PHOTOOG Photography writings by Olivier Giroux


Not sure what to think of the GXR

Did you see the interchangeable {lens+sensor} camera from Ricoh? I’m pretty sure I hate it. I think.

I was just telling my wife Sunday night about this rumor for another mirror-less camera, this time from a company that seems to “get” photographers. The rumor mentioned an APS-C sensor, I told her, and I started thinking of M lenses that would go with that. I thought Ricoh would be the one to deliver the goods this time. Finally we’ll get this one simple thing done right, bravo!

Apparently not. Come on. Instead the GXR looks like a stupid idea. Hey, at least we can’t accuse them of doing a me-too design.

Here is my fictitious tale of the GXR’s coming into the world, I can see it…

First, they looked at installing an APS-C sensor into a compact camera and sketched what would be a great small camera with a nice normal prime lens. Then someone said they needed to offer a pocketable zoom to win sales against m4/3 products taking over Ricoh's home turf.  Meetings happened and interchangeable sensors were introduced into the story at that point. Interchangeable sensors! This idea is brilliant.

Second, multiple sensors introduced much complexity to the mix because some lenses and some sensors became entangled concerns. How would they teach users to use that complex system? Then a voice rose up and said they could just entangle them permanently to solve those problems. Engineering problems and marketing problems gone, and it’s intellectually stimulating to boot. But is this wise? Photographers’ wisdom is that lenses far outlive sensors. Photographer’s wisdom is that lenses and sensors combine to create options. This idea is unwise.

Third, they pondered the question of how to price these new {lens+sensor} creations. They realized they were basically like whole cameras. They concluded they should price them like whole cameras, premium cameras obviously. The camera body itself is also premium obviously.  When you combine them, it’s double-premium, and that’s for free! Too cool for school. This idea is arrogant.

What do you get when you combine brilliant, unwise and arrogant ideas? I’d say what you’ve got now is a stupid idea. Show me a lens mount.

Now that I think about it, I would have reacted better to the GXR if they had presented it only as an integrated compact with a 50mm lens. Drop the interchangeable story, it’s more of a future-upgrade story anyway. Drop the price, give me the body for free if I get the lens and viewfinder.

This second interpretation of the GXR sounds nice to me. I like it.

In any case, I'm not in the market for cameras that don't have lens mounts.  I have picked my lenses - lensmakers - already.  To a large extent I don't care who makes my bodies so long as the lenses I have or want will fit them.  I have no use for cameras that cannot take the lenses I choose.

Important note: Different people may feel differently, this is how I feel.  Don't take my harsh criticism personally.

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  1. Totally agree. A rangefinder size camera with an upgradeable sensor and m-mount? Leica would pee their pants.

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