Take your photography to the next level and beyond...

  • NEWS
  • REVIEWS
  • INSPIRATION
  • COMMUNITY
  • COMPETITIONS

Why not join for free today?

Join for Free

Your total photography experience starts here


Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3 Digital Camera Review

Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3 Digital Camera Review - With back a illuminated CMOS sensor, 10Mp resolution and ISO3200, are these main changes enough of an improvement for the Ricoh CX3?

 Add Comment

Category : Compact Cameras
Product : Ricoh CX2
Price : £235
Rating :
Share :

Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Click on the thumbnails to open the larger images.

Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3 main image
Matt Grayson takes out the new Ricoh CX3 and its older sibling, the Ricoh CX2, to see if the new features are worth shouting about.

When manufacturers release a new model, some consumers blindly upgrade without looking at what's new on the camera. When the pixel race was at its height, this usually meant an increase in resolution and little else. These days we're blessed with lots of features and the Ricoh CX3 is no different.

Ricoh make some excellent prosumer compact cameras such as the GRD III and GX200. Here we test the new mid-range Ricoh CX3 at £299.99 against the previous CX2 at £234.99 to see if the new features and improvements are any good and if the £65 price difference is worth the money.

New features on the CX3 from the CX2 include a back illuminated CMOS sensor, increased sensitivity range to ISO3200, Face-priority AF, new noise reduction function, new aspect ratios, HD video, Pet scene mode and an intelligent auto mode.

Not a bad line-up but are they worth the money? Well that's what this test is going to find out.

Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: Features
Looking like clones, the Ricoh CX2 and CX3 are small, squared off black digital compacts. But most of the similarities appear to end there because the resolution has been increased marginally on the CX3 to 10Mp compared to 9.29Mp on the CX2. There's also an extra sensitivity setting of ISO3200 and it's possible that these two new features could be related to the new backlit CMOS sensor that's been fitted to the CX3.

Click on the thumbnails to open the larger images.

Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3 CX2 at front
The Ricoh CX2 is the older of the two compacts on test.
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3 CX3 at front
The two units look identical to each other, they even have the same zoom.
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3 CX3 at front from above
The simple layout on the top plate has been transited from the CX2 to the CX3.
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3 pendulum lens
The red part of the lens system is on a swivelling pendulum and allows the lens elements to retract further in the body. This allows a slimmer lens barrel and slimmer body.

A backlit sensor is essentially the same sensor as before with the main difference being the way it's constructed. The circuitry that normally sits on top of the sensor can block some of the light and force up the ISO meaning more noise and/or a cap on the highest setting before the image is ruined. Placing the wiring behind the sensor allows more light to fall on the sensor. This then means lower ISO in low light so less noise. Also more pixels are being employed so should also mean a higher resolution. However, what perplexes me is that the total pixels have also increased but only by around 600,000 which is negligible in real world terms. So why do it, or am I missing something? I contacted Ricoh and Tohru Kodama from Ricoh GmBH technical support said: "The sensor between the CX2 & CX3 are completely different only the size is the same. The increased number of pixels is due to the fact that the actual pixel size is different between these two sensors which allows more pixels in the same size for the sensor used in the CX3."

To ensure you keep taking perfect photographs, many manufacturers are adding a smart auto feature that has the ability to analyse the scene you're shooting and adjust the camera settings for you to ensure you get the best picture. This feature is new on the CX3 and is called S-Auto which is selected on the command dial on top of the camera.

Click on the thumbnails to open the larger images.

Ricoh CX2  
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 rear view
When closing down the camera, a small counter displays how many photographs you've taken in the day.
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 rear controls
There are minimal buttons and features on display but this ultimately leads to a lengthy menu system.
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 top view
The lens isn't that big even when the camera's powered up.
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 main menu
The main menu of both the CX2 and CX3 have lots of features.

The CX2 broke ground with the 10.7x optical zoom fitting what is essentially a 28-300mm zoom lens into a comparably thin camera body. It works by incorporating a lens on a hinge that swipes upwards as the lens retracts to get it out of the way of the other lens elements backing into the camera body.

It also features interesting new scene modes such as Miniaturise, High contrast black & white and Manner mode which is essentially a quiet mode (using manners) designed for use in museums or other places where discretion is necessary.

