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Ricoh CX1 - Ricoh CX1

By Cliff Smith



  • Recommended by TR
Ricoh CX1


Our Score:


Ricoh cameras usually have very good performance, and with its high-speed components the CX1 is even faster than usual. It starts up in a little under two seconds, and shuts down again just as quickly. In single-shot mode it can take a picture every 1.3 seconds, which is as fast as any top-end compact on the market. I've already mentioned the 4fps continuous shooting mode, which needless to say is also exceptionally fast. The mechanical noise of the zoom and focusing mechanisms which was a negative feature of several previous Ricoh models has been greatly reduced.

The autofocus system is very good, focusing quickly and accurately in all lighting conditions. The CX1 has a very good AF assist lamp with a range of several meters, so it will focus properly in total darkness. The built-in flash is also good, with excellent frame coverage and good close-range metering. The recharge time from an average flash is about five seconds.

Image quality, and especially high-ISO noise, has been a major problem for many previous Ricoh cameras, notably the R10. I remarked in my review of that camera that a new sensor was needed, and I'll sit here looking smug because the image quality of the CX1, with its new CMOS chip, is a vast improvement over the previous model. The lens takes some of the credit, producing excellent corner-to-corner sharpness, with no distortion at any focal length and only a tiny hint of chromatic aberration in the corners of the frame at wide angle, but it is the sensor and image processor that deserve the accolades. The overall level of detail is superb, and colour rendition is pretty much perfect. The expanded dynamic range feature works extremely well, producing good shadow and highlight detail even in difficult high-contrast shots.

Image noise is handled extremely well, with negligible visible noise at 80-200 ISO, and acceptable image quality at 400 ISO. From 800 ISO upwards noise reduction becomes more noticeable, but the effect is actually oddly pleasant, almost impressionistic, and overall colour fidelity is reasonably good even at 1600 ISO, although a lot of fine detail is lost.


The Ricoh CX1 is a very accomplished camera from one of the veteran names in the industry. It combines excellent build quality, a versatile specification, class-leading performance and superb image quality with a range of innovative features and easy-to-use handling, all for a very reasonable price, and even includes a two-year warranty. It's impossible not to be impressed.


July 2, 2009, 3:58 pm

That extended dynamic range feature is remarkable and ingenious! This is a definite contender to replace my ageing and slightly temperamental Ricoh R6.


July 2, 2009, 4:25 pm

This looks to me like it might be a good value alternative to the LX3. Can anyone comment how the CX1's dynamic range trickery compares with the LX3s inherent goodness in this department?

Cliff Smith

July 2, 2009, 5:19 pm

ChrisC - In terms of dynamic range I'd say that the LX3 is better on highlight detail, but the CX1 has the advantage in the shadows. However do bear in mind that the CX1 has none of the LX3's manual exposure functions, so it's not really an alternative.


July 2, 2009, 5:27 pm

@ John - I would hardly go so far as to call it either remarkable or ingenious. Nearly every other high-end camera on the market has has such a feature, and many provide more significantly improved results than I see in the test shots with this camera (although this may be down to the poorly calibrated monitor I'm currently using).

Cliff Smith

July 2, 2009, 6:58 pm

smc8788 - In fact the majority of enhanced DR features work by adjusting the tone curve of the image to improve shadow detail. The CX1 is the first compact camera to actually use instant in-camera HDR to extend dynamic range. I'd call that pretty ingenious myself.


July 2, 2009, 9:30 pm

How does the Ricoh CX1's image quality and dynamic range compare to that of the Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR?


July 2, 2009, 9:39 pm

Hmmm, OK then, I'll give it ingenious as it hasn't been done before, but if it isn't any better than its rivals it's perhaps not a remarkable solution just yet.

Out of interest, how fast does it take the different exposures for the HDR imaging feature? Does it struggle with moving subjects that would result in ghosting, for example?

Martin Daler

July 3, 2009, 12:34 am

@ Cliff Smith - "The CX1 is the first compact camera to actually use instant in-camera HDR to extend dynamic range"

Well, apart from the Fuji F200 EXR, about which you said:

"In high-contrast situations the sensor splits, capturing two images simultaneously at different sensitivity settings. These are combined in the camera to produce a single image with greater dynamic range", which amounts to the same HDR thing as here, only without the time difference.


July 3, 2009, 1:38 am

@Martin Daler - the Fuji F200 EXR takes a different approach in that it captures two images simultaneously rather than taking two successive images with different exposures. The details of the EXR sensor can be found here:


Ron 1

July 3, 2009, 11:54 am

How does this compare to the Panasonic TZ7?

jens s

July 3, 2009, 2:38 pm

Like smc8788 I'm not impressed by the dynamic range test shots.

Does it have settings for dynamic range?


July 4, 2009, 12:41 am

Ugly as hell though!!

Vic Barnes

July 6, 2009, 9:45 pm

Not another damn camera without a 'proper' viewfinder. Imagine trying to shoot action pics in bright sunlight and a strong wind. I actually like the camera's shape but don't like the noise control -- it should be better. I'm looking for a non-DSLR with the CX1's spec, but it won't be this camera.


July 28, 2009, 5:46 pm

I do love my R6 but this is making my mouth water and my palms itch. The problem I have is how much better than my super reliable R6 is it gonna be? Also will she let me buy this when the R6 has been more than adequate. The R6 has struggled with crisp winter views in Skye. But then all cameras of similar age and price are the same. The combination of clear sky, sea, mountains and snow make it impoeeible to "get the shot" but it has been so good. It has proven itself at the F1 as well, dificult though with the speed obviously.

God I want this model but not sure if I can justify it


August 6, 2009, 8:36 pm

@Trusted Reviews. I've just tried to show somebody this review (through digital cameras, search by brand, Ricoh and this doesn't show up. Just letting you know.

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