Category: Waterproof / Rugged Compact Camera
Group test: Waterproof Compact Cameras
16MP | 28-140mm (5X) ZOOM | $249/£149
The Ricoh PX was released earlier this summer, and represents quite a shift for Ricoh in terms of their standard waterproof offerings. In complete contrast to the sturdy, industrial design of Ricoh's previous waterproof offerings, the PX is characterized by a rather sleek body that could easily be mistaken for a fashionable (non-waterproof) compact. This doesn't come free though - featuring waterproofing rated to 3m (10 ft) and shockproofing to only 1.5m (5 ft), the PX is the least 'rugged' camera in our test.
Moving on from its more conventional features, the PX does not stand out in any single area. In common with several other models in this review it offers a 2.7 inch 230k-dot LCD, a 28-140mm 5X zoom lens, 720p video, and an assortment of fairly standard shooting and scene modes. Two of the features that are becoming more common in this class - built-in GPS and automatic panorama stitching - are absent from the PX.
Click here for full product information including reader reviews and image samples (opens in new window)
Design / Key features
The PX comes equipped with most of the standard shooting modes we have become accustomed to in cameras in this class like landscape, portrait, pets etc., plus some more context-specific modes like 'sweets', which surrounds your dessert of choice with a circular white border, and the slightly incongruous 'auction', which allows you to combine multiple images in a diptych or triptych, presumably for the purposes of creating a web gallery for online auctions.
Also included are several creative filters that are becoming standard, like miniaturize, toy camera, and cross process. Curiously, despite the range of options included, the PX lacks a dedicated underwater shooting mode.
To manage all of the shooting modes, the PX uses a very simplistic menu system that is accessed by a single circular menu button. The modes can be scrolled through and selected by pushing the upper ('premium') edge of the 4-way controller, and the only other menus ('shooting' and 'setup') are accessed by pressing 'menu/ok', providing access to settings like ISO sensitivity and white balance. Settings that we are used to controlling in a menu system like flash and self-timer are given dedicated buttons on the PX, and a dedicated movie record button has been included as well.
- 16 effective Megapixels
- 28-140mm equiv lens with sensor-shift image stabilization
- 2.7 inch LCD with 230,000 dot resolution
- 720p 30 fps HD video
- ISO sensitivity up to 3200
- Waterproof to 3m (10 ft)
- Shockproof to 1.5m (5 ft)
- 24 shooting modes
Performance and image quality
In terms of speed of operation, the PX turns in a respectable performance, without being outstanding. It powers on in just over 2 seconds and with a contrasty subject can lock focus and take a picture within another half second. The autofocus is pretty quick in general, only occasionally hunting for focus. Video recording begins roughly 3.5 seconds after the record button is pressed, which is not snappy by any means, but is only bettered by the Panasonic DMC-TS3 and Pentax WG-1 GPS in our group test.
|The image on the left is a good example of the sharp results that the PX is capable of at low ISO sensitivities, with lots of detail visible in the rusted metal pipes. The image on the right was taken at ISO 1600 and shows the abilities of the PX in low light (without flash), which although not outstanding, are comparatively good, and are bettered only by the Panasonic DMC-TS3 and Sony TX10 in this group. Take a look a our night comparison scene for a comparison of image quality from all of these cameras at ISO 1600.|
Images from the Ricoh PX are among the sharpest and 'punchiest' in our test, with only a slight decrease in quality in the corners (more so at wideangle focal lengths, as we'd expect). When examined more closely, it is clear that sharpening is somewhat aggressive, but when viewed on a computer screen or on medium sized prints, this is a non-issue.
In bright daylight, the PX meters well, only occasionally leaning towards underexposure when very bright subjects like clouds are involved, but mostly producing very even exposures with respectable dynamic range. When flash is necessary, if set to 'auto' flash, the PX annoyingly defaults to ISO 1600 or 3200. Although this is easily fixed by manually overriding the ISO sensitivity in the menu system, it is irritating, and means that by default the PX creates some of the least attractive flash images of the cameras in this group.
In good lighting the Ricoh PX's video output exhibits accurate colors and decent sharpness, but like the Pentax WG-1 GPS and Fuji XP30, there is a lot of noise visible in the footage. Also like the Pentax WG-1 GPS, but to a lesser extent, video from the PX can suffer from vertical banding around bright scene elements. In the first sample below the camera is at full zoom and panning to track a subject effectively. In the second video, when the lens is zoomed in on a shaded area noise becomes clearly visible, and at 20 seconds in the magenta cast issue is very obvious when a man in a white shirt enters the frame.
|1280 x 720 30 fps, .AVI file, 21 sec. 92 MB Click here to download original .AVI file|
|1280 x 720 30 fps, .AVI file, 31 sec. 130 MB Click here to download original .AVI file|
Like the Sony Cyber-shot TX10, the Ricoh PX offers consumers a combination of style and substance unusual amongst more traditional waterproof offerings. The PX would be equally at home at a black tie dinner party or white-water rafting. Unlike the TX10 though, the PX offers mostly base level specs and features. Even still, we were impressed with the edge-to-edge performance of the Ricoh lens, as well as the high ISO performance, which is above average for this class.
If you want to shoot high quality video, or want to print your images relatively large, the Panasonic DMC-TS3 and Sony TX10 may be worth the extra $60-70 over the Ricoh PX. Equally, if ultimate toughness is a priority, you should look elsewhere. But if you're looking for a decent compact camera, capable of good image quality but which won't break when you take it out in the rain, we'd highly recommend taking a look at the bargain-priced Ricoh PX.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.
Ergonomics & handling
Exposure and focus accuracy
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Movie / video mode
General everyday photography thanks to its small size, stylish design, and above-average image quality.
Not so good for
Low light shooting situations and video.
The Ricoh PX is stylish and compact and, in key areas such as image quality and speed of operation, it holds its own with the competition. Its specs are middle-of-the-road for this class but it is is priced very competitively and, ultimately, represents great value considering its performance.
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX30 18.2 Megapixel Compact Camera - Orange||$228.00|
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX5 10.2 Megapixel Compact Camera - Black||$299.99|