Sealed against water, dust, dirt and shock, the Ricoh PX distances itself from its rivals with a stylish minimal design. What Digital Camera investigates whether the PX's images are just as easy on the eye...
Ricoh PX review – Features
Ricoh hasn’t tackled the waterproof camera market as other manufacturers have, with just a handful of models over models over the years, some of which are aimed more towards industrial than consumer use.
The company’s latest PX model, however, is something quite different. With an understated design and a price tag under £200, it looks likely to join the growing number of affordable waterproof models targeted towards the younger, fashion-conscious crowd.
Ricoh claims the model’s waterproofing allows it to be used to a depth of 3m for up to 60 minutes, which may seem a little behind what others are offering but is likely to be sufficient protection for the average underwater user.
As with many similar models, though, the PX is protected against more than just water: its sealing makes it resistant against dust and dirt, while shock proofing allows it to be dropped from a maximum height of 1.5m. Ricoh has also primed the camera’s 2.7in LCD screen with a coating to prevent any scratches from forming as it is being used and abused.
On the inside the PX offers a 16MP CCD sensor, which shifts to compensate for image blur. In front of it sits a 5x optical zoom lens, which provides the user with a capable focal range of 28-140mm. Ricoh also claims that this range can be doubled to a maximum 280mm with almost no drop in image quality, thanks to its Super Resolution technology.
In addition to the default Program option, the user may choose from a number of a number of Scene presets, and there are a range of effects such as Miniaturize and Toy Camera on hand for more creative moments. There’s also a handy Skew Correction mode to correct for sloping verticals, and various colour options such as Cross-Processing and Sepia.
The PX’s sensitivity range begins at ISO 100 and ends at ISO 3200, while image noise reduction is applied to images as standard. The camera’s 256-area metering pattern provides multi-segment, center-weighted and spot options, while in terms of video Ricoh has furnished the model with a 720p HD recording capability.
A camera’s 2.7in LCD screen has a 230k-dot resolution, while HDMI micro and mini USB ports are located next to the SD/SDHC card slot inside the camera’s battery compartment. Finally, power is provided by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which is claimed to last for approximately 300 shots.
Ricoh PX review – Design
The Ricoh PX bears a more minimal style than its waterproof rivals, without the various screws around its body and hard-to-press buttons. Build quality is high, and the door to the battery compartment is thick and protective without being difficult to open.
The camera works well underwater and maintains a clear view of the scene, despite the small size and basic quality of the camera’s display. Crucially, no moisture could be found on the inside after it had been taken out of water. It also carried on functioning as normal after being dropped a few times, never showing any error messages or indicating that it needed to be restarted.
Performance and Image Quality
Ricoh PX review – Performance
There’s only a brief pause between turning the Ricoh PX on and it being ready to use, and the camera powers down in as good a time. Set to its multi-pattern focusing mode, the AF system does well to immediately spot and focus on the key elements in the scene, and it doesn’t take long for the camera to bring subjects into focus either, even when light levels dip.
The only annoyance with operation concerns the camera’s zoom. The rocker on the camera’s top plate would be better placed on the back of the camera where it could be controlled by the thumb (or alternatively, around the shutter release button), while the lens itself moves unsteadily through its range, beginning slowly before powering through hastily to the other extreme. While it’s possible Ricoh has intended this to be the case, it’s somewhat irritating when you’re trying to set the lens to a specific point.
Ricoh PX review – Image Quality
The camera’s image quality is reasonable, but it struggles to overcome image noise at all ISO sensitivities. Even when taken in good light images result with a slight texture and softening from image noise reduction, both of which compromise image details. At the highest few sensitivities image noise and colour are drawn out of images by the camera’s noise reduction, which leaves them looking flat and uninspiring.
Elsewhere, however, things are better. Some distortion at wideangle is visible but it’s admirably controlled, while only minor traces of purple fringing contribute to the camera’s overall chromatic aberrations. The metering system only fails to hit the spot on a handful of occasions, although the Auto White Balance system can be a little inconsistent at times. Colour is pleasing, though, with images showing a close resemblance to real life hues. On some occasions, therefore, the user may wish to increase saturation a little, particularly if printing images straight away.
Value and Verdict
Ricoh PX review – Value
While the PX may not be the cheapest waterproof compact currently available, its sub-£200 price tag does make it cheaper than a number of its immediate competitors. True, its waterproof capabilities are more limited than others, and there’s no freeze or crushproofing as there is with certain Olympus models, but the omission of these probably won’t concern those who simply want something a little more rugged than the norm.
Ricoh PX review – Verdict
The PX is priced and built well for a waterproof compact and it performs to a satisfactory standard in and out of the water, but image noise and the low quality of the camera’s LCD screen are the biggest downsides.