Ricoh makes a big point of making a song and dance about its Hybrid AF technology – even engraving the words on the top plate of the CX6 – and in use you can understand why. Focus times are so fast they’re practically unnoticeable; this is certainly the case if you enable the ‘Pre-AF’ settings, allowing the camera to focus even when you’re not pressing the shutter button. The good news is that it’s not just a case of the focus on the CX6 being fast, as it’s also accurate. Throw in the fact that you can also select subject tracking AF, as well as a host of other specific focus settings, and you’ll soon find yourself running out of excuses as to why your images are blurry.
As with the CX6’s AF speed, processing speeds are pleasingly in line with expectations. Even when utilising the compact’s high continuous shooting speeds, the compact offers little by way of delay in processing times.
The model’s 1.23m-dot LCD screen is one of the highest resolution models in any compact camera currently on the market and it certainly stands out in use. Both composition and review of images is a pleasing experience, although one issue worthy of note is degradation in quality of the JPEG preview that appears right after image capture. This can lead to confusion as to the actual quality of image captured, only for the actual image to appear fine on later review.
The CX6’s menu system is easy to negotiate and facilitates a generally pleasing shooting experience. Small features, such as the presence of an electronic level indicator and aforementioned customisable adjustment toggle, also add to this generally impressive shooting experience.
While the model’s shutter and aperture priority modes are a welcome addition, Ricoh still has negated to include Raw capture functionality in the CX6. Although it’s understandable how Ricoh could view Raw capture as unnecessary, for it to be taken seriously as an advanced compact you’d have to say that this wasn’t the case.
The presence of the back-illuminated CMOS sensor and Smooth Imaging Engine IV promise a high standard of low light performance and deliver on the promise, to a certain extent. If you’re happy to veer away from pixel peeping and view the images at their native dimensions then you’ll be happy shooting up to ISO 1600. However, upon closer inspection image flaws become visible lower down the scale. Around ISO 400 softening of fine detail starts to creep in to image, much more so at ISO 800.
One consequence of the 10.7x optical zoom, and the amount of optics said lens necessitates, is that the CX6 is susceptible to distortion. At the wide end of the zoom barrel distortion is evident, whilst at the tele end this is accentuated. Another flaw attributable to the CX6’s optics is a slight softening towards the edges of the frame, although thankfully fringing is kept to a minimum.
The CX6 performs well with regards to white balance and colour rendition, managing to strike a balance between radiance and realism more often than not. Exposures are, on the while, also reliable, while although images can sometimes be lacking in contrast, this is readily correctable in image editing software.
The Ricoh CX6 boasts a specification that sits it firmly in the advanced compact market. It’s 10.7x optical zoom and market-leading 1.23m-dot LCD screen, combined with the 10MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor, all add up to an impressive compact on paper. The compact also performs well in use, with Ricoh’s Hybrid AF impressing. Unfortunately the 10.7x zoom does present some image quality issues, and said sensor doesn’t quite deliver on it’s lofty low-light claims.