Saturday, 30 May 2009


Interesting to note that tomorrow will see yet another Panasonic firmware update that should further improve white balance performance (again!) ... I'm interested to see if they achieve what for some reason is an awkward aspect for Panasonic, and one that would make a great difference to LX3's usability for many.

Even though the LX3 Dynamic BW is stunningly good and highly addictive, we do need far better jpeg wb accuracy as well for colour images, especially as SilkyPix raw file conversion is so painful and time-consuming in attempting to gain good wb ... so fingers crossed.


Ricoh CX1 f/5, 1/470, ISO80, -0.7EV

Vodafone billboard ad, actually taken on a lovely blue-sky evening earlier in the week ... desaturated all but the ad in post-processing for greater effect

Wednesday, 27 May 2009


Ricoh CX1 f/5.2, 1/189, ISO125, -0.7EV

British Summer Time, so it was out with the brollies in North London today, on a typical grey day - had to be monochrome for this image.


Ricoh CX1 f/6.6, 1/440, ISO80, -0.3EV

Foreign feel to this image, but actually fairly close to home - the warm colours & contrast caught my eye ...

Tuesday, 26 May 2009


Ricoh CX1 f/5.2, 1/18, ISO161, -2EV

Not just any flute ...this is something very special, a bamboo flute that Niall uses regularly on many of his tracks, and well worthy of careful photography, as it also features some very detailed inscribed symbols.

The sunlight had gone, showers came literally the moment I'd made this shot ...just as well I was able to work very quickly, with a touch of ambient light (that's easily seen in the top right section of the image), combined with a CTO-gelled SB-800, camera left, to replicate some warmth from evening sunlight... an intentional contrast, and an image that's a little different from the norm.


Nikon D3/24-70 (@34mm), f/11, 1/250, ISO200, -1EV

From a couple of evenings ago, one of the D3 images of Niall, a good friend and prolific composer of some superb World music (check iTunes and web link for more!), this image made with a couple of SB-800s off-camera for a striking and dramatic effect.

Location for this image was the first Peace Pagoda in the Western hemisphere. And another essential component for the success of this shot - that's a real Far-Eastern shirt.

Monday, 25 May 2009


Ricoh CX1 f/6.3, 1/2, ISO80, -2EV

Ricoh CX1 f/5, 1/7, ISO161,-1.3EV

Strobist ? Isn't that to do with off-camera flash, DSLRs, hotshoes, wireless, pocket wizards, cactus triggers, sync cords ? ...the list goes on. Answer yes. So how can CX1 be a part of that ?

CX1 is not a DSLR, doesn't have a pc socket or hotshoe for external flash triggering, so there's no way of connecting, and it definitely doesn't have wireless flash control built-in...we could live in hope !

But what the CX1 does have is, like most compacts, an onboard flash - and a reasonably powerful one at that. But it goes beyond the usual p&s brigade for two reasons :

1/ The internal flash has output compensation control. In the words of the brilliant Joe McNally, that means you're not going to nuke every subject you point the camera at can reduce the level to fill-in, or even -2 ... hardly noticeable, but there.

2/ CX1 also has a 'slow synchro' flash mode - so you can pick up the ambient light as well as adding flash to your exposure.

Having used the D3 the other evening, with 3 x SB-800s (one on camera as master, two off-camera 'slaves'), and being inspired by some of what I've read so far of 'The Hot Shoe Diaries' (McNally), I thought the least I could do was try using a couple of SB-800s in
'SU-4/slave' mode, to see what I could get. In a way ridiculous that each cost more than the CX1, but as I have them, wanted to use them !

With a CTO gel in each to warm things up, here are a couple of examples of indoor 'strobist'/off-camera flash usage, where the CX1 flash comp, set to -2, triggered both SBs in sync. The strobes are of course then each manually set for the required power output to taste. I'm pleased with the results so far, and it's a great way to set-up different-looking shots quickly & easily. More to come...


