could receive a variety of lenses. And for the point and shoot lovers w/ the zoom lens, there would be a sensor only module with a tiny sensor. Although I sincerely doubt anyone buying a GXR would want to buy such a module (whether it’s a tiny sensor + lens module, or a sensor only module).

    In any event, the photo quality from the GXR w/ 28 and 50 modules are pretty impressive.

  8. Nice review of that system! I’m on the fence about it but for sure its not a wrong way to go. You commented that you’re almost curious enough to look at the GRDIII. You will like it believe me. I’d buy the GRDIV in a second when it comes out with a 24-50. I regret half the days that I have the S95… and not the 28 GRDIII.

    • @hank…whats wrong with the s95 its a great little camera the grd is a fixed 28 mm lens , even if you only use the 28mm on your s95 the picture quality is as good or even better on the s95 ! + you have more control on the s95 then the ricoh.

      • I don’t know about the S95, but I have a S90 and a GRD III, and I much prefer the images from the GRD III. The lens is sharper, colours are better, the image is sharp all the way to the edges and barely any soft corners. The raw files are much more malleable as well, which is surprising, given that they use the same sensor.

        The S90 does have much better video than the Ricoh, though. This seems to be a bit of a theme in Ricoh cameras!

  9. Hi, Steve

    Longtime lurker, first time commenter.

    I’m inferring from your comment about the 28 mm lens really being an 18.3 mm lens, that Ricoh is labeling the lenses as their equivalent focal lengths and not as their real focal lengths. So, where the Lumix 20 mm is effectively a 40 mm lens (in 35 mm filmspeak), it’s still marketed as a 20 mm lens, because that’s exactly what it is.

    Is that true? Or is the 50 mm Ricoh lens different? The Panny 45 mm macro is effectively a 90 mm equivalent. I’d expect Ricoh’s macro to be a 75 mm or greater equivalent. Ricoh seems to have chosen a confusing way to label its lenses.

    • No, on the lens it is written 18.3mm and on the ’50mm’ lens it is written 33mm.

      The situation with the GXR is all its Camera units can be different sized sensors, ie the P10 is 1/2.3″ and the S10 is 1/1.7″ so their crop factors are all different so 5.1mm (24mm equiv) on the S10 is actually wider than the smaller numbered 4.9mm (28mm equiv) of the P10. No other camera has this ability to have mutiple sensor sizes and crop factors, so it’s easier for everyone to just refer to them all by their 35mm equivs, ie the P10 is referred to as 28-300mm rather than 4.9-52.5mm as is written on the lens.

  10. Thanks for your review, Steve, of the GXR and two A12 modules. I have been looking forward to your review of this camera for some time, as I value your opinion as a photographer who actually uses the cameras tested in real world situations.

    I, like Hank, from the previous comment, am still sitting on the fence regarding purchasing the GXR, although I have been a fan of Ricoh cameras for some time, and have used the GRD111 and GRD11 since they came out. The GRD111 is an exceptional little camera, and goes everywhere with me, due to it fitting in a coat pocket, and producing stunning images – hard to differentiate from my Pentax K7 files most of the time.

    Now that Ricoh have improved the autofocus with the new firmware, and produced the 28mm A12 it is starting to look like it may be time to invest in another Ricoh camera, and your very good review of this camera may be responsible for pushing me off the fence. The 28mm has not appeared at Ricoh dealers in the UK, but when available it may be time to make the purchase.

    I am delighted that you decided to give Ricoh the recognition they deserve, as they are a very innovative camera manufacturer who also make some stunning optics – although niche cameras to western photographers I believe they are very big in Japan, which may be the reason we have to wait ages for their products to appear over here.

    Regards,

    Andrew

  11. Thanks Steve for very thorough introductory review. I have had 5 digital cameras, and my favorite was the Ricoh GRD, which I’m very sorry I sold. I loved the b&w jpegs.
    There are two things you touched on, but didn’t go into detail about: manual focus & snap mode.
    I understand your preference for auto focus, and I hope in the future you could (or another reviewer perhaps?) offer your impressions of these two features, which turn the camera into something more akin to a traditional rangefinder.

  12. A very interesting review, Steve. My favorites are the night shots outside the stores. By the way, what a hoot with all the tinsel and Christmas decorations in the bar. How cool is that? LOL!

    • yes, very very interesting indeed.
      i was quite taken aback with the image quality i dare say. almost as if it was a completely different camera to the one you compared images against with the NEX-5 just previously. like dear Elaine, also enjoyed the XMas party frolic pics in extremis. almost psychedelic with those colors – felt like i was on an Acid trip! the B&W macro shots quite stunning as well. a very satisfying mix of modes here!
      i DO like the ‘boxiness’ of this beast! Utilitarian, almost. reminds me of some old war relic, which i love.
      thank you to be sure!…..gg

  13. Great review, I have been considering this camera for some time but now I think I will buy it after (through your site of course). One thing, some of the full size images downloads do not seem to work for me, not sure if they are working for others or not.

