You might be pardoned for thinking that Ricoh is in some sort of competition to produce the fastest number of upgrades possible with its CX series of compact digital cameras, as it’s barely six months since the launch covers were removed off the CX3 yet now the CX4 is rumbling off the assembly lines.
At first glance, it’s hard to see what the external differences are between the black version of the CX4 and its immediate predecessor, as both the dimensions (101.5 x 58.6 x 29.4mm) and the weight (205g) are virtually identical and both feature a 28-300mm 10.7x optical zoom lens. When you examine a bit more closely you notice that the CX4 has slightly smoother curves and that the CX3′s handgrip at the front has been replaced by a less efficient thin plastic strip. If you don’t want the austere black model, then you can opt for champagne silver or purple pink.
The similarities between the two cameras don’t stop there. The control layout on the CX4 matches that of the CX3, with simplicity and clarity as the central themes. On the top next to the small recessed power button is the shutter, surrounded by a zoom ring, and the mode dial which includes two customisable settings.
On the back is the 3-inch LCD display which has exceptionally detailed viewing thanks to the 920,000 pixels, alongside a column of dedicated buttons for Menu, Fn (Function), Timer and Display, plus an extra Playback button and a joystick for menu manoeuvring. When pressed in, the joystick incorporates an Adjust capability that provides quick menu options in the display.
Like its antecedent, the CX4 uses a 10-megapixel back-illuminated sensor and Ricoh’s Smooth Imaging Engine IV, has a minimal Macro focusing distance of 1cm and shoots 1280 x 720 HD movies. The S-Auto mode (which automatically selects from one of six shooting types) remains, as well as Scene, Continuous and full Auto, but a new category of Creative shooting has been added.
This allows for a number of fun effects such as Miniaturize, Toy, High Contrast Black & White and Cross Process (which produces unusual colours), plus an extremely effective Dynamic Range which combines two rapidly taken photos at different exposures.
There are some other – admittedly meagre – innovations, including a Night Landscape Multi-shot scene mode which combines four successive exposures shot at high sensitivities into one, and a subject-tracking AF system which generally does a good job of keeping moving objects in the frame but is very noisy about it. The image stabilisation technology has also been beefed up to reduce blur by an average of 3.7 stops and the improvement is marked at the top end of the zoom.
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