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Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review

The Ricoh CX5 promises ultra fast focusing with a new Hybrid AF system, we test it to find out if it works.

| Ricoh CX5 in Compact Cameras

Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 On

The Ricoh CX5 is an update to the CX4, and among a number of updates, including HDMI out, and Super Resolution technology, one of the most interesting new features is the hybrid focusing system. Ricoh promises focusing times as low as 0.2 seconds, and half the focusing time of the CX4. With bold claims like that, we decided we should test the performance, and asked Ricoh to send us both a Ricoh CX5 and a Ricoh CX4.
Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Off

Ricoh CX5 Features
The Ricoh CX5 is still unique as one of only a few cameras with a dedicated Dynamic Range mode (along with the Fujifilm EXR series cameras, such as the Fujifilm FinePix F80EXR) and uses the high speed shooting mode to combine two photos at different exposures to produce an image with higher dynamic range.

If you aren't familiar with the Ricoh CX series, it's Ricoh's pocket zoom range of cameras, and features a 10.7x optical zoom lens, 10 megapixel back lit CMOS sensor, anti-shake sensor, a high resolution 3in screen with 920k dots, HD video at 720p, and high speed shooting at 5fps to name just a few of the features.

The Ricoh CX5 does not feature manual controls, but is sold as an advanced compact camera with a multitude of options and features, rarely seen in this level of camera, such as electronic level, interval timed shots, manual, snap, infinite focus, noise reduction options, flash exposure compensation, exposure, white-balance, colour, and focus bracketing, manual long exposures (1,2,4,8 second exposures), as well as customisable buttons (dedicated function button, plus 4 more options using the ADJ button) and two customisable “My” modes.

Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Back
Key Features (new features in bold, compared to CX4)

  • Faster hybrid auto-focus system
  • New scene modes: Golf swing, Cooking, Fireworks
  • Wifi support with an Eye-fi SD card
  • Improved SR (Super Resolution technology) Digital Zoom – for 600mm zoom equivalent
  • HDMI Out
  • 10 megapixel back illuminated CMOS sensor
  • 10.7x optical zoom lens, equivalent to 28-300mm
  • Mechanical image stabiliser – sensor based
  • ISO80 - ISO3200
  • HD Video 1280x720 at 30 fps
  • 5fps shooting at 10mp
  • High speed shooting: 30fps at 2mp, 60 or 120fps at VGA
  • 3in screen with 920k dots
  • Dynamic Range mode (combines 2 shots)
  • 1cm Macro mode
  • Interval timer, Electronic Level
  • Creative modes: Miniaturise, High contrast B&W, Soft focus, Cross process, Toy camera
  • Scene modes: Portrait, Landscape, Discreet mode, Night portrait, Night landscape multi-shot, fireworks, cooking, sports, pets, golf swing, zoom macro, high sensitivity, skew correct, text (black and white)

Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Top

Ricoh CX5 Handling
The Ricoh CX5 feels great, with a solid metal body, and excellent ergonomics with all controls falling directly to hand. The rubber thumb grip is especially pleasant to use, and in use with the raised bar at the front of the camera (updated since the CX4), it makes it easy to keep a tight grip of the camera. You can tell that the camera has been designed with photographers in mind with a very well placed mode dial that can be easily changed when needed. One of the main complaints with the series is the position of the flash which can often be covered by your fingers if you are not consciously aware of the flash position, and with this update the flash position has moved further away from the lens. The battery and memory card cover is quite flimsy and the tripod socket is made out of plastic.

Menus: The Ricoh menus are well laid out and are split into three main areas: Shooting, Setup, and Playback. The camera has a lot of options and thankfully the camera's screen is very clear, and the options are very easy to use thanks to the bright yellow highlight, and clear text. Where necessary the menu options are explained by the camera making each mode easy to use. Ricoh has done a really good job of their menu system, and made an advanced set of options easy to understand and use.

Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Bottom

Battery Life: The Ricoh CX5 battery life is rated at 280 shots according to Ricoh / CIPA testing. I was able to take roughly 240 shots, mostly with flash, before the battery went flat, this is slightly disappointing considering the previous camera, the CX4, has a 300+ shot battery life rating, however I expect with less flash use the battery life will improve.

Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX4 with the Ricoh CX5 On

Speed: The new Hybrid AF uses a combination of contrast detection AF and an AF sensor to provide quicker focus, so to test this, we measured shutter response, and focusing speed at both wide angle and telephoto settings. We took 6 shots, and calculated the average speed of the camera. The results can be seen below.

  Ricoh CX4 Ricoh CX5
Shutter Response Average 0.05 seconds 0.05 seconds
Wide - Focus and Shutter Response Average 0.35 seconds 0.15 - 0.2 seconds
Full zoom - Focus and Shutter Response Average 0.55 seconds 0.35 - 0.4 seconds

As you can see in our tests, the Ricoh CX5 speed focusing at both wide-angle and telephoto is excellent, noticeably faster than the Ricoh CX4, which is relatively quick anyway. The new Hybrid AF is clearly working very well and Ricoh are to be commended for re-introducing the feature.