The enclosed software is actually quite impressive. It's called Irodio Photo & Video studio and has a simple folder list on the left of the window with the images from the selected folder on the right. Clicking on an image opens up a separate window for editing images where the picture you chose can then be edited. There's quite a comprehensive list of modes and features. It's a really good editing system.

Click on the thumbnails to open the larger images.

Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: Software editor
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: Software editor
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: Picture editor
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: Picture editor

Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: Handling
A small command dial sits on top of both cameras and it's easy enough to operate. In fact that sentiment echoes throughout both cameras, they're both extremely easy to use although it's possible that the menu systems could be a bit intimidating when you first come face to face with them. The reason being that the Ricoh menu system is quite comprehensive. They pack quite a lot into the cameras and on top of the main menus, there's also the adjustment menu for quickly accessing often used features such as ISO, white-balance, resolution, exposure compensation and AF/AE point selection.

Click on the thumbnails to open the larger images.

Ricoh CX3  
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 rear view
An identical layout on the back is good for people upgrading from a previous Ricoh model.
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 front view
The 10.7x optical zoom lens gives a 35mm equivalent of 28-300mm. Perfect for bringing far away objects much closer without the need to walk there!
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 top view
The command dial features a new S-Auto mode which is an intelligent auto system.
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 back illuminated sensor
The circuitry has been moved to the back of the sensor so more light can hit the photo diodes.

This means a higher sensitivity to light for faster shutter speeds in low light situations.

The cameras are well built and feel really nice when held. They have a hint of retro about them and I like the embossed writing in the top announcing the zoom capability. They're light yet sport metal trim such as the top and bottom plates. I'm disappointed to see plastic tripod bushes on both cameras.

On the command dial of the CX2 are options for auto mode, dynamic range, continuous shooting easy and scene modes as well as a video and two custom modes. The CX3 has expanded the auto mode to S-auto.

A function button on the back can be dedicated to a particular feature that can be set in the main menu. Options include macro target, step zoom, AF/MF, AF/Snap and five bracketing options amongst many more on the CX3. The CX2 features all the same options except the Face priority AF which is new to the CX3.

Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: Performance
Neither the CX2 or CX3 have Raw recording so the images have been taken in the highest resolution possible on each camera.

Exposure
With the sun directly in the lens, the CX2 does try to get as much information into the image as it can from the silhouetted areas but  the 256 segment multi-metering system struggles. Luckily there's a dynamic range compensation which actually works quite well. The CX2 displays minimal flaring with the sun directly in the frame. With backlit subjects, there's lots of detail although the sky does have a tendency to burn out to get the detail.

There's more flare from the CX3 which is unusual because it should exhibit the same results. In the tests I performed, I got a lot more light bleeding over edges and more visible flare.

Normal and varied light conditions were handled really well by both cameras. Warm light is handled sympathetically and both the CX2 and CX3 have a good enough standard dynamic range to cope with shadow areas in everyday light. I found that in the hard mid-day sun, some shadow areas suffered and needed a burst of fill flash or the DR system switching on and increasing.

Click on the thumbnails to open the larger images.

Ricoh CX2 Ricoh CX3
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 backlit subject
Lots of detail in the church but the lovely sky has been sacrificed.
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 backlit
Although the church is darker, the overall exposure is more balanced.
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 direct sun with no dynamic range compensation
Shooting in direct sun with no dynamic range compensation turned on, there's a little detail in the church.
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 direct sunlight
Working with direct sunlight and no dynamic range compensation, there's still more detail than the CX2.

Focusing
New on the CX2 is the pre-AF system. It's basically a focus tracking program but the great thing about this is that it's the same as a DSLR predictive focus system that will continue to track the subject even when the shutter release button isn't being pressed.

The CX3 features the Pre-AF but also has Face priority AF which is a bit like face detection but with an enhanced priority of metering and adjusting white balance according to the face in the scene. Both cameras have face detection and up to 8 faces can be detected in a frame.

This is a typical example of where the Ricoh menu system starts to get overwhelming to the newcomer. The focus options are in the main menu with 7 options on the CX2 and 8 on the CX3. On top of that are the focus options on the joystick on the back of the camera.

