Although the CX2 is in most respects identical to the CX1, the lens isn’t the only new feature. There are several new items on the scene mode menu, including one that I’ve certainly never seen before. If you’ve read my tutorial on faking focal plane effects, you’ll have seen how blurring the foreground and background to mimic restricted depth of field can make large buildings and other objects look like tiny models. Since they’ve already copied my HDR tutorial, the boffins at Ricoh decided to copy the focal plane effect as well, and have incorporated a filter to automatically produce the same effect in-camera, applying a gradient blur to the background and foreground. It only works on certain types of image, generally large objects photographed from a high angle, but the effect is quite striking.
As well as that bit of fun, the other new modes include a discreet shooting mode which disables the flash, the AF assist lamp and the operation sounds, for taking pictures in churches or art galleries where such distractions would be unwelcome. The other new shooting modes include a high-contrast monochrome mode producing an effect similar to push-processed black and white film, and an improved portrait mode, with automatic face detection, focusing and white balance adjustment.
The CX2’s huge high-resolution menu still has all the eccentric but brilliant features that made the CX1 such fun to play with, things like focus bracketing with multi-point autofocus. This is a well-thought-out feature, allowing the user to select wide or narrow field, and then taking a sequence of seven shots, each one focused on a different element of the scene. Using a photo editing program these shots could be combined into one image with massive depth of field. I wonder if this effect will be the next to be automated in camera?
There are a few nifty features in playback mode too. As well as manually adjustable cropping, white balance adjustment and automatic skew correction, there is also a handy manual level adjustment feature with three movable points on a histogram, just as you would do in a photo editing program.
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