Boy ..... or Girl ?
Ricoh CX1 f/5.2, 1/189, ISO135, 0EV
The toning and general treatment applied can make a huge difference to the viewer's perception of an image ... we're used to seeing dramatic high-saturation shots, cinematic muted styles, and increasingly lately, black & white images, but careful use of toning - and there are several choices in DxO Labs FilmPack 2 - can really add to an image, or offer an alternative version with an entirely different feel.
The guys in the darkrooms of old certainly were pioneering 'looks' that we now aim to replicate digitally these days, sometimes with inconsistent results. Wonder if they knew then that they were virtually 'setting in stone' established styles that will be used in visual communication for decades, probably centuries, to come ?
Example here is Henry ...but I had you guessin' ...

Friday, 22 May 2009


Ricoh CX1 f/4.3, 1/64, ISO125, -1.0EV

One of my favourite subjects (ie anything to do with music !), this image of my Yamaha AES620 made this evening in the remaining daylight. I needed to take particular care with the shooting angle on this one to get the right lighting accents in the areas I wanted them, without recording odd reflections. Almost mono, I decided to keep it in colour for the 'blueness' that I think adds to the feel.

Thursday, 21 May 2009


Ricoh CX1 f/4.1, 1/410, ISO80, -0.3EV

Shot in London's Edgeware Road, stuck in traffic ... The King's Head Dive Bar & Music Joint - possibly looks better by night - and the girl with a thoughtful/worried look, maybe from an incoming text or missed call ? CX1 zoom range and fast focusing enabled this image to be captured, in mono, with post-processing for added contrast.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


Ricoh CX1 f/5.9, 1/1230, ISO80, -0.7EV

Ricoh CX1 f/7.2, 1/540, ISO80, -0.7EV

Ricoh CX1 f/5, 1/1520, ISO80, -0.7EV
Just up the road from the filling station ...scenes like this (just above), bathed in sunlight occasionally, followed by darkened skies and a feeling almost of mid-winter at times. The 1:1 format keeps it tight & uncluttered, and I'm finding it a great option instead of the usual 3:2 and 4:3 images that we're all so used to seeing.


Ricoh CX1 f/5.9, 1/620, ISO80, -0.7EV

Guess they did sell some fuel, sometimes ... reminded me of some American 50's movie. Passed this filling station, as was, on the Essex/Suffolk border today, down the back of beyond. I'm sure some motorists would have occasionally been delighted at the sight of this - an oasis when desperate to refuel. Whether they were ever tempted by an 'AfFORDable Classic' - who knows ? I suspect not.

Monday, 18 May 2009


Ricoh CX1 f/6.3, 1/1620, ISO80, -0.3EV

On my way from a car park in Cambridge today, passed this great-looking building : 7A Jesus Lane. The white building against (mostly) blue sky reminded me of how well the CX1 'Outdoors' white balance works, and I was pleased to grab this before the rain came very shortly after.

Sunday, 17 May 2009


Ricoh CX1 f/4.5, 1/73,ISO135,-1.7EV

A 1:1 format macro shot - part of a 'lucky', if slightly dusty, pine cone that caught the daylight beautifully ...great detail in the usual CX1 style.

Saturday, 16 May 2009


Ricoh CX1 f/4.6, 1/52, ISO200, -1.3EV

Ricoh CX1 f/4.6, 1/17, ISO200, -0.7EV

Couple more examples where the CX1's 1:1 image format lends itself to different - and sometimes ideal - compositions. As I often do, I was aiming for a commercial look to these images, with great clarity and a certain 'something extra'. Second shot is typical Ricoh macro, with great light draw (these images taken in early evening daylight) and fantastic detailing. And look at the flamed maple inside back of the violin, through the f-hole ... again, colours are spot-on in these shots of the stunning new Eastman Master Series instruments.


Ricoh CX1 f/5, 1/1150, ISO80, -0.7EV

Thanks to the digital level, the CX1 is an ideal tool for architectural shots... or just for anytime when you need things absolutely horizontal, rather than just 'close' ...and reduces the need for processing afterwards. As usual in daylight, I used the 'Outdoors' white balance for this image to maintain the white of the building and the true colours of the other elements.