An interesting focusing mode on both Ricoh models is the multi-target AF mode. It takes 5 consecutive images with varying focus targets to which is useful if you have a scene with lots of different subjects at different distances. You can then select which you prefer or maybe even use a focus stacking program. We have an article on the Ricoh Multi-targetAF which is essential reading before using it here:

Ricoh CX2/CX3 Multi-target AF system

Noise
In controlled light, the noise results from the CX2 are promising. ISO80 is smooth and there's little change at ISO100. Looking closely by magnifying the images to 100% in Photoshop, there's a mild amount of salt and pepper noise at ISO200 and ISO400 which only increases throughout the stages. Colour noise in the form of green and orange blobs are present at ISO400 but it's scarcely noticeable until the final setting of ISO1600 where black spots also scatter the image in the mid-tones.

Click on the thumbnails to open the larger images.

Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: ISO test image
Ricoh CX2    
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 ISO80 test image
CX2 ISO80 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 ISO100 test image
CX2 ISO100 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 ISO200 test
CX2 ISO200 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 ISO400 test
CX2 ISO400 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 ISO800 test
CX2 ISO800 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 ISO1600 test
CX2 ISO1600 test
Ricoh CX3    
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 ISO80 test
CX3 ISO80 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 ISO100 test
CX3 ISO100 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 ISO200 test
CX3 ISO200 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 ISO400 test
CX3 ISO400 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 ISO800 test
CX3 ISO800 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 ISO1600 test
CX3 ISO1600 test
  Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 ISO3200 test
CX3 ISO3200 test
 

Click on the thumbnails to open the larger images.

Ricoh CX2    
Ricoh CX2
            vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 outside ISO80 test
CX2 ISO80 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2  outside ISO100 test
CX2 ISO100 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2  outside ISO200 test
CX2 ISO200 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2  outside ISO400 test
CX2 ISO400 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2  outside ISO800 test
CX2 ISO800 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2  outside ISO1600 test
CX2 ISO1600 test
Ricoh CX3    
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 outside ISO80 test
CX3 ISO80 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 outside ISO100 test
CX3 ISO100 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 outside ISO200 test
CX3 ISO200 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 outside ISO400 test
CX3 ISO400 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 outside ISO800 test
CX3 ISO800 test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 outside ISO1600 test
CX3 ISO1600 test
  Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 outside ISO3200 test
CX3 ISO3200 test
 

In the clear light of day, noise is a little more readily noticeable even at the lowest ISO80 setting. This is at 100% magnification though and looking at the pictures normally on a computer or a photograph won't display the problem. White specks litter the ISO400 image but colour noise, like the green and orange blobs on the ISO images taken indoors, isn't noticeable and I really like the ISO1600 result which still displays a decent amount of detail despite suffering from noise quite badly.

CX3 takes noise reduction from GRD III and the back-illuminated sensor also plays an important role in reducing the problem. In the review of the Ricoh GRD III, I was amazed at the noise control. ISO80 gets the camera off to a flying start with pots of detail and crisp edges. This continues through the lower stages and although the quality begins to lower at ISO400, it's very mild and not noticeable at normal viewing distance. What was happening on the CX2 at ISO200 starts at ISO800 on the CX3 which shows considerable improvement from the new camera. Salt and pepper noise is troublesome at this stage and not only gets worse but it's like someone opened the floodgates from ISO1600. The noise suddenly becomes very aggressive and invasive. At ISO3200, any text on the image starts to break up and colours are starting to get affected.

Outside and the same pattern is repeated with the exception of the ISO3200 images which look considerably better than I'd expect them to. Noise is certainly an issue on this setting but a decent external noise reduction program should sort it out.

Colour reproduction
Primary colours are treated very fairly by the Ricoh CX3. Both cool and warm colours are given a subtle boost and yellow is lovely and bright. Flesh tones come out nice and the portraits I took were smooth and realistic. Tricky colours such as purple are coped with nicely as are more subtle tones and pastel colours.

Click on the thumbnails to open the larger images.

Ricoh CX2 Ricoh CX3
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 colour test
CX2 colour test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 colour test
CX3 colour test
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 blue skies
CX2 blue skies
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 blue skies
CX3 blue skies

Sky blue is recreated sympathetically by the CX3, it's realistic and doesn't get affected by other colours in the shot or affect any others. Foliage is rich and lush although to bring out the best in the ground to get the wonderful greens, the camera will sacrifice the sky leaving a white area instead of blue. However, that's a metering issue and not how the camera copes with colour.

