Ricoh CX1 review: Ricoh CX1

Typical Price: £300.00

Ricoh CX1

(Part #: CNETRicoh CX1)
3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Attractive design and interface; excellent 4 frames per second continuous shooting at full resolution; good high-dynamic-range mode -- in the right conditions.

The Bad High-dynamic-range shots can be easily spoilt; small and fiddly joystick; fairly expensive.

The Bottom Line The Ricoh CX1 is smart, elegant, clever and quirky, but the high-dynamic-range mode is imperfect, and, while you might swoon over many of its cleverer gadgets in the shop, you may later find you never use them -- for example, the seven-shot focus bracketing. On a professional-level SLR, this stuff might make sense, but not on a pocket-sized snapper with a titchy sensor

7.5 Overall

You can always rely on Ricoh to do something different. The CX1 has a high-speed CMOS sensor that allows 4 frames per second continuous shooting at full resolution, and an unusual high-dynamic-range mode that really works -- if you're careful. Your £300 will also get you a 7x zoom, image stabilisation and rather good 76mm (3-inch) LCD display.

The CX1 looks smart too, thanks to its black brushed-metal top, a grip-enhancing rubber thumb rest on the back, and plain, elegant controls, although the joystick controller is small. The on-screen interface is good, using small but perfectly legible type and a clean, fuss-free menu layout. It makes a refreshing change from the kindergarten-type graphics on so many other cameras.

The CX1's pictures are good but not great. The 9-megapixel CMOS sensor and 7x zoom help it keep up with its rivals but that's about all (click image to enlarge)

There's plenty of other clever stuff to play with and admire, such as the multi-pattern white balance, which adjusts the colour differently in different parts of the scene, so that shots with mixed lighting -- artificial and natural, say -- should come out better.

Ricoh doesn't stop at auto-exposure bracketing, but throws in white-balance bracketing and focus bracketing too -- the CX1 will shoot five or even seven versions of the same shot at different focus points. Talking of focusing, you can set the focus point manually anywhere in the scene by moving a set of crosshairs. There's even an electronic spirit level on the LCD to help you get your pictures level.

The elegant controls and rubber thumb rest complement an excellent high-resolution LCD display

So what about this high dynamic range, then? While Fujifilm performs clever tricks with pixel doubling in its EXR sensor , and others, like Panasonic, use selective ISO-adjustment techniques, Ricoh's got a much simpler method. When you switch to DR mode, the CX1 takes two shots, not one. They're taken so closely together that it still seems like one shot, but they're at different exposures. The camera then combines these different exposures to produce a single image with a much higher dynamic range.

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