According to the "first impressions" at ePHOTOzine (I like their previews because you can take in as much from looking as from reading), it's looking like the new Ricoh GR (2013 iteration) is set up as a WA specialist. Not only is there a dedicated 21mm-e adapter for the lens, but there's a nice-looking optical viewfinder (OVF) that has framelines for the lens's native 28mm-e and for the adapter's 21mm-e. The forums can squabble, but 28mm-e and 21mm-e together have got you completely covered for WA unless you're a geek.
I don't know anything about the implementation of this camera, of course, but in theory, dedicated lens adapters can work very well if they're designed specifically for the lens they'll be used on (and occasionally even when they aren't).
And I'll also just note that really good OVFs are definitely worth their price. They can be wonderful to look through—I used a Zeiss hot-shoe OVF on a Leica M7 for a while, and the view through the OVF was bigger, cleaner and clearer than the view through the Leica itself. Their cost makes perfect sense, because they are little lenses, often made with multiple elements and with the same care as lenses are. Good ones are worth the money; not-so-good-ones cost less, but aren't.
The big problem with OVFs on digicams, of course, is that you don't get focus confirmation...which is more of a problem the longer the lens. The wider-angle the lens, the more an OVF makes sense. So it's looking to me like the photographer-designers at Pentax Ricoh know exactly what they're doing.
And why is the Ricoh GR's basic WA-specialist nature significant? Because of the relative paucity of WA solutions—still—in many reduced-sensor (APS-C) DSLR systems.
Looks to me like the GR will make sense whether:
- ...as a casual snapshot camera, or
- ...as a main camera for WA shooters, or
- ...as a WA secondary camera to an APS-C DSLR main system.
Topping all this off is my memory of shooting with the GXR for one of TOP's "rolling reports" a ways back—if that was typical, then Ricoh cameras deserve their reputation as being addictive little buggers, fun and inviting to use. I really liked the GXR during my time with it. (Note, at the link, that Ctein and I together couldn't quite figure out what Ricoh was up to with the GXR. This new GR appears to be a case of the exact opposite.)
Too early to tell for sure (I mention again lest anyone leap off cliffs of premature conclusions), but it looks to me like the GR might prove out to be one of those cameras that might not be widely popular among "consumers" but that could well earn a smallish but devoted following of dedicated photographer users who love it, like to use it, and whose work it suits. Which would make it just the sort of device we approve of.
(Thanks to Dominic)
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Featured Comments from:
Richard Parkin: "Saying 'The big problem with OVFs on digicams, of course, is that you don't get focus confirmation' is not entirely true with the Ricoh GRD series as the focus confirmation light is visible in peripheral vision when using the OVF. It is one of those little things that make Ricoh GRDs so pleasing to use. This may be true with the GR but I notice the light seems further away from the hotshoe socket so could be invisible."
Kevin Purcell: "Why 21mm? A tip of the hat to the film compact Ricoh GR21. The GRD3 and GRD4 also had a very well regarded 21mm wide angle convertor too. The 28mm wide angle convertor for the Fuji X100 and X100s has garnered some good reviews too."