    • Sorry, just fixed that!

      • Just got to look at the big size images of the fixed images for the latte and the leaves. Amazing sharpness and detail on both. Very nice!

        Steve, can you post a video of the GXR’s AF speed under good lighting conditions, and then under poor lighting conditions? AF speed is important to me. As of right now, it appears (from what I’ve seen and read) that the NEX’s have the fastest contrast detect AF followed by Pany’s m4/3 with Samsung and Oly’s mirrorless bringing up the rear. Looks like the upcoming Pany GH2’s AF speed might be faster than the NEX though.

        Thanks!

  14. Thanks for your commentary. The first two pictures of your son’s eyes are very good.

    I was an early adopter of the GXR and I love the 50mm A12. For me, it is all about the A12 units. As you say, forget the small sensor units. I’ve been a fan of Ricoh cameras since my first GRD2 serious compact. I’m lucky enough to also have the 28mm A12.

    BTW the Ricoh EVF is very good (the best of all that I’ve tried), but I still prefer OVFs for seeing and framing. But I do a lot of manual focus and the EVF focus zoom is very, very useful.

    I like the GXR system (I’d like more A12s – the pace of new ones will be slow), and it does not bother me if others don’t like it because Ricoh is not a mass market camera company. I’d rather they focus on the best IQ possible in a compact camera and not on the masses.

    With the GXR, 50mm A12 and 28mm A12 and my Olympus E5 and Olympus glass all of my bases are covered and the IQ is astounding. What more can one ask for thee days! Good times.

  15. I hadn’t thought about the leaf shutter implications of the modules. Very interesting.

    I haven’t used a GXR, but I can tell you that I love my GRDIII, and the two look very similar in design. I bought my GRDIII sight-unseen and was thus very apprehensive about it, but it’s turned out to be worth every penny, even though the price is substantially higher than other compacts.

    The build quality is superb, with many pro-level features like a magnesium body with rubber-coated grip, and a locking mode dial. The controls are extensive: a control wheel AND a rocker-switch AND three custom modes AND two customizable buttons AND one-touch exposure compensation — this makes it significantly easier to use than any other compact I’ve ever handled. And despite all that, it’s not confusing (amazingly). I wasn’t expecting the handling to be half as good as it is.

    In terms of image quality, I haven’t been disappointed yet, which is more than I can say for all other compacts I’ve used. So far I’ve printed up to 9×12, which I’m plenty happy with, for a compact.

    I also like that the Ricohs are stylistically understated. The GRDIII looks exactly like the GRDII which looks exactly like the GRDI which looks almost exactly like the old film GR1 of the ’90s.

    I like that the focal length is fixed and the buffer is small – it encourages more thoughtful shooting. If I want long zooms and fast burst rate, I’ll use my SLR. My only (minor) complaint so far is that “RAW” mode is actually “RAW+JPG,” with no option to turn off the JPG, as far as I can tell.

    Since there aren’t many Ricohs in the wild here in the U.S. I though I’d chime in with my Ricoh experiences, even if it’s with a different camera. The GXR looks very similar to the GRD in terms of design and controls, and in my opinion that makes it very, very good. I don’t know if the module concept will take off, but I like that Ricoh is innovating, and whatever happens with the GXR, I hope the company continues to make exceptional no-nonsense cameras.

  16. Sweet looking camera, way too expensive considering that up front investment may be less but at 700 bucks for a lens module your getting near the pro range for slr glass, at least scraping the bottom of it. hell even good zeiss glass is around that price and up of course.

    • Yea but you are getting GREAT glass mated to a sensor. Not bad IMO.

      • Not bad if your just buying one or two, horrible if your buying 4 or 5. Depends on what your looking for end of day, a lot of people could be content with just one lens.

        • I don’t get where that line of thought is coming from. Yes buy 5 lens module will be expensive, but isn’t the same could be said if you buy an SLR body AND 5 more lens? That’s beyond horrible by your logic.

          • not at all, lets go with nikon since i almost memorize the canadian figures anyway

            Not at all, if you want to buy a whole set of lenses, and you get a camera with a built in sensor, your paying for lets say 5 lenses, 1 sensor, 1 body. With the ricoh your paying for 1 body, 5 sensors, 5 lenses. Over simplified obviously but that math would agree.

            the advantage being if you only want one or two lenses, you get the perfect sensor to go with those, as slr sensors have to be “jack of all trades”

  17. Thanks Steve. Nice work. The GXR has been on my short list. I have had a 28mm module on order for a bit but just today I decided to pick up an NEX5 from my local camera store. Love it do far. Crazy fun at ISO 3200. The screen is an awesome feature.

