Tuesday, December 10, 2019
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Ultra Zoom Compact Review: Ricoh CX3

What is it

The CX1 started a revolution for Ricoh. They made some terrible cameras in the R6 and R7 series. They had lens issues that made the camera impassible to sell. The R8 and R10 changed the lens, but the image quality was just not there.

Enter the CX1. Much better image quality and a lens to match.The CX2 added a 10x zoom lens and a few other minor adjustments. The CX3 is changed from the 9MP sensor in the CX2 to the 10MP back illuminated sensor.

The Ricoh CX3 is a very full featured camera. It doesn’t have the manual control of say a Canon or Panasonic, but it does have some great functionality that allows the photographer a good amount of flexibility.

Power up of the camera is fast. Focus is very fast and accurate. The lens is actually about a 10.7x zoom lens equivalent of 28-300mm. It has the best LCD of any camera in this group test, along with the Nikon S8000 with a very high resolution 920,000 dot 3.0 inch LCD screen. This is a feature that many entry level SLR’s don’t have.The LCD has excellent sharpness with high contrast and good visibility in bright sunlight.

So, how good is the 10MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor? Let’s put it this way, it as potential. The benefit to this technology is that it is theoretically supposed to be better in low light than conventional sensors.

The CX3 has 720p HD video which it’s predecessor CX2 did not have.

One very good feature in the CX3 is it’s DR mode. DR stands for dynamic range and can be useful where you’re shooting in a high contrast situation. For example, beg bright sky and dark shadowed buildings. The camera will take two very quick photos and combine the results.

Other good features include multi-pattern AWB; 5fps continuous shooting mode and excellent battery life of 300 shots; 1cm macro, interval timer, in-camera ‘levels’. The camera has a very useful ‘electronic spirit level’  for shooting both vertical and horizontal images.

The camera feels rather well-built (though the Panasonic is king here). It is not the prettiest camera, and looks very purpose built. However, a few round lines wouldn’t go astray.

The menu and user interface is excellent with the only problem being the font will be just a little too small for some users. However, the CX3 has many useful user adjustable options. If you don’t want them, they don’t get in the way of using the camera.

The back of the Ricoh has a toggle type joystick which provides navigation through the menus but also access to the quick menu which contains the WB, ISO, +/- compensation. There is also a ‘Func’ button which is assignable.

Now, image quality. For regular use, and especially outdoors, the CX3 provides one of the best images in this class of camera. The image is superb at ISO settings up to 200, but like all compact cameras starts to deteriorate above this.

We’ll say this about the CX3. This camera is the easiest camera to use. It is the ultimate point-and-shoot. The exposure in the pictures was very good time after time. The white balance was excellent (except indoors like every camera on the market). You can adjust the flash output which not many cameras allow you to do.

The macro mode on this camera needs special mention. If you take pictures of flowers or other small objects that require lots of detail and sharpness  and good colour gradations, then this is the camera for you. You can even do multiple frames per second in macro mode. This is an unusual feature as you normally have one or the other.

The Good

  • The 920,000 dot high contrast LCD
  • Super sharp lens
  • Fast start-up
  • Fast auto focus
  • Excellent user interface
  • Reliable white balance
  • MY1 and MY2 user savable settings for quick access
  • DR mode
  • 1cm macro
  • HD video
  • 5 frames per second
  • Easiest, most reliable camera in the group

The Bad

  • No dedicated video button
  • High ISO still not great
  • No manual shutter or aperture control
  • Neither modern looking nor retro designed, just bland.

Previous – Olympus mju 9010 Next – Nikon S8000

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