Meet the camera with interchangeable...cameras
A12 Prime Macro
Of course, the other advantage to the GXR system is your ability to switch out the lens, sensor, and processing in a group. With the A12's 12.3MP APS-C-sized sensor, this represents a serious upgrade over the S10. Resolution increases to 2075 lines in our test, and noise remained in the acceptable range through ISO 800. Color accuracy scored Excellent, with an average Delta E of 6.98.
Autofocusing could be tricky. In the macro range, the A12 behaves as many DSLR macro lenses do—hunting and sometimes failing to achieve focus. We can’t really knock Ricoh for this, as the problem is pretty much endemic to macro AF, and the company deserves some credit for limiting the focusing range with the lens in macro mode. Ultimately, though, we found it better just to use manual focus in macro. Ricoh makes this easier with the A12 by including a focusing ring on the lens. But, as with Four Thirds lenses, the ring doesn’t physically engage the focus mechanism—instead it activates electronic control of the focusing motor.
In this case, the actual focusing is rather slow, which can be annoying if you have to move it far. But you do get finer control of focus placement—important when shooting in the macro range. We just wish there was more tactile feedback in the ring, and the ability to speed up the focusing.
Equivalent to the 50mm field of view of a 35mm camera, the A12 can be used as a normal prime at non-macro focusing distances. While the AF may still hunt at normal distances, typically it finds focus in a reasonable amount of time.
Plus, set to continuous AF, once the system locks on, it does a surprisingly good job of tracking the subject. As with the S10, we suggest prefocusing when tracking.
Outside of the focusing quirks, we enjoyed the A12 module, maybe even more than the S10. As with normal DSLR lenses, it proves more versatile than you might at first think.