Nine months is a meagre gap between the release of the Ricoh CX2 and the latest in the series, the CX3. I found myself wondering just how much could have been achieved in this time.

One of the main downsides of the CX2 was the high level of noise, but Ricoh claims it has addressed this issue in the CX3 with the inclusion of a back-illuminated CMOS sensor.

The company has also added a selectable noise-reduction function, HD video, scene auto mode, ‘pets’ shooting mode and face-priority AF.

Build and handling

Ricoh’s history in producing high-quality compact cameras, such as the GR series, continues with the CX3. Its predecessor, the CX2, was a camera of real beauty, classic style and substance, so Ricoh is following the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mantra, with virtually no changes to the ergonomics of the CX3.

The thumb pad on the back and the textured front on the right-hand side allow the camera to rest securely and comfortably in your hand. Ricoh’s original retracting lens system fits the high-magnification 28-300mm (equivalent), 10.7x optical zoom lens in a modest 29.4mm deep body, which means the CX3 will fit comfortably in a pocket.

In the absence of a viewfinder there is a bright, 920,000-dot resolution LCD screen with anti-reflective finish, so viewing from a wide range of angles in strong daylight is possible. When examining pictures there is the function to flag up to 20 images, which is useful for quick viewing.

Handy features that remain from the previous model include approximately five frames per second, multi-target AF and manual focus, which is particularly useful when used in the 1cm macro setting.

Shooting modes include the in-vogue ‘miniature’ effect that blurs the top and bottom of an image and can be adjusted manually. It gives a ‘toy-town’ effect and best results are achieved from a high vantage point.

The new ‘pets’ mode is virtually identical to the ‘discreet’ mode and removes any audible noises, flash and AF auxiliary light from the camera that may startle an animal or give you away in an environment such as a gallery (not that I have ever taken photographs in a gallery, honest).


Images have good dynamic range and the auto white balance produces natural tones, particularly in daylight conditions

Back-illuminated sensors should produce less noise. The CX3 scored well in our resolution charts reaching the 20 marker at ISO 80 and 14 at ISO 3200. Pictures I took of flowers on my kitchen table in low light using the noise-reduction system showed that the auto setting is generally reliable in handling noise and maintaining true colour. Any differences to the auto setting using manual settings were minimal.

When the 28-300mm (equivalent) lens is at its longest telephoto focal length, the vibration reduction negates camera shake, despite the wobbly appearance on screen. Handheld exposures in relatively low light were sharp for shutter speeds shorter than 1/60sec.

Without manual exposure modes, there is a greater emphasis on the performance of the auto shooting and scene auto modes. Using both these modes, my images have a good dynamic range and accurate metering, although I did find I missed not having aperture priority control.

There is the option of manual exposure compensation with values of ±2EV. Autobracketing is also possible over three images to ±0.5EV. Also, the auto white balance system produces natural tones, particularly in daylight conditions. However, I would not recommend the ‘vivid’ shooting mode, as it tends to produce oversaturated colours.

The DR (dynamic range) mode combines two exposures and the strength of the effect can be adjusted over five levels from very weak to strong, using the dynamic range expansion. The camera needs to be kept steady during the two exposures and image processing takes just under 2secs in this mode, which is faster than that of the CX2.


There is a lot to like about the CX3, such as its classic design, intelligent focusing and 10.7x optical zoom.

Yet despite the impressive automatic exposure modes, I was frustrated by the lack of manual exposure controls.

That said, the improvements in handling noise make this a camera that performs as handsomely as it looks.