Editor's note: as various aspects of this camera are the same as the recently tested, portions of this review are the same.
Design and features
Normally, the usual paragraph reserved for describing the outward appearance of a Ricoh camera is a very short one. Fortunately, both the CX1 and the CX2 buck the trend as they're a bit stylish. The metal exterior has a pleasant, slightly mottled texture that makes it easy to hold in one hand without the need for a wrist strap plus there's now an extra textured grip on the front that sets it apart from the CX1. It's available in three colours: silver, black and a two-tone pink/grey combination.
It's not as slim or as teensy as other compacts out there — at 185g and measuring 5.8x10.1x2.9cm it's likely to cause a bulge in anyone's pocket. However, it's this sturdiness that makes the CX2 feel like a proper compact camera to anyone who is accustomed to the bulk and weight of a digital SLR. Think of it as a companion piece to your SLR rig. At the back, a joystick on the top right of the camera provides menu navigation and access to common controls, whereas other buttons such as self-timer and playback are located in a neat arrangement alongside the LCD screen.
The 10.7x optical zoom is covered with a folding lens cover, a significant increase from the 7.1x version that appeared on the CX1. Those bragging rights inscribed on the top of the camera won't go unnoticed either — you'll find the phrase "10.7x optical wide zoom lens" etched into the top of the camera.
Many of the specifications remain unchanged from the CX1, like the 9.29-megapixel CMOS. The dynamic range mode has been tweaked slightly to include an automatic setting that lets the camera determine the exposure. This mode has been designed to overcome blown out highlights and loss of detail that's quite a common occurrence on compact cameras. The camera will take two photos of the scene in quick succession, each with different exposures, and then merge them together to preserve the most detail and dynamic range in the resulting image.
At the back, you'll also find a 3-inch LCD with 920,000 dots inside, which means excellent brightness and visibility in bright situations.
Multi-pattern auto white balance evaluates the light using a number of reference points throughout the image, resulting in more accurate white balance — and you'll be thankful for this as the CX2 only shoots in JPEG, not RAW. There's an in-built electronic level that is very useful when trying to level the horizon, and we really like how it automatically rotates depending on the orientation of the camera — another quirk that sets the Ricoh apart from its competitors.
The rest of the usual controls you'd expect on a camera of this class are all here, including vibration reduction (or image stabilisation), a 1cm macro functionality, face detection, and the ability to record video, though not in HD. Scene modes have been expanded, with a miniature function (like we saw on the) and a high-contrast black and white setting also part of the package.
The wheels on the mini bus go round and round. (Credit: CBSi)
Unfortunately, the lens' maximum aperture is a fairly slow f/3.5, which is disappointing given the 28mm focal length at the wide end. The CX2 also has auto bracketing settings, taking one shot at half a stop either side of the calculated exposure.
Like its predecessor, the CX2 isn't the fastest compact off the block in general performance times: it takes 2.6 seconds from power on to first shot, whereas shutter lag measures 0.5 second without pre-focusing, and 0.1 second with pre-focusing. But when it comes to bust speed, this camera leaves them all in its dust. In M-continuous mode, it can capture 5 frames per second at full 9-megapixel resolution for up to 15 shots — on par with digital SLR speeds on the frames per second rate, anyway.
The autofocus is a little noisy, though it's nothing that will get in the way unless you're partial to silent shooting. Ricoh rates the battery at 290 shots, with the LCD on dim settings.