  18. Hi steve thanks for the review. I don’t care for the ”system” yeah, you get a paired lense with the sensor but lenses last 10-15-20 years, not 5, they last for millions of actuations, not 100000, Also, where is the aperture ring? I guess I missed in your review that you can focus on the lens, I am sure you can (i will have to re-read it, I am quite tired I may have skipped pieces and bits). I will never buy a lense without an aperture ring ever again. I learned that with the NEX5… geez, you can use anything…ANYTHING on it…as long as you have an aperture ring… Mind you I love the look of the pics you took withthe ricoh. Great rendition whatever real life looks like these look sweet. I will definetely stop shooting RAW and not care about the settings and I will try warmer, vibrant and all that crap to see what it does. I bought into the Leica M because of manual lenses, I added an NEX5 to it because I have a comparable shooting experience in a tighter package (yes it needs an add-on EVF) mostly for traveling. So far the the GRX can be shot with 2 lenses…28mm, good for travelling and 50mm good for macro and single subjects…. WHAT else, no 90, no 120, no 85, no nothing. Sorry man if the system generates enough funds to beef up the lense quiver and keep the R&D going, it may survive. Otherwise it is doomed… An M module would be sweet but what about the horrible dust the modules were supposed to protect you against… I hope the sensor will be dustrepellant… Good luck to them and I really like the look of the pics. Just a real bad design strategy IMHO, You see with a bayonette, you could adapt anything to it… Aren’t you upset at Ricoh? Cheers and keep shooting, i”ll keep reading.

    • I agree Francis, a good lens will last decades, a sensor is very unlikely to. Also, the complexity of the system means that you’re unlikely to see third parties making lenses for it, like we see with Micro Four Thirds.

      I agree with Steve though, I’m glad to see someone doing something a bit different, and maybe Ricoh will surprise us with a new body with built in EVF or something and show us the strengths of the system.

      I think Ricoh have gone the wrong way, but that’s probably better than making another “me too” product.

  19. Oh I got the bit about manual focus… I did skip it by mistake…cheers!

  20. Steve, thanks for the great review, as always. GXR has been my second system next to the M9, the biggest gripe I have with the 50 is the shutter speed. 1/1000th makes it unusable in my part of the world, where it’s summer all year round with 10 hours of sunshine per day. Now I’m waiting for the 28.

  21. @Eric
    I think your right. IMHO I don’t think this a system where people buy multiple lenses and stuff.
    Speaking for myself, I would want to keep it light and simple, body + 28 and 50. Between these 2 lenses I feel like I can cover almost anything I normally shoot.
    Sigh, my wallet is not going to like this.

    • yeah -.- i wished the 28 mm was launched much earlier i bought the p10 + body and added the 50 mm now i must get the 28 mm, scenery pictures are just unavoidable….

  22. Wow Steve, you can bend that thumb quite a lot!

  23. Steve,

    On a couple of occasions you mention no dust being able to get on the sensor? Is there something in the design that stops this are you just saying it because there is no interchangeable lens? Cos I used to work in a camera shop and I’ve seen a couple of compacts with dust or dirt on the sensor. Plus my X1 rexently came back from Solms as a result of having a big blob of dust on the sensor.

    • The only issue may be with the zoom lens getting dust via the lens barrel, which could reach the sensor. It was mentioned on another website’s review. These two lenses Steve mentions won’t get dust in them as they are sealed, according to Ricoh and other reviews.

  24. “The AF of the 28mm module is much faster than the 50mm”

    Not true with the firmware 1.29.

    Best regards.

  25. Thanks Steve, for a great review. For whatever reasons, many get hung up discussing the GXR concept and never realise how good a photog’s tool Ricoh has produced with the GXR and the two prime lenses. Hopefully a short tele will be added soon and the “digital CL” is born.
    Rumors are Ricoh is working on a 24-70mm equiv. aps-c sensor module, which would be a great addition to the system. Concerning the price of the lenses, they are optically excellent, precision built like tanks (metal), the 50mm has a pull out lens shade (a la Leica Cron 50). Comparably performing primes for mft (pana 45 macro) or dslrs are not priced lower. I have not a technical background, but when looking at the 50mm equiv. lens module, the back, i.e. camera mount block, can easily be unscrewed and removed. Maybe Ricoh is going to surprise as and offer upgradable sensor/electronic mounts matched to older GXR lenses in future. That would make sense, wouldn’t it.

