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Wednesday, 11 November 2009


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I wonder about the implications of changing sensors and 3rd-party support. Does Lightroom, for instance, have to come out with support for each sensor/lens combo? I'd guess it would, since the sensor's characteristics are likely different to another combo.

From the Amateur Photographer link (thanks Jan): "There is no lens mount obviously, but on questioning Mr Kazunobu Saiki, general manager for Ricoh's global camera division, seemed to acknowledge that a sensor unit fitted with a mount receptive to M and L rangefinder lenses would be a positive addition to the system."

Wow, what if they had announced a camera that you could buy with a choice of an APS (or even FF) sensor unit with either a Leica, Canon, Nikon or Pentax lens mount and no adaptor needed. It could be relatively inexpensive (no lens). We would be falling all over ourselves to buy one. Most of us (TOP readers) have lenses from one of these companies. If they go down this route they will have a barnburner on their hands.

If this is going to succeed, Ricoh will have to subsidize the initial costs more. Look at how popular the Toyota Prius is now. If Toyota tried to make money on the first-in-the-U.S.-generation Prius, they would have had to sell it for over $44,000 (the reported unit cost of manufacture at the time) instead of $19,000. I doubt we would be seeing so many on the road now if they tried that.

And as others have said above, they need modules with lens mounts sooner rather than later, e.g Nikon F or Canon or micro 4/3 or whatever. Which mount they choose first is less important than the commitment to true modularity.

Another way of looking at this is to compare the fixed length lens competitors.

Ricoh vs: Leica X1:
The $1379 Ricoh with the 50e mm macro lens is has the same size APS-C sensor as the $2000 Leica X1. Other readers have reported that the DPR high ISO samples look good, though I haven’t had a chance to compare them to the DPR X1 samples.
The Ricoh is .4 in shorter in length, but .6 in more in depth with 50e mm lens attached.

Ricoh vs: micro 4/3:
Height is about the same. Ricoh is slightly less in length, but lens sticks out over .6 inch.
There’s a consensus that 4/3 sensors are “good enough”, but still about a stop or so behind APS sensors in high ISO noise. So you end up paying a slight premium in size and price over the micro 4/3 offerings to gain higher ISO image quality.

If you want compactness and quality (jury still out until both cameras ship), get the Leica X1 if you have $2K. Too expensive? Save over $600 if you’re willing to carry a slightly bigger Ricoh. (Macro does go to 1:2, though.)
On a budget? If you’re willing to put up with Sigma’s quirks, then spend half as much on a DP2.

I think pricing is the key. It is not an accident that the Ricoh w/A12 is priced between the micro 4/3 cameras and the Leica X1. But how many customers will see it’s positioning and how many will pay it?

"Don on the fixed lens, it is still smaller than the current M4/3 models."

Several people have mentioned something like this, but from whatever pictures and specs I've seen, I get the impression that the opposite is true. Consider, for example, carrying camera + zoom + normalish prime. In the case of micro-4/3, we can take the GF1 body, the Lumix 20mm/1.7, and the M.Zuiko 14-42mm zoom. For the Ricoh, we take the base unit and the two modules.

The GF1+20 has dimensions 119x71x62mm and weight 448g, including battery and card. The zoom adds 62x62x43mm and 150g.

For Ricoh, the base+50mm-equiv has dimensions 114x70x77mm and weight 463g, including battery and card. The zoom unit adds 69x58x39mm and 161g.

Overall, the micro-4/3 system seems to have a slight advantage in both volume and weight. Of course things are not in 100% correspondence. The micro-4/3 zoom is f/3.5-5.6, slower than the Ricoh at f/2.5-4.4, but it covers a bigger sensor. The Ricoh prime has a bigger sensor, but is slower at f/2.5 than the Lumix's f/1.7.

Features and market segmentation is where it's at and as sensor design matures into the "good enough" phase where lenses have been for years, there is plenty of activity in the new features arena.

