Ricoh CX5 review

Price when reviewed

Like the Nikon S8100, the CX5 hides a huge lens in a small body. Behind the faintly boxy, 3cm-deep body lurks a lens that (converted to 35mm) runs from a wide-angle 28mm to a very long 300mm, with an aperture ranging from f/3.5 to 5.6. Impressive stuff.

Ricoh CX5 review

Aesthetically, we prefer the CX5’s styling to the S8100’s. For this kind of cash it seems appropriate that you get a camera that looks as if it’s been made for grown-ups, and the CX5’s all-black, all-metal body looks and feels the part. Push the power button on the top and the lens slides out of the body with a refined, finely machined whir. The general feeling of expensive refinement continues to the 3in, 920k-pixel screen, which delivers plenty of brightness and detail, even if the heavily text-based menu system suggests Ricoh has something to learn about interface design.

As you’d expect of a camera costing the better part of £300, the CX5 produced some superb images in our testing. Despite its internal complexity, the lens is generally sharp, if a little prone to losing resolution at the corners at its 28mm setting. The CX5 did produce slightly less detail than the S8100 throughout its 100-3200 ISO range, though, and at higher ISOs, the S8100 produced less chroma noise.

Ricoh CX5

The CX5 fails to deliver any meaningful manual controls, though. If you’re in the dark, you can set the shutter manually from one to eight seconds, but there’s no way of metering or controlling the aperture when you do so, so shooting is a little hit and miss. The 720p video mode is also a little underwhelming: for this much money we expect Full HD.

One definite plus is the CX5’s performance, which is little short of spectacular. Timed against a stopwatch, it fired 15 full-resolution frames in 2.8 seconds, or a little over 5fps. To get that kind of performance in a DSLR you’ll have to spend considerably more than £300. Not only is that faster than the S8100’s 4fps, but the buffer lasted for three times as many shots.

There’s a huge amount to like about the CX5, not least its sophisticated, polished design and its superb performance. We wish it resolved slightly more detail in stills – it’s behind the S8100 in that crucial respect – and its video mode could be more impressive. However, the lens marks it apart as a compact camera that’s comfortable with everything from landscape photography to long-distance wildlife work, as does its excellent continuous mode. If you’re worried about missing shots, the CX5 is a marvellous buy.

Basic specifications

Camera megapixel rating 10.0mp
Camera screen size 3.0in
Camera optical zoom range 11x
Camera maximum resolution 3648 x 2736

Weight and dimensions

Weight 197g
Dimensions 101 x 29 x 59mm (WDH)

Other specifications

Built-in flash? yes
Aperture range f3.5 - f5.6
Camera minimum focus distance 0.30m
Shortest focal length (35mm equivalent) 28
Longest focal length (35mm equivalent) 300
Minimum (fastest) shutter speed 1/2,000
Maximum (slowest) shutter speed 8s
Exposure compensation range +/- 2EV
ISO range 100 - 3200
Selectable white balance settings? yes
Memory-card type SD
LCD resolution 920k

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