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Ricoh CX2 review




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Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2
  • Ricoh CX2


Our Score:


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.

PK Son

September 29, 2009, 9:30 am

Seems like a very nice P&S to carry around! I would like to see the tilt-shift gimmick in action though, sound like a really cute feature!

Steven Frankel

September 29, 2009, 11:12 am

If only they had an electronic finder similar to the Panasonic G1's built-in, or even an accessory electronic finder, this would be close to perfect!


September 29, 2009, 1:18 pm

Thanks for this review Cliff

I was waiting to see if this would add enough to make me pay the premium over the CX1, and I'm not quite convinced. You're going to get a massive discount on the old one now that this is out, and it still has most of the benefits of the CX2 as far as I can see. I think that's where my pennies will be going!


September 29, 2009, 1:43 pm

No HD video? To me that seems a suprising omission given this is becoming something of a standard feature on even sub-£170 cameras (Pentax P80). Am I missing something? Is HD video on a compact camera for some reason not worthwhile/desirable (due to battery/capacity/quality constraints)?


September 29, 2009, 3:49 pm

HDR: For those people who want to make their pictures look like a mushy, lurid, watercolour mess. This effect has become even more cliqued then fisheye and lomo. If I see one more picture of an interior of a cathedral with eye burning bright orange, brown and reds and I think I'll scream..

Nice camera apart from that though, Ricohs have always have a wonderful understated design.


September 29, 2009, 4:16 pm

@Noodles - You must have only seen some bad examples of HDR, then. I hate blanket statements where people proclaim HDR as some kind of Devil worship, when in reality it's just another photographic tool. I've seen people lavish praise on photos they didn't even recognise as an HDR, then when they find out they go back and try and justify how horrible and 'unnatural' it looks.

While it's quite tricky to get right, an HDR composite can offer a much truer image and appear far more natural than a single exposure where the dynamic range of the camera cannot capture the same amount of detail as a human eye can in difficult lighting conditions.

If you don't like bright colours then you need to learn to turn the saturation down a notch! ;)


September 29, 2009, 4:45 pm

@Smc8788 - You're right, I have seen some good subtle examples, used when it would have been otherwise impossible to get acceptable shots from using standard methods. And I have used them myself for this purpose. For example, interior shots to keep in window detail, and architectural shots on those hellishly overcast british summers, to prevent blown out skies.

The trouble is, and the cause of my HDR hate, is that the good images are completely swamped and near impossible to find in amongst the super saturated, eye watering shots of things that don't need to be HDR'd, like peoples pets, cars and many landscapes. Flickr is just awash with orange buildings and foaming seas, the people there simply HDR absolutely everything, regardless if it's needed or not. It's kind of like me meeting a prospective client with a portfolio of just fisheye shots, it will get old very quickly unless you only use the method for it's best purpose.

Robin 2

September 29, 2009, 7:04 pm

Having read this review brings me to the question what is the use of bying compacts like the LX-3 (which I own) or a Fuij ER200 with these bigger 1/1,6" sensors compared to this excellent performing CX-2. With other words 1/1,6 sensor do not make any sense!!!!!


September 29, 2009, 10:38 pm

@Noodles - some of what you refer to on Flickr is often down to people using a 'recipe' to polish their turds... no photos.

1) Boost saturation

2) Boost contrast

3) Sharpen the sh*t out of the image

4) Tweak levels using histogram to extract every last detail out of the bright/mid/dark sections.

5) Sharpen again.

The result, as you say, looks pretty artificial... perhaps the photographic equivalent of silicon implants and fake orangey tan?


September 30, 2009, 3:06 am

@Cliff - comparing this against the Panasonic TZ7, which would you say takes the better picture?


October 1, 2009, 12:59 am

Do the CX1/CX2 come with manual controls? I'm considering this as my first camera, and I want something to learn on which I won't grow out of too quickly.


October 1, 2009, 2:58 am

Must echo Steven Frankels' wishes, in fact I actually don't understand how a camera can be described as point and shoot, without a viewfinder.