Ricoh is introducing a new product line and they are focusing on what differentiates it from the competition, They can and maybe will come out with interchangeable lens mounts later.
When Nikon introduced the F camera I don't think there was much in the way of useful accessories that took advantage of the interchangeable prism and back, yet these eventually became the Raison d'être for the F system. The removable prism led to the steady introduction and upgrading of lightmeters, waistlevel finders, screens, and sportsfinders. The removable door led to motor drives, bulk backs, data backs, pin registration backs and so on. 99 percent of the functionality of the F system could be had in the Nikormat yet Nikon sold a lot of Fs and F2 - F5s. Nikon is missing out on not having interchangeable finders on their pro models in my opinion.

Up till now marrying lens and sensor designs has only happened in some point and shoots and the Sony R1. In the R1 the rear element of the lens almost touches the sensor and has a telecentric design. I have an R1 and as far as I am concerned the lens and the sensor are as good as I need, but I'd love to get the electronics replaced with a faster processor, a bigger buffer, slightly less odd ergonomics and a control socket that isn't left over from their video gear. If I could just replace the electronics package I would in a flash, especially if it added a 1080p video mode.

David wrote, "'One module would have the perfect sensor [or, um IS], another module would have the perfect lens. And never the twain would meet.'

You mean, like using a Panasonic lens on an Olympus body? Yeah, no one would want THAT travesty.

After all, it might hurt resale value or something ... having those 'mismatched' nameplates. How unsightly! How unseemly!"

Man, that was funny. I also wanted to write something like this, but my first post was long enough, plus I could have never said it as pointed. I thought that buying a GF1 plus 20 1.7 is exactly like buying a GXR with 50 module. Except that you can later add that small sensor module to the GXR ;-)

But on the other hand, we have a dichotomy between Mike as a reviewer and as a user/buyer. Fair enough.

Being cheaper than Leica doesn't really say anything about cost ! We know intrinsically (despite the lack of a product) that an APS-C fixed lens compact should cost far, far less than $2000. In short, you can be cheaper than Leica and still be overpriced.

As for the system being revolutionary because they've eliminated the interchangeable lens mount, we've had small sensor cameras without interchangeable lens mounts all along, and are starting to (finally) see larger sensor fixed lens cameras (DP1/DP2, X1, hopefully more to follow). So to me, what's new about it is offering a number of them (well, 2 so far) that use a common "base unit" that houses the LCD, battery, interface. And that just doesn't sound compelling. Interesting. "I'd like to see one" interesting, not "I'd like to have one" interesting.

I mentioned the benefits elsewhere that you can travel with a single battery charger, spares of one kind of battery & one kind of memory card; process one kind of raw file. If the system is ever expansive enough that it can really satisfy your needs, this benefit is intriguing. On the downside, if your GXR body fails, all of your cameras fail.

Chris wrote:
"Gentlemen, there is a subtle but disturbing whiff of 'oldthink' in your otherwise highly informed and stimulating exchange."

"For one thing, I think we should salute the first consumer digital camera with interchangeable sensors"

I don't think this camera has "interchangeable sensors" any more than your average DSLR. It's just a question of whether you're attaching the sensor to gear on the front or the back.

As for newthink & oldthink, we all think for ... never mind ... I think they tried to rationalize the existence of the product. Meanwhile, Minolta beat Ricoh to the punch by a decade:

So say what you will about Mike & Ctein, but Ricoh's newthink has that same disturbing whiff of oldthink ;)

Micro 4/3 is newthink. Not that it's original - people have been asking, BEGGING for mirrorless compact cameras with large sensors for years before it was ever announced. It was an obvious development waiting for technology to catch up (& drop in price).

This is ... sidethink. It's different. It's quirky. It's never going to be mainstream. Not even among pros. It's destined to be a cult classic with insufferably rabid fans.

I'm convinced that this is just camera geekery.

The people who really think this is a great idea don't need this thing and it provides no solution to any known problems that I can think of.

It's targeted at a niche of people that like to buy things ( not that buying things is bad) and get really excited by innovation for innovation sake. It seems more suited to those catalogs like Hammacher Schlemmer or Brookstone.

I have an electric razor but I don't need it to cut my lawn.

Convince me I am wrong.