Sunday, 10 May 2009


Ricoh CX1 f/9.4, 1/570, ISO80, -0.7EV

Ricoh CX1 f/6.9, 1/540, ISO80, -0.7EV

Fantastic day at Silverstone on a 'Single Seater Thrill' Driving Experience today...didn't get too many photos from the cockpit of the Formula Ford, but I was pleased with this one, taken on the way out from the race track. We stopped to watch some of the Historic Car racing, and this parked Austin-Healey 'Frogeye' Sprite was well cared-for, and definitely in concours condition.

Saturday, 9 May 2009


Ricoh CX1 : in-camera mono shots

Friday, 8 May 2009


Ricoh CX1 images - shot at the weekend in Linford Wood, Milton Keynes


Ricoh CX1 f/4.8, 1/189, ISO80, -0.7EV

Still no real sign of sunny conditions, but at least the wet weather enhanced the colour here - again very ably captured at the long end of the zoom on CX1 post-processing on colours done here, they remain entirely true-to-life thanks to the Sony CMOS sensor and great in-camera processing engine.


Ricoh CX1 f/4.9, 1/380, ISO80, -0.7EV

Near to the top of an old building, this intricate work got my attention from the roadside, with my CX1 at the long end of the zoom doing a great job of accurately capturing the colour and detail, despite fairly dull conditions.


Ricoh CX1 f/4.2, 1/620, ISO80, -0.7EV

Today was, weatherwise, a mostly damp day, and this scene to my left, while waiting in traffic, typified this part of Hornchurch, especially in the relative dull greyness ...thankfully, there are much nicer parts very close by, but again it was the light here that grabbed me.

Thursday, 7 May 2009


Ricoh CX1 f/4.3, 1/540, ISO80, -1EV

Also the name of a great track on an earlier Steve Lukather album ('Lukather' - from 1989 !), I shot this image this evening, in what seemed very strange light ... a very dark sky, but anything at ground level remained fairly bright, trees, buildings.

That'll be the English Summer, then.

REVIEW round-up: Ricoh CX1, Hot Shoe Diaries and more - 1001 Noisy Cameras

All at 1001 Noisy Cameras

Tuesday, 5 May 2009


Ricoh CX1 f/4.8, 1/48, ISO200, -0.7EV

Loved the play of light on the violin, which was already in this position on the chair - all I had to do was capture it, and chose a 1:1 format (again !) for this image.

Monday, 4 May 2009


Ricoh CX1 f/4.5, 1/153, ISO161, -0.3EV

Ricoh has long been noted for the stunning macro abilities of its cameras - the CX1 is no exception. This image was made in the useful 1:1 format, previously typified by Medium-format film photographers, that lends itself to new compositions with a different view from the norm - surely the aim of most creative photographers.


Ricoh CX1 / DxO Labs FilmPack v2

One of my favourite settings in DxO FilmPack v2 is this 'Sepia Terra' setting. Very similar to the 'Ambrotype' setting from Nik Silver Efex Pro, this gives a fairly strong toning effect without looking too overblown in the brown/yellow spectrum, and can work really well for certain images. For comparison, here's a conversion of a recently posted image.


Ricoh CX1 f/4.3, 1/3, ISO200, -0.7EV

Giotto Rocket Blower - highly recommended for cleaning (ie blowing the dust off) lenses and DSLR sensors - investment in the UK is about £7. Made this shot with all sorts of really sophisticated stuff : torch, black card, white card, DxO Labs FilmPack ...

Sunday, 3 May 2009


Ricoh CX1 f5, 1/810, ISO80, -0.3EV

A landscape in a spot I've driven past so many times, and never really seen, as it's tucked away behind a hedgerow, and not really visible from the road. Only a few miles from home, I drove there this afternoon to take a walk around and found this ...better than I could have hoped for, with great sky as well. The sun was continually obscured by cloud, then would show through only occasionally - CX1 at the ready, I managed to capture it as I'd hoped.

For the kind of colour shift I was after, I ran the image through DxO FilmPack, and selected the Fuji Astia version for this one.

Also finding the electronic level in the CX1 more useful than expected.

