It’s like déjà vu. Just six months ago, we noted that the Ricoh CX4 compact digital camera offered few advantages over its predecessor, the CX3. Half a year later, Ricoh has released the supposedly revamped CX5 – and once more, we have to ask whether there have been enough innovations and improvements to justify the price tag of £260. The answer, ultimately, depends upon how high a priority you place on focus speed and high zoom resolution, as these are the headline changes.
Externally, you’ll be hard pressed to spot many differences between the CX5 and its antecedent – the basic dimensions (102x59x29mm) are identical. It comes in the same silver, black and pink colour schemes. The control layout remains unaltered, and both cameras have a 3in LCD display – only this time it’s with a boosted resolution 920,000 pixels for clear and detailed previewing and playback.
It’s not until you glance at the side that you’ll notice that in addition to the conventional AV Out port, there’s now an HDMI adaptor so you can enjoy instant replay of your 1280×720 HD movies via your TV screen. Overall weight has dipped slightly to 197g (including battery and SD card) – and that despite the fact that the flash at the front has been pushed further towards the edge to make way for a passive AF sensor.
This sensor constantly measures the distance between camera and subject, and is part of Ricoh’s new hybrid AF system which combines the use of this area sensor with the previous Contrast AF. The result is that the CX5 focuses in almost half the time of the CX4, with speeds as low as 0.2 seconds throughout the whole range of its 28-300mm lens.
New ‘Super-resolution’ zoom
Fast focus is especially important at the top end of the zoom, which is where valuable time can be lost trying to capture those special moments. All of which brings us to the introduction of Ricoh’s so-called Super-resolution’ technology, which extends the 10.7x optical zoom by 2.0x while automatically choosing optimal settings for detail and gradations.
Although the CX5 has the same 10-megapixel CMOS sensor and Smooth Imaging Engine IV as the CX4, you can now use the super-resolution zoom in Zoom Macro mode for larger than usual results, but not in Movie mode. In practice, the Super-resolution images are marginally sharper than the standard digital zoom ones but not so much finer that it would encourage you to buy the camera for this feature alone.
Elsewhere, the number of Scene Modes has been expanded to 14, which now include specialist settings for Cooking, Fireworks and even the curious Golf Swing Continuous, where grid lines are displayed both during shooting and playback, yet not in video mode. We’re glad to see that the Electronic Level has been retained as well as the Dynamic Range mode, which combines the best aspects of two images using a range of manual or auto settings. However there’s still no manual mode and even some of the scene modes appear a bit behind the times.
Contact: 01189 337000
- Much faster AF capability than its predecessor.
- Still no manual mode, though...
Ricoh has justified the CX5 because of its undoubtedly improved AF speed and the less convincing super-resolution zoom feature. For those on the hunt for a multi-purpose, good quality camera, it's decent if unexceptional - if you already own the CX3 or CX4, there's still not enough innovation to warrant the upgrade.