"Which means you are not a potential buyer for this camera. To make this camera and sensor lens combo into a system a buyer would agree with, said potential buyer would have to know beforehand what would be the ideal sensor/lens combination. How to potential buyers know that *now*?.
They don't. They choose among the camera/ sensor/ lens combinations available now. They choose the closest combination, if that ever makes it into the camera buyers' equation."

Pascal, you are of course correct in principle. The GXR is fundamentally about giving the photographer new and interesting options. It is too early to assume their module selection will be fatally limited.

However, it is also wrong to assume their module selection will be sufficiently expansive. I'll reiterate part of my comment from yesterday:

...the 50mm equivalent doesn't have image stabilization (like the 24-70) and the 24-70mm equivalent doesn't have 3fps (like the 50). One does HD video, one drains the battery slower, one goes down to ISO 100, and they both have different ranges of shutter speeds.

There's more to the module than just the focal length(s) offered and the size/resolution of the sensor. Ricoh would do themselves a big favor if they quickly moved towards some basic standards for their modules so their target audiences won't be left guessing the capabilities of their GXR.

I really hope they throw open the doors to other manufacturers and camera-makers. I don't know much about Ricoh, but I think the breadth of module possibilities is too much for one company to handle.

Personally, I hope they come out with a large sensor aimed at high-ISO performance married to a 30mm equivalent stabilized prime with a max aperture of at least f2.

"You mean, like using a Panasonic lens on an Olympus body?"

No, I don't mean like that at all, and it's got nothing to do with nameplates. I mean you'd be waiting for a 35mm-e f/2 lens, say, with an APS-C sensor and IS, and they'd introduce a 35mm-e f/2 lens with a 1/1.7" sensor with IS and a 35mm-e f/3.5 lens with an APS-C sensor and no IS. And there would be nothing you could do, because the sensor and the lens module would be fixed and unchangeable. The opposite of using a 20mm Panasonic lens on an Olympus body.

Of course it's really that way with all systems--they decide what they want to provide and you decide whether you can live with it or not. It's just that with the modules sealed like the first two are, there are more chances for them to not provide what you want.

That isn't a fatal flaw, necessarily.


"It's destined to be a cult classic with insufferably rabid fans."

I have to admit that thought crossed my mind too. [g]


Dear Erlik,

The cost to manufacture a camera equals the unit production cost plus the "fixed" costs divided by the number of units sold. I'm putting "fixed" in quotes because it can include costs that do change (say, with time), but they're not costs that are linked directly to manufacture. For example, fixed costs are R&D, mold and toolmaking, the minimum cost of the assembly line and employees needed to run it, et cetera. You have those costs whether you sell one camera or 1000.

Adding a new feature to a camera, no matter how trivial, increases all three variables (unless it is truly a feature that nobody at all wants). If the feature adds only a little bit to the unit cost and the fixed cost but increases the number of units sold substantially, the cost to manufacture one camera goes *down*, not up.

Some cases are obvious: there are a few fanatics out there who would like nothing more than to see a digital M3: no autofocus, no auto exposure, nothing but manual modes, a lens, a viewfinder, and a box. Without question that camera would be cheaper to design and manufacture. And the number of units sold would be so small that the cost to manufacture each unit would skyrocket.

Adding video to a camera doesn't cost very much. The question is how much it increases sales of that camera? Do you know the answer? I don't. People who assume that adding video to their camera makes it more expensive have no data on which to base that.

Mind you, the camera manufacturer may very well charge you for that extra feature you don't use, as "value added!" But that's kind of inherent in the products: I don't think there's a digital camera out there that doesn't have a slew of features that most of us don't use. I would bet that if you do a point by point analysis, most of us don't use the majority of bells and whistles that are built into these cameras. You get them whether you want them or not. Because if the manufacturer takes them out, you're back to the DOA digital M3.

Nothing special about video in that regard. It just stands out and gets noticed because it's not "photography."

~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Dear Thom,

1) I don't parrot anybody's press releases. C'mon, you know me better than that.

2) You quoted me out of context and inappropriately excerpted part of a sentence to make it seem like I'm saying something I'm not.I will assume you simply read too quickly and your knee jerked. Please go back and reread that paragraph and you will see that what I have said is that I don't consider this of particular import.