Saturday, 2 May 2009


Ricoh CX1 f3.6, 1/73, ISO200, -0.3EV

You know how irritating it can be when you set a white balance that sems to suit the image, only to find out afterwards - without the opportunity to re-shoot - that the jpeg output of your camera can't easily be tweaked in post-processing to balance all the elements of the image. This is especially problematical when the shoot involves mixed lighting.

So far, Ricoh's CX1 is the only camera that I know of - of any type, DSLRs included - where a special 'M-P Auto' setting is provided that maintains accurate rendering of the multi-source lighting that existed at the time. The CX1's standard 'Auto White Balance' already works really well (more reliably than that of the LX3, for example), but for the image above, even better results could be achieved.
Here's an early experimental shot with indoor (tungsten) lighting mixed with incoming daylight, where both colour renderings in the captured image are exactly as seen at the time ... another clear example of the sheer Ricoh innovation at work here.


Ricoh CX1 f/5, 1/1000, ISO80, -0.3EV

Above : image taken at dusk, late April '09

Ricoh CX1 f/6.3, 1/660, ISO80, -0.7EV

Above : great CX1 colour rendering, with scene colours exactly as I remembered

Ricoh CX1 f/5.2, 1/189, ISO148, -0.7EV

Above : CX1 image quality is maintained at longer focal lengths

Ricoh CX1 f/3.6, 1/73, ISO200, -0.3EV

Above : excellent dynamic range capture of CX1's Sony CMOS sensor

1:1 format

I love to use different formats, rather than just the usual 3:2 the same way as my Panasonic LX3 is almost permanently switched to 16:9, the Ricoh CX1 is already getting plenty of use in 1:1 format, as it does suit certain compositions really well.

Most medium-format photographers will know how useful that can be (as well as a hindrance in some cases, for them) ...CX1 gives you the choice.



To start with, a little background : having owned many compacts in the past – Canon A80, Fuji F11, F30 & F100fd, Panasonic TZ-3 and LX3, as well as Nikon 5700 & Olympus C8080WZ ‘bridge’ cameras, and various DSLRS I’ve owned and used for numerous portrait sessions, commercial jobs and various weddings, as well as personal photography - Canon EOS20D, Nikon D200 & (currently) D3, I feel qualified to give you a worthwhile & intentionally non-technical overview of the new Ricoh CX1 compact.

How is it in use, what are its particular strengths, and what won’t it do ?

The latter is especially important these days, as expectations seem very high for what are mostly small-sensor compact cameras. So far, the laws of physics remain, and although major technological advances have been made in recent years, compacts and DSLRs are simply not directly interchangeable … although there are many areas of crossover, and there is definitely room for both. After all, compact camera image quality can be exceptional these days.

As the Ricoh comes with a detailed 240-page (!) manual (also downloadable from the Ricoh site) – which you DO need to read to get the most out of the CX1 – this will be a hands-on review … real-world stuff that matters to enthusiasts that give their cameras plenty of use, in many different situations, and care about ‘quality’.

It’s by no means an exhaustive review to start with, but more of a ‘work-in-progress’, and will be updated at various stages. Check back for additions.

Ricoh's CX1 is a very feature-packed camera, and I’ve certainly not yet had the opportunity to check out all the options at this point …but I see that as a good thing !

1/ Why the Ricoh CX1 ? And what are the options ?

So you’re considering the CX1, probably amongst several other contenders such as Fuji F100fd, F200EXR, Canon G10, Panasonic TZ-7, maybe a few others ….and you may wonder, in my case, as I have an LX3 - superb camera, and just amazing for what it is - why would I need another compact ?

It’s very much down to personal preference & usage, and the fact is that there are many shots that I like to take at longer focal lengths as well, especially when travelling (that's most days!), and the LX3 does only go to 60mm ...which I of course considered when I bought it. The reality is that while I had it, the Fuji F100fd did still get used for its longer focal range, although it was less than satisfying to me, and the pink banding issue was certainly an irritation, although it remains largely a great camera.

Instead of rather obviously replacing the F100fd with the new F200EXR – which continues with the F100 body shape, same 5x zoom lens, and less-than-intuitive menus, I looked long and hard at what's out there, felt like a change, but still needed something pocketable, with a wide-angle/decent zoom lens, great image quality (including superb colour rendition, as you find on most Fujis), and effective image stabilisation for the long end especially. Any new, ‘interesting’ (as in ‘inspiring’) features would also be a pull.

