One effect of the new longer lens with its complicated folding internal structure is to slow down the start up time. The CX2 starts up in a little under three seconds, which is reasonably quick by most standards, but much slower than the CX1's sub-two-second start time. However in all other respects the CX2 shares the CX1's excellent performance. In single-shot mode it has a shot-to-shot time of an impressive 1.3 seconds.
The multi-point autofocus system is very good, focusing quickly and accurately in all lighting conditions. The CX2 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.
While overall image quality is just as impressive as the CX1, there is one respect where the CX2 doesn't do quite as well as its predecessor. The new lens has an admirable focal length range, and produces very little wide-angle distortion and almost no chromatic aberration, but I suspect that this may be at least partly the result of software manipulation, because corner sharpness is severely lacking.
Image noise is handled extremely well, with virtually no visible noise at 80-200 ISO, and better than average image quality at 400 ISO. From 800 ISO upwards noise reduction becomes more noticeable, but it is still on a par with any of its main rivals, and overall colour fidelity is good even at 1600 ISO.
The Ricoh CX2 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.