- 1.23m-dot LCD screen
- Hybrid AF system
- Addition of shutter and aperture priority
- Lack of Raw capture
- Slightly bulky
- Softening towards frame edges
- Review Price: £245.00
- 1/2.3in, 10MP backlit CMOS sensor
- 10.7x optical zoom (280-300mm in 35mm terms)
- ISO 100-3200
- 1080 x 720p HD video
- 3in, 1.23m-dot LCD
One mitigating factor for this slightly bulky body is no doubt the large focal range. The CX6 features a 10.7x optical zoom, covering 28-300mm in equivalent 35mm terms, and accompanied by a maximum aperture ranging from f/3.5 – f/5.6 at the wide and tele ends of the zoom respectively. Sharp images are promised throughout the focal range thanks to the presence of a sensor shift image stabilizer, while the lens itself has the added bonus for macro enthusiasts of being able to focus at distances of as little as just 1cm.
At the core of the Ricoh CX6 sits the compact’s sensor. The model houses a 1/2.3in CMOS sensor with an effective resolution of approximately 10-megapixels. The sensor itself is of the back-illuminated variety; the type of CMOS sensor design that promises better performance in low light than the traditional variety.
The back-illuminated CMOS sensor is accompanied by Ricoh’s Smooth Imaging Engine – now in it’s fourth iteration – which also promises to deliver a level of image quality in line with the wider advanced compact market.
The presence of both a backlit CMOS sensor and Ricoh’s Smooth Imaging Engine IV is no doubt aimed at giving photographers more confidence to utilise the full extent of the Ricoh CX6’s 100-3200 ISO range without having to worry about noise.
One of the standout features on Ricoh cameras of late has been its new Hybrid AF technology, and the good news is that it features on the CX6. The system combines Contrast AF technology with an independent AF sensor for ‘ultra-high-speed’ autofocus and the promise of AF speeds of as little as 0.1 seconds throughout the full 28-300mm focal range.
Whilst on the subject of standout features, it would be remiss not to mention the CX6’s LCD screen. The compact sports a 3in, 1.23m-dot VGA LCD monitor that is triple-coated for durability and visibility. Ricoh also claim that new ‘High-Brightness’ technology results in 70% brighter image and review than the Ricoh CX5.
One criticism of the CX5 was that, despite appearing like an advanced compact, there were still advanced-shaped holes in its specification. The good news is that Ricoh has addressed these in the shooting mode department – the CX6 now features both aperture and shutter priority modes, alongside the conventional auto, scene and programme modes.
As is the case with most compact cameras these days, the CX6 arrives with a bevy of ‘creative shooting modes’. The only mode to debut on the CX6 is a new ‘Bleach Bypass’ option, which now takes its place alongside a variety of other effects, including Soft Focus, Cross Process and Toy Camera effects.
The aforementioned auto mode sports scene recognition technology, through which it can identify the subject and then select the appropriate scene mode. If you’d rather pick the scene mode yourself you can of course do so, and will be able to choose from any of 13 present on the CX6.
The CX6 offers HD movie capture at a resolution of 1280 x 720p, while its on-board microHDMI connector allows direct output to an HDTV (although you will need to purchase the relevant cable separately).
Continuous shooting is another area in which the CX6 is no slouch, offering a burst mode of around 5 frames per second at full resolution. An ultra-high-speed continuous shooting rate of 120 frames per second is also possible, although images captured are only 640 x 480 in resolution, and the burst mode only lasts for one second.
As mentioned at the start of this review, the Ricoh CX6 is certainly not the slimmest advanced compact on the market. Despite its relative bulk, the designers at Ricoh have earned their money in making the CX6 still feel light in the hand.
The rectangular body features a front panel that is bulbous towards the right hand edge, forming a type of hand grip in conjunction with a rubberised thumb rest on the rear panel. Said rear panel is relatively light on buttons – four settings buttons featuring, along with a dedicated record button for access to HD video capture and playback button. An adjustment toggle stick compensates for this lack of function access thanks to its customisability, while a mode dial sits on the model’s top plate for easy access to the various shooting modes.
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.
At ISO 100 images are sharp, detailed and free of noise.
At ISO 200 images are still pleasingly noise free .
At ISO 400, noise reduction begins to soften detail.
ISO 800 is the point at which noise becomes more visible – even at lower image sizes.
ISO 1600 is soft across the whole image, with quite intrusive levels of noise.
ISO 3200 is best avoided altogether if possible.
1/200 sec @ f/3.5, ISO 100, 0.3ev, AWB
1/270 sec @ f/4.6, ISO 100, 0.3ev, AWB
1/400 sec @ f/3.5, ISO 100, 0.3ev, AWB
1/1000 sec @ f/3.5, ISO 100, 0.3ev, AWB
1/125 sec @ f/4.5, ISO 100, 0.3ev, AWB
1/75 sec @ f/4.9, ISO 100, 0.3ev, AWB
1/310 sec @ f/3.5, ISO 100, 0.3ev, AWB
Score in detail
Design & Features 8
Image Quality 7
Build Quality 7