The GXR body itself consists of only the LCD display, a flash strobe and hot shoe, microphone and speaker, secondary image processor, miscellaneous connectivity, battery and flash slots, plus the various control buttons and dials. It's an interesting approach that offers a combination of advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, the GXR's sensor and lens designs can be tailored to each other for optimal image quality and performance. The sensor technology and size can vary depending on the lens with which they're bundled. More complex zoom lenses can be reduced in size and weight by using a smaller imager, while less complex lenses can be matched with a larger sensor offering better image quality. Potential drawbacks include the increased complexity of the mechanical and electrical connections between camera module and camera body, as well as the fact that lens upgrades are tied to sensor upgrades. The design also places the most expensive components in the camera module, leaving only relatively lower-cost componentry in the camera body for reuse with each module.
At launch last November, Ricoh offered two lens/sensor modules for the Ricoh GXR. One provided a 3x optical zoom range from 24mm to 72mm equivalents with an aperture varying from f/2.5 to f/4.4 across the zoom range, and included a 1/1.7" CCD image sensor. The other offered a fixed focal length equivalent to 50mm with a maximum aperture of f/2.5, and opted for an APS-C CMOS image sensor. To these initial selections, Ricoh has added a further two modules.
There's a new long-zoom module with a back-illuminated CMOS sensor of unspecified (but likely rather modest) size, coupled to a 28 - 300mm equivalent, f/3.5 - f/5.6 lens. This module also incorporates vibration correction, although it hasn't been specified which technology Ricoh has opted for. The tentatively named "Camera unit RICOH LENS P10 28-300 mm F3.5-5.6 VC" module has a frame rate of 120 frames per second, although it should be noted that Ricoh hasn't specified the sensor resolution yet, let alone whether the high-speed burst mode is available at full resolution. Other functions of this module include Raw shooting and multi-point AF.
Alongside the long zoom module, there's also a new fixed focal length module based around an APS-C sized CMOS sensor. Tentatively named the "Camera unit GR LENS A12 28 mm F2.5", this module offers an effective focal length of 28mm with a maximum aperture of F2.5, manual focusing capability, and GR Engine IIII image processor.
Both new units will be on display at the Camera and Photo Imaging Show in Japan next month. Pricing and availability haven't yet been announced, but are likely to remain Ricoh's largest challenge in marketing the GXR. US street pricing for the GXR camera body alone is around $550, while the current camera modules are priced at around $440 for the 1/1.7" CCD-based 3x zoom module, and around $830 for the APS-C based 50mm prime module. Presuming similar pricing for the two new modules, it seems likely that a full system with two primes, a 3x zoom and a 10.7x zoom will run somewhere around $3,100 without the optional external viewfinder accessory. That could prove a tough sell, given that one could easily purchase a couple of compact cameras and an SLR body with similar lenses and sensors for significantly less.
For more details, read our Ricoh GXR preview. Several sample images can be seen on Ricoh's website.