DPReview just posted their views on the GXR, a very controversial machine, judging by the responses on the forum. The fashionable thing among camera makers is a compact interchangeable lens camera system, even with Nikon rumored to have something coming soon. So what do the minds at DPR have to say about my big crush.
The 3 authors decided to split the review based on the 2 available lens units, starting with the APS-C size module, rightly, as they stated each module creates a totally different camera. They compared it to Lecia and the micro 4/3rd systems, and strangely the Canon G11. They should have included comparisons to DSLRs since the idea is to have same or similar image quality, but compact size. But that Canon choice does show up the limitations of the 4/3 system.
So what do I conclude from a quick read of the review?
It is expensive, that is Ricoh, though not the stratospheric prices like Leica. Recommended retail price in Singapore for the GXR A12 50mm is about $1797. Tough on most wallets for a "compact" that you cannot squeeze into a trouser pocket. However if you consider the equivalent setup on a DSLR, example Canon 450D (same megapixels) with a 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro, which cost $1498, you pay $300 for a reduction in weight and size. Of course a cheaper setup would be possible, which comes to the argument that is stirring up the forum.
Quite a few think the GXR system is simply ridiculous, or to quote one passionate reader "Dumbest idea ever, only a fool would buy this crap". Incidentally this same person has with evangelistic zeal been repeating to Ricoh apologists that the system is inherently heading into a dead end and costs $$$$$$.
The problem is Ricoh's system turns what is normal on it's head, people generally abhor abnormality. You buy lenses you keep while the body is changed, upgraded, that is normal. Disposable lens and sensor? It's unnatural!
Yes Ricoh's concept is indeed an expensive route to go, especially if one intends to collect modules. It is theoretically very versatile and not restricted to only lens and sensors. The unfortunate thing is nothing is firm and dark clouds on the horizon
Judging the A12 module on it's own merit, it is a very competent prime lens camera. The images looks good, especially the high ISO, something I have been looking for, without needing a DSLR. The four thirds system do not seem to give me that and frankly if I am going to start a lens collection, I would rather get a DSLR. Serious compacts like Canon G11 and Panasonic LX3 frankly are almost as good as 4/3 systems and are truly compact, so I have kind of written them off. (Just read that 4/3 systems are picking up in popularity, ha, guess I prefer to be contrary)
Somehow the GXR is beginning to look a lot like the photographic analogue of the iPad, an expensive bridge between a DSLR and compacts. Except Ricoh is not the marketing giant Apple is, and definitely not as arrogant.
What is a fanboy to do in this situation?