In praise of CX6

Started Jun 21, 2012 | Discussions thread
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In praise of CX6
Jun 21, 2012

There are many heated online debates on the perfect travel zoom camera. It will never end since a) there is no perfect camera and b) manufacturers claim that their new and improved models outclass all previous models as well as the competition, something that is often fiercely debated by consumers. The CX series seem to be an outsider in various ranking the stars competitions. Since I’ve owned three CX camera’s, let me comment on some of it’s qualities and shortcomings.

The CX camera’s are something of an acquired taste. They are not the Labrador of the camera market if an analogy between camera’s and dogs that everbody seems to love can be made. Ricoh designes it’s camera’s to be used by people who know ptotography. Here’s an example: on almost every Canon, Fuji et al the all-auto setting is a green camera symbol or Smart Auto marking. Not so on the CX: here the green camera setting means the user can (and must) influence all settings. Ricoh’s no-brainer setting is marked S-Auto and is indicated in plain white letters, similar to the various scene and creative settings. When asked to take some family pictures, my daughter instinctively turned the dail to the green camera setting and ended up with my last selection of BW, -0.7 EV, Contrast +1 in a square format. “Turn it to sauto” I yelled, to which she nodded with a puzzeled look and took some fairly good pictures.

They’re just not everyone’s friend, these Ricoh’s. You need to get familiar with their full potential and that might take a while. I started with the CX3, wich was great. Sold it for a Oly E-PL1 with is a good camera not as easy to take along, which I consequently didn’t on various occasions. As a result I soon I started missing the take anywhere compact camera . In came the CX5, but the one I got was something of a lemon. Picture quality was below the CX3 and the autofocus system started misbehaving. It was repaired under warranty, but never as good as the CX3. So I started my search for the perfect travel zoom and looked and played with everything from Canon S95 (great but limited zoom), Canon 230 (mwah..), Nikon P300 (overly sharpend and hopeless UI), something by Fuji (ugly like a molded bar of soap and bad IQ when zoomed in) and various models that didn’t impress me enough to remember or comment on.

At that time I had fond memories of the CX and looking at my files I could see why. I seldom missed a good photo opportunity because these camera’s are designed by people who actually take pictures themselves. I know this has been said many times of Ricoh and therefore is something of a cliché, but anyway, it’s true. The CX truly is a camera that can be adjusted on the fly with just one hand. The joystick makes adjusting exposure, ISO, Focus or any other parameter that you want to change a breeze. The customizable interface makes it possible to navigate surely and quickly in the extended menu. Try that with a Nikon P300/310 and see the difference.

So two months ago I bought a CX6 and I love it. I felt right at home. It’s fast to operate and results are better than the CX3. Most visible are lower noise levels. Being able to select shutter speeds and aperture (full open or closed) is a big plus and the bleach function, aganin with many settings than can be tinkered with, produce very likable results. The Ricoh holds up very well to my friends Samsung EX1 and loses out to the E-PL1, but that’s no surprise. And hey, I can even zoom with video and there’s now stereo sound. Not that I use it much, but I get the feeling that my CX might even be ‘cutting edge’ equipment.

In many cases critisism on the CX series is justified. The zoom lens is both slow and long in tooth. The competition offers faster, often better performing lenses. So Ricoh, come up with a new, state of the art lens please. Camera design is stale, or very conservative if you want to put it nicely. And Ricoh’s image processor is no longer up to date when compared to the latetest offerings by Panasonic and Canon. All true, but with a little tinkering, patience and enthousiasm, this camera can turn out very good to great results. It challenges me to experiment with various exposre, contrast and metering settings and playing with this camera pays of. Ricoh’s close up capabilities are rightly praised. Unlike some competitors, the JPEG’s are very natural looking. To me that’s a big plus, the only thing I recommend is setting sharpness and contrast to +1, resulting in pictures with just a little more ‘bite’. I leave saturation settings well enough alone. The CX6 makes me anxious to view the results on my computer monitor and it has more than once exeeded my expectations, which are pretty high. All in all, this camera is a joy.

Canon PowerShot S95 Nikon Coolpix P300 Olympus PEN E-PL1 Ricoh CX3 Ricoh CX5 Ricoh CX6
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