Ricoh expands GXR system with megazoom module

Ricoh delivers on its promise of a megazoom module for its GXR system camera. The P10 features a 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 lens (35mm equivalent) plus 10-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor.

As promised when it announced the GXR system back in November 2009, Ricoh has introduced the P10 megazoom module to slide into the GXR camera back. It features a 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 lens (35mm equivalent) plus 10-megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor. The result will essentially be a compact 10x zoom camera with specs similar to popular point-and-shoot models from manufacturers like Sony, Panasonic, and Canon. Unfortunately, pricing and availability are still up in the air.

To refresh your memory, the GXR system comprises a housing that includes the basic pieces of a point-and-shoot--920,000-pixel 3-inch LCD, controls, hot shoe, and flash--into which you can slide slide a series of modules incorporating various lens/sensor combinations. In theory, that lets Ricoh optimize the characteristics of the module by choosing different sensors to match the different tasks for which one would use different lenses.

Here's Ricoh's current module lineup:

 P10 moduleA12 module S10 module
Sensor (effective resolution)10-megapixel BSI CMOS12.3-megapixel CMOS10-megapixel CCD
1/2.3-inch23.6mm x 15.7mm (APS-C)1/1.7-inch
Sensitivity rangeISO 100 - ISO 3,200ISO 200 - ISO 3,200ISO 100 - ISO 3,200
Lens28-300mm f3.5-5.6
50mm f2.5
24-72mm f2.5-4.4
Closest focus0.4 inch2.8 inches0.4 inch
Battery life (CIPA rating)440 shots320 shots410 shots
Weight (ounces)12.9 (est)9.3 (est)5.7 (est)
Mfr. Price tbd$440 $830

And here's how the GXR+P10 kit will stack up against some typical competing compact megazooms:

 Ricoh GXR+P10 moduleSony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5VPanasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7
Sensor (effective resolution)10-megapixel BSI CMOS10-megapixel BSI CMOS12-megapixel CCD
Sensitivity rangeISO 100 - ISO 3,200ISO 125 - ISO 3,200ISO 80 - ISO 6,400
Lens28-300mm f3.5-5.6
25-250mm f3.5-5.5
25-300mm f3.3-4.9
Closest focus0.4 inch2.0 inches1.2 inches
Continuous shooting5 fps
n/a JPEG/5 raw
10 fps
2.3 fps
ViewfinderOptional EVFNoneNone
Autofocusn/a-area contrast AF9-area contrast AF11-area contrast AF
Metering256 segmentn/a144 zone
Shutter30-1/2000 sec30-1/1600 sec60-1/2000 sec
LCD3-inch fixed
920,000 dots
3-inch fixed
230,000 dots
3-inch fixed
460,000 dots
Image stabilizationSensor shiftOpticalOptical
Video (best quality)720/30p n/a1080/60i AVCHD or MP4720/30p AVCHD Lite or Motion JPEG
Battery life (CIPA rating)440 shots310 shots300 shots
Dimensions (WHD, inches)4.5 x 2.8 x 2.04.1 x 2.4 x 1.24.1 x 2.4 x 1.3
Weight (ounces)12.9 (est)7.17.6
Mfr. Price tbd$349.99 $399.95

The P10's fast BSI sensor enables some of the whizzy features available in models like the HX5V, including "Dynamic range double shot mode" (it shoots twice in quick succession and combines the frames for better tonal range and lower noise results in low or high-contrast light) as well as a variety of lower-resolution, high-speed burst modes including a one-second 120fps burst (albeit at VGA resolution) and a preshot buffer.

With this model, the company's introducing updated region-based noise suppression algorithms, too. But given the enthusiast audience Ricoh targets with this model, and for what I expect to be a relatively high price, I was kind of hoping for more. I'm not sure what--it's got a nice-sounding LCD, but a faster lens or larger sensor might have been nice. Then again, it may be very well executed. I won't know till we've gotten a chance to try one out.

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