Ricoh preps new GXR camera module


posted Monday, November 28, 2011 at 8:15 PM EDT

An update to the global website of Ricoh Co. Ltd. reveals that it's working on a new camera module for its GXR camera system.

Announced in late 2009, the Ricoh GXR is extremely unusual in offering interchangeable modules that couple both a lens, sensor, and image processor in a single unit, rather than the more typical interchangeable lens design found on most competing cameras. The advantage of the GXR's design is that it allows the lens, sensor and processor to be designed specifically to be used together, and reduces issues with ingress of dust during lens changes. The design also means that lens complexity and size / weight can be reduced, by opting for a smaller sensor size as needed. On the downside, though, it means that you can't take advantage of future improvements in sensor and processor technology with your existing stock of glass, and means that if sensor, processor, or lens dies, it effectively makes useless the other components of the module. Additionally, the GXR's design increases cost, since every lens purchase must of necessity also involve a sensor and processor purchase (and vice versa). All that remains in the camera body itself are the relatively inexpensive components such as the various controls, LCD panel, storage media slot, battery, and connectivity.

Currently, five modules for the GXR have been announced or are shipping, of which three are based around an APS-C sized, twelve megapixel CMOS image sensor, with the other two featuring a ten megapixel 1/1.7-inch CCD, and a ten megapixel 1/2.3-inch backside illuminated CMOS sensor. The APS-C modules offer up either a 28mm-equivalent f/2.5 prime, a 50mm-equivalent f/2.5 macro, or an interchangeable-lens Leica M-mount. The CCD-based module has a 24-72mm equivalent f/2.5-4.4 3x optical zoom lens, and finally the BSI CMOS module has a 28-300mm equivalent f/3.5-5.6 10.7x optical zoom lens.

The new addition, found on Ricoh's updated GXR Unit Map, is a new sixteen megapixel APS-C module with a 24-85mm, 3.5x optical zoom lens of unspecified aperture. This will be the first fixed zoom lens module offered for the GXR system, and is slated to ship from early 2012. No further details are yet available...