Ricoh CX5

The Ricoh CX5 is a well-built camera with a few design and implementation flaws that might dissuade newcomers to the brand from picking up an otherwise good device.


8.0
CNET Rating
10.0
User Rating

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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


Design and features

Ricoh continues to add incremental updates to its CX camera series, which seems to get an update every 6 months. The CX5 is the latest in the series, and is almost identical in body shape, button layout and configuration to the CX4. Predominantly, the main issue we had with the CX4 was its backwards-step in terms of design, which traded the textured grip found on earlier cameras to a slippery, uni-body feel with just one strip of metal to differentiate between the parts of the front panel.

Elsewhere, Ricoh has added useful, but not class-beating, updates including speedier autofocus and more filters for creative picture effects. Ricoh's super-resolution technology, to optimise the appearance of subjects when using the digital zoom, is comparable to similar technology that other vendors like Panasonic use in their zoomy cameras.

Still, the biggest bugbear remains — why no RAW capture?

The CX5 sports the same 10.7x optical-zoom (f/3.5-5.6) as the previous generation's lenses. The 3-inch, 920,000-dot screen is bright and excellent to see. That said, the main issue with the screen is the lack of "what you see is what you get". A live image presented on-screen before shooting more often than not doesn't match up with the finished shot that the camera produces — particularly when shooting in well-lit situations that would normally produce an optimum exposure on other cameras.

On the more gimmicky side, the addition of food, fireworks and golf swing modes do what they say on the tin. These are in addition to the existing scene-modes from earlier cameras, including the standard portrait and landscape options, as well as the creative modes, including (but not limited to) dynamic range, miniature, black-and-white and toy camera. It still uses the same backside-illuminated 10.1-megapixel CMOS sensor as before.

Ricoh has also made the CX5 compatible with Eye-Fi cards, which allows images taken on the camera to be offloaded onto a computer using Wi-Fi. HD video at 720p is included, as well as a mini-HDMI port on the side.

Compared to ...

TZ20
Ricoh CX5 Panasonic Lumix TZ20 Canon PowerShot SX230 IS
10.1-megapixel backlit CMOS 14.1-megapixel MOS 12.1-megapixel CMOS
3-inch LCD (920,000-dot) 3-inch touchscreen (460,000-dot) 3-inch LCD (460,000-dot)
10.7x optical zoom 16x optical zoom 14x optical zoom
28mm wide-angle 24mm wide-angle 28mm wide-angle
No GPS tagging GPS tagging GPS tagging
HD video (720p) HD video (1080i) HD video (1080p)

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Time to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag

Continuous shooting speed (longer bars indicate better performance)

  • Ricoh CX56.5
  • Panasonic Lumix TZ2010

Ricoh rates the battery at 280 shots.

Image quality

Ricoh has an ace up its sleeve with the backside-illuminated sensor carried over from the previous generations of cameras. This means that it's capable of producing rich colours that are vibrant but not unnatural. Exposures tend to be conservative, favouring under- rather than over-exposing scenes.

ISO performance is still problematic, and shots taken without a flash display noise issues at ISO 200 and above when viewed at full magnification. The lens keeps chromatic aberrations under control well, and there's only a small amount of distortion visible at the wide end.

CX5 noise

Visible noise and over-processing in the full-magnification crop of an image taken at 10.7x optical zoom, ISO 1600. (Credit: CBSi)

As with all other CX cameras before it, the CX5 is excellent at macro-shooting. Focusing is quick and accurate thanks to the new hybrid system. White balance is fine in most conditions, too. Image stabilisation is OK, but not amazing at the full-reach of the optical zoom, with the camera choosing to pump up the ISO value, resulting in messier shots in order to keep the image mostly shake-free. The super resolution technology works just like every other example of digital zoom that we've seen, with a slightly crunchy look to resulting shots, as outlines are over-emphasised to compensate for not having any more optical zoom.

As there's very little different in the internal specifications from this camera to previous generations, we suggest reading our analysis of image quality from the CX4 and the CX3 for more information.

Video quality is only average, with obvious blockiness present on the image, and average sound. Wind noise doesn't seem to be too much of an issue but subjects can sound distant.

Image samples

Click each image for full-sized samples from the CX5. No post-processing has been done to alter these photos.

Exposure: 1/217, f/3.5, ISO 100

Exposure: 1/97, f/4.5, ISO 100

Exposure: 1/32, f/3.5, ISO 200

Exposure: 1/153, f/4.5, ISO 100

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

Ricoh is most definitely a niche camera brand, and it appeals to a particular sub-section of photographers. Class-leading features like quick autofocus and a bright screen don't always make up for the lack of other essential options like RAW capture and manual controls. The Ricoh CX5 is a well-built camera with a few design and implementation flaws that might dissuade newcomers to the brand from picking up an otherwise good camera.

