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Ricoh CX3: Silently shoot your pets

Ricoh's updated its CX2 compact superzoom with, among other things, a 'pets mode' that kills the flash and noise so you don't disturb your furry friends' slumber

Ricoh's knocking out its CX-series compact superzoom cameras thick and fast. First came the CX1 last February, then came the CX2 in August and now the company is urging you to shoot your pets with the CX3.

Ricoh doesn't literally want you to apply a sawn-off shotgun to face of little Squeaky the kitten and pull the trigger. Rather, we refer to the CX3's pets mode, which turns off the flash and autofocus auxiliary light, and suppresses operation sounds, to avoid startling the furry object of your affections. The CX3 will also prioritise focusing on a cat's face when one's detected. Crave prefers a slobbering hound, but we have to applaud Ricoh's offbeat innovation.

Besides this new feature, the CX3 also differs from the CX2 in that it has a slightly higher-resolution, back-illuminated 10-megapixel sensor, 720p movie-recording capability, improved noise reduction for better low-light shots, and a 'scene auto' mode that automatically applies the optimal settings when you point the camera at your chosen target.

Otherwise, the CX3 doesn't differ massively from the CX2. It has the same 10.7x wide-angle optical zoom, the same 76mm (3-inch), 920,000-pixel LCD display and a similar high-end, quirky feature set. As with the CX2, it has a 5 frames-per-second continuous-shooting speed at full resolution, offers an unusual degree of focus control, sports a high dynamic range mode, and provides a multi-pattern auto white-balance feature that adjusts the white balance separately for different parts of a scene to cope better with mixed lighting conditions.

The CX2 impressed us with its satisfying build quality and feature set, but its image quality was worse than the CX1's and really spoilt the party. If Ricoh can improve on the CX2's image quality with the CX3, we may have a dribble-fest on our hands.

The CX3 will be available soon for around £300 -- the same price as the CX1 and CX2 initially sold at.