Having attended an imaging exhibition a few years ago, and listened to a great talk by celebrated celebrity/rock star photographer Andy Earl - who was extolling the virtues of the then new Ricoh GRD, I have from that point been interested in the brand, although it still seems to get little coverage generally - certainly unlike Nikon, Canon, Fuji and Sony. Even now, in the USA, I gather there are very few Ricoh retailers, so the CX1 may need to be hunted down …read on to find if it would be worth your while !

2/ What does the CX1 offer that others don’t ?

That’s really the point – there isn’t anything out there which has exactly the same feature set, that I’m already finding works so well. In terms of image quality, the 28-200mm focal range is barely compromised at all (see below for image quality impressions), and the sensor clearly works very well in combination with that lens – apparently substantially better than previous Ricoh R-series, from which the CX1 derives in lens and body shape, at least – and it’s a camera that encourages you to make full use of it, as often as possible. This feature alone makes it an inspirational instrument, rather than just another compact. Build quality is peerless in the compact world.

Add in some of the unique features that Ricoh have included : optional 1:1 (square) image format, DR Double-Shot and 120fps shooting capability especially – and it’s obvious that this is no regular compact.

3/ How is it in use ?

The CX1’s handling is one of the standout features of this camera, after its image quality and build integrity. I was entirely used to the control & menu layout after only a couple of days - BUT, again, you do have to read the manual for a full understanding ! Startup time is very fast, and all functions are rapid.

At absolutely no point - whether focusing in light or low light, long- or short-end of the zoom, or any other function I've used so far, is there any slowness in use - it's super-quick. For example :

1/ From startup, CX1 zooms to 200mm faster than LX3 manages to 60mm (!)
2/ Formatting the card - about 2 seconds, instead of 20 on LX3
3/ Magnification - instant, so useful for rapidly checking focus accuracy
4/ Neat feature - once you've taken a shot, by default it's instantly magnified a little on the 3" screen

Another useful addition is the electronic ‘spirit level’ indicator, which works in landscape and portrait modes : there’s no excuse now for wonky horizons …this is great for architectural and landscape/cityscape photography.

4/ That 3” screen

It’s a wide-viewing-angle LCD – of exceptional clarity, and the quoted 920K resolution is the same as the D3 - certainly looks like it, and the same size, too ! In very bright sunlight, current LCD technology - including that of the D3 - will only go so far. Suffice to say, this is THE BEST LCD on any compact I've ever seen, and at least matches that of my D3.

5/ Image quality

Image quality is excellent – and at higher ISO, way better than I expected, in all honesty. Previous Ricohs have been hammered in the press for very noisy images at virtually all ISO settings – especially the more recent R8/R10 – but with Sony’s great, and growing, reputation for sensor know-how and consistent manufacturing quality, I knew the CX1 would be a distinct improvement …quite probably dramatically so, although I don’t have the earlier models for direct comparison.

Suffice to say that I don’t feel I have to take the LX3 out to improve on image quality over the CX1. Likewise higher ISO low-light shots – the CX1 performs admirably. As some have said, there seems to be an unrealistic amount of interest attached to any compact camera’s low-light ability.

My experience has been that those compacts that seemingly excel in that area – Fuji F10/F11 in their day, followed by F30 then F100fd … could definitely have offered higher image quality in conditions where there’s a reasonable amount of light (ie most of the time). Compromise again. For a do-it-all compact, the CX1 has so far exceeded my expectations generally, and especially in low-light conditions, and I certainly don’t feel “ Wish I’d bought the F200”. In fact, for much of my own use, “ Wish it was around when I bought the LX3” comes to mind.

6/ Colour accuracy

Already been slammed in an early ‘net review somewhere, but… the Sony-manufactured sensor is excellent - coming from Fuji and several other compacts, and still owning Nikon D3/24-70, Panasonic LX3, Fuji F30/F11, I've always been fussy about colour rendition. The sensor that Ricoh have chosen for the CX1 really is superb, and gives adjustable (in-camera) realistic colour in my view. I often use DxO Labs FilmPack software for any images where I'd like to replicate film output and colour shifts - but the starting point has to be right in the first place, and with the CX1, it is.