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mistrz posted a comment   

Good comment sokomail. I've bought caplio to friends and was good, then cx1 and it was magnificent, than cx2, then number of cx3 for self, children and frends, now am waiting for cx5. All are magnificent and there is significant improvement on one hand and on the other hand how can you improve something already good? The Mozart music is regarded as the perfect, nothing can be done to improve. You can watch the film Amadeus which depicts this issue.

I object the stereotype review, a nonsense, which say it is not good camera because it does not offer 125 new and useless features and offer 77% more pixels. All garbage. The review should be informative for a prospective buyer. Most reviews have zero information to the potential user. How can one choose cx5 or other brand and model when all you know is numbers and remark that it did not improved much. Does it mean that the camera is reliable? does it mean that it fails half the time? does it mean that it is impossible to find important setting or feature? Does it mean that the camera perform as claimed by Ricoh?

A few reviews are good but most are copy of a copy and perhaps someone have created a software for an automatic generation of reviews.

All reviews that I saw and I saw a lot of them fail miserably on practical issues. What I criticize now the Ricoh is also valid for most brands and this is what I expect the reviewers should point and criticize.

Hardly any manufacturer and retailer offer the extra battery (specialized lithium that you cannot buy in every pizza shop or petrol station), and no manufacturer offer the universal battery charger operating from mains and in a car.
Both have common sense and if some argue (a bit weak argument) that they do not need the above than let it be a standard option. It is often very hard to get those extras if possible at all from retailers. Just one retailer I think Cityshop or something like that, they got my point and send the universal charger free of charge.

Another arguably very essential feature in all cameras is the remote controlled trigger release. It could be the simplest shutter release of a bit more sophisticated but it should be available not just for autoportrets but also for shots of animals where it is not advisable that operator is near the camera.

No review say if the improved features do work well or at all.

Let me criticize the feature I am disappointed in cx series. I hoped that time lapse photos feature will truly be useful but I hardly ever used. Why? It allow smallest 5s time increments and a max of 1h. If the shortest would be a fraction of a second and limited to say 100 shots and the longest at least 24h also limited to 100 shots, it would be very useful. This feature is passed from one to another model without any improvement and no instruction of where to use. My belief is that it is so simple to implement in any camera.

Another practical information is that it should be very clear in case of choosing a memory card, how fast and how big is optimal. It also affects the film shots. Is length of film shots limited by the battery charge (can be extended by using external power supply?) or by memory size?

I like cx series.

 

come on! posted a comment   

The Good:?

The Bad:just thought a 10 from another person is missleading viewers, so i gave a low to make it real.

One of the bad cameras i have seen on market, bad image quality, bad iso performance, plastic pictures with no detail on higher asa

sokomail
10
Rating
 

sokomail posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Great speed, good feel, super fast burst mode & focus, best digital zoon picture clarity on the market

The Bad:Same as CX4 but newer, CX6 most likly on it's way now.

Having owned Ricoh cameras for the last 20 years I have to say that I feel that there is a big difference between companies that lets say make a wide range of electrical equipment (including Cameras) like Sony, Panasonic, etc to companies that specialize in their chosen field. Ricoh is like the Kawasaki of the camera industry. They look, see and then improve on what's out there. Not copy but improve. You see to copy is to do it the same as the others. Ricoh just makes it better and Ricohised. I must admit not to everyone’s taste but if you know your camera's then you know what I'm talking about. I feel that if Ricoh could make a full blown SLR high end pro camera but have it the size of a CX5 then they would. Technology stops them doing it, but it would not surprise me if they are working on it.
The CX5 is no different. Not a huge upgrade on the CX4 when I played with one in the USA recently, but going back to the CX1 and even maybe taking it back to the Calipo GX range Ricoh has made solid, usable and market wanting improvements all the way. The old Calipo’s were excellent compact (for their day) cameras. The surprise model was the CX1. Everything they learned from the Calipo just 100 times better. Smooth operation, fast, unbelievable feature list for a very compact digital and would put a lot of pro SLR's to shame as 10 times it's price. The CX5 has all the best of the CX1/2/3/4 and then adds its own niceties and user friendly of improvements. Never been let down by a Ricoh yet. SNAP ON!




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User Reviews / Comments  Ricoh CX5

  • mistrz

    mistrz

    "Good comment sokomail. I've bought caplio to friends and was good, then cx1 and it was magnificent, than cx2, then number of cx3 for self, children and frends, now am waiting for cx5. All are magni..."

  • come on!

    come on!

    "One of the bad cameras i have seen on market, bad image quality, bad iso performance, plastic pictures with no detail on higher asa"

  • sokomail

    sokomail

    Rating10

    "Having owned Ricoh cameras for the last 20 years I have to say that I feel that there is a big difference between companies that lets say make a wide range of electrical equipment (including Camera..."

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