3) There are plenty of interesting ways to optimize lens/sensor combinations that you may not be aware of. Again, you know me well enough to know that just because I don't go on at length about something doesn't mean I don't know the information. I know a lot more than I ever have room to write about in these columns. In this particular one, not only was I trying to keep the length down but I didn't want the discussion distracted by extremely hypothetical vaporware.

~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

I think most observers are trying hard to figure out what in the world Ricoh is up to precisely because what's been presented so far doesn't sound commercially viable. (Newthink is spectacularly easy if a company doesn't have worry about stuff like market constraints.) It's possible this will eventually lead to a separate sensor/lens/body system, but that's not what it is right now. So, perhaps this is part of a well-thought out long-term strategy (make money by bringing interim items to market). The only other explanation is that everyone at Ricoh lost sight of the obvious--which couldn't be the case, given all the bright people at Ricoh, right? Only things like happens all the time in organizations with lots of smart people.

And the system's ugly, too. I'd be more sympathetic if it weren't.

Dear Pascal,

Most photographers looking in that price range have a shopping list of features and capabilities they're looking for. It may not be a very long list, but they don't look across the entire landscape of cameras; they look at ones that fit their (preconceived) idea what they need. For example a lot of photographers think they need a large sensor. A lot of photographers think they need a fast prime lens. A lot of photographers think they need good lowlight capability. A lot of photographers think they need a modest zoom. Etc. Whether or not they actually need these things doesn't matter; it defines their shopping preferences

The marketing problem when you have a very small number of modules available is that almost inevitably you end up presenting combinations that remind people of what they're NOT getting. Suppose you're one of those people who wants a large sensor and a moderate zoom lens? The current choice of Ricoh modules not only doesn't offer you that, it reminds you that you can't get both at the same time.

This is a known serious problem in marketing; never, ever draw people's attention to the downsides! As other people have pointed out, if it weren't a modular camera, people wouldn't notice the lapses in choice anywhere so much. The moment it becomes modular, with a limited range of choices available, people notice the choices they don't have.

This doesn't make the camera any worse and it's not an inherently fatal sales problem. But it is a big sales problem. This is what worries Mike and me.

Speaking for Mike, I think you misinterpreted his comments. He wasn't saying he wouldn't like a grayscale sensor; he would very much like a grayscale sensor. What he fears is that it would come with unwanted constraints attached and features he wants unattached. And so if offered to him in those forms, he would likely not buy. Even though in principle it's something he would want. It's the same as the point I was making above.

~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Dear Nigel,

Mechanically, interchangeable sensors aren't hard to do. It's pretty easy to ensure that a user-installed sensor is perpendicular to the optical axis to within a few milliradians: a spring-loaded slide and lock design can do that. In a non-SLR camera like this, you don't even have to worry about the absolute x-y-z positioning being dead on target, so long as parallelism is maintained.

The module would have to have a dark slide to protect the sensor when it was out of the camera; otherwise the risks of damage and contamination would be far too great. In addition, the module would have to include the first stage amplifiers and signal processing circuitry, because those are very tightly linked to the sensor characteristics and you want to minimize path lengths. There wouldn't need to be any onboard power source or storage. You're talking about a module that is kind of like a small matchbox, with a connector at one end, a mechanically loaded dark slide over the face of it, and guide/alignment rails on the sides; not unduly large nor difficult to manufacture.

Whether or not you end up with an affordable camera if you break things apart this way is another matter! Really tight integration doesn't lend itself to flexible products, but it does to cheap ones.

~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

I know where this could appeal and work and that is on the small sensor units. If each unit is smaller than a compact with similar lens then the traveling light photographer has a system camera that can be carried in a jacket. Ideal for people who decide to go backpacking or want to have a good quality camera on them at all times.

As soon as they make a sensor module with a four-thirds lens mount on it, this system is going to kick butt.

I believe Ricoh's problem is that they chose the wrong first 2 lenses. I saw the announcement and like most of the comments I've read, I don't see the point. As an engineer, I can see why they chose the small sensor 24-70 since they already had the design and the 50mm-e macro makes a little sense to say we will have really high quality options too. Unfortunately, neither one is a very good choice.

