Ricoh CX6 £259.99
14th May 2012 | 09:00
Exciting filters, a speedy AF and quality images from a compact camera
The Ricoh CX6 is an updated version of its still available predecessor, the Ricoh CX5. It adds aperture/shutter priority, continuous AF shooting modes, plus faster start-up and shorter shot-to-shot times.
Aimed at those looking for a high quality compact camera to act as a second camera, the Ricoh CX6 has aperture and shutter-speed priority modes for more control. It also has a noise reduction function, designed to produce high-quality images.
It stands against quite a few market competitors, such as the Nikon Coolpix S8200, Samsung WB750 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX7V, to name just a few.
They all have physically similar sized CMOS sensors and are cheaper than the Ricoh CX6, which is priced at £259.99 (around $420) in the UK.
The Ricoh CX6 is a 10MP camera with a 10.7x optical zoom, equivalent to 28-300 mm on a 35mm film camera. There is also a digital zoom facility that extends up to 2880mm.
As well as having a far-reaching zoom, the camera benefits from a close macro distance of 1cm. You also have the option of choosing between eight fixed lengths using the step zoom.
Images are captured on the back illuminated CMOS sensor, processed by the Smooth Imaging Engine IV and can be reviewed on the 3-inch 1.23 million dot high-resolution LCD screen.
This Ricoh camera has a 5fps high-speed continuous shooting mode, with a theoretical capacity of 999 pictures.
You can easily switch to shooting HD movies or Snap Movies - films that can be 60 seconds long.
Ricoh claims the CX6 achieves fast AF focus times of 0.1 sec, and it also benefits from a wide range of focus options: Multi AF, Spot AF, Face-priority Multi AF, Subject-tracking AF, Multi-target AF, Manual Focus and Snap.
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There are also three metering modes to choose from; multi, centre-weighted and spot.
For precise composition, three grid guide displays are provided: 3 x 3 grid, centred subject grid and a clear view grid.
Perhaps one of the camera's most attractive features is the wide array of shooting modes and creative filters. It includes all the regular scene modes, such as Landscape, Pets, Portrait and Night Portrait, as well as more dynamic modes such as Skew Correct, Golf Swing Continuous and Cooking, for subject-specific shooting, as well as more advanced shutter and aperture priority modes.
The camera's creative filters include Dynamic Range Double Shot, Miniaturise, Bleach Bypass, High Contrast B&W, Soft Focus, Cross Process and Toy Camera.
Build quality and handling
Ricoh's CX6 is comfortable to use - with its compact size and lightweight build it handles well when shooting, since it has a good rubber thumb grip. It has a very clean-looking smooth design with an attractive metallic finish to the body.
While some controls such as the function, menu and playback buttons are easy to use, others, such as the power and movie buttons, are cramped together and difficult to press.
The power button is placed too close to the zoom dial and is difficult to press, which makes powering on harder than it should be.
The movie button could perhaps have benefited from being set a little further away from the thumb rest, just to make it a little more accessible. The zoom dial turns smoothly and the shutter button is within easy reach and responsive.
All the buttons have a plastic finish, and produce a slightly unpleasant click when pushed. They could perhaps be improved with a switch to metal buttons for a sleeker finish.
The scene dial can be difficult to turn at times, because it's set into the camera body.
The menus are quickly accessible through the Menu button and are simple and easy to navigate, with changeable options scrolling out to the right. The design is clean and works well.
When operating in aperture or shutter priority mode the function button makes the aperture and shutter speed preferences easy to change.
The Ricoh CX6 also gives you the ability to pre-programme your two most frequently used settings, such as aperture and shutter speed, via two My Settings menus on the dial.
This means that favoured shooting options are already set, ensuring that the crucial shooting opportunity is not missed while fiddling about with dials and settings.
All information is clearly displayed on the LCD screen in a way that doesn't disrupt or obscure the shooting or viewing of images.
The electronic level displayed on the screen demonstrates when the camera is level, indicated by it turning green. If the level is ignored or forgotten, then the skew correction mode can alter an image so that it becomes level again.
Another feature, which is new to the CX range, is the automatic brightness adjustment of the screen. Whether shooting outside or indoors, the LCD screen always enables optimum viewing and shooting, adjusting automatically to light conditions and subject matter. There were no reflections from the screen, even in bright sunlight.
When adjusting exposure compensation, the bar is displayed on the left-hand side of the screen and demonstrates an instant application of any adjustments.
The Ricoh CX6 takes high-quality photos across its wide range of settings. Whether shooting in Landscape or Macro mode, the colours produced are rich and the detail is crisp. Depth of field is also extensive.
The camera's automatic scene recognition mode works efficiently and generally assesses the scene correctly.
We found the AF system is reasonably fast and has a decent tracking system. Although this can be slow occasionally, and not great for capturing fast-moving subjects, it manages to keep up with slower subjects for the majority of the time.
The HD movie shooting mode produces detailed and clear fiootage with good audio playback. It also sustained the detail and has no distortion when using the zoom while filming, although it unfortunately does capture the sound of the zoom working.
Although the Ricoh CX6 has a noise reduction function, there is some evidence of noise creeping into the shadow areas when viewing images taken at low sensitivity settings at 100 per cent on the computer screen.
The image is not disrupted by the noise at more normal viewing sizes, though.
In images taken at higher sensitivities such as ISO 3200 the noise is a lot more apparent, as expected. The image is still usable, but wouldn't be recommended for large prints.
