Saturday, 24 March 2012

A16 Zoom First impressions

Today, I got a sample of the new GXR A16 Zoom module. It is a 'kit-lens' module for the GXR sporting a 24-85mm lens and a 16MP APS sensor without AA filter, unfortunately the lens is not very bright at f3.5-5.5 and the APS sensor only has a max. ISO of 3200.

Still, let's look at how it actually performs since specs alone are meaningless in actual real world use.

This is just a first hand impression and I have simply taken pictures with it so it will not be very analytical.

The first thing you will notice is how incredibly light but also how big this module is at the same time. Now there is no big secret how Ricoh managed to make it this light and unfortunately it means the module is almost fully made out of plastic so from a build perspective it is the cheapest feeling Ricoh product so far. The good news is that it will be easy to just throw in a bag and not know it is there and you can also shoot it one handed.

And one handed you will be shooting it since there are no controls at all on the lens, no zoom ring or a manual focus ring, this is very, very disappointing and I did not expect an aperture ring on the lens but seriously, not even a manual focus ring!?!

Once you get over the build and lack of controls around the lens and turn it on, it gets better. Not much if you see how far the lens still extends once you start zooming with it but when you see the pretty quick AF Ricoh has managed to implement. The AF is not always accurate and misfocuses quite a bit but from experience it is not worse than other AF cameras I used (GF1 with Olympus v1 kit lens for example).

My first pictures with the lens were inside of a restaurant and thanks to the slow lens it was necessary to shoot at very high ISO. Here I was both impressed and disappointed. Impressed with how good and clean ISO 3200 looks (especially when compared with the M module I had along) but disappointed of Ricoh's decision to limit the ISO at 3200, the camera can certainly go much higher than that.

Taking it outside, it appears to also have a higher dynamic range compared with the A12 modules. The new sensor here certainly does a very good job despite being a bit crippled with the high ISO.

The lens while not GR labelled has a pleasing bookeh and does not show any fringing even wide open. It also seems pretty sharp but here I am not sure if it's the lens as much as the lack of AA filter on the sensor.
Removing the AA filter is certainly a great idea and I hope Ricoh will make this a standard for their cameras. The downside is that with this module moireé seems to occur a lot more than on the A12 Mount.

If you have read my thoughts on this module before you will know that I was not really keen on it nor did I think much of it's specs but after using it I can see it appealing to people who want a kit lens but don't want to use the smaller sensors in the S10 or P0 modules.

I will use it more over the coming weeks and post my thoughts on it so if you have any questions let me know.
I plan to write a review of the GXR 'kit zooms' and compare the A16, S10 and P10 modules to see which one makes most sense.

Final word for now, I have read of people having problems with soft corners or de-centred lenses but my sample appears fine although the corners are not super sharp at 24mm. I will keep an eye on this and report more when I can do some tests.

All pictures are out of camera JPGs without any processing.


  1. Dear Cristian, your words counts. I'm looking forward to read more about your experience and see more of your real world pictures. That one, with the skeleton is a nice one. Due to its versatility I'm still using my GX200 a lot. So this new module will perhaps be the upgrade. Hope you enjoyed Düsseldorf. Best, KUM.

  2. For me I seens that the module has the Ricoh Gene. Nice bokeh and sharp. I will follow your thoughts.

  3. Thanks for the initial comments with what looks like a properly representative sample. I was pleased to hear that there is quick AF - I will be interested in hearing how it compares in focussing speed against the primes, particularly the A12 50 (but I'm sure you'll get round to that). ps like the first shot, especially.

  4. Nice to have a review of this module !! But do you think it is necessary to compare it with the S10 & P10 modules ? They are totally different kind of lens camera combination and quality (or at least i hope so..)
    Thank you

  5. Sorry, type the magic word ended up replacing my comment. Does it have a leaf shutter?

  6. Thanks for all the comments!

    KUM, So far I think aside from the size it could be a contender to replace the GX200.

    ChrisA, so far it seems the AF speed is faster than the A12 modules but not always as reliable.

    Nicola, I think the A16 Zoom, P10 and S10 modules are aimed at a similar user group and could warrant to be compared but I will try to look at each as extensive as possible.

    J.D. it does have a leaf shutter and is very quiet, I would say it feels a bit quieter than the A12 modules.

  7. Thanks. High speed flash synch is important to me, so I am happy to hear about the lens has a leaf shutter. I'd sure love a gxr module with an AF 15 mm (21 equiv @ FF) at f 2 or 2.8 and a 70 mm (105 equiv @ FF) f 1.4 or 1.8, both with leaf shutters. Yeah, I know I can get both focal lengths with the M mount, but not AF & leaf shutter.

    Cheers from Australia


  8. J.D. the A16 has a leaf shutter but I have not checked out the flash sync speeds, Ricoh is usually a bit conservative there but since I never use the flash I never know what they are. Will have to check out.

    As for the other modules with the focal lengths you mentioned, not sure what Ricoh is up to with the GXR at the moment but I assume we will know more by Photokina.

  9. I see by the recent photos you are giving the A16 zoom a workout. I'm quite impressed with the "real world" results (sorry, that whole real world photo review thingy is overused).

    As far as synch speeds go, synching at 1/500 with a manual flash is as fast as I need. I do a lot of interior work, and here in Australia ISO 200, f5.6 and 1/500 is my starting point for most jobs on most days.

    Keep posting the A16 zoom shots! Thanks JD

  10. John, I like the A16 zoom. It is a nice walk around kit but a bit big and does not have the same wow factor like the A12 Mount.

    Hope you enjoyed the other A16 pictures.

  11. Today, I got a sample of the new GXR A16 Zoom module. It is a 'kit-lens' module for the GXR sporting a 24-85mm lens and a 16MP APS sensor without AA filter, unfortunately the lens is not very bright at f3.5-5.5 and the APS sensor only has a max.

    CJC 1295 with DAC

  12. It has been a while, but I finally have my A16 zoom (at $450 on on closeout and including a new body who could resist?). My first tests show really malleable raw files--they can take a lot before falling apart and that RAW files need (and do well with) a good dose of sharpening. What I really am amazed at is the ergonomics. With no controls on the lens, I can grip it solidly and control the camera from all the right hand options. I am a deliberate shooter at this point in my life, so I can live well with the remote control zoom (I have seri to step zoom). I think this combo means I am finally ready to let go of my two Sony R1s.
    I really like this combo--and with the 50 & 28 I'm kinda' all set for my style of shooting.

  13. Thanks for sharing this great post! Cheers with regard to this kind of fascinating post below. My spouse and i had been trying to find such as that will with regard to a reasonable time in addition to finally I've found this the following.

    Pinnacle Peptides