The Ricoh CX1, with a 9.29MP CMOS sensor, Smooth Imaging IV engine and Dynamic Range Double Shot mode. It may fit the bill as a luxury compact, but is this matched by its performance? The What Digital Camera Ricoh CX1 review investigates...
Ricoh CX1 review – Features
The Ricoh CX1 follows a recent trend, albeit a low-key one, for high-speed shooting to feature in compact cameras. It’s less common to see this joined by a high-resolution LCD screen, a solidly-built body and a claimed dynamic range of 12EV stops, yet somehow Ricoh’s CX1 seems to pull all this off and more – the What Digital Camera Ricoh CX1 review investigates…
The CX1 has a 9.29MP sensor that can capture VGA resolution images at 120 frames a second, thanks to its 1/1.23in CMOS sensor and Smooth Engine IV processing. There’s no Raw shooting option, though there is a healthy range of JPEG sizes, compressions and aspect ratios to choose from. Handily, the Skew Correction mode seen on previous Ricoh models – such as the Ricoh GX200 – also features within the scene options, which helps to correct converging verticals.
Among the Ricoh CX1’s white balance presets sits an automated mode which analyses various parts of a scene, adjusting the white balance for each section (rather than applying an average measurement). The Dynamic Range Double Shot Mode option, meanwhile, takes two images at different exposure settings, before merging them together to create one with an expanded dynamic range.
Ricoh CX1 review – Design
The design of the CX1 closely follows that of the preceding R10model. Its solid magnesium body gives it a feeling of luxury and robustness, with the top plate sporting a smart, brushed finish. The five buttons on the back appear small but are generally fine in use, while the zoom operates briskly through its range. The Ricoh CX1 boasts the same 920,000dot resolution as many DSLRs, the 3in LCD screen is clear and contrasty, matched only by the straightforward nature of the menu system.
Ricoh CX1 review – Performance
I’m not sure quite when the average person would need to take 120 VGA-resolution images, though the 4fps burst mode the CX1 offers is both impressive and useful. Using an 8GB SanDisk Extreme III SDHC memory card, this rate did have a tendency to dip now and again, though I was able to shoot right up to the capacity of the card at a fairly consistent speed. Furthermore, the camera processes these files at breakneck speed, with no shutter lag and a picture on the LCD screen almost as soon as you trip the shutter release.
Barelling is excellently controlled at the wide end of the zoom
The DR function is a little disappointing – not because it doesn’t expand the dynamic range as promised, but because this seems to come at the expense of critical sharpness. Even when using a tripod this difference would show between images with the function enabled and disabled, though for smaller prints this shouldn’t be an issue. Focusing is prompt, and there’s also a handy step function, which automatically stops the zoom at main focal lengths such as 35mm, 50mm and so on.
Ricoh CX1 review – Image Quality
Images from the CX1 show very good detail capture and good dynamic range, even when the DR mode isn’t used. Detail is excellently maintained in shadow areas too, more so than in highlights which can occasionally blow, while sharpness is also generally fine. Impressively there’s no barrel distortion at the 28mm end of the lens, though the 200mm tele end does show a little pincushion distortion, and sharpness drops a little at this focal length. Chromatic aberrations are noticeable towards the edges and corners of the frame, although there’s not enough to be too concerned. Sometimes images can take on a rather ‘digital’ appearance and in poor lighting conditions a rough and jagged texture too, but other than this, a very commendable performance.
Barring a few issues, the Ricoh CX1 has useful features, a superb build and decent image quality worthy of a recommendation.