How different would the reaction have been if they had made a 16-35mm-e small sensor lens and a non-macro, collapsing 50mm-e f/2.0 APS lens? If you are a wide angle specialist who wants a camera to fit in your pocket, here is your camera! If you want a camera that works great in low light and fits in your pocket, here is your camera! We will also have more traditional lens choices for you in the future.

I think everyone would be excited by this and understand the concept. Price wouldn't be as much of an issue because you can't buy those things at any price right now.

On the other hand, the message is: here is a really expensive camera that's just like a GX200 or here is a bigger alternative to a E-P1 or GF1 that does MACRO (never mind the tripod or macro flash or longer lens you would really want to do macro). So everyone scratches their head and says "what's the point".

"Mike adds: Andreas made a very good point in his comment, which was that if Ricoh had just come out with a 50mm-e APS-C compact with the excellent performance this one evidently has (judging from the dpreview.com samples), for $621 less than the upcoming Leica X1, we would all be praising it...but the fact that it's part of a modular system is completely obscuring that point."

Obscuring the point indeed.
Instead of the X1 how about comparing to the GX200.
The GX200 and the A10 module are both ~440$ at Amazon.
The GRX + A10 at $980 looks like a very expensive GX200. I cant see anybody buying that pair alone.

So I wonder, why is this better than just introducing a $1379 APS-C sensor 50mm-e fixed lens Ricoh to compliment the existing GX200 (and the GRD for that matter).

Does reusing the grip save more money than adding the sliding mount to it costs? It seems unclear.

My question is not how is the GX better than interchangeable lenses. It's how is the GX better than multiple cameras. How many cameras do we need before owning the GX and N modules is better than N separate cameras?

Mike, Ctein please help me out here.


P.S. And the common user interface issue seems like a red herring. Nothing stops Ricoh from putting the same ui on two (or more) cameras. In fact don't the gx200 and grds have very similar user interfaces?

What Ricoh has here is the first interchangeable-lens camera system not to be locked in to a particular mechanical layout.
Because the important connections are electrical only, using digitised signals, it is effectively future-proof.
As the cost of sensors drops (which it will!) the cost of a lens-sensor combination will approach that of the lens alone, but with enormous versatility.

People need to think of the new lenses in a different context. Think of lenses with leaf shutters built in. Why would anyone would buy a lens with a built in shutter? The Mamiya C TLR system is one that makes you buy both a shutter and a viewing lens along with a taking lens. Surely people would rather buy interchangeable medium format slrs like a Hasselblad rather than wasting money on two lenses and an additional shutter. But Mamiya went on and made those cameras for over 40 years.

And even today Mamiya, Leica and others are introducing lenses with built in shutters.

Adding a module is no different than that same Mamiya user adding a longer lens for portraits, or a TLR user using a 35mm adapter to reduce their sensor size or people buying a lens with a built in leaf shutter to take advantage of sync speeds.

A Nikon D40 + 35 1.8 can be had for only $600, probably less since it has been discontinued. Take the sensor from the D40, slap it in the back of the 35 1.8, and I can't see how Nikon couldn't sell a module like that for less than $300.

Couple of points about the 33mm macro module, which your average ASPC DSLR lacks:

It seems to have a leaf shutter:

It has an anti-aliasing filter tuned to the lens, which might make quite a big contribution to image quality:
"...Consider, for example, the low-pass filter covering the surface of the image sensor. The dilemma faced is that while the filter helps prevent color noise and color moiré, increasing this benefit results in an ever greater sacrifice in lens resolution. Traditional interchangeable lens systems use a single low-pass filter for all lenses so they are unable to avoid situations where the filter effect is excessive or inadequate. With the GXR, on the other hand, we can design a filter optimized for the resolution of the specific lens. In this way, Ricoh has succeeded in effectively preventing color noise while suppressing filter influence on lens resolution..."

Oh, and it has an integral ND filter.

Its still cheaper than leica x1... and knowing Ricoh, probably better, too... so if youre not all about the red dot it makes a LOT of sense.

