Friday, 5 August 2011

Ricoh GXR Mount A12 Announced

Today Ricoh has officially announced the long awaited GXR Mount A12 module allowing GXR users to mount M lenses on the GXR and by doing this Ricoh has managed to be the first consumer digital camera to separate the Body from the sensor and lens.

I am very happy to see this module and think it is exactly what is needed to show people more of the full potential of the GXR system.

You can read the press release below but here are some of the things I find most interesting and want to comment on.

- The probably biggest news in the press release and another first in digital cameras as far as I am aware are the two shutter methods. A newly developed focal plane shutter (1/4000 sec. to 180 sec.) and electronic shutter (1/8000 sec. to 1 sec.). This is big news in my view and the ability to either use a physical or electronic shutter makes this module unique and very versatile.

- Ricoh is using a custom sensor with no AA filter and micro lenses optimized for M lenses so it should produce a very good image quality even with wideangle M lenses, this usually poses a problem on the RD1 and also my GF1.

- The MF implementation was a big concern since Ricoh announced the module because it was not very well implemented in their other modules (as you can read in my review of the GXR A12 28mm module). Here Ricoh has again listened to the complaints and feedback and implemented a sort of peaking function which works great on the Sony NEX cameras and enhanced the normal magnification assist so I am very happy to see this being implemented. MF should work very well with this and be even easier than using a RF patch.

- Another great feature is being able to not only to add the lens data in the EXIF information but also read this easy from an SD card, shame it does not look like it can read the lens information from coding on the lens but overall this should not really be a problem if you can store your settings on an SD card and have easy access to them.

- The lens checking device is a great idea, who else other than Ricoh would get the idea for such a simple yet very usefull tool, it should work great for the colapsible Leica lenses which are always a bit of a concern to mount on other cameras.

In addition to what you can read in the press release here are some other interesting details I got from Ricoh.

- The Low ISO 100 setting will be available but will suffer from lower dynamic range.

- In S-mode the camera can raise the ISO when set to Auto or Auto-High.

- You can set if you want the shutter to close or remain open when you power the camera off!
You hear this Panasonic!! I have mentioned this when I first saw the G1 at Photokina and it's still not implemented, Ricoh shows how to do this right.

Read on for the full press release

Ricoh announces GXR MOUNT A12
A GXR lens mount unit featuring an APS-C size CMOS sensor

Tokyo, Japan, August 5, 2011—Ricoh Co., Ltd. (president and CEO: Shiro Kondo) today announced the development and planned September 9, 2011 release of the new product GXR MOUNT A12, a lens mount unit exclusively for the GXR interchangeable unit camera system. The body color will be black only, and the planned monthly production volume is 3,000 units.

Introduced in December 2009, the GXR is a revolutionary interchangeable unit camera system in which lenses can be changed by mounting camera units that integrate lens, image sensor, and image processing engine into a single unit. In addition, utilizing its unique ability to accommodate interchangeable units other than camera units, the system can be expanded to include a variety of other devices.

The new GXR MOUNT A12 is a lens mount unit made especially for the GXR. Featuring an APS-C size CMOS sensor and a newly developed focal plane shutter, this unit makes it possible to mount lenses such as Leica M lenses, and it provides various types of compensation and correction functions.

<Main features of GXR MOUNT A12>

1. The newly adopted APS-C size CMOS sensor expands possibilities for high resolution and imaging power.

・The adoption of a CMOS sensor with an optimized micro lens layout makes it possible to secure sufficient brightness levels even in the peripheral areas of the image.
・The CMOS sensor used is 23.6mm × 15.7mm (APS-C size). It enables the shooting of high-quality images with smooth tone gradations as well as high definition and low noise.

2.Compatibility with a wide variety of lenses, including Leica M mount lenses.
・Compatible with the Leica M mount, GXR MOUNT A12 can, of course, handle M-mount lenses, and if a conversion adapter is used many more types of mounts can also be accommodated.
 ・A checking device is included for use in confirming whether or not your lenses are physically compatible.

3.Diverse new functions maximize the potential of the lens itself
・In order to accommodate the photographer’s own preferences by adjusting for the distinctive characteristics of many different lenses, GXR MOUNT A12 can independently correct coloring at the corners. Color shading correction is possible in a -4 to +4 range for both R and B.
 ・Peripheral illumination correction is possible in a -3 to +3 range.
 ・A distortion correction function is provided to correct for the distortion that tends to occur in the lens periphery. The photographer can select barrel and pincushion distortion and specify “strong,” “medium,” or “weak” for each.
 ・A glass optical filter was adopted and made as thin as possible. It increases periphery image quality and suppresses field curvature.

4.High-precision focusing
・A focus-assist function has been included in an effort to raise the accuracy of manual focusing. The photographer can select from two modes and check the focus by strengthening outlines and contrast.
・Magnifying the screen image while shooting is an effective technique for focusing. The magnification can be done not only in the center but throughout the image. In addition, the image quality for 4x and 8x magnification has been further enhanced. The area to be magnified can be moved using the directional pad.

5.Two shutter methods are featured: newly developed focal plane shutter and electronic shutter
  ・With the focal plane shutter, settings of 1/4000 sec. to 180 sec. are possible.
      ・With the electronic shutter, settings of 1/8000 sec. to 1 sec. are possible, and the photographer can shoot without worrying about shutter noise and vibration.

6.The wide range of functionality that characterizes the GXR series
・My Settings enables a wide range of shooting functions to be specified in an instant. For the setting information storage, six patterns can now be stored in the body’s My Settings Box and six patterns can be stored in the SD card. This, along with the ability to change shooting conditions, further expands the photographer’s world of photo expression.
・In manual exposure mode, the shutter speeds B (bulb) and T (time) can be selected. With B, the exposure continues while the shutter release button is pressed, and with T, the shutter release button is pressed to start and end the exposure. For both B and T, the exposure is automatically ended when 180 seconds have elapsed.
・Information on the lens used can be put in the EXIF information. In the editing of My Settings information, lens name, focal length, and F value can be entered.
・New scene mode options have been added for the easy enjoyment of a wide range of photo expression. The five new options are soft focus, cross process, toy camera, miniaturize, and high contrast B&W. The photographer can create a unique image by just pressing the shutter release button.
 ・An electronic level utilizing an acceleration sensor.
 ・An image flag function to enable the quick display of specific images from among those in the camera. Up to 20 images can be flagged.
 ・For the exterior, we utilized die cast magnesium, which has a strong track record in the GR series, and we covered the surface with a corrosion-resistant "pear-skin" coating. The end result is a body with durability, light weight, and a superior feel in hand.
 ・It is possible to shoot 1280 × 720 pixel HD movies.
Note: When shooting movies of 1280×720 size, the use of an SD/SDHC memory card with an SD speed class of Class 6 or higher is recommended.

7.New options added
  • We have created the new soft cases SC-75B and SC-75T, which are easy to open and close. With SC-75B, it is possible to shoot with the case attached to the GXR body.

<GR MOUNT A12 options>

Product Model
Soft Case B (lower portion and strap) SC-75B
Soft Case T (upper portion only) SC-75T

All of the focal lengths in this release are converted to the equivalent values for a 35 mm film camera.
SC-75T cannot be used as a case by itself. It must be used together with SC-75B.
SC-75B and SC-75T are new options being introduced at this time.
Functions when the GXR body is attached.

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