10-MEGAPIXEL COMPACT DIGITAL CAMERA

I was surprised by the unveiling of Ricoh’s new CX3 digital camera not too long after the CX2 arrived, but the difference between these siblings is remarkable. After spending a lot of time with both the CX1 and CX2, the CX3 had some large shoes to fill. Clearly, Ricoh is listening to its customers with this latest addition to the CX series.

This offering features a new backlit CMOS sensor that produces images with less visible noise and a more subtle, natural contrast. Even long-throw flash photos, well beyond the capability of the tiny strobe, are acceptable in most cases. The stunning optics are far sharper than any models tested in this class. Even when 200′ from the subject, the clarity and balance of the images is closer to that of a DSLR. There’s an overall improvement in all shooting modes as well.

Other nice additions are the Face-Priority AF option in the bracketing selector, and a Pets Mode with silent operation and no visible light emitting from the body that might startle an animal. With its many refinements, this is still a consumer compact digital camera so there’s no RAW shooting mode. For the pros out there, the image quality has incredible depth and clarity, and colors are balanced, properly saturated, and razor sharp.

The CX3 has another trick up its sleeve in that it shoots 1280p video, which is surprising for a camera in this class. The new DB-100 battery lasts longer than its predecessor’s does. If I were to have any negative issue with the Ricoh CX3, it’s that the selector wheel on the top still sticks out just far enough to slide out of my preferred shooting mode (there’s no lock to keep it in position). There’s so much more to love about this sub-$400 marvel that it’s easy to focus on the positive.—Daniel M. East

Company: Ricoh Co., Ltd.
Price: $399
Website: www.ricoh.com
Rating: 5
Hot: Great optics; excellent exposures; HD video
Not:

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