^ A past glory of Oly and sensation of the time, OM-1
A great deal of online discussions is going on between the aye-sayers and the nay-sayers about the rationale behind Ricoh bundling a lens to a sensor for its GXR camera.
There is a famous common saying in Hong Kong, which is in Cantonese, "Bae four bae hak". Literally, it means "A hundred kinds of merchandise items to cater for a hundred types of customers."
So, despite it's all well and good to debate the technical aspect in the discussions, the reasoning can be put into a proper perspective if we see the matter in the context of market share.
The niche market is where Ricoh has been surviving best facing the keen competition from the big names. Its previous crown of 24mm-lens-serious-compact was taken down. While it has abdicated the throne, Panny and Oly are having a banner year selling the even more tempting MFT cameras like hotcakes. In comparison, the series of GRD and GX simply lacks lustre.
When a company feels stuck, it has to think up a way out and out of the box too. Something catchy. Newthink. A make-it-or-break-it tryout. It's risky yes. The history is simply repeating itself.
And history has seen such a newthink not just once.
In 1973, Oly introduced the OM-1 which was later followed by enhanced products in the OM Series. The world's smallest and lightest 35mm single-lens reflex camera was the acclaim given to it then.
Apart from its small size, the cloth curtain shutter was fitted with strings instead of ribbons. Another newthink was to put an air damper in the camera body to absorb the shock from mirror movement.
Other innovations include eliminating the condenser, using a pentaprism with a curved lower surface and new designs to reduce body size and the noise and shock caused by shutter operation.
The list of innovation didn't stop there. Shutter was improved for durability to withstand 100,000 operations. The finder screen could also be replaced from the lens mount side.
The result? Initially, the OM-1 was sold under the codename M-1. It scooped up the market share so much so that Leica asked Olympus to change the name. That was a lesson learnt.
Has Ricoh stricken a fine balance here? Let's bear in mind that our generation will finally give way to the next and the next after. The old definition of camera from the lore of the old days has been evolving. So will be ours.
When the young kid grows up and goes into photography, will it be possible that we will reflect and say the same about the GXR as do about the OM-1?
Time may prove the GXR a failure or otherwise. Both "Well done, Ricoh" and "Shame to you, Ricoh!" have the cogent arguement. But, my bottom line is that we need more cameramakers like Ricoh to advance new ideas about photography. It will be absolutely better if it refrains from pricing its products on the high side.
(Photo Copyrighted to: Zuikoholic)