I've ordered one with the A12. It's cheaper than the X1 and has a better UI. When a wide angle module comes along I'll buy it too. If there is a B&W module I'll buy that too. I don't mind the closed system because, like Apple, Ricoh has been satisfying me with their products for a long time.
If it doesn't interest you, don't buy it.

There are quite some factors that us, us shutterbugs or whatever the name will be, seem not to factor.

Infinite customability [whatever the name that will be, I´m not that "trendy"] is something we seem to ask all the time, and surprisingly, never happens to make it in the market.

We want a superb device with a plethora of options that will have a lot of options right for us for whatever it might be.

Thing is: TOO COMPLICATED TO USE, and probably the reason why 4/3s mount per se has tanked [with only Oly putting out cameras on it] and the m4/3 mount will most probably be sold with just the lenses on the kit.

Which are a compromise from the start.

On that sense, any current mount is by far more crippled than this Ricoh proposal.

The one camera/many systems proposal might work on paper, but market has shown that if there is no limit to it, we do not buy it.

See the infamous i-phone problems: it is a very good i device, but the -phone part of it does not really work. And consciusly, because nobody seems to be dropping the apple product so far.

As users, and as user experience, we [or John Doe] do not want to overcomplicate our decissions WHEN TRULY USING the device. Even if the decission is done trying to get "the best we can", at the very end we will ditch the product that does not satisfy our everyday demands. And for that, we actually like that some other person took decissions for us, so we can have something to react to.

Put it on another way: an infinite customizable camera will not work for everyday use as there would be too many options to handle. Which is the reason why current MF systems will not be able to make our minds.

Do you see yourself up with three sensors, a body, four lenses, and several viewfinders, with the very cleaning stuff [because cameras are not airtight, you do not want to have them airtight for pressure balancing reasons, and that is the reason why a blind will not work in Ctein case], in a compact camera?

Yet another way to see this system:
Desktop computers.
The GXR is, really, a pocket imaging computer.

I agree with David, and will take it one step further: The only way this is ever going to take off is if they release lens mounts for Canon/Nikon lenses. They already have the APS-C sensor, so it's 'just' a question of figuring out the interface. But if they manage to do that, they'll have the largest lens line-up of any manufacturer, plus allow the current owners of Canon/Nikon lens collections to use this camera with their favorite lenses.

What this camera could do as an important first is removing lens lock-in. That could be hugely upsetting. This camera has the potential to be the house for a fully modular camera system. *That* makes sense.

Wow - great choices for first modules.

You've got one module for low-light and low depth-of-field portraits, and manual focus ring for macro. 50 mm-e makes it wonderfully versatile.

Then you've got the zoom module with small sensor - the perfect landscape module because you can't always zoom a landscape with your feet, and sometimes it's hard to get the depth of field you like in a landscape when using APS-C without a tripod. Plus it has sensor-shift stabilization, so any static subject will benefit.

With those two highly versatile and complementary modules, it's a do-it-all camera.

Wow, 129 comments. Is that a record? And all for Ricoh, a brand with hardly any North American presence.

Since the lens/sensor and base are connected only electronically, then that interface can probably be done by wire, or even wireless. Isn't that how surveillance cameras work, that is a lens/sensor combo, with the storage device elsewhere?

This may just be the consumer version of a wide array of industrial devices. I know Ricoh is in the office equipment business. This could be a trial balloon, run it up the flagpole, see who salutes. They sure got a lot of exposure from it already.

Some comments continue to confuse me. How is this system more closed than any other?

It may be a great camera, and if it is great I might get one.

Ideally though, I don't want a lens-and-sensor unit sitting in my drawer when it gets past its prime, I just want to swap out the sensor when sensors get better over time.

I really don't get the concept. The actual camera is the lens/sensor module. So you will be bying different cameras, and a grip/display unit that you can use on your different cameras??? Why not just by two or three different cameras, targeted to different needs? To save the cost of using the same grip/display on all your cameras? There must be something here I've missed...

