Ricoh GXR: Huh?
March 2, 2010
DP Review’s first test of a Ricoh GXR module has alerted me that I’d misunderstood Ricoh’s naming scheme for their weird, unique lens/sensor units.
In the GXR system nomenclature, “A12” refers just to the sensor’s size (APS-C), and 12-megapixel resolution. But in giving the name of the module, you also must include the lens focal length and f/ratio. (Well. That ought to roll off the tongue effortlessly.)
So the new Ricoh module announced during PMA is also called “A12.” It’s just a different one, with a wider lens. Got that?
What I did not understand is that Ricoh is expressing all these focal lengths in “35mm equivalents.” As I’ve ranted about before, this is a needlessly-confusing convention which perverts the actual meaning of the word “millimeters.”
Anyway. Ricoh’s currently available A12 module is the 50e, f/2.5 one. That is to say, it is an inexplicably-dim “normal” lens, although one with macro focusing capability. DP Review liked the image quality of the 50e/2.5 module; but they found its autofocus speed rather poor.
The GXR module coming up later this year will be a wide-angle 28e version, also f/2.5.
It’s the pricing of the GXR body+module system which makes no sense. You could pick up a Canon S90 and a Panasonic GF1 together for nearly the same money. The only possible justification would be if you were wildly in love with the GXR’s menu system, or its $250 auxiliary electronic viewfinder. The latter scenario is questionable, since Olympus’s VF-2 is generally rated the nicest one currently available.
Also, lens speeds of f/2.8 and f/2.5 are simply unacceptable in this price bracket (are you listening, Leica X1?) Panasonic’s pancake 20/1.7 lens proves that even a bright lens (where the moving glass elements must be heavier) can have fine autofocus performance.
Count me among the many who have said, “Ricoh, I just don’t get it.”