New 24-85mm Zoom Lens for the Ricoh GXR Digital Camera System

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Ricoh has just announced a new camera unit, or module, for its GXR digital camera system. The Ricoh Lens A16 24-85mm f/3.5-5.5 camera unit 5 provides yet another option in the continuously expanding Ricoh GXR digital camera system. This new module provides the highest resolution (16.2MP) of the five camera units and uses the Smooth Imaging Engine IV for fast image processing. Its 24-85mm focal length (35mm equivalent) gives a good variety of magnifications, from a wide angle to a normal portrait-length lens.

Ricoh GXR Digital Camera System

Before diving into the makeup of this specific camera unit, let’s first discuss what makes the GXR camera system so unique compared to the more traditional designs offered by other manufacturers. The Ricoh GXR system consists of two separate parts; the GXR body and a camera unit. Not at all typical, the body houses the display, memory card slot, batteries and other assorted components. The camera units contain an imaging sensor and processor, along with a lens, all in one sealed module. This design is more immune to obsolescence, as you can upgrade the camera unit while retaining the rest of the camera. Aside from giving you more flexibility with regard to resolution, sensor size and lens type, this design is also impervious to dust because the space between the optics and sensor is sealed; you don’t have to worry about how often or where you change camera units. The exception is a camera unit that permits the use of Leica M lenses on the GXR body.

24-85mm f/3.5-5.5 Lens

The A16 24-85mm camera unit is the first of the A-sized models to feature optical zoom and it strays from their former prime lens design. This lens features a focal-length range that encompasses the other two lenses and supports wide-angle views, in addition to being an adequate portrait-length lens. Its composition includes 11 elements within 9 groups, including 3 aspherical lens elements. This lens makeup helps to reduce distortions and aberrations significantly across the entire zoom range while improving contrast and color fidelity. It also features 9 rounded aperture blades for producing an aesthetic bokeh.

16.2 Megapixel APS-C CMOS Sensor

Aside from the obvious focal length differences, this camera unit distances itself from the others by offering about four more megapixels of resolving power over the other A-sized units. This increase in resolution raises the amount of detail captured by the sensor while improving the quality of gradients. The large 23.6 x 15.7mm CMOS sensor continues to offer enhanced quality and provides a greater sense of visual depth to the resulting images. These optical counterparts work in conjunction with the Smooth Imaging Engine IV image processor, which contributes to low noise and high ISO sensitivity.

Dynamic Range Compensation and ISO Bracketing

Pulling from the increased resolution and image processor, this camera unit features a number of modes to help improve the accuracy of your exposures and selectively control regions of your image to extend the dynamic range. With ISO bracketing, up to three successive images are recorded with different ISO sensitivities. By bracketing with the ISO sensitivity instead of shutter speed or aperture, you are able to keep the same movement and blur control while maintaining depth of field throughout all three images. Additionally, if you keep the shutter button half-pressed in between images, you can maintain all of the same image settings between frames (including focus, white balance, and exposure settings). Dynamic range compensation mimics post production HDR-imaging techniques and automatically reduces the exposure value of highlights and increases the value of the shadows to adequately contain all visual detail within a single frame.

Precision-Focusing Abilities

The focus system of this camera unit has been improved and features a number of functions to help attain the sharpest focus possible. While the same AF system is employed, allowing either pinpoint spot focusing or a more broad system of points to determine focus, a number of improvements are geared more toward manual control of focus. A focus-assist function is included and is based on two different modes resembling peaking (having a contrast line superimposed around the edges of subjects to objectify focusing). You can also magnify the LCD by 4x or 8x for scrutinizing focus within smaller areas of the image.

Enhanced and Improved Modes

A number of features of the A16 24-85 f/3.5-5.5 have been improved over past models. These include the ability to turn on or off the white-saturation display, an enhanced tilt function to detect camera movement direction, the option to directly embed copyright information into the metadata of files in-camera, bulb and time settings, image flagging and new scene modes. These new scene modes include soft focus, cross process, toy camera, miniaturize and high-contrast black and white. The visual white saturation function mimics that of a zebra function that is commonly associated with professional camcorders; areas of the image that are overexposed will be identified with a pattern so necessary exposure adjustments can be made. An expanded JPEG + RAW shooting mode records both a RAW file and a JPEG simultaneously at the time of the exposure. RAW files can also be recorded on their own to conserve space on memory cards. Full HD movies can be recorded in the 720/30p format. 

Dynamic Range Scene Modes

Newly Introduced Accessories

In addition to the new camera unit, Ricoh has also introduced three new accessories specifically designed for use with it. The LH-2 lens hood is compatible with the focal length range of this lens and the unique LC-3 lens cap opens and closes automatically, permitting you to leave it in place at all times. A new wrapping cloth has also been introduced, offering protection for any of the Ricoh camera units or other accessories.

