Ricoh CX1 Review

4.5
March 23, 2009 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 9 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 3Mb.

The Ricoh CX1 produced images of good quality during the review period. The Ricoh CX1's main drawback in terms of image quality is noise, with ISO 400 showing some noise, blurring of detail and slight colour desauration. The noise and loss of detail get progressively worse as you go from ISO 400 to ISO 800 and finally the fastest 1600 setting. The new Dynamic Range mode works really well, resulting in images that have noticeably more dynamic range that those shot in the Normal mode, and far surpassing most other compact cameras. If you want to shoot images that retain detail in both the highlight and shadow areas, then the Ricoh CX1 is a great choice. There is one main drawback though; the DR images have noticeably less saturated colours than the Normal version, which more accurately matches the scene, which makes the CX1 less successful than the Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR that we recently reviewed. The Ricoh CX1 handled chromatic aberrations very well with limited purple fringing effects appearing only in high contrast situations. The 9 megapixel images were just a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpen setting of Normal and either require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you should set the in-camera sharpening to Sharp. The night photograph was OK, with the maximum shutter speed of 8 seconds allowing you to capture just enough light for most situations. Macro performance is the stand-out highlight, allowing you to focus as close as 1cm away from the subject, although there is a lot of lens distortion and shadowing at such a close distance. Anti-shake is also a feature that sets this camera apart from its competitors and one that works very well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range. The built-in flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure.

Noise

There are 6 ISO settings available on the Ricoh CX1. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

Dynamic Range

When the Ricoh CX1 is in DR mode (Dynamic Range double shot) it takes two images with different exposures, and then records a single image that combines the properly exposed parts of each one. You can also choose to take a DR and Normal image at the same time (both are saved to the memory card). Here is an example which was shot with Normal and then the four DR modes (Very Weak, Weak, Medium and Strong), with links to the original full size images and histograms.

Normal

Dynamic Range - Very Weak

Full Size Image

Full Size Image

   

Histogram

Histogram

   

Dynamic Range - Weak

Dynamic Range - Medium

Full Size Image

Full Size Image

   

Histogram

Histogram

   

Dynamic Range - Strong

 
 

Full Size Image

 
   

Histogram

 
 

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting of Normal. You can change the in-camera sharpening level to one of the preset levels (Sharp, Normal or Soft) if you don't like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

File Quality

The Ricoh CX1 has 2 different image quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

9M Fine (3.19Mb) (100% Crop)
9M Normal (1.84Mb) (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations

The Ricoh CX1 handled chromatic aberrations excellently during the review, with very limited purple fringing present around the edges of objects in certain high-contrast situations, as shown in the example below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Ricoh CX1 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is just 1cm away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

100% Crop

Flash

The flash settings on the Ricoh CX1 are Auto flash, Red-eye Flash, Flash On, Flash Synchro and Flash Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Suppressed Flash - Wide Angle (28mm)

Forced Flash - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Suppressed Flash - Telephoto (200mm)

Forced Flash - Telephoto (200mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On or the Red-eye Flash settings caused any red-eye.

Forced Flash

Forced Flash (100% Crop)
   

Red-eye Reduction Auto

Red-eye Reduction Auto (100% Crop)

Night

The Ricoh CX1's maximum shutter speed is 8 seconds via the Time Exposure main menu option, which is fairly good news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 8 seconds at ISO 80. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Anti Shake

The Ricoh CX1 has an anti-shake mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with anti shake turned off, the second with it turned on. Here are some 100% crops of the images to show the results. As you can see, with anti shake turned on, the images are much sharper than with anti shake turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)

1/45th / 28mm
1/26th / 200mm

Entry Tags

compact, 7x zoom, 9 megapixel

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