October 23, 2009, 6:53 pm

Hi Cliff, it's an omission or the CX2 does not have the memo sound clip (to add a memo to the shots for example when in travel you need to memorize the name of one person, one location , one monument, square etc...).

Once more I see that one important plus (in my opinion) : the remote control is completely forgotten


November 30, 2009, 12:13 pm

Hi, Cliff. I don't understand why this Ricoh CX2 has a higher score for Value than the Panasonic Lumix TZ7. The Panasonic has a wider zoom range, a wider lens (25mm in 35mm photogrpahy terms), the additional HD video capability, but costs typically $100 less in street price (what we will be paying). In terms of quality of image, construction, usage, etc it appears that the Panasonic is virtually the same and both cameras are excellent, which is reflected in your other scores, which are the same for both. I would also rate the reliability of Panasonic as a manufacturing brand as least as good if not higher than Ricoh. So, why is the Ricoh the winner of the Best Compact Camera award?


December 1, 2009, 3:49 am

I hope there will be a reply to my query re: the value of the Ricoh CX2 versus that of the Panasonic FZ35, as I am thinking of buying one of these. At this time, I am leaning towards the Panasonic FZ35 due to the Value I think I will get. It also looks much better than the Ricoh. I also note that Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (like its predecessor FX28) is significantly more popular and there are probably 10 times more FZ35 than Ricoh CX2 being sold, meaning easier-to-find parts and cheaper parts like telephoto add-on lenses, waterproof housings, battery and car chargers, etc than for the Ricoh. The Panasonic should be easier to find repair and service for, being a major brand and likely to be known to more repair shops etc. The main reaon is again the significantly more features like HD video, a longer zoom lens, and wide lens angle in the Panasonic. Value is what you get vs what you pay IMO. And that means the Panasonic should be getting a 9/10 for its Value, not 7/10, as it is also $100 less in street price compared to the Ricoh (8/10).


December 10, 2009, 5:06 pm

@Nerdo. Generally speaking I share your advice as I own the Panasonic TZ7 but we have to ask to ourselves if we are not slave of our buy and of the "image" of a brand.

Piers Carter

January 6, 2010, 6:39 pm

Hi I am looking at buying either a CX1 or a CX2 I am edging toward the CX1 but there is a difference in the reviews between the two that may swing me to the CX2. The difference is around the HDR in the CX2 review it is stated that the two exposure's are taken simultaneously, but in the CX1 it is stated that they are taken in rapid succession. This would make a big difference to me and my choice, so can the reviewer or any one who knows the answer please fill me in. Thanks.

Cliff Smith

February 22, 2010, 7:18 pm

To Nerdo and everyone else - While the TZ7 is unquestionably a superb camera, I rate the CX2 slightly higher because it is easier to use, has better handling and marginally better build quality. I can't really speak for long-term reliability, since I only have the cameras to test for a couple of weeks, but I've heard very few complaints about either camera. As for choosing the FX35 or the CX2, the two cameras have different specifications, and the FX35 is considerably smaller. If the inclusion of HD video is an important factor, see my review of the new CX3 which will be published later today.


March 4, 2010, 10:07 pm

@ Cliff. Hi, love all your reviews. Your articulation, style and humor are second to none.

I have read loads of yours' and others' reviews in my hunt for the perfect camera for my lady and I. I like to use all the features whereas she wants a great performing full-auto mode camera, no fuss. I'm tossing up between three-four main contenders. CX1, CX2, F70EXR and TZ7. I had a Ricoh R8, it was stolen, I loved it very much but indoor performance was crap unless on a tripod with totally still subjects. I checked the CX3 today (too expensive for me), took a shot at full telepoto from the camera shop, out the door, across the street, aimed at people both standing and walking past. The shot, on full auto, was orgasmic! OMG, I couldn't believe it. With similar performance expected from the CX2 or CX1, can you please tell me which you'd choose for myself & my lady out of these four for overall capabilities for daytime/nightime shooting on Auto?! Also, if it's not too much to ask, which of the three with non HD video has the best VGA performance? I need a camera within a week so my skates are firmly on. Many thanks in advance!

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