The CX series of Ricoh cameras is now in its sixth iteration, with updates to the series arriving with a defined regularity. The CX6 arrives with the characteristic level of upgrades on the previous version – more evolution than revolution – but it still promises high performance and good images.
The CX6 features a 10MP, 1/2.3in CMOS sensor. The sensor itself is back-illuminated, a feature which promises better performance in low light and at high ISO settings, whilst the sensor is also supported by Ricoh’s Smooth Imaging Engine IV to aid said performance.
The model features a 10.7x optical zoom, covering a focal range of 28-300mm in equivalent terms. The lens itself is supported by sensor shift image stabilisation, and offers macro shooting as close as 1cm at the wide angle of the lens.
The previous incarnation of this camera, the Ricoh CX5, featured a new hybrid AF, and this features again on the CX6. The camera combines a Contrast AF system with sensor-based AF to provide focus speeds of as little as 0.1 sec according to Ricoh.
One highlight of the CX6’s specification is its LCD screen – the model features a 3in LCD with a resolution of 1.23m-dots, placing it right at the high end of the scale. The screen also feature new ‘High-brightness’ technology which, Ricoh claims, makes the screen 1.7x brighter than before.
A welcome addition on the model is the new aperture and shutter priority modes: one criticism of the previous model in the series, the CX5, was that it lacked the advanced control over exposure and as such the aperture and shutter priority modes are good to see. Alongside this addition of shutter and aperture priority for the advanced shooter sit a host of creative shooting modes and a scene recognition auto mode, with the former including effects such as Toy Camera and Miniaturize.
Unfortunately, Ricoh still hasn’t added Raw capture functionality to the compact – an addition needed to keep up with the advanced compact market
Design, Performance, Image Quality and Verdict
Aesthetically, the CX6 continues along the same lines as previous models in the series. The body does see a few additions and changes when compared to the previous iteration, the main being that the rear of the camera now features a dedicated movie record button, offering one-touch access to the 720p recording.
Despite not being the smallest advanced compact camera on the market, in no small part owing to the reasonable optical zoom, the CX6 still handles well in use. This is in no small part thanks to the combination of a rectangular body which is bulbous towards the right hand side and a rubberised thumb grip on the rear panel of the camera. The model’s menu system is also pleasing in that it’s well designed and easily navigable, and all of these factors combine to make the CX6 an enjoyable compact to use.
Ricoh’s claims about focus speeds are generally borne out in use –
the CX6 is noticeably quick to focus, with focus accuracy also
pleasingly apparent. The camera also performs well optically – the 10.7x
optical zoom travels between the wide and tele ends both promptly and
relatively quietly, while the 1cm macro focusing distance is both
welcome and effective. The CX6’s menu system is intelligently laid out,
while the combination of both the Fn button and adjustment toggle mean
that shooting controls are easily adjustable.
Image quality, as with previous CX models, is on the whole pleasing. The
camera demonstrates a good dynamic range and handles both highlight and
shadow detail capably. There is slight lack of contrast, and a tendency
to marginally underexpose, although this is readily correctable in image editing software. Fringing is kept to a minimum, although some softening is
noticeable towards the edges of the frame. High ISO noise is generally well controlled, probably in no small part thanks to the combination of Ricoh’s Smooth Imaging Engine IV and the back-illuminated CMOS sensor. Noise is well controlled right up to ISO 800, and even then the noise that does appear doesn’t cause a great degradation on overall detail, more a slight softening of fine detail.
Ricoh CX6 review – Verdict
The Ricoh CX6 certainly has a lot going for it. To start off with, the LCD screen more than matches any other advanced compact on the market. Add to that the entirely reasonable 10.7x optical zoom, the new addition of shutter and aperture priority shooting modes and a eminently usable layout and body design and, in theory, you should be on for a winner. However, the CX6 still has holes in it’s specification, with Raw capture being one clear example of this. When you throw several image quality issues in to the final assessment, you have to conclude that while the CX6 is a very capable advanced compact, it’s not quite worthy of a Gold award.