Black & White is definitely film-like in its portrayal, and a touch more contrast gets it right – although there’s no adjustment for this in-camera.

Sepia processing is very much like my preferred ‘Sepia Terra’ setting in DxO … ie it doesn’t need any further alteration for colour at all, and is perfectly balanced without the often OTT yellow/orange colouring that can make images look totally overdone.

7/ 1:1 format

I love to use different formats, rather than just the std 3:2 LX3 is almost permanently switched to 16:9, and I can see the CX1 getting plenty of use in 1:1 format, as it does suit certain compositions really well. Most medium-format photographers will know how useful that can be (as well as a hindrance in some cases, for them) ...CX1 gives you the choice.

8/ DR Double-Shot – does it work ?

Yes, but with the caveat that, because the CX1 takes two consecutive shots, the subject needs to be still, or movement blur could result. So, fine for still-life, architectural and some landscape shots, not great for people photography.

However, an important consideration is that for that HDR look (if that’s what you’re seeking), you’d prefer to have the flexibility of pp on your computer, rather than in-camera, surely ? This is post-processing that I believe may be worth spending a little time on, should the mood take you.

My own preference is for a more natural-looking result, and the really good news is that the Ricoh CX1’s Sony CMOS sensor, in combination with that great lens, means that the capture quality is superb, there’s plenty of latitude in the jpeg files, so you can lighten shadow areas where needed to a fair degree …on a single image. To maintain my sanity, this is far preferable to me than an in-camera solution, and although it could be a useful feature, it’s not the reason I bought the CX1.

For stunning DR, I have a D3 (but certainly don’t always want to carry it !)

9/ Do CX1 images need much post-processing ?

No, very little is the short answer.

OK, there’s no RAW facility on the CX1, but life’s too short in my opinion to spend ages processing a ton of RAW files (I don’t bother on the RAW-enabled LX3, either, and only very occasionally on the Nikon D3). The reality is that out-of-camera shots look great – especially after a few mods to the colour imaging in the ‘Custom Settings’ menu, in terms of contrast, sharpness and colour depth … or you can go with choices from :

· Hard
· Normal
· Soft
· Custom settings
· Black & White
· Sepia

There is the facility to capture an image in colour, Black&White and Sepia, very much as on the Panasonic LX3. However, I think the CX1 version of this ‘Multi-film mode’ is far preferable, as it’s one image processed in three different ways, rather than three individual, consecutive shots that the LX3 captures in the equivalent mode. There’s a couple of seconds required for processing and saving of these three images when used in multi-mode.

10/ Vibration correction

Up to now, and very much as usual, I’ve taken all my CX1 images handheld, going to underline how well the vibration correction works ! This seems to operate at the point of the shutter release (ie the most effective way, generally), rather than giving the 'floating image' you'd experience with say Panasonic's Mega OIS.

I'd say, if anything, the CX1's stabilisation is even more effective, considering the reliable results I've had so far, all the way up to the 200mm end !

11/ Battery life

Way beyond the quoted, so far. I’ve shot over 300 images with the battery strength display remaining ‘full’ … but when it does eventually go, it does so very quickly. As ever, a spare is always a good idea, but that goes for any compact. DB-70 equivalents are under £10, real Ricoh DB-70 between £20 and £40.

12/ UK Pricing (April 2009)

CX1 RSP is £300 in the UK


I'm already really enjoying the CX1 for its great sensor quality, 28-200mm focal range, real precision engineering (they could teach a few manufacturers how to 'build to last'), and superb image quality ... including low-light images. Given that all cameras are at this point some kind of compromise, the CX1‘s balance is unsurpassed as a compact for my purposes.

Bottom line is the usual – draw up your own list of priorities, and buy a camera that ticks all the boxes, or as many as possible.

Like me, you may well find that the Ricoh CX1 is way beyond expectations, and in all kinds of situations, makes photography very satisfying indeed.
More on the amazing Ricoh CX1 at, and many CX1 image galleries at