What would you have Ricoh do with the GXR?

Discussion in 'Ricoh' started by Luckypenguin, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    There are a few members of the forum here who have used and in some cases still do use a Ricoh GXR camera. The GXR concept is a little odd, logical from a certain point of view, but perhaps also flawed. Odd because it was (and remains) a unique idea, logical because it allowed you to use the one camera body with a variety of different sized sensor and lens units, but flawed because the lenses were permanently attached to each lens and would become dated together. So far there has only been one Ricoh GXR body which is purposeful looking, nicely sized and with a good number of external controls even if it doesn't do everything that I had hoped it might.

    I believe that we are three years from the camera's initial release, which these days seems like a long time. A criticism of the GXR was always that if you wanted to upgrade your sensor, you needed to buy another lens at the same time, and if you wanted to buy another lens you also had to pay for the sensor attached to it. This criticism has proven to be only half true since there have only been a limited number of modules anyway and no upgrades of existing modules, which brings me to the point of this post. Is there a future for the GXR? In asking that question I recognise that the current APS-C prime modules have optically great lenses and a nice 12MP Sony sensor inside them which have, do, and will continue to take great looking photos. Like just about any current camera you could continue to enjoy them as long as the keep working. The problem that I find with the 28 and 50 modules is that compared with their current peers they feel quite dated in their operation, most notably in that they have noisy motors in the tradition of Ricoh's compact camera lenses and their focus speed is lagging. Competition doesn't allow anyone to stand still for long. Note that I haven't tried any of the zoom modules or the M-mount so I can't make a comment on them.

    It seems to me that the GXR has reached a point where to remain competitive enough to sell in the curret market it could do with a large scale upgrade of the existing modules, some new modules, and even a new body option or two. This would amount to a big enough change where you might consider changing tack and scrapping the module concept altogether. The rumours of the next GRD having a full APS-C sensor further bring into question the future of GXR. I'm curious to know what other people's views are on this subject. For instance would you see Ricoh:

    - Continue the GXR concept as is
    - Separate future modules into lens and sensor to create a three piece unit i.e separate body, sensor, and lens
    - Offer modules to suit other open formats i.e. Micro Four Thirds
    - Move to a conventional body & sensor + lens format, maybe even with a two branded approach including Pentax for better market penetration
    - Move to Sigma DP style arrangement of individual camera/sensor/lens units utilising the one body design i.e multiple versions of a GRD camera with 28, 50, 80(ish), and even some zoom lenses as per the current GXR modules.
    - Let the idea fade away :frown:
    - There are already enough options available outside of Ricoh to worry too much about it anyway :frown: :frown:
  2. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    I'm not sure what the future holds for the GXR. I had the sytsem for a few weeks and if not for the Fujis, I probably would have stuck with it. I like an APS-C ILC. And I think the way the old GXR system existed, people would see beautiful lenses (or lensors) become "outdated" because of the sensor "part". Some may want more megapickles......others may want modern high ISO results. Either way....sensor technology marches on. I think having separate lens and sensor modules (and body modules....they never released another body) makes sense.

    And how about this for innovation....Let's say they have a 25mm lens module. Now assume we are in the future and they have different sensor modules as well. Pop in a four thirds sensor for 50mm FOV or a full frame module for a nice wide angle. How about popping in the Pentax Q sensor and use the 5.6x crop factor and you can have a fast 140mm on the cheap.

    It's probably too weird and would be difficult for novices to understand. But it was a niche system to begin with....maybe it could work.

    A totally different idea I have is that Ricoh makes a full frame GXR that has a Pentax K mount and also comes with a Leica M mount adapter. I'll count them as down, but I won't count them as out.
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  3. Biro

    Biro Super Moderator

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    K-mount module with auto-focus. I know that's a narrower request than you're talking about.
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  4. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Not at all. Essentially I'm just spitballing ideas that would keep Ricoh and the GXR fresh and relevant. The K-mount module would fit in nicely with option 3 and makes total sense now that Ricoh owns Pentax, albeit it would have the same problems faced by the K-01 with respect to compatibility of body and lens and the problem of autofocus with PDAF specific lenses. If it would sell cameras to existing Pentax owners then it would be a good thing, although I would see that as being a nice sideline rather than an overall solution. I'm a fairly big advocate of the idea that cameras live and die with the systems that support them, and that for the GXR (or other Ricoh alternative) to survive it first and foremost needs a healthy, native system of lenses/lensors.

    I take it that you would be interested in a GXR if there was a K-mount module available, but could you then also see yourself using the GXR with it's native lenses/lensors as well?
  5. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    Bring the Ricoh APS cameras up to date (largely, improved sensor performance) in some form but keep the Ricoh rendering.
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  6. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Now that would take some mental arithmetic to keep track of! I really do like the idea of the three piece camera, though.
  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    If Ricoh wants the GXR to survive - not at all clear, although rumors suggest that they might - they absolutely need to update it. Both the bodies and some of the lens units. That said, I'm just not sure how successful it would ever be. I've got the GXR with the 28mm equivalent lens and I absolutely love it for what it is. Which to me is just a souped up GRD model, a bit larger but with an overwhelmingly more useful sensor and just a wonderful way of rendering images - not sure exactly what it is about it, but I love the look of the files that camera produces. I love the little thing and will continue to even if they never change it. Its sort of an ultimate little zone focus street camera for me, in my favorite focal length and aspect ratio, and its good enough in low light, even if others are surpassing it. Its AF is insanely slow - way slower than any of the Fujis (that people complain about a lot more), but AF has never really been the point of this camera for me. So I don't have a big personal investment in Ricoh updating it - or not.

