Ricoh has announced the launch of the GXR, which they are calling an "interchangeable unit camera system".

It is a new system for the company, as Ricoh tackles the challenge of increasing quality whilst still remaining compact. The name comes from a fusion of the GX and XR series of Ricoh cameras.

Kazunobu Saiki, General Manager Ricoh Europe, described the GXR as "drastically expanding the shooting range" available to photographers.

The GXR features interchangeable lens units which slide on to the main body of the camera. This allows the body of the camera to stick to small dimensions whilst giving the user the flexibility to chop and change lenses depending on their shooting requirements.

The GXR body features a built-in flash and 3-inch 920k-dot screen around the back, with the option of purchasing an additional electronic viewfinder which connects to the hot shoe on the top. The dimensions of the body are 113.9 x 70.2 x 28.9mm.

The real unique feature of the GXR system is the use of a sealed lens unit which also contains the imaging sensor, meaning that there is no risk of dust or dirt ingress – which is a risk on DSLR cameras and their smaller Micro Four Thirds challengers.

At launch you'll be able to get two lens units: the GR Lens A12 50mm F2.5 Macro and the Ricoh Lens S10 24-72mm F2.5-4.4 VC. The GR lens gives you 12.3-megapixels on a CMOS sensor, whilst the Ricoh lens presents you with 10-megapixels and a CCD sensor.

Ricoh is looking to launch more lenses in early Q2 2010 to expand the offering.

The Ricoh GXR will be available from December 2009 and the pricing lines this up as an enthusiast model. The GXR body will cost you £419, the GR lens £600, the Ricoh lens £330. The EVF will be £219 and the accessory flash will be £239.

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