Ricoh GXR review: Ricoh GXR

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The Good Superb design and build quality; excellent controls and layout for experienced photographers; compact size combined with dSLR-esque versatility.

The Bad Every time you buy a new lens unit, you're buying a new sensor; different lens units include differently sized sensors; generally expensive.

The Bottom Line The Ricoh GXR camera system shouldn't work, but it does. Because every lens unit also includes a sensor, the system is pricey, and the variation in sensor sizes means you won't necessarily get dSLR photo quality all the time. Yet, as a tool for taking pictures, it's just brilliant. It just goes to show that you can't truly judge a product without using it

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8.3 Overall

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The Ricoh GXR camera system is so crazy that it's hard to believe anyone actually had the nerve to put this idea forward. Cameras having interchangeable lenses is a concept we can understand. It makes sense. But a body with interchangeable camera units, comprising a lens, sensor and image-processing engine? That's mental. And, if that's not mad enough, prices for the GXR start at around £650, and that's just for the basic body and the S10 camera unit with a 24-72mm lens.

Quality in abundance
If you're worried that the interchangeable camera units will give the GXR a rickety, bodged-together feel, don't be. Once the units are clipped on, the whole package is as solid as a rock, and the GXR looks, feels and handles like any other compact camera.

What little distortion the 24-72mm lens unit does suffer from can be dialled out using the internal correction feature. The exposures and colours are excellent, helped by the camera's multi-point white-balance option (click image to enlarge)

Actually, that's not quite true. The alloy body and matte black finish give it a really tough, purposeful feel, and the controls are excellent, both in their operation and their layout. Ricoh might not be one of the big names in photography these days, but it's been making cameras for decades, and the GXR (along with the GR Digital III) shows it knows exactly how to make a top-quality, professional camera.

The GXR offers fully automatic operation, but really it's designed for users who already know what shutter speeds, apertures and ISOs they want to use, and who want to be able to make these and myriad other manual adjustments with just a couple of clicks and a spin of a dial. In fact, there are two adjustment dials (one configurable), two customisable function buttons and a lockable mode dial. There are digital SLRs that don't offer this kind of hands-on control, yet the GXR's exterior still doesn't feel cluttered.

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