    • the 50mm has a pull out lens shade (a la Leica Cron 50)

      I’ve been using it for weeks now and did not know that, I must have skipped over it in the lens manual. Thanks for letting me know!

  26. I think most people me included mentionned the high quality of the pictures. If anyone at ricoh reads this they get a great marketing survey and know why they do not get their bonuses. They ha the chance to be what the nex5 is today but better. They have the evf

  27. It is a terrible system. Terrible.

    You are pairing the most frequently upgradeable part of the system (sensor) to the least (lenses). You are forced to pay for a sensor with every lens purchase. And when those sensors will become obsolete, you are forced to also have the lenses sit in the corner, gather dust.

    Whoever was in charge of engineering/marketing this must not have been quite sane.

    • Untrue. The System is NOT terrible. Anyone who has used one will tell you this. Why would a sensor become obsolete when it already has 12 megapixels, great low light performance, great color and superb sharpness and detail? Also, is it better to buy a really great lens paired with a matched sensor for $699 or to spend $2500-$7000 on a new body every two years?

      I could understand this argument if it was 2005 and sensor technology was still producing dodgy sensors but the image sensors of today are very very good and can easily stand the test of time.

      Will there be new sensor technology in the near future? Of course. Will that make these lens modules obsolete? No!

      Using your thinking, any camera we buy today is disposable. If this is true, why do we all go out and buy Leica M9’s, Leica X1’s, etc? They all have the sensor attached so does this mean these cameras will be gathering dust because they can no longer take a nice image?

      Of course not.

      The GXR is a great system and if you put quality over gadgetry it comes out on top.

      • It does not go obsolete, it goes bad… Like any photo sensitive material, it just decays as it gets exposed to light… Nothing bad about it, this is how it is. Solar panels do the same, they just decay over time. And yes the cameras are disposable now. The body is worth a fraction of its value 2 years after ou buy it new. The only thing that keeps the value of some leica bodies is that the M9 is so darn expensive. again, the M8 went from what 5K-6K (I dunno how much it was then) I bought my m8.2 less than 3K (wow less than 3K how lucky am I) 18 months after it came out… there was 400 actuations on it, the guy did not know how to use an RF. My Rebel Xt, that I bought 1200 was sold 3 years later for 250. Look at the M9, some are for sale on your site for close to $2000 less than new, they are a few months old. Man, smell the coffee, cameras are disposable, that is why now any system that let me use the great leica glass in a tight package is winning my business… Just for the feel of it, the weight, the speed, the smoothness. But yeah man they are disposable, 100000 actuations and your machine is fried. I just went to check the the local shop used stuff, Nikon d60 for 300$ with lense, canon rebel Xt (these are 5-6 years old right) 175$, an SLR for less than a P&S. if you look at the lenses, the prices still make sense, the 50 f1.4 at 400$ is I guess what the guy paid for 10 years ago. Man the body dies, loses value, this is how world now so please, at least let’s keep those lenses. my dad bougt a Canon A1 in the 70’s, we got rid of it in 1997 with a faulty light meter for 250$. He lost about 400$ on it in close to 20 years. Not too shabby, one can lose close to a thousand dollar on a 2 year old Nikon D700. Yeah man, disposable, you saw what happened when people stopped buying last year… Economic crisis. So we should all buy Ricoh, and throw the lense with the sensor cuz the sensor will die on you, eventually and way before the lense is dead.

        • This is simply wrong.

          CCD sensors don’t go off because of exposure to visible light. They do over time VERY slowly get hot or dead pixels due to cosmic ray hits, but the firmware in nearly every camera compensates for this when you do a dark frame subtraction.

          The *much* more common way for sensors to degrade is through exposure to dirt. Not a problem with this system.

    • Well, this does not make it a terrible system, but there is a point in your comment. However – in the mean time Ricoh announced the M-module – which is basically what you pointed out – a module that holds only the sensor. But once Ricoh decided to make this step I do not see a problem for them to separate the lens/sensor unit into two. Indeed – if they decide to go that way there will always be a caveat that not all lenses will be compatible to all sensors.

      Right now – they are only halfway – the cheapest part is the one that stays if new lens/sensor module is released (which cost 2 – 3 times as much as the body).

      But I think Ricoh is on the right track and I do hope they will introduce separate lens and sensor units (at least the APS-C sized ones) as separate ones. I guess they first need to sell enough of the lens units they developed before going to next level (probably with an updated body – just guessing). Than I will get the camera immediately. Right now I still consider the X1.

  28. It’s an interesting system, and if I was looking for a new digital camera, I’d consider it, but it’s very, very expensive, in the UK, with the 50mm it’s about £800, you could buy a NEX kit for half that. It’s a shame, as I’m sure the Ricoh is great camera.

