Inside Story

Transcending the boundaries of the digital camera GXR Interchangeable Unit Camera System

[Design and Development] What technologies gave birth to this new-concept camera system?

The pursuit of high image quality

A month and a half have passed since the GXR interchangeable unit camera system went on sale. In that time, the GXR has been covered in many media, giving rise to considerable interest among camera users. Major contributing factors in this interest include the newness of a system enabling both lens and image sensor to be changed and also user surprise at the images they have created with GXR imaging power.

Katsuhiko Nuno
"Our goal was image quality surpassing
an SLR camera." (Katsuhiko Nuno)

"This time we developed two units in parallel: the GR LENS A12 50 mm F2.5 MACRO camera unit (referred to as "A12" below) with a 50 mm fixed-focal-length lens and the RICOH LENS S10 24-72 mm F2.5-4.4 VC camera unit (referred to as "S10" below) with a 24 to 72 mm wide-angle zoom lens. For the A12 our goal was image quality surpassing an SLR camera and for the S10 our goal was image quality surpassing Ricoh's GX200 high-end compact camera," said Katsuhiko Nuno, camera unit development leader in Design Group No. 1 in the Personal MultiMedia Products Company ICS Design Office.

"GX200"

Camera unit

High praise for beautiful bokeh

For the S10, which covers a range of focal lengths, a thorough effort was made to reduce noise. Suppressing image distortion and color fringing near the edge, the S10 achieves high-resolution and contrast at all focal lengths. It brings together the best of the compact digital camera development expertise accumulated by Ricoh up to now.
Making full use of Ricoh optical technology for a lens worthy of the GR LENS name, A12 lens resolving power boasts superior definition and sharpness to the edge of the frame. "This was our first time developing a 50 mm GR LENS, and we were totally obsessed with image quality. Particularly with respect to "good bokeh," at trial manufacturing time we checked the bokeh with simulations, and using prototypes we repeatedly shot and evaluated images, not stopping until we were satisfied," said Nuno.

GR LENS A12 50 mm lens system enables a higher dimension of optical performance

Sample Image1
(Click to enlarge)

What is "good bokeh"? ——Please take a look at the picture of a woman at right. The blurring (bokeh) of the light in the background periphery takes a round form. The closer this form is to a perfect circle, the closer the bokeh comes to being considered low-distortion "beautiful bokeh." "We have heard from very happy users who are thrilled to be able to use a small camera to shoot portraits with beautiful bokeh without having to ask the subject to strike a pose. Developing both the A12 and S10 camera units was practically the same as developing two different cameras simultaneously so it was a real challenge to achieve satisfying image quality and set up a highly reliable manufacturing operation within the tight development timeframe. It was with great relief that I saw the GXR on store shelves as scheduled," said Nuno.

  • *Lens focal lengths in the text are all converted to 35 mm film camera equivalents.

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