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It's only been a few months since I reviewed the Ricoh CX1. Ricoh has never been the most prolific of camera manufacturers, only launching a couple of new models a year and keeping its older designs in production long after faster-moving brands would have discontinued them. It's rather surprising then that less than six months after the launch of the CX1, Ricoh has followed it up with today's camera, the new CX2.
Ricoh pretty much invented the concept of the pocket-sized compact camera with a long-zoom wide-angle lens, launching the five-megapixel, 7.1x zoom (28-200mm equiv.) Caplio R3 in 2005. At the time it was a unique idea, but other manufacturers eventually saw the potential of the design and introduced their own zoom compacts, most notably Panasonic with its highly successful TZ-series, the latest of which features a 12x zoom and HD video recording. Rather than try to play catch-up though, Ricoh introduced a new technical innovation with the CX1, in-camera High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging, taking two pictures simultaneously at different exposures and combining them to produce a single image with improved shadow and highlight detail. I have no doubt that other manufacturers will soon copy this idea, in fact Pentax has included in-camera HDR in its latest DSLR, the K-7.
The CX2 is really only an incremental upgrade of the CX1, and shares nearly all of that camera's features, including the 9.29MP CMOS sensor, the incredibly sharp three-inch 920k monitor, the strong all-metal body and of course the in-camera HDR feature. The only obvious external difference is the small handgrip, which is now slightly more rounded and has a non-slip texture. I say obvious, because the main upgrade is easy to miss at first glance. The CX2 has a new f/3.5-5.6 10.7x zoom lens, equivalent to 28-300mm, but which retracts flush with the camera body and is exactly the same size as the f/3.3-5.2 7.1x zoom that Ricoh had been using since 2005.