    Note : I used to own a Ricoh GX200, it worked fantastically, the best usability of any digital camera I’ve used, but the small sensor quality was poor.

  29. Hi Steve, thanks for your short review! Most people don’t understand the target of this system. Keeping in mind that APS-C sensors are no more very expensive items but glass and the manufacturing of lenses (also for modules), Ricoh as an electronic co. will introduce more modules which may not be directly usable for ‘norma’ photography. As mass storage devicesv- just click in or small beamer (bigger and better than those in the Nikon P&S, and, and….

    The marketing people at Ricoh didn’t like to launch another mount on top of Nikon, Canon, m4/3, Pentax, Sony, Sigma…..did I forget some? ;-)…. but they matched the properties of sensor, register and other very important physical properties to get the best out of every combination.
    When we see a fixed mount like the M and the problems with color of a M9 paired with wide angle lenses, it’s easy to understand why Ricoh didn’t walked the Milky Way.
    Last year I tested a GRDIII and, coming from a D300 I totally underrated this light and tiny cam. But it’s a black beast and very powerful in terms of fast action, UI and the quality of the lens/sensor combination.
    In Japan the GRDs are absolutely cult with own magazines and the GXR is on the best way to follow.
    The choice of a 28mm equ. module is not just made by random, it’s to provide people the same fov as the GRD with better resolution and high Iso quality.

    After launching the 28mm, the cam is my next buy because I’m a wide angle shooter and when the rumoured M-mount module will be launched, a Voigtlander 12 or 15mm with APS-C will provide much better results than these lenses put on a m4/3 with the known problems. OK enough…
    Cheers
    Bernie

    PS: a pic from the GRDIII[img]http://www.flickr.com/photos/36573929@N00/4279730108/in/set-72157623097883441/[/img]

  30. So wait, the 28mm is really 18.3; does that mean that the 50mm is really 38mm (or something)?

    Guess it doesn’t matter really, but it IS kind of confusing labeling.

    It says “28mm” on the box (not “28mm equivalent”), but “18.3mm” on the lens.

    I think that’s the first time I’ve seen a company do that. Strange.

    Not a criticism of the camera though. Looks like a fine and innovative product.

    • I mentioned in another reply that the GXR is unique as the only camera that uses multiple sensor sizes in the one system, hence multiple crop factors. So the 18.3mm on the P10 Camera unit is nothing whatsoever the same as the 18.3mm on the A12-50mm Camera unit, and ditto the 6.0mm of the S10 to the 18.3mm of the A12-28mm which are both 28mm equiv., so they are meaningless comparable measurements. Leave it written on the lens for the pedantics, but otherwise a 35mm equiv cross-sensor standard measurement is the best way to go in my opinion.

      Everyone I know of refers to the GRD III as a 28mm anyway, not as a 6.0mm (28mm-equivalent). I say get used to the word ‘equivalent’ being dropped as things evolve. It’s like the word ‘clone’ has been dropped from the similar situation in computer land equivalency to the standard IBM PC™, so ‘PC-clone’ has eventually become just standard ‘PC’ now.

    • I saw so many confusion here. OK, to get the records straight, the 50mm is the EFOV. The 28mm is the EFOV. It does not matter what is the actual FOV because you can’t use the lens on other bodies.

  31. Steve, are you sure the 50m equiv. lens module had the FW upgraded? Some of your comments relating to AF speed make me believe it might not be the case. With the new FW, the Ricoh (macro lens) focuses about twice as fast as the X1. Also, those who have both modules confirm AF speed to be comparable for both. But in your test, you mention fast AF only to be the case for the 28mm equiv. module.

    • The 50mm lens has a macro function. Macro lenses have a different throw compare to non-macro lenses. There must be more turns of the inner tubus to run a certain distance. For macro shots it’s necessary due to very small focus adjustments. This might be the reason that the 50mm lens isn’t so fast in focusing as the 28mm. The real bottleneck is the contrast detection method, upgraded by firmware releases.

  32. yeah the november update makes the 50 mm real fast, no complains there.
    I don’t have the 28 mm yet, will be buying one, here is how a jpg photo from the camera looks like with only “shadow” improved on iphoto and nothing else.
    Here is also a P10 sample unedited, the p10 with the 1/2.3″ back illuminated cmos sensors are puny but usable..i used it because didn’t have the 28 mm yet and the zoom works decently.

