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Ricoh CX5 Overview

Posted: 01/26/2011

Ricoh's CX5 is the fifth model in a product line that's traditionally been updated twice each year, in early spring and late summer. The Ricoh CX-series cameras all share a nearly identical compact body design, and each model to date has featured a CMOS image sensor, mechanical sensor-shift image stabilization, 3.0-inch LCD panel with 920,000 dot resolution, and a long-zoom lens that swings elements out of the optical path when retracted, allowing a slimmer body profile.The Ricoh CX5 retains these features, with the same 1/2.3-inch, 10.0 effective megapixel, backside illuminated CMOS sensor as the CX4, coupled to the 28-300mm equivalent 10.7x optical zoom lens that was introduced with the CX2. Maximum aperture with this lens varies from f/3.5 to f/5.6 across the zoom range. Focusing is possible to as close as one centimeter in macro mode.

The most significant difference between the Ricoh CX5 and its predecessors is the reintroduction of the company's Hybrid AF system, last seen in 2007's Caplio GX100 model. It's the first time the feature has appeared in a CX-series camera, and should hopefully translate to a significant boost in autofocus performance. The system relies on an external, passive autofocus sensor to form a rough estimate of focus distance, which is then fine-tuned to achieve a focus lock using contrast detection. Since it's not inside the optical path, the external sensor can't be used to achieve an accurate focus lock by itself, but by getting things in the ballpark, it allows the contrast detection system to achieve its job much more quickly than would otherwise be the case.

Despite the reintroduction of a dedicated AF sensor, the Ricoh CX5 is a slight 8 grams (0.3 ounces) lighter than the CX4, while retaining the exact same body size. Like the CX4, the Ricoh CX5 lacks manual or priority exposure modes, and instead relies on a selection of scene modes to help photographers control the look of images. There are now 14 scene modes in the CX4, including three new choices -- Fireworks, Cooking, and Golf Swing Continuous. Other changes since the CX4 include a new Micro HDMI high definition video output connection, a 46MB reduction in available flash memory to 40MB, support for Eye-Fi X2-series wifi-capable SD cards, a slight 30-shot decrease in battery life, a new local sharpening control dubbed "Super Resolution" mode with off, weak, or strong settings, and a new 2x digital zoom function taking advantage of this, dubbed "Super Resolution Zoom". In other respects, the Ricoh CX5 is little changed from its predecessor.

The Ricoh CX5 goes on sale in Japan from February 10, 2011, with monthly production of 50,000 units. In the US market, the Ricoh CX5 should ship from mid-February 2011, priced at around US$400.