At first glance, the Ricoh CX4 looks like your average compact camera. My review sample came in a rather uninspiring black, but search online and you’ll be able to buy it in a rather more fetching pink or silver. However, it is compact and has smooth edges, which make it easy to slip into a pocket. It is missing the textured ‘handgrip’ of its predecessor the CX3, which makes it a little less easy to hold.
I’ve been having some issues with my own Canon compact, and had recently decided to go back to my trusty DSLR, despite its weighty proportions, as I just wasn’t happy with the standard of shots I was getting.
So when the Ricoh landed in my letterbox, I was interested to see how it would compare.
Screen-wise, it was a big thumbs-up. The screen is large (3in) and has a high resolution of 920K dots offers an excellent view of your shots once taken – better than the standard 230K dot screens. But I found, once I’d loaded the images onto my laptop, that they were rather misleading. A couple of black and white shots I’d taken looked fine on the camera’s screen, but in actual fact was underexposed. And indoor shots taken at night (on a rare night out to dinner) were disappointing.
But outside, I was really impressed with the depth of colours the camera achieved. A trip to an open farm over Halloween presented images with fine depth of colour, and using the auto mode gave me some fantastic blue skies, something that my other compact often fails to achieve.
There’s a decent 28-300 optical zoom, and an image-sensor-shift image stabilisation that cuts down on blur. The ‘subject tracking’ AF autofocus system is designed to ensure photos are in focus and correctly exposed – I’d say the focusing works better than the exposure.
I know I’m sad, but I was also excited by the ‘miniaturisation’ mode. This achieves what is known as tilt-shift images, where a picture of something such as a railway station or Big Ben, takes on the appearance of being in miniature, like a model village or train set. It’s something I’ve been keen to try myself, but had never got round to fiddling around with the settings on my DSLR to achieve it. With the Ricoh, it can be done at the twist of the dial on top.
The High definition 720p video mode creates AVI format files that are rather large, and you can’t zoom or focus during recording. There’s also no stereo sound or an HDMI port for viewing movies on your TV.
The Ricoh CX4 retails at £249.99.