Interesting suggestion about matching the anti-aliasing filter to the lens. I know nothing about selecting or specifying anti-aliasing filters; does it in fact make sense to suggest that matching it to the lens can make a big difference? Somebody here must know something about this esoteric area!

Even if the cost of sensors goes to zero (which it won't), having to buy my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens twice because I want to use it in both color and low-light B&W is NOT going to be a popular choice. Integrating lens and sensor is antithetical to what I want in a camera.

I dont't think we (the photographers) should endorse ourselves with Ricoh's marketing or revenue issues. What really counts is that, as photographers, we can now take advantage of lighter and smaller camera systems. Micro 4/3 lead the way, GXR follows. And more are to come. What we were longing for was the Third-Millennium Leica Model A, something which could push the digital camera concept into the next generation. Now we are there. What really amazes me is Nikons and Canon lethargy. Even Leica is not able to design a contemporary Leica anymore. Panasonic and Ricoh seem to have a modern Oskar Barnack in their payrolls. Leica don't.

Dear DDB,

Depends on what you mean by "big difference." My totally wild-ass guess is that a well-matched lens and anti-aliasing filter might squeeze out another 5% in resolution; Maybe 10 if you were really lucky.

That's totally insignificant photographically. But considering how much of a fuss fanboys and review sites make over resolution differences like 2400 lines versus 2200 lines, it might be a big deal in terms of marketing, hence sales.

~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Dear Ctein,

My even more WAG is that you could see a lot more than 10%.
Certainly, the AA filter usually takes away a great deal more than that.
It's possible to do away with the filter entirely (Leica M9 - whose resolution benefits accordingly) without total moire disaster striking, so I'm guessing that you can cut some pretty tight corners if you're dealing with a single fixed focal length lens.

And don't forget that the market for this camera is likely to be populated by the well heeled obsessive, so any resolution gains are not to be sniffed at.

As an aside, there were some interesting ruminations (and a bit of evidence) on the respective resolution costs of the Bayer filter, and the AA filter in a recent LL article on the Achromatic P45+ back:

This concept emerged and died back in 1999 with the Minolta Dimage EX1500


I love the idea of digital scripting it sounds like an open source camera. But the system didn't survive.

I found out about it here http://www.photoclubalpha.com/2009/11/10/ricoh-start-where-the-dimage-ex-1500-left-off/

The key is:
"The modules are to be chosen before you leave home, not chosen from your bag!
and the system is not for the one who loves having many lens"

It's like having Pen + Pancake as your main camera (you know, Pen + Zoom is not small and cute anymore), while having another boring compact (which reacts absolutely the same way) to choose for using on some occasion, like party (where you never care about image quality but wants very small zoomable camera). Or maybe opposite way.

I think ricoh won't make many modules, and it's nonsense to have so many. Let me guess.

Small-Sensored Module:
There will be no prime here, small sensor is just for making the compact sized zoom possible, and those who wants prime never likes such small sensor anyway.
APC-C + Prime module is compact enough that it's no reason to shrink it even more.
Maybe, that S10 zoom is the only one they will offer (until sensor change next 2 yrs).

APS-C Module:
Possibly no zoom here, APS-C zoom is too big. There might be 3-4 of primes, and you shouldn't be mad picking all of them, just one or two favs.
50mm macro, it might be the biggest one they will ever offer.
24mm or 28mm quite fast, small
35mm or 40mm fast, small
50mm faster, smaller, cheaper than macro varient

Other possibility:
Lenseless module in M mount?
Module recycle program (lens can be reuse in some way)?

I think it can be really fun system, suitable for those who is "looking for a pair of serious compact + silly compact" which is perfectly matched.
After they release small 35 or 40 or 50, I will be in :)

So, what's to stop Ricoh from eventually coming out with a sensor with interchangeable lens flange? Or, better yet, a sensor with a universal-type mount that can then be adapted for the major dSLR mounts?

Then you'd have people buying the Ricoh 'chassis' along with the Ricoh sensor, and the Ricoh-to-mfgr adapter. When the manufacturers make a new sensor, Ricoh customers can just buy the new sensor and their other accessories just work.

In short, just because they started with integral sensor/lens assemblies doesn't mean they'll never separate the two.

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