Ricoh CX5 camera
Ricoh CX5 camera review: A large compact camera with a 10.7x zoom lens and plenty of useful features
There are not a lot of differences between the new Ricoh CX5 camera and the Ricoh CX4 that preceded it. Both cameras enjoy a 10-megapixel CMOS sensor and 10.7x optical zoom lens, and physically they don't look much different. The upgrades to the Ricoh CX5 are indeed subtle and include the addition of new scene modes as well as improvements to the focusing system and image sharpness at maximum zoom.
- 10.7x optical zoom, strong build quality, excellent macro capability, fun creative modes, supports EyeFi SD cards
- Tracking autofocus was a little too jumpy, auto white balance wasn't always accurate, noticeable noise above ISO 400
The Ricoh CX5 is a little bigger than a typical compact camera, but it packs a versatile 10.7x zoom lens that's also great for macros. We love the CX5's build quality and controls, and its 3in screen is super-sharp and bright. It can take clear and vibrant photos for the most part, but its picture quality does suffer from some noise issues. Nevertheless, we still think it's a great camera.
As with the Ricoh CX4, the CX5's image quality is very good, albeit a little noisy. It doesn't handle low-light scenes especially well; any time the ISO speed is pushed above 400, noise becomes even more prevalent in the dark or shaded areas of a picture. Noise issues aside, colours are captured vibrantly and images have plenty of detail — you'll definitely be able to print large photos without them turning out looking too feathered.
A feature called Super Resolution has been added to the CX5, and its job is to make images look a little sharper overall. It definitely does its intended job, and the results look good when you view the photos at a small size on your screen; when you scrutinise them at their full size, they look a little too 'etched'. While the Super Resolution feature works within the standard zoom range of the lens, its main aim is to allow you get more zoom out of the camera — up to 21x (and this is before digital zoom kicks in). The results of this extra zoom look very good when you view the photos at a small size, but at their full size they will look very muddy.
There isn't a manual mode on the CX5 (it's definitely not in competition with the Canon PowerShot S95, for example), so you will have to make do with its auto and scene modes, which will handle the shutter and aperture automatically. However, you can change the ISO speed (and also limit it so that the camera doesn't select a value that's too high and noisy) and you can also change the white balance and exposure compensation. We had to play with the white balance a lot during our tests, as the auto white balance sometimes didn't pick the best setting, especially for indoor shots.
Read reviews of the best mega-zoom cameras on the Australian market.
We love the 28-300mm zoom lens, which not only lets you get up close to the action from a distance thanks to its long reach, it also lets you get right up close to your subject (practically touching the lens to it) to capture great macros. The focusing of the Ricoh CX5 was fast, as promised, and we had no problems with it hitting our intended marks. Its powerful autofocus beam also made night time focusing very accurate. Unlike what we experienced with the CX4, focus tracking on the CX5 was a little too sensitive. The focus point often jumped from one object to a similar-looking object in a scene. Furthermore, it didn't work well with dark coloured objects in our tests; it favoured brightly coloured objects for tracking.
One of the cool things about the Ricoh CX5 is its creative modes, which include Miniature, Toy, Soft Focus and Black and White. These are fun to play with and they produce good results. You can also make use of the camera's scene modes, which now include the new modes: Cooking, Fireworks and Golf. Yes, Golf. The Golf scene mode allows you to display a vertical line on the screen, along with another adjustable diagonal line. The theory is that you can take a photo of your golf swing (it takes three photos in sequence) to see if your swing ends up resting on the very grid line you've set. None of us are golfers here at PC World, but we reckon it looks awfully hard to get the timing right with this feature. It would probably be better off as a video mode.
Speaking of video mode, the CX5 can record video up to 1280x720 in AVI format. You can't zoom very far in video mode, so it's not a very versatile feature, but it's good if you want to plonk the camera on a tripod to record a speech at a wedding, for example. Its microphones are sensitive and they pick up speech very clearly. However, they also pick up taps if you are holding the camera or moving it while it's recording.
With good build quality, well laid out (and sturdy-feeling) buttons and controls, as well as a capability to capture very good image quality, the CX5 continues our love affair with Ricoh cameras. It's not a perfect camera, and some of its features can be improved (such as the tracking focus), but we feel it's a great compact for anyone who wants a big zoom, excellent macro capability and reasonably clear and vibrant photo quality. It includes features that we miss on other compact cameras, such as the electronic level, and even though it's bigger than most other compacts on the market, we just love how solid and well-balanced it feels in our hands. The colour of our test model, however, is not something we're keen on.
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