The Ricoh CX3 is a 10-megapixel compact camera with a 10.7x zoom lens - UPDATED 14-04-2010

At 205g, the Ricoh CX3 is at the slightly weighty end of digital cameras that earn the compact name. And measuring 100x59x28mm, it's also a little fatter than the norm. But with a generous 10.7 optical zoom from the 28-300mm lens, and 10-megapixel resolution, you'll find more potential than from a typical compact.

The Ricoh CX3 camera is solidly built, our sample finished in anodised black, with a comfortable finger grip to the right. On the rear is a bright 3in LCD display, capable of showing pictures with great definition. In fact, in playback mode, they can almost look over-sharpened.

Navigating the Ricoh CX3's on-screen menus is easy with small but quite legible text used in favour of garish cartoony icons. Look through the setup menus and you'll find an impressive range of options, like Skew Correction and Level Compensation in playback mode, while the shooting menus allowing you to easily switch between such settings as the eight different focus options - Multi AF, Spot AF, Face-Pri AF, Continuous AF, Multi-targt AF, Snap and Infinity.

Start-up time is a little sluggish at around four seconds, most of that time waiting for the fat three-ring lens to motor forward to its 33mm extension. To zoom, you use the usual two-way toggle to the side of the top mode dial, and we noted that its zoom action is not the very smoothest you can expect.

As you can now expect of full-featured compacts, the Ricoh CX3 is capable of shooting high-definition-sized video, in this case 1280x720p. The resulting footage is bright and relatively faithfully coloured, with softening of edges and to remind you this is no real camcorder, HD or otherwise.

And zoom in while shooting and you'll see plenty of pixellation, suggesting digital rather than optical magnification at work here. But sound quality from the mono mic is rather good, captured as 16-bit uncompressed PCM with 16kHz bandwidth.

Still pictures from the Ricoh CX3 are also rendered without obvious spectral bias toward particular colours. Zoom in to 100% on strong dynamic contrasts, though, and you may notice the chromatic aberration, with a hint of red/green ghosting to the outlines of edges.

Low light shots are certainly better than you'll find on any entry-level compact, but with auto ISO creeping beyond 1000 ISO, expect some noise and artefacting.

A DR (dynamic range) option on the Ricoh CX3 combines two separately taken shots to enhance image quality. Taking these shots adds a few seconds to each snap but the result is worth waiting for.

Extra scene modes include such effects as Miniaturize, which blurs the top and bottom of the picture to simulate an exaggerated limited depth of field.

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