|Dynamic range of the Ricoh CX1
Most striking is the enhanced dynamic range. The Ricoh CX1 is not the only camera offering this option; also the Fujifilm F200EXR features a high dynamic range. But whereas Fujifilm uses the sensor, Ricoh does it through the software. The camera takes high-speed consecutive shots of two still images with different exposures, and then records an image that combines the properly exposed portions of each. This means you can use the full resolution. The disadvantage is that you have to keep the camera as still as possible, otherwise you will capture a double image. Outdoors in broad daylight this is not much of a problem, but it does become somewhat more difficult in a church. You will have to find something that can serve as a tripod. The effect is fine. You can set the expansion of the dynamic range in four levers, varying from weak to strong. Strong will obviously show more, however; the picture as a whole will become a tad weaker when it comes to contrast. This is a logical effect of a large dynamic range. 'Medium' provides a good alternative, whilst 'Strong' is recommended only at high contrast.
White balance settings
Another special function is the Multi-Pattern auto white balance. If you have ever captured a picture in a room with both windows and incandescent light, you will likely be familiar with the problem. If you set the white balance to incandescent, everything that happens outdoors becomes very blue. However; if you set the white balance to daylight, everything outdoors will look great, but indoors the light is far too warm. Something similar happens with flash light. Ricoh is convinced it has solved the problem with Multi-Pattern AWB. This function can define white balance to fit the light source of each segregated area of the image. It works quite well, although obtaining perfect neutrality indoors is not possible. You can debate, however, whether that is even bad at all; often, it actually looks nice when you see a warmer light indoors than the one outdoors. It certainly is the solution to the flash picture, where it works excellently.
Multi Pattern AF
Multi Pattern AF really is something special. The Ricoh CX1 automatically decides seven focus points and does high-speed consecutive shooting of seven images while shifting the focus to each point. After shooting, you can select the image with the preferred focus. This function is effective for scenes where there is a narrow range for a sharp focus such as macro. Or you can combine various pictures to one with a large depth of field. This is as far as theory goes, in practice however, it is a tad disappointing. Partly due to the rather small sensor and the fact a large depth of field comes in quickly. The differences in sharpness aren't too big in that case. Yet, also because the CX1 focuses frequently on the same point in a number of images. That does not provide a wide variety. I was expecting more from this feature.
|MPO file format
The files of the Multi Pattern AF are stored in a different format. It will open easily on the camera, although for example, not in Photoshop. That is however only annoying if you start processing your files at home, you have to remember to open the comprised MPO format files. This MPO format is also used when shooting a huge amount of pictures per second. The Ricoh CX1 is standard able to take 4 frames per second in full resolution, all of which are separate JPEGs. If you want to shoot at a faster frame speed, the resolution will decrease and all pictures are added in the MPO format. A maximum of 120 pictures can be taken per second in a resolution of 640x480 pixels. That means many pictures in a very low quality. I don't really see the sense in this. Maybe just to create a time-lapse movie or analyze a motion, but more than that is not possible, while the quality of these pictures simply isn’t good enough.
ISO and noise reduction
I see the quality of the pictures as typically Ricoh. The pictures have something typical due to the image processing. It has to appeal to you. The pictures are sharp, no doubt about that, maybe even a tad too strong when it comes sharpening. Noise plays a large role from ISO 400. Or better said: the noise reduction plays a main role. Since the detail reproduction decreases drastically from ISO 400 onwards. Even at low sensitivities, the detail reproduction could be increased as far as I am concerned. Now, all you're getting at high sensitivities is mush. The color rendition on the other hand, is excellent. And purple fringing is hardly to not at all appearing, which means the lens is excellently corrected. Also distortion stays widely within the margins. The Ricoh CX1 does not have the image quality I would like to see, however; I do tend to place the bar way up high. For the average snapshot, it is fine.