The Ricoh CX5 is a digital camera with a 10Mp sensor, strong image quality and some subtle upgrades from its predecessor. Updated, 8 June 2011
Ricoh cameras are somewhat divisive. They are heavier than most of their peers, but also very solidly constructed. If you want dainty, then a Casio or a Canon Ixus is likely to appeal more than a Ricoh; if you want speed and responsive, however, the CX5 is worth a look.
In fact, improved shutter times is the main thing Ricoh has addressed with this latest model. You can now expect as little as 0.2 seconds focusing in both 28mm wide-angle and at full zoom.
A 10Mp model, the Ricoh CX5 packs a 10.7x optical wide zoom (28 to 300mm 35mm equivalent) and is able to focus in macro mode as close as 1cm. Handheld photography over distance or when trying to take shots of very small objects very close up is notoriously tricky. The Ricoh does a pretty good job of the former, but its lightning-fast autofocus reflexes tend to flit from item to item if you’re snapping, say, flowers gently waving in the breeze. A tripod helps here, simply because it’s impossible to keep rock-steady in such a situation.
We got great handheld macro results when shooting indoors in controlled lighting conditions. The sensitive autofocus does create a bit of noise, though, and with all that lens retraction and extension going on, we managed to drain the battery a little earlier than we’d have liked. Over very long distances, we found the Ricoh struggled to identify objects to lock on to, leading to a marked but not disastrous loss of sharpness. A super-resolution feature can be used to boost this effectiveness here, but shots don’t bear scrutiny when viewed at their full size. We also had issues with the ISO settings on this camera: bright daylight results in lovely, balanced photos; grey days and twilight are not handled anywhere near as deftly.
In general use with the zoom only partially extended, the CX5 was very impressive indeed. Despite combating heavy coastal winds, we were able to point and shot and still end up with well-defined photos with great colour balance. The vibration correction did a good job here.
Composition is straightforward: a 3in LCD with a superior 920K dot resolution dominates the rear of this camera, while a rubber thumb grip to the left of the metal navipad at the top right is ideally placed. The four-way control offers flash and macro options that you simply cycle through by pushing up or down. On the front is a macro/telephoto lever that grinds a little, but is very (if not a little overly) efficient.
When you’re happy with the focal distance, the large button this lever surrounds is used to lock on and trigger the shutter. A slightly stiff job dial to the right of this moves between playback, video capture, semi-auto, scene and two user preset modes. A C option indicates custom settings. We’d prefer to have seen a dedicated video capture button, not least because we accidentally switched to video capture having inadvertently swivelled the selection dial.
Scene modes are largely those you’d expect, with tungsten, fireworks, party, sunset and action all on offer, plus the addition with this model of a ‘continuous golf swing’ scene mode. There’s also a 5fps continuous shot mode.
Video capture is limited to the semi-HD 720p resolution, but Ricoh does also enable the zoom capabilities to be used when videoing and there’s a microphone pickup. HDMI output and high-speed memory cards are supported.
Next page: Our original review of the Ricoh CX5, by PC World Australia's Elias Plastiras, from 7 February 2011 >>