LH-2 Lens Hood LC-3 Lens Cap WS-1 Wrapping Sheet

The Ricoh A16 24-85mm f/3.5-5.5 camera unit shows definite progress for this unique digital camera system and provides improvements in terms of functionality and quality. The increase in resolution, paired with a host of new features makes this camera unit an efficient, all-around solution for effectively using this system with a single lens.

Effective Pixels 16.2MP
Image Sensor 23.6 x 15.7mm CMOS
Focal Length 15.7-55.5mm (24-85mm, 35mm equivalent)
Maximum Aperture f/3.5-5.5
Minimum Focus Distance 9.8" / 25cm
Elements/Groups 11/9
Filter Diameter 55mm
Optical Zoom 3.5x
Digital Zoom 4.0x (3.6x for movies)
Focus Modes Contrast AF-based multi and spot AF; MF; Snap; Infinity focus lock/AF-assist
Shutter Speed Still: 1/3200-180 sec. (bulb/time)
Movies: 1/2000-1/30 sec.
Exposure Metering TTL-CCD metering, center weighted and spot metering
Exposure Mode Program AE, aperture priority AE, manual exposure, shutter priority AE, target-movie function
Exposure Compensation Manual: -4.0 to +4.0 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 steps
Auto: -2.0 to +2.0 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 steps
ISO Sensitivity Auto, ISO 200-3200
White Balance Auto, Multi-P AUTO, Outdoors, Cloudy, Incandescent Lamp 1, Incandescent Lamp 2, Fluorescent Lamp, Manual Settings, Detail (white balance bracketing)
Flash (with GF-1 optional flash unit) Method: TTL, manual, external auto
Flash mode: Anti Red Eye, Flash On, Flash Synchro, Manual
Firing timing: 1st/2nd curtain sync
Shooting Mode Auto, program shift, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual exposure, scene (movie, portrait, sports, landscape, nightscape, skew correction, miniaturize, high contrast B&W, soft focus, cross process, toy camera), My Settings
Continuous Mode Noise Reduction off: 3 frames
Noise Reduction on: 2 frames
M-Cont Plus HI (1280 x 856): 30 frames (30 fps)
M-Cont Plus LO (4928 x 3264): 14 frames (2.5 fps)
File Formats JPEG (FINE, NORMAL), RAW (DNG)
Image Size 16:9 4928 × 2768, 3456 × 1944
4:3 4352 × 3264, 3072 × 2304, 2592 × 1944, 2048 × 1536, 1280 × 960, 640 × 480
3:2 4928 × 3264, 3456 × 2304
1:1 3264 × 3264, 2304 × 2304
Movie Size 1280 × 720, 640 × 480, 320 × 240
File Size RAW:
16:9 NORMAL: 23,445 KB/frame, FINE: 25,703 KB/frame, VGA: 20,508 KB/frame, RAW only: 20,332 KB/frame
4:3 NORMAL: 24,443 KB/frame, FINE: 26,795 KB/frame, VGA: 21,405 KB/frame, RAW only: 21,181 KB/frame
3:2 NORMAL: 27,603 KB/frame, FINE: 30,265 KB/frame, VGA: 24,139 KB/frame RAW only: 23,937 KB/frame
1:1 NORMAL: 18,383 KB/frame, FINE: 20,147 KB/frame, VGA: 16,105 KB/frame RAW only: 15,929 KB/frame
L:
16:9 NORMAL: 2,901 KB/frame, FINE: 4,999 KB/frame
4:3 NORMAL: 3,041 KB/frame, FINE: 5,226 KB/frame
3:2 NORMAL: 3,415 KB/frame, FINE: 5,889 KB/frame
1:1 NORMAL: 2,288 KB/frame, FINE: 3,927 KB/frame
M:
16:9 NORMAL: 1,481 KB/frame, FINE: 2,514 KB/frame
4:3 NORMAL: 1,579 KB/frame, FINE: 2,668 KB/frame
3:2 NORMAL: 1,749 KB/frame, FINE: 2,974 KB/frame
1:1 NORMAL: 1,192 KB/frame, FINE: 2,008 KB/frame
5M: 4:3 FINE: 2,293 KB/frame
3M: 4:3 FINE: 1,479 KB/frame
1M: 4:3 FINE: 818 KB/frame
VGA: 4:3 FINE: 202 KB/frame
Battery Life Approx. 400 shots per charge
Operating Temperature 32-104°F / 0-40°C
Storage Temperature -4-140°F / -20-60°C
Operating Humidity 90% or less
Camera Unit Dimensions 2.8 x 2.8 x 3.7" / 71.4 x 70.5 x 93.3mm
Dimensions (attached to GXR body) 4.5 x 2.9 x 3.9" / 113.9 x 74.7 x 98.5mm
Camera Unit Weight 12.3 oz / 350 g
Weight (attached to GXR body) 19.4 oz / 550 g

Sample Images: