We’ve just published our review of the new Ricoh CX3 – an update to the Ricoh CX2 – it features a new 10 megapixel back-lit CMOS sensor, 720p HD video mode, 16:9 aspect ratio, new Pet scene mode, Auto-Scenes, Noise reduction options (from the GR DIGITAL III), Face priority focus, and the same specifications as the CX2, such as 5fps shooting, wide angle 10.7x optical zoom lens (28mm – 300mm), 3″ 920k pixel screen, image stabilisation, Dynamic Range shooting, electronic level, AF bracketing. The camera is available in black, violet, and grey and pink for £299
Ricoh CX3 – Digital Camera Review
Review Date: 12/04/2010
Author: Stephen Waller
Introduction:Announced in February 2010, the Ricoh CX3 is an update to the Ricoh CX2 and features a new 10 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, ISO 3200 at full resolution, new noise reduction algorithm, scene auto mode, new “pets mode” and 1280×720 pixel HD movies. Other features remaining the same: 10.7x optical zoom lens (Equivalent to 28-300 mm for 35 mm film cameras), quicker continuous shooting (5fps) and improved auto-focus, 3″ screen (920k dots), 1cm macro and anti-shake sensor. The Ricoh CX3 is available from around £299, £20 more than the CX2 when it was launched. The camera is enclosed in a metal body available in pink and grey, black or silver and measures approx. 101.5 mm (W) x 58.3 mm (H) x 29.4 mm (D) excluding protrusions, and weighs approx. 185g excluding battery and memory card. This review will deal mainly with the enhancements introduced on the CX3, and the Ricoh CX2 review will provide a background.
Ricoh have this to say about the camera in their brochure: “Low-light scenes of startling clarity. A new generation of high-sensitivity and low-noise performance. No longer be limited by low light. The all day high-image-quality compact: CX3” – Ricoh.
You can find more information on their web site.
The Camera: a visual tour:
Front view – camera off. (Photos of the camera taken with the Olympus
Front view – camera on, flash, focus assist lamp, lens.
Top: power, shutter, zoom control, mode dial.
Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax PC-550 35mm film camera – a medium/compact sized 35mm film camera.
Features new to the CX3 (compared to the CX2):
- 1/2.3-inch back-illuminated CMOS sensor (total pixels: approx. 10.60 million)
- Noise reduction algorithm introduced (as on the GR DIGITAL III. Off, Auto, Weak, Strong, or MAX.)
- Scene auto mode (S-AUTO switches to the optimum scene shooting settings.)
- 1280 × 720 pixel high-resolution HD movies at 30 frames per second
- Smooth Imaging Engine IV
- ISO: up to 3200
- Pets mode (turns off the flash, AF auxiliary light, and operation sounds to avoid
startling the pet.)
- Face priority AF (The faces of up to eight people can be detected.)
- Multi-target AF does high-speed consecutive shooting of five images (no longer seven)
- Diverse aspect ratios (the CX3 adds a 16:9 mode at 7mb)
- CX3 Digital Camera
- Wrist Strap
- Lithium Ion Rechargeable Battery (DB-70)
- Battery charger and lead
- USB cable
- AV Cable
- Software CD Rom
Average box contents. A large memory card would be nice and I highly recommend
getting a case as one is not supplied as standard.
Picture Size / Quality: The camera lets you choose the image size (9m,
7m, 5m, 3m, 2m, 1m, VGA), and how much compression is applied to the images (Fine,
Normal). In addition, aspect ratio can be set to either 4:3 (default), 3:2 (at
8m), 16:9 (at 7m) or 1:1 (at 5m). Higher quality images take a large amount of
memory, so a high capacity memory card is definitely recommended, unless you’re
prepared to sacrifice image size or compression to fit more pictures in memory.
There is a good choice of image sizes, compression options and aspect ratios with
few cameras offering 16:9 or 1:1 square format photos.
Bottom – Battery (DB-100, 3.7v, 950mAh), memory card slot, tripod mount.
Battery usage: Battery life is rated at 310 shots (according to CIPA standards – screen on DIM) – this is slightly better than average for a compact camera. Battery life will be dependent on the kind of use you make of the camera.
Memory cards: The highest quality large JPEG Fine images take over 3 megabytes. Typically a 1gb memory card would provide room for about 300 images, which I would recommend as a bare minimum. You can use SD, and SDHC memory cards – I tend to use Sandisk Ultra II Plus USB SD memory cards (pictured above) as these let you plug the memory card straight into a USB socket making it easy to transfer images onto any computer, they may still be available as 1GB, 2GB, 4GB SD cards. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Ricoh CX3:
Back – 3″ screen, adjust / OK / 4-way controller, play, Menu button, function, self-timer, display buttons, speaker.
Ease of use: The camera is very easy to use, particularly in the AUTO mode or the Scene Auto Mode that help get good results. The other modes are easy to access, mainly thanks to the clear dial at the top right of the camera and a lot of the commonly used options can be accessed using the buttons on the back. It’s easy to see when photos are in focus (thanks to the extremely clear, large screen) and the image stabilisation means that more of your shots will be blur-free. The built in level meter helps you make sure your horizons are level as well.
