When Ricoh unveiled its GXR interchangeable lens system towards the end of 2009, the company promised a steady flow of modules to cater for different photographic situations. True to its word, the fourth lens module has just been unveiled at Photokina 2010. The unit features a 28mm equivalent, wide-angle lens, a 12.3 megapixel sensor and image processing engine, and is said to deliver edge-to-edge high quality images, precision autofocus and 720p high definition video.

Each module in the GXR system consists of a lens, sensor and processing engine. In the case of the new GR LENS A12 28mm F2.5 unit there's a wide-angle 28mm fixed focal length lens, a high speed CMOS sensor, and GR Engine III processing engine. The GR lens has a 6-group, 9-element configuration with two aspherical lenses, one special low-dispersion lens, and multiple high-refraction-ratio lenses – all of which is said to result in high image quality right to the edge of the frame. The combined efforts of the APS-C size 12.3 megapixel CMOS sensor and the image engine are reported to offer "high-quality images with smooth tone gradations as well as high definition and low noise."

In addition to offering precision adjustment, the manual focus ring can be used to fine tune autofocus. If you don't trust your eyes, you can magnify a framed image during shooting by up to 8x to check for any annoying blur. Multi-pattern auto white balance is offered for a more natural look to photos, and sensitivity of up to ISO3200 should be able to cope with those low light, flash free moments. As an extra boost to image quality, a sophisticated variance-estimation type noise reduction is said to be possible for analysis and optimization of all the regions in an image.

Other features include an electronic horizon indicator, the ability to shoot 720p high definition movies, and a 320-shot battery life. The unit is said to be quite durable too, having a die-cast magnesium exterior with a corrosion-resistant "pear skin" coating.

The GR LENS A12 28mm F2.5 module will be available from mid-October for a suggested retail of US$699.

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