    50mm shadow improved via iphoto
    [img]http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc431/magneto73/R0012884.jpg[/img]

    P10 no editing
    [img]http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc431/magneto73/R0013018.jpg[/img]

  33. I’m in the “don’t like the module idea” camp, what if they don’t sell well and Ricoh stop production of them, ok you have a camera and whatever modules but if the camera part faults then your kinda screwed, plus both modules have quite slow glass when compared to primes from Nikon/Canon, they do however look to be very sharp.

    I just can’t see this working in the long term, not many camera shops/online here in the UK even stock the GXR which isn’t a great start

    • Ricoh is a niche product… just like Leica. Ricoh’s sell well in Japan I would imagine. Additionally, if they stop production on this unit, the camera will still work fine. Slow glass? Not many 28mm lenses that are faster in reality (only a handful). If you are a dslr fan, you will never understand the appeal of these types of cameras. I’m glad I do.

      • I agree. I am no longer a DSLR fan AT ALL. I just can not shoot with a DSLR. I am testing the Pentax K5 and am having a hard time getting to like it. NOT because it is not a killer DSLR but because I just do not like shooting DSLR’s anymore, AT ALL. PLUS, the Ricoh and 28/50 module deliver better performance (IQ WISE) than the Pentax with a limited prime lens. Out of all of the smaller cameras out there, the GXR has been my fave IQ wise of any of them. Also, strongest feeling construction of any of the small cameras.

        True, if the GXR is no longer made the camera and lenses will still work fine.

  34. Great review! I’ve been on the fence regarding the Ricoh GXR and I haven’t been sure about the whole module thing. But after reading this I might just get one after this New Year’s for the stellar IQ and the build quality.

  35. […] lens. Not too long ago Steve Huff gave a raving real world review of this combo, which you can read here. And I will posting another article about this camera early next year. Partly ´cause Ricoh […]

  36. Purchased and received my Ricoh GXR A12 28mm today, and I absolutely love this little camera. It only remains to take it out and shoot some pictures with it, but I am confident that the IQ will be excellent, and confirm what most reviewers have said about the two A12 lensors.

    Thanks, Steve, for your review which was the one to finally convince me to buy, and look forward to getting the A12 50mm later in the year – and hoping Ricoh will eventually have a sales success when the GXR system matures. When I say sales success I refer to Europe and USA, as I believe in Japan Ricoh has a huge cult following with even magazines devoted to Ricoh photography.

    I think my DSLR will be gathering a bit of dust from now on as the GXR feels so light, nimble and discreet in comparison – the only negative is the slower a/f (much improved with latest firmware) , but one can make use of Snap Focus, which works well on the 28mm and I don’t shoot sports.

    regards,

    Andrew

  37. I currently own the ricoh gxr with S10, and I am planning on purchasing one of the A12 lens .
    However I don’t know much about camera and I wanna get one of the macro lens to take better quality photos (eg. portraits) but I will also use it to take daily shots
    Which one would you suggest I get if I were to choose between either 50 mm or 28mm?
    I’d really appreciate your advice, thanks!

  38. Also, I know that if I purchase A12 50mm it will be at its latest upgraded firmware, but will A12 28 mm need to be separately updated for firmware?

    thank youuu

  39. Steve, throughout your review you keep emphasizing the importance of the “mated glass and sensor”.
    The only interest I would have in a camera like this if for the flexibility of mount options. I’d like to be
    able to buy a sensor modules with an interchangeable mount for several different standards – an M42 screw mount would probably be the easiest in terms of being a universal standard. But what about
    lens modules for the Canon FD, the Contax/Yashica, Olympus M, Konica and others that have been
    abandoned by their original companies? The ability to use these lenses in a manual or a aperature preferred automation mode would certainly appeal to a broad range of folks. Since the units would be
    customized for the various options, the film plane to back of lens focusing problem would be solved,
    and the only downside the dust potential when changing lenses – no different than with available DLSRs.

  40. Great potential for a 2 body (backup) system.
    The GXR-System looks like a perfect travel camera to me. I use a Nikon D 300 and D 7000 for light travel with 3-4 prime lenses, but my definition of light travel gear looks diiferent now. For light travel I am thinking of getting 2 GXR bodies and the prime modules, looks like a no brainer considering the price of the GXR body.

    Steve I love the site no BS, fun to read, great value for the money.