Other performance figures are good, with a switch on time of 2.0 seconds (from off to on, and taking a photo), shot to shot time is very good at 1.2 – 1.5 seconds between shots (without flash), but much slower with flash on taking 3.6 seconds between shots. High speed continuous shooting is excellent, at 5fps at full resolution for 10 shots until the shooting speed slows down, although flash is not available.

Ricoh CX5 Performance
The Ricoh CX5 produces images that have bright saturated colour, especially when the sun is shining brightly. Here are some sample photos you can enlarge.

Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Sample Photo Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Yellow Flowers
Blue Car
ISO100, 1/1150, f/6.2, 39mm
Yellow Flowers
ISO100, 1/870, f/5.6, 52mm

ISO and Noise Performance

Ricoh CX5 ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.
Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Noise Test
Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Noise Test Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Noise Test Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Noise Test
ISO100, 1/9, f/4.6, 15mm ISO200, 1/15, f/4.6, 15mm ISO400, 1/30, f/4.6, 15mm
Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Noise Test Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Noise Test Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Noise Test
ISO800, 1/60, f/4.6, 15mm ISO1600, 1/150, f/4.6, 15mm ISO3200, 1/310, f/4.6, 15mm

Noise is low at the lower ISO settings ISO100 and ISO200, however at ISO400 noise becomes noticeable particularly in bright outdoor shots where you don't expect to see noise. After this, as you increase the ISO setting, image detail and edges starts to degrade and increasingly colour is lost particularly with darker tones.

Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Wide-Angle Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Full Optical Zoom
ISO100, 1/570, f/7, 5mm (28mm equivalent)
ISO100, 1/1070, f/5.7, 52mm (300mm equivalent)
Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Super Zoom Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Colour Boosted
Full Optical plus Super Zoom (21.4x equivalent)
ISO100, 1/870, f/5.6, 52mm (600mm equivalent)
Colour boost: Contrast +2, Sharpness +1, Vivid +2, ISO100, 1/810, f/5.7, 52mm (300mm equivalent)

The optical zoom provides a good zoom range from wide to telephoto, although 10.7x optical zoom is becoming fairly typical for pocket zoom cameras, with increasing numbers of cameras now offering 12.5x, 14x and even 18x optical zoom lenses. The Ricoh CX5 offers a new "Super Zoom" mode that extends the zoom to 21.4x "optical" zoom equivalent - however, this is simply digital zoom and is not a match for true optical zoom. The Super Zoom mode uses the "Super Resolution" feature, and this creates sharper images when switched on. There are three settings: Off, Weak, and Strong, with the best results delivered when using this on the weak setting, as using the strong setting can over sharpen images.

Some of the creative modes are shown below...

Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Toy Camera Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Cross Processed
Toy Camera
ISO100, 1/1070, f/4.8, 39mm
Cross processed
ISO100, 1/1230, f/4.8, 39mm
Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 High Contrast Black and White Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Flash Photo
High Contrast Black and White
ISO100, 1/1230, f/4.8, 39mm
Portrait Shot - Flash On
ISO800, 1/79, f/4.6, 15mm

The creative modes can create some artistic shots, and can make some otherwise boring shots more memorable, using the modes available: Mini, High contrast B&W, Soft, Cross Process, Toy Camera and DR.

The portrait shot came out well with good flash performance, and accurate skin tones. The camera struggled to find faces when used on portrait scene mode, but this didn't stop it from focusing correctly on the face.

DR combines a number of shots to produce an image with greater dynamic range. This works well when there are dark shadow areas in photos combined with bright skies, as it can help keep detail in both areas, however often the results can be quite subtle. 

High speed modes: Unfortunately the high speed mode boosts the ISO to 400, causing more noise in images, even in bright shots of the sky where you would normally expect to see minimal like the bottom left image.

Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Kites Normal Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Kites High Speed
Normal shot
ISO100, 1/810, f/4, 6mm
High Speed
ISO400, 1/1230, f/10.1, 24mm

White Balance
Auto white balance is good in incandescent light, with a warm cast. Preset is excellent with neutral colours. Auto white balance in fluorescent light is disappointing, with overly green and dark colours, however using the preset improves results noticeably.

Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Auto White Balance Incandescent Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Incandescent White Balance Incandescent
Auto White Balance - Incandescent Lighting
ISO100, 1/20, f/4.1, 8mm (44mm equivalent)
Preset Incandescent WB - Incandescent Light
ISO100, 1/20, f/4.1, 8mm (44mm equivalent)
Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 White Balance Test Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 White Balance Test
Auto White Balance - Fluorescent Light
ISO100, 1/6, f/4.1, 8mm (44mm equivalent)
Fluorescent White Balance - Fluorescent Light
ISO100, 1/7, f/4.2, 8mm (44mm equivalent)

Macro Performance: The Ricoh CX5 allows you to be just 1cm away from your subject - you can even zoom in for class leading macro performance. 

Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Macro Flower Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review: Ricoh CX5 Macro Clock
Macro Flower
ISO400, 1/36, f/3.7, 5mm (28mm equivalent)
Macro Clock
ISO800, 1/42, f/4.5, 10mm (56mm equivalent)

Video Mode

The video quality is good, but the lack of image stabilisation (electronic or optical) makes it very difficult to get shake free videos particularly when using the full optical zoom. Optical zoom is not available while recording and needs to be set prior to recording. Sound is recorded in mono. 

