Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The GXR Argument: Worth a Buy or...

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We left a question unanswered yesterday: How does the GXR system compare with the MFT system?

In a sense, well, it is not necessarily useful to compare the GXR (with A12) system to the MFT system.  Let me explain why.

R1220576 (Medium) There are several areas which cannot be compared directly between the GXR and MFT systems. Size-wise, the GXR is more in the class of serious compact. It weights one pound with either the A12 or S10 module but, probably for reason of weight distribution, feels like way less than a pound (The GF-1 weights one pound with the pancake and 1.5 pounds with the kit zoom lens). Ergonomics-wise, the GXR  is superior which we have to leave to a separate post. As regards the sensor, GXR A12's is not just bigger but integrated in an optimal construction factoring in the Low Pass Filter, flange back distance and back focal length. Ricoh achieves a good result as some review has found the GXR A12 outperforms even the Nikon D90 with the superb AF-S DX/NIKKOR 35mm/f1.8 G in image quality (it is a printed review; no proof here and you've got to trust tester).

Simply put, the GXR is great in some ways that, say, the GF-1 is not and vice versa.

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In fact, having tried the GF-1 and the GXR A12, I don't really see a big difference in image quality, with the caveat that the APS-C sensor surely performs a bit better than the relatively smaller MFT sensor in rendering the details and the dynamic range.  Again, you may make your own conclusion by checking out again the full-size photos I uploaded yesterday (click here and here).

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The Argument

But, no, these strengthens or weaknesses have no bearing on the argument here.  Taken the IQ alone, the A12 lensor as a combination of a supreme GR lens and an APS-C sensor is worth a buy.  If the concern is the available choice of lenses, the GF-1 is more tempting.  The comparison of cameras, in fact, boils down to one conclusion: do you have the money to burn for it?

So, our question should be rephrased from "how the GXR compares..." to "how do we position this camera".  Without making sense of its position, we can't admire the GXR system even if a technical test result proves it to be the Editor's Choice  or Best Buy.  The GXR is a novel concept, which is so revolutionary that a photographer has to acknowledge the concept before accepting the system per se.

I get a clue of the answer to this "how we position the GXR" question from how I feel about the GXR.

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The Clue

In my hand, the GXR feels solid.  The non-slip "pear-skin" baked finish gives me a good grip of it in addition to an unassuming look to the camera body.  The solid feel also comes from the slide-in design.  The tiny S10 and even A12 module rightly fit between my index and middle fingers while my thumb is able to tightly grip the camera body.  The integration approach makes the A12 module much smaller than Pany's MFT pancake plus the thickness of the GF-1 body.  The GXR mounted with the lensor is like a stone clutched in my palm.  To start with, the holding alone gives me a fresh idea about what a newthink camera can be like.

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It doesn't mean that the GF-1 is without a solid feel.  But its slippery finish and the regular lens mount deterred me from holding it casually, which was complicated by the mediocre lockless docking for the EVF to be knocked off accidentally at any moment.  To me, the GF-1 felt like just another DSLR but at a reduced size.

The biggest draw of GXR is that it works in such a different way that suits a photographer just better.  I walked and shot and changed the modules and casually dropped it in the bag and shot again.  It was quick.

Having taken pictures with a SLR for so many years, I am still frustrated by the clumsiness in swapping lenses:  To grasp the shooting chance, I have to be quick but careful not to scratch the back of the lens in the hand while capping it at both ends.  At the same time, I must mind the other lens in another hand which I am uncapping.  I also need to keep an eye on the subject anticipating its moment while checking with the other eye the mounting position to get the lens mounted correctly.  Oh, did I say that I put back the dismounted lens in the backpack or where?

Honestly, I hate this.  With the GF-1, the experience of changing lenses doesn't improve.  The small size of the lenses does't make much of a difference here.

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GXR is an Organic System

This pet peeve of changing lens made me think: why do photographers need a camera to be shrunk?  Among other things, we modern men have not much patience left for getting what we want in over a second.  We need it and need it this second!  This sounds pathetic.  We are.

Photographers requires these cameras to be compact not just for the matter of size but more for improved convenience in shooting.  In this sense, GXR works differently and successfully which is unparalleled so far.

How convenient can the GXR be?  Why does the subheading say "organic", which provides some hint on how to position the GXR system?  Tomorrow, we will clear up these questions and be more prepared to go into the good and bad of the, first up, A12 module.

We will come back to the topic and proceed ahead in the next post.

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