Close-ups in macro mode produced crisp results and had nicely blurred backgrounds. We were