Value for Money
The Ricoh CX5 compares fairly well to other pocket zoom cameras with high speed modes, such as the Nikon Coolpix S8100, S9100, Canon Powershot SX220 HS, and Casio Exilim FH100. Of these, the S9100 has the most zoom at 18x optical zoom, followed by the SX220 with 14x. If you are looking for extended dynamic range then you can also have a look at the Fujifilm FinePix F80EXR, and other EXR series cameras.

Ricoh CX5 Verdict
The Ricoh CX5 is another update to the CX series, and while the camera may not be enough of an improvement if you already have a previous version, it does offer impressive performance, and a wealth of features that make it very appealing for someone new to Ricoh. If you want more from a compact camera, then it's quite likely that the Ricoh CX5 features what you want and more.

The large number of features may put off beginners, however the large number of scene modes, and auto-scene selection should make it easy for anyone to pick up and use.

The high speed shooting, improved focusing system that is actually twice as quick as the previous model, and overall quick operation of the camera and abundant features should make the Ricoh CX5 high on the list of cameras to buy. It's just a shame the “Super Resolution” technology doesn't work as well as the new Hybrid AF.

Ricoh CX5 Digital Camera Review:
The Ricoh CX5 packs a lot into a compact body and has an impressive new focusing system that delivers.

Ricoh CX5 Pros:
Hybrid AF doubles the speed of focusing compared to the CX4
High speed 5fps continuous shooting for 10 shots
Excellent design and customizable controls
Class leading macro performance
Built in vibration reduction
Excellent features, including dynamic range and electronic spirit level
Excellent 3in screen

Ricoh CX5 Cons:
Super Resolution not as impressive as sold
Optical zoom not available in video mode
Flash position


Ricoh CX5: Specification

Price £249
Lens 10.7x optical zoom (28-300mm equivalent)
Resolution 10.00 million pixels
Sensor size 1/2.3 inch
Sensor type Back lit CMOS
Max. Image size 10mp 3648x2736
Aspect ratio 4:3, 3:2, 1:1, 16:9
Monitor 3.0in TFT LCD monitor, 921000 pixels
Shutter speed 1/2000-2sec, 1/4000-1/120s (sport continuous mode), 4 sec. (when scene mode is set to Fireworks show)
Focusing system Hybrid AF – combination of AF sensor (continuously measures the distance between the camera and subject), and contrast detection AF
Focusing modes Multi AF / Spot AF / Face-priority Multi AF (Contrast AF method with AF auxiliary light) / Subject-tracking AF / Multi-target AF (Contrast AF method) / Manual Focus / Snap / ∞ (Fixed focus method)
Focus distance Normal shooting: Approx. 30 cm–infinity (Wide), approx. 1.5 m–infinity (Telephoto) (from the front of the lens), Macro: Approx. 1 cm–infinity (Wide), approx. 28 cm–infinity (Telephoto), approx. 1 cm–infinity (Zoom Macro) (from the front of the lens)
File types Still Image: JPEG (Exif ver. 2.3), Multi-Picture: CIPA DC-007-2009 Multi-Picture Format, Movie: AVI (Open DML Motion JPEG Format compliant)
ISO sensitivity ISO100 - 3200
Metering modes Multi (256 segments) / Center-weighted light metering / Spot metering
Exposure compensation Exposure Compensation: Manual compensation (-2.0 EV–+2.0 EV, 1/3EV steps), Auto bracket function (−0.5EV, ±0, +0.5EV)
Continuous Approx. 5 frames/sec. (10M 4:3F; continuous shooting speed is approx. 3 frames/sec. for the 12th picture on)
Image stabilisation Yes - Image sensor shift method image stabilizer
Movie mode HD 1280x720, 30fps, Mono sound
Media type SD memory cards, SDHC memory cards (up to 32 GB), Internal memory (Approx. 40MB), Compatible with Eye-Fi cards (X2 Series)
Interface Hi-Speed USB 2.0
Power Rechargeable Lithium Ion Battery (DB-100) x1
Box Contents Camera, USB Cable, AV Cable, Hand Strap, Rechargeable Lithium-lon Battery(DB-100), Battery charger (BJ-10), Instruction Manual(Camera User Guide), 2 Year Warranty Card
Size 101.5 mm (W) x 58.6 mm (H) x 29.4 mm (D) (24.4 mm at thinnest part)
Weight 197 g (including battery and SD memory card)

The Ricoh CX5 costs £249 and is available from Warehouse Express here: Warehouse Express

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Photographs taken using the Ricoh Ricoh CX5

Girl with pumpkinsGirl with pumpkinsPoker plant flowers.BedroomIvyMiddle Hope, SomersetAbove Cheddar GorgeCheddar GorgeWW2 BarracksHolstein Friesians on the CotswoldsAutumnLister Model "D" Stationary EngineTorMemories of the FiftiesModel Maker

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