  41. I am hoping for a fast 90mm lens module. The 28, 50 and a 90 would made a fine travel combo. The idea of a quiete shutter travel camera is very tempting to me

  42. Love this little wonder camera… The body and 28mm prime combo is an ideal street shooter:))) Amazingly small and produces quality image files!!! And yeah a 90 lens module would complete it for me too;) This is what Leica should have done!!!

    http://flic.kr/p/9CKUwa

    [img]http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5022/5666814493_937fc0060d_m.jpg[/img]

  43. […] SteveHuffPhoto.com Dpreview.com […]

  44. Hey folks been through the review and I really don’t know why you fuss about the “is it an 18.3mm” or a “28mm”.How long will it last? A camera is meant for shooting with it. What’s the use of having a M 9 if you don’t use it everyday or such or such lenses? A camera is meant to take pictures. when it’s worn out, there will be another one to take over. why bother; if you want quality pictures and think that this camera does the job well just go for it whatever the criticism you may have read about it. I’ve owned a few cameras (films ones ) and they went bust (minolta cle, contax 139 + a contax G1+21,28,35,45mm)now i’ve gone digital though I’d like to find a leica M4. Ricoh cameras are just fine with me. I’ve got a GRDIII and it does wonders. I killed the lens ice climbing but got it replaced with ricoh 2 years guarantee. I’m gonna buy a GXR very soon cause I love the feel of the ricoh cameras but I know some time or other I will have too change cause it won’t work anymore. despite Leica’s advert (though I’m sure a M3 or M4 will last a lifetime) we are mortals aren’t we and so are cameras!

  45. Apparently the prototype of the m-mount module for the Ricoh GXR has appeared at a recent trade shot in Japan.

    See photo here:
    http://www.grblog.jp/2011/05/25/

  46. Hi RichNYC:

    I could be wrong about this, but I believe this new photo is the first image of the module without an m-mount lens attached. Also, I think they (Ricoh) said it was to have a focal plane shutter, if so should we be seeing the sensor in the open like this? I am not big on camera tech, so I don’t know if this is odd or not?

    Levent

  47. […] Inderdaad iets anders, en niet superveel over te vinden op het net. Daarom nog enkele links : http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2010/1…-50mm-modules/ http://wouter28mm.wordpress.com/2009…/making-light/ […]

  48. UPS…just dropped off the GXR with 50mm lens at my house. It looks like a very fine camera and I think it will be an adventure learning how to use it!

    Thanks for this product review Steve!

  49. Stop saying “BASICALLY” so much!

  50. Wow, Steve, your images and review has sold me on this camera… my friend is selling his with the 28mm lens for 700.00 US! VERY VERY Slightly used.

    after reading the review i am sold on it….

    thanks again for the great work!

  51. Thank You for this great article! I bought one …

    Tom Gundelwein

  52. I have never written a review or posted a comment on a blog before, but I think the Ricoh GXR deserves to be the subject of my first post ever :)
    FOR ME, this is the ideal compact camera to have next to my D700.
    I was looking for something I could bring with me every day, deliver high quality images, have a solid build quality,easy access to manual shooting options and a viewfinder.
    The Ricoh GXR is the only camera I have come across that suits all these needs.
    At first, after extensive internet research, I decided that either the Finepix X100 or X10 would be the perfect camera for me. But after shooting with both I had some complaints.
    Focussing was off quite some time when using the X100, and although the build quality is solid, it didn’t feel “bombproof”.
    Focussing was better on the X10, but image quality appeared a bit less (still very good!) to me.
    I had read about the Ricoh system before, but it having mixed reviews made me discard it from my shortlist the first time.
    When the Finepix camera’s didn’t convince me immediately, I started looking at alternatives again. Sony has very good IQ, but didn’t work that intuitive for me. I wanted a more “pro” feeling to handling the camera. Of course this is a personal opinion, but so is this entire post :)
    Suddenly I came back to the Ricoh again. When reading the reviews again, one of the bigger problems seemed to be the high price and if you like their sensor+lens changing system or not. IQ (with the right lens), build quality and customizing options all seemed top notch. The X100 is around €1000, and the Ricoh with 50mm macro lens + viewfinder was around €1100. Prettty much the same… This also made me think about the argument that “the Ricoh doesn’t sell that well, what if they stop making the lenses?”. Well, then I would have a great 50mm camera… It’s no different that having bought a X100. You also pay about the same and have no option of changing lenses.
    So I decided to shoot with it a few days, and it convinced me completely.
    It feels more solid to me than both Finepix camera’s it has all the dial, turns and knobs I want. Many customisable buttons, easy acces to many often used functions and apperture/shutter time. IQ is great, almost up to DSRL standards.
    Focussing is fast enough (slower in macro mode, but this no problem for me) and the viewfinder works well.
    It feels like it is very well built, which is also an important point for me.
    The sensor+lens changing system is actually very smart and ingenious as far as I’m concerned. A sensor to perfectly match the lens and the other way around.
    “Cheap” zoom lens options, making it a good holiday shooter, and very good primes for “pro use”, make this a very versatile camera.
    I have also bought the 28mm lens yesterday, and can not wait for it to arrive.
    All in all I believe this to be an excellent camera and camera system! Is it expensive? Yes.
    Is it too expensive for what you get? I believe not.
    After receiving my 28mm, I look at it like this: I will have the same as 2x Finepix X100’s (in Image Quality). One 50mm and one 28mm. For €1600 instead of €2000 (a X100 costing €1000). And besides that, I believe the Ricoh to be a bit better build, has no sticky apperture blades problem and better customizing options.
    So for me, the Ricoh GXR system is a winner!

