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Ricoh CX1 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : 280
inc VAT

Specifications

1/2.3in 9.0-megapixel sensor, 7.1x zoom (28-200mm equivalent), 180g

http://www.purelygadgets.co.uk

Ricoh is better known for its photocopiers than its cameras but the CX1 might just change that.

Like Ricoh’s R10, it houses a 7.1x zoom lens inside a smart, compact metal body. Its 28-200mm zoom range snaps at the heels of the 10x and 12x lenses in this month’s ultra zoom and rugged camera labs. However, in many ways the CX1 goes far beyond what those models offer.

The screen’s 3in diagonal is great but it’s the 920,000-dot resolution that really stands out, producing a picture that’s as sharp as the eye can see. This screen resolution is normally found only on upmarket digital SLRs such as Nikon’s £800 D90.

The innovations go much further than a fancy screen, though. A DR mode captures and combines two shots at different exposure settings to extend a photo’s dynamic range. This isn’t as sophisticated as the dynamic-range extension in Fujifilm’s F200EXR, but as long as there wasn’t much movement in the scene, the results were just as impressive. The most unusual feature is a Multi-Pattern white balance mode, which attempts to eliminate colour casts in mixed lighting, such as sunlight and artificial light in the same shot. It’s a tall order, but the CX1 delivers, coping admirably with such tricky conditions.

Ricoh’s R10 was fast but the CX1 ups the ante with an astonishing 4fps continuous mode, which is quicker than most entry-level SLRs. You’ll need a fast SDHC card to cope with the 12MB/s throughput; our Sandisk Extreme III card coped well, managing 65 shots before slowing the camera to 3.5fps. Other drive modes include interval shooting and bracketing for exposure, white balance and focus. Manual exposure is a disappointing omission in a camera that’s otherwise so capable, though, and the basic VGA video mode isn’t up to much, either.

For image quality, the CX1 rivalled the best models in this month’s camera labs. Focus was impressively sharp across the frame, although subtle details were sometimes lost to noise reduction, even in bright sunlight. We had to switch the ISO control from Auto to Auto-Hi to get sensible exposure settings in low light. However, once we’d done that, the CX1 came out top for smoothness and detail in low light compared with the lab test cameras. It couldn’t match Fujifilm’s F200EXR for low-light image quality, though.

Ricoh has really gone to town on the CX1, and not with novelty gimmicks, either, but features that make a difference. It can’t match the fantastic F200EXR for image quality, but it has a more detailed screen, a bigger zoom and its performance is far faster. We recommend the F200EXR for most people, but if you’re considering one of the cameras in this month’s Labs test, the CX1 is an extremely tempting alternative.

Basic Specifications

Rating ****
CCD effective megapixels 9.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/2.3in
Viewfinder none
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 920,000 pixels
Optical zoom 7.1x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 28-200mm
Image stabilisation optical, sensor shift
Maximum image resolution 3,456×2,592
Maximum movie resolution 640×480
Movie frame rate at max quality 30fps
File formats JPEG; AVI (M-JPEG)

Physical

Memory slot SDHC
Mermory supplied 88MB internal
Battery type 3.6V 940mAh Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 270 shots
Connectivity USB, AV
Body material aluminium
Accessories USB and AV cables
Weight 180g
Size 58x102x28mm

Buying Information

Price £280
Supplier http://www.purelygadgets.co.uk
Details www.ricohcx1.co.uk

Camera Controls

Exposure modes auto
Shutter speed autp
Aperture range auto
ISO range (at full resolution) 80 to 1600
Exposure compensation +/-2 EV
White balance auto, 5 presets, manual
Additional image controls contrast, saturation, sharpness
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 1cm
Auto-focus modes multi, centre, face detect
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, interval, self-timer, AE bracket, WB bracket, focus bracket