Image Quality: Here are some real world sample photos taken in various settings, such as Inside, Outside, Macro, to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the Ricoh CX3 Sample Photo Gallery!
Inside: The camera has good colour – Colour is quite natural, although the flash has a tendency to overexpose the images this can be adjusted with flash compensation or manually reducing ISO.
ISO Noise Test: Noise is generally a bad thing – it fragments detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as it is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise and noise is most noticeable in darker areas. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels (ranging from ISO 80 – ISO3200), and manual ISO settings (ISO: 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200).
|ISO3200||ISO3200 noise reduction MAX|
The new noise reduction algorithms appear effective in removing the most obvious noise in high ISO images. The level can be specified as Off, Auto, Weak, Strong, or MAX. Noise reduction processing is performed on the signal immediately after it is output by the back-illuminated CMOS sensor. This feature significantly improves images taken in poor light, extending the flexibility of this already very capable camera.
Smooth Imaging Engine IV This feature appears to be a circuit dedicated to enhancing the image by processing highlights and shadows, smoothing (as the name suggests) through interpolation, reducing whiteout and potentially shadow noise. It is not easy to demonstrate as there is no obvious option to turn it on or off. The claim is that processing by the engine renders a more life-like image.
Scene auto mode: Ideal if you switch frequently between scene modes. When in this mode the camera determines the most appropriate settings out of Portrait, Nightscape, Sports, Landscape, Night Port., and Macro Mode. The icon of the selected scene mode is shown on the display. It does appear to work most of the time, allowing you to concentrate on taking pictures.
Dynamic Range: On the CX3 this has been enhanced, and it is also now possible to specify detailed settings for dynamic range expansion effects by choosing the tone range to be given priority using the following options: “Highlights,” “Shadows,” and “Off” (no priority). This makes it possible to more faithfully record the scene.
Video mode: The camera features a new video mode – It can shoot 1280 × 720 pixel high-resolution HD movies at 30 frames per second with sound. Optical zoom is not available whilst recording, only digital. The videos are recorded as AVI files and quality appears to be fairly good.
Image Quality: Image quality is generally very good – with good colour, saturation and contrast. Noise can be noticeable but the new processing engine produces photos that are quite smooth with few hot pixels, compared to the competition, and detail is generally good (until ISO800 and above). To get the best results some tweaking may be required as images are slightly overexposed (particularly with flash) on default settings (increasing colour depth gives photos a bit more punch). I didn’t notice any vignetting (darkened corners). The CX3 adds a 16:9 mode convenient for photo viewing on a wide-screen television. White balance and metering are impressive with plenty of scope to cope with different lighting situations – especially thanks to the Dynamic Range mode which copes with scenes with bright skies and dark areas. (8.5/10)
Everything else (the camera as a whole): The camera is available in black, grey and pink or violet, and has a compact and stylish body considering the 10.7x optical zoom lens. The camera has an excellent 3.0″ screen with an impressive resolution of 920,000 dots. The camera feels robust, and is comfortable to hold. The camera is easy to use, and has quick access to the most commonly used options. The layout of buttons and controls is very good. The camera speed is good, with a good switch on time, quick focusing time, excellent shutter response, quick playback mode, quick menus, excellent continuous shooting (5fps), and good flash recharge time. The camera is packed with features that should suit photographers, such as “My” modes, dynamic range mode, numerous scene modes (including high contrast black and white and miniature), level and white balance compensation, good video mode, excellent macro mode, CCD-shift image stabilisation, a wide angle 10.7x optical zoom lens, and the list goes on. (9.5/10)
Value for Money: The Ricoh CX3 from around £299, is only £20 (and well worth it) more than the CX2 when introduced, and is roughly the same price as other compact cameras with backlit CMOS sensors. The CX3 and Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR are some of the smallest digital camera available with a wide angle 10x optical zoom lens. The Ricoh CX3’s main rivals are the Fujifilm FinePix F70EXR, Panasonic Lumix TZ6, and the Canon Powershot SX200 IS. (7.5/10) See more digital camera reviews sorted by megapixels here.
Summary: The Ricoh CX3 improves on the CX2 with a back-lit CMOS sensor by extending the useable ISO range. The changes introduced on the CX3 further enhance the photographic experience the CX2 introduced. If you can look past the seemingly high price then you could perhaps own the last camera you will ever need. Ricoh continue to improve their cameras year on year, and the CX3 is no exception.
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What I like:
- Great colour reproduction
- Improved noise handling
- Dynamic range mode improved
- High speed shooting – 5fps! better than some DSLRs
- Great wide angle 10.7x optical zoom lens
- Back-lit CMOS-shift image stabilisation helps with zoom and low light
- Robust, compact metal body
- Good battery life
- Excellent macro mode
- Electronic level
- Numerous customisable quick access adjust / function buttons
- Two “MY” custom modes on the dial
- Snap focus shooting
- Quick performance
What I don’t like:
- Relatively expensive
- Flash tends to overexpose
- LCD screen is difficult to see in sunlight