Chromatic aberration and distortion are mostly non-existent. We spotted one anomaly shot that has some grey fringing along the skyline, but this is more than likely down to the Dynamic Range option being activated.
In Dynamic Range mode the camera could have moved between the taking of the two exposures. Most other shots were clear and free of any noticeable problems.
The Ricoh CX6 has an accurate automatic white balance system, coping well with overcast conditions and indoor shooting conditions with artificial, natural and mixed lighting.
When the pre-set white balance settings are used, the camera copes well, although the cloudy setting can produce colours that are a little too warm.
Exposure compensation can be adjusted via a scroll bar, enabling you to adjust the parameter in both normal and creative shooting modes. This is especially useful for the high contrast black and white mode, which can become swamped by areas of deep shadow.
The metering is generally spot on, coping well with high contrast compositions.
We found that images taken with the creative filters are interesting and good quality. Soft Focus mode has strong and weak options, with the stronger setting producing a very misty soft glow. It's personal preference as to whether you want your image softened considerably or just slightly.
Toy Camera mode replicates the colours and vignetting of old toy cameras, saturating the colour and adjusting the vignetting to the desired level to give it an old-fashioned effect. This worked well on a number of different subjects.
The Dynamic Range mode also works well to produce quality images. Taking two images of two different exposures one after the other in quick succession, it produces an image that the camera deems to be correctly exposed, with lower contrast.
High Contrast B&W mode produces great photos with a lot of detail, and the grainy finish applied gives it an aged look.
This mode struggles with areas of high shadow, since it can black out a lot of the shot, but the Ricoh CX6 enables you to apply exposure compensation, lightening the areas of deep shadow.
Image quality and resolution
As part of our image quality testing for the Ricoh CX6, we've shot our resolution chart.
If you view our crops of the resolution chart's central section at 100% (or Actual Pixels) you will see that, for example, at ISO 100 the CX6 is capable of resolving up to around 20 (line widths per picture height x100) in its highest quality JPEG files.
For a full explanation of what our resolution charts mean, and how to read them, check out our full explanation of our resolution charts.
Examining images of the chart taken at each sensitivity setting reveals the following resolution scores in line widths per picture height x100:
ISO 100, score: 20 (click here to see the full resolution image)
ISO 200, score: 20 (click here to see the full resolution image)
ISO 400, score: 16 (click here to see the full resolution image)
ISO 800, score: 14 (click here to see the full resolution image)
ISO 1600, score: 14 (click here to see the full resolution image)
ISO 3200, score: 14 (click here to see the full resolution image)
Noise and dynamic range
We shoot a specially designed chart in carefully controlled conditions and the resulting images are analysed using DXO Analyzer software to generate the data to produce the graphs below.
A high signal to noise ratio (SNR) indicates a cleaner and better quality image.
For more more details on how to interpret our test data, check out our full explanation of our noise and dynamic range tests.
Our analysis shows that the Ricoh CX6 produces good results for both signal to noise ratio and dynamic range. For signal to noise ratio the CX6's results are on par with Canon IXUS 230 HS and Nikon Coolpix S8200 up to a sensitivity of ISO 800, above this value the CX6 out performs the others, showing less noise at the higher sensitivities. Dynamic range results again show that the CX6 just has the edge across the whole sensitivity range.
Signal to noise ratio
JPEG images from the Ricoh CX6 compare well against the Canon IXUS 230HS and Nikon Coolpix S8200 up to a sensitivity of ISO 800. From ISO 800 the results remain consistent showing noise is kept to a minimum at the higher sensitivities and out performing the other cameras.
This chart indicates that the Ricoh's JPEGs have at least a 1EV higher dynamic range than the Canon IXUS 230HS and Nikon Coolpix S8200 at ISO 100. Although results between sensitivities of ISO 400 and 1600 are similar to the Canon IXUS 230HS, at the highest sensitivity setting the Ricoh again gains a better result.
The toy camera mode is great for saturating colours and adding a vignetting to mimic the quality of a toy camera.
Pet mode captures moving subjects well.
The camera's macro function produced a lot of detail, with an appropriate depth of field.
The landscape mode has produced vibrant colours and plenty of detail across the image.
The high contrast black and white mode produced a great grainy and old-fashioned styled photo.
Metering worked well across the camera's three modes, multi, spot and centre-weighted. This image was captured using spot metering.
Sensitivity and noise
Full ISO 100 image, see the cropped (100%) versions below
The Ricoh CX6 is a good compact camera that produces photos that are rich with colour and detail. The different scene modes and filters, along with shutter and aperture priority modes, mean that there is something for everyone.
Although its physical handling could be improved by means of better button arrangement, the Ricoh CX6 handles very well.
The different scene modes and creative filters available enable maximum creativity when shooting. The fact that the filters were adjustable via exposure compensation enhanced them further.
Both the power and video activation buttons could be better, as could the dial for switching between shooting modes.
The Ricoh CX6 is a light compact camera that is quick to use and enables you express your creativity and build on your skills.
The Ricoh CX6 is priced at £259.99 (around $420), and its predecessor the CX5 is still available at around £184, or $205. The extra cost could well be worth it when considering the Ricoh CX6's extra specifications, such as the advanced shooting modes, faster shooting and start-up times.
Ricoh has put a lot of thought into how the camera may be used, providing a lot of customisation. The Ricoh CX6 enables a lot of photographic creativity while remaining generally simple to use.
It's a shame is doesn't have raw file capability, but it is a good camera for DSLR users looking for a compact backup, or for compact users looking to get more serious about their photography.