Click on the thumbnails to open the larger images.

Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 portrait
CX2 portrait
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 portrait
CX3 portrait

The CX2 produces similar results to the CX3 in terms of recording colour. Primary colours are all boosted although I feel that red isn't as saturated on the CX2 as it is on the CX3. Tricky colours are handled well and flesh tones look excellent. Foliage seems to be a bit more green on the CX2 and any images I took with grass in produced a brighter green although it isn't unpleasant. Sky blue is recorded nicely, in fact I don't have any complaints about how either of the cameras control colour. They both did a wonderful job throughout the test.

Dynamic range
One thing I like about the Ricoh compacts is that they don't leave anything to chance. The multi-target AF will take a succession of images and keep them all for you to choose your favourite. Likewise in the DR (Dynamic Range) mode, the cameras will both take two images, one with dynamic range compensation applied and one without. You then get to decide which you prefer and I think this is a really good idea.

Click on the thumbnails to open the larger images.

Ricoh CX2 Ricoh CX3
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 dynamic range off
CX2 dynamic range compensation off
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 dynamic range compensation off
CX3 dynamic range compensation off
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 dynamic range on
CX2 dynamic range compensation on
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 dynamic range compensation on
CX3 dynamic range compensation on

Other manufacturers will take a picture with dynamic compensation applied and then if you want it without, you have to take another picture but then that "once in a lifetime" shot may be over by then. The normal shot has to be enabled in the main menu and it's the second option down listed as “plus normal shooting”.

There are four variations of dynamic range excluding auto. You can choose from very weak, weak, medium and strong. On the CX3, this has been expanded to let you choose the tonal range you'd like to prioritise if any. There's only shadow or highlights to select but this is a nice touch.

White-balance
Both the CX2 and CX3 handle the softer casts of natural daylight such as boosting a bit of warmth into the relative blue of shadows or cooling the warmth of sunlight. It's the stronger colours that they suffer with.

Click on the thumbnails to open the larger images.

Ricoh CX2  
Fluorescent  
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 auto white-balance fluorescent
CX2 auto white-balance fluorescent
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 auto white-balance fluorescent
CX3 auto white-balance fluorescent
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 white-balance fluorescent
CX2 white-balance fluorescent
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 white-balance fluorescent
CX3 white-balance fluorescent
Tungsten  
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 auto white-balance tungsten
CX2 auto white-balance tungsten
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 auto white-balance tungsten
CX3 auto white-balance tungsten
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX2 white-balance tungsten
CX2 white-balance tungsten
Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: CX3 white-balance tungsten
CX3 white-balance tungsten

The CX2 gives a slightly green tint to fluorescent tube lighting in auto white-balance but over compensates when put into fluorescent white-balance mode and gives a slightly pinkish cast. On the other hand, the tungsten setting is quite good. Auto mode still has trouble coping with a soft orange cast, but the preset tungsten mode copes well and gives balanced results.

I got roughly the same results from the CX3 which is unfortunate because there's obviously an inherent problem with how the white-balances are set.

Battery life
Annoyingly, the battery has been changed from the CX2 to the CX3, the CX2 uses the DB-70 which costs around £35 from Park Cameras. The DB-100 costs around the same price and is available online at various vendors.

The DB-100 for the CX3 does have a higher capacity of 950mAh compared to the 940mAh of the battery for the CX2. It also has a slightly higher output of 3.7v compared to 3.6v and this is probably why they changed it. The new sensor and other features may require a higher power output to work. I asked Tohru from Ricoh about the battery and he said: "the change was to allow users to have more shots per charge than with the earlier DB-70 battery. The power consumption of both sensors are effectively the same and is not a factor."

Buffer read/write times
I managed to get 24 frames in ten seconds from the Ricoh CX2 which is one more than the CX3 and I put it down to reflexes at first but examination of the frames shows that in the first second, the CX2 took six frames under a second. It then settled down to five for another two seconds before slowing to one frame per second.

The CX3 managed 23 frames in the ten second time frame which is one less than the CX2 and could be due to the slightly higher resolution taking more time to process. The first three seconds have the camera running at 5fps (frames-per-second) before it slows down to 1fps. Not a bad performance for a compact and those images are all taken at full size 10Mp.

Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: Verdict
Performance has definitely improved across the board with the Ricoh CX3. There's a better noise performance at the higher ISO settings and the backlit sensor has managed to increase how the camera responds to light. Noise has blighted Ricoh compacts in the past so it looks like the new sensor could be their saviour.

Surprisingly, at £299 the CX3 is only £20 less than the Canon Powershot S90 that features Raw recording and a wide f/2.0 lens. Other cameras in the same price bracket tend to have some kind of innovative feature such as the Nikon CoolPix S1000pj with its built-in projector or the Casio FH100 with its high-speed 40fps continuous shooting. These are both sat at £300 and I feel that other cameras that share similar features as the CX3, such as the Canon Powershot SX200 IS at £237.99 are priced more moderately.

As far as build and handling is concerned, the camera is exactly the same which is great for existing Ricoh users looking to upgrade but may be an issue for anyone looking at their first camera. The menu system is vast and uses small fonts which make it look even bigger. On a positive note, it means that the camera has lots of features to get your teeth stuck into. If you're a photographer looking to expand your capability, then this is a decent camera to use, if you're a happy snapper that simply wishes to point and shooting, there are cheaper, less complicated cameras around that will do just that for you.

Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: Pros
Ricoh CX2 Ricoh CX3
10.7x optical zoom Back illuminated sensor
Nice design Improved noise reduction
Quick menu for speedy adjustements 10.7x optical zoom
  Nice design
  Quick menu for speedy adjustments

Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: Cons
Ricoh CX2 Ricoh CX3
Intimidating menu for the first time buyer Lens flare on some shots
White-balance had problems Pricey
Noisy at high ISO settings  

Ricoh CX2   Ricoh CX3  
FEATURES FEATURES
HANDLING HANDLING
PERFORMANCE PERFORMANCE
VALUE VALUE
OVERALL OVERALL

Ricoh CX2 vs Ricoh CX3: Specification
  Ricoh CX2 Ricoh CX3
Price £234.99 £299.99
Contact www.ricoh.co.uk www.ricoh.co.uk
Resolution 9.29Mp 10Mp
Sensor size 1/2.3in 1/2.3in
Sensor type CMOS CMOS
Max image size 3648x2736 3648x2736
Aspect ratio 4:3, 3:2 (8Mp), 1:1 (6Mp) 4:3, 3:2 (9Mp), 1:1 (7Mp), 16:9 (7Mp)
Focusing system TTL TTL
Focus points Focus point can be chosen anywhere on the screen Focus point can be chosen anywhere on the screen
Focus type Multi AF, Spot AF, Face-priority AF, Continuous, Multi-target, Manual, Snap, Infinity Multi AF, Spot AF, Face-priority AF, Continuous, Multi-target, Manual, Snap, Infinity
File types JPEG JPEG
ISO sensitivity ISO80-1600 ISO80-3200
Metering system TTL TTL
Metering types Multi light metering, centre-weighted, spot Multi light metering, centre-weighted, spot
Exposure comp +/- 2EV in 1/3 step increments +/- 2EV in 1/3 step increments
Shutter speed range 8sec-1/2000sec 8sec-1/2000sec
Frames-per-second 5fps 5fps
Image stabilisation Yes, sensor shift type Yes, sensor shift type
Monitor 3in LCD 920,000 dots (307,000 pixels) 3in LCD 920,000 dots (307,000 pixels)
Media type SD, SDHC, internal memory SD, SDHC, internal memory
Interface USB 2.0 USB 2.0
Power Li-Ion battery DB-70 Li-Ion battery DB-100
Size 101.5x58.3x29.4mm 101.5x58.3x29.4mm
Weight 185g (excl battery and card) 185g (excl battery and card)

The Ricoh CX2 costs around £234.99 and is available from Warehouse Express here:

Ricoh CX2

The Ricoh CX3 costs around £299.99 and is available from Park Cameras here:

Ricoh CX3


Explore More

Photographs taken using the Ricoh CX2

Just a blue viewYellow fieldRain and light houseSunset at Newton AbbotIn his handsBeautyIn his handsHello youBoats on DartBubblesPerfect graceRock flowerEchinaceaSilver light & sailsVelvet fall
Join ePHOTOzine and remove these ads.

There are no comments here! Be the first!


Sign In

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join For Free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.