    • I bought a ricoh GXR + 28mm to have as an everyday camera and replace my grd3 as 2nd camera to my leica M+ elmar24 and cron 35 and don’t regret it. Of course colours are warmer than the leica yet I just love it. They are plenty of things I appreciate. It’s light, small, working the camera settings is child play and so handy (a real photographer’s tool unlike the x100 on that point) and focusing is fast though sometimes some images can be blurred because of the AF (had the same problem with the grd3 but didn’t mind) and I still don’t mind. You’ve got distortion sometimes but you got so many IT programs to fix it that I don’t mind either. I just love that camera and hope I can get the new M mount to try my leica lenses on it. Since shooting the grd3 the 28 mm has become my favorite lens. You can just do anything from lanscape photography to portrait (not close-up) with 1 lens only. you can also reframe some shots with the aps-c sensor. The customizing options are just great. I just don’t agree when you say it’s too expensive as you get a fantastic camera with an excellent lens for less than 1000 Euros. The new lens hood is fantastic. The only missing thing is the viewfinder but the electronic one seems great and that will be my next buy for sure. I just look forward to mountaineering this summer to see how it works on glaciers. So far it’s been a winner for me as well.

    • I have X100 and X10 and GXR and I totally agree. Pictures out of the GXR System are much better in every respect it my eyes. But that is my personal opinion.

  53. […] it Ricoh GXR! Anyway, here's a review/comparison done my Steve Huff : 28mm and 50mm modules : The Ricoh GXR Digital Camera Review with the 28mm and 50mm Modules | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS M-mount module against the NEX7 : Sony NEX-7 with wide angle Leica lenses – A quick test and […]

  54. Dear Steve, I am almost twice as old as you are, ( I am 72), but I have enjoyed your articles
    and photos enormously! The best thing: it feels like I know you and your son personally.
    Now the Ricoh GXR is my favourite (I have a collection of about 200 old cameras, all of the
    good old analogue stuff, Contarex, Voigtlander Prominent etc….) I use the macro a lot, but
    I think it is a bit too slow, so there I use Olympus macrofourthirds , now and then)

    Keep on writing your articles, they are simply brilliant, and instructive!
    What more can we readers want?
    Best regards Dagfin b Wagner in Herning, Denmark

  55. Dear Steve,

    Totally Agreed your points! Ricoh Camera is amazing.. I have own P10 and A12 50mm. Both lens I loving it so much! Even I have using Pro DSLR but GXR is the only one camera give me realistic color and superb photo that I never seen before.

    Thanks for your great review and let me know more about the camera.. Looking for Ricoh develop a “Full Frame” module..

  56. Been very interested in the GXR (with A12 50mm Macro) for a while, but my budget could never stretch to it.

    Having recently acquired a GRD II, my interest in the GXR grew even greater. Ricoh really know how to assemble a camera, and the thought of a camera with GRD build quality and an APS-C sensor was something I needed to own!

    Thankfully, I managed to stumble upon a great deal for the GXR body and 50mm Macro at Clifton Cameras (UK retailer). The cost? £349 for the pair, about the price of a low end macro lens for a DSLR. What’s more, they offer 12 months interest free credit too!

    Very excited about my new purchase and already looking at the A12 28mm and A12 M mount modues!

  57. I would just like to say that Ricoh rules,Image both the GRD 3 and the GXR with 28mm and 50mm .
    People are sheep,and don’t look elsewhere, when being asked about my GRD 3 by a female personage I was told that it must be a cheap Chinese camera ,as she had never heard of it. LIke most idiots they go for Olympus or Sony cameras,as they remember the names. I would never buy into that brand name way of taking photos. Ricoh rule.

  58. Hi Steve. I really enjoyed your article on the GXR and became fascinated by it (D200 getting a little heavy to lug around in my old age). So on the strength of your article I found an almost new body and new old stock A12 units. You didnt lie. I’m blown away by the quality of the images and the ease of use of the camera. I love the rich colour and tonal range, the exceptional file information in the RAW images giving me detail in deep shadow and blown highlights, but most of all I’m discovering B&W photography all over again. Thanks so much for your great article (and some terrific test photos; particularly liked the night shots) which has opened a rediscovered world. H-P Verhoeven UK

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