    But in other focal lengths, it would have to be a lot better to ever lure me in. And I doubt I'd buy the upgrade if they ever change it. Because I don't really feel any affinity to the whole "lensor" concept and there's nothing else in the line that interests me. They've done a pretty good job of keeping the "lensor" prices competitive with good ILC "lenses", so its not the real downside it is conceptually, but it just seems somehow wrong to have to replace a really nice 28mm equivalent lens just to get an updated sensor and updated body. The market, for better or worse, seems to agree with this sentiment. For sure, they could make an m43 module to shoot m43 lenses, and other modules for other lens types. But what are they realistically gonna bring to the party that Olympus and Panasonic aren't already?

    There's a side of me that hopes Ricoh survives as a brand and an approach, separate from even if incorporated with Pentax. Because they've always had their own way of doing things. I remember selling Ricoh SLRs back in the early '80s and they were just always a smaller brand that I loved putting up against the Canons and Nikons of the day. They were always great values, if not at the cutting edge. And always did things sort of their own way.But in these days of such overwhelming technical advancement, I don't know if a little operation like their's can really compete. And I don't know if an idea like the GXR can compete long term, even in the hands of a much bigger company.

    • Like Like x 1
  8. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    What I didn't mention clearly in the OP is that in the last month or so I've had the chance to use a GXR with both the 28 and 50 modules which has prompted this question. Personally I've come to like Ricoh cameras after owning a series of their compacts up 'til 2010 and they were all no-nonsense, well built, intuitive cameras...just like the GXR but without the large sensor IQ. Like Ray I appreciate the GXR exactly how it is, especially the 12MP sensor which may not be the latest and greatest but is wonderful all the same. I just wonder what the future holds for it as a system.




  9. Booka

    Booka Regular

    Jul 5, 2011
    Well i'm sure they have a wonderful board of directors and plenty of camera engineers working on it already, but that doesn't me from dreaming.

    The biggest design problems are keeping what's good with ricoh design, incorporating it into the pentax system, and making it unique and profitable at the same time.

    Key points on what i would try to incorporate.
    -Same as existing user interface
    -FF sensor, with micro lenses for compatiblity with wideangle lens compared to sony's shoddy color shift issues.
    -A new short flange distance mount for FF sensor
    -3 autofocus lenes 24mm, 35mm, 85-105mm
    -The lens's must be small, no more than 6cm for total depth of camera
    -M-mount adapter
    -Pentax K mount AF-adapter similar to Sony's alpha to nex http://tinyurl.com/bog6d3z
    -built in EVF, focus peaking etc

    It would be nice to see these implemented into a reborn GXR system, maybe it's not quite the same design intention as with the module system and varying sensor size to form a complete system, but this is what i want to see from a camera maker, especially from ricoh.
    The 24,35,105 lenses are not what ricoh has traditionally gone with prefering 21,28,40, but the new set may make it more popular in western markets where living/social environments aren't as cramped.

    If the GXR becomes a FF evf-mirrorless system and the GRD becomes a 28mm optical viewfinder ultracompact(with 21mm,40 options)
    Then i would be very pleased.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. christilou

    christilou Legend

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    I really liked my GXR with the A12 50mm lens unit and for a long time I coveted the 28mm module. The price was just too much though and by the time I saw a few offers about in the UK, I'd given up and switched to the EM5. Although I've considered getting another many times, the fact that sensor technology has moved swiftly on has put me off because ultimately, the Ricoh lenses cannot be used on anything else. A reasonably priced K mount adapter may have allowed me to expand the system. AF could have been better too, particularly on the 50mm unit. Whenever I see the pictures though, I'm tempted, so thanks for that Lucky P :)
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    I'm in the process of selecting and editing photographs from a local park for a book. The majority of the images that are in the final selection are GXR/A12 50mm images. For some reason that camera and I gel really well. In print (small prints) there is not that much difference between cameras and it all comes down the actual image. I also process my images pretty heavily and subtle details between cameras can be insignificant in that context.

    IME the A12 50mm is the best of the GXR units. I simply love the way it renders. It's still my favorite camera to shoot with.

    One thing that Ricoh could do now is update the EVF. In comparison to other current EVFs the GXR EVF is low res and grainy.

    In any case, I hope that Ricoh continues to produce large sensor cameras in some form. The next GRD is due out this year too.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Biro

    Biro Super Moderator

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    The A16 24-85 module is attractive. But that's listed as discontinued on B&H's site. In some ways, the P10 module is also attractive - but that really needs to be updated to the latest sensor technology. The modules with the smallest sensors would see the most improvement. The GXR with P10 module is now $364.95. And the GXR body alone is now down to $249.95. It sounds like either updates are on the way or the GXR is on the way out.
  13. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    Interesting. The A16 is still available, it is the "kit" that is discontinued. I have the A16 and it's great, though I wish it had less distortion at the wide end.

    My guess is that the GXR concept is on the way out.
  14. I am not a big fan of the dedicated sensor/ lens combo, but the a12 m module setup I still have but use very little since acquiring my Fuji and dp Merrill setups. Since Ricoh been using Sony sensor technology, I have been hoping they would at least do the rumor a16 m module.. A full frame version would be sweet, but I suspect they would need to update the body to support all the implications of the data path burden to LCD and read/write path to the sd card. A foveon sensor version would also be nice... But at end of the day, if they don't do something w/ this line by the end of this year (over 2 years now w/o anything outside of a16 zoom), not sure if it will be too little to late..

  15. digi2ap

    digi2ap Regular

    Jun 5, 2011
    Stratford, London
    Oh, tough thread as the GXR was the camera that I got so close to but never bought. Let's assume the GXR continues and in the next generation it were to have the Sony (Nex7) 24mp sensor, as well as upgraded body and viewfinder. Then do people think the concept would be more long lasting or would we be here in another three years with a plethora of competing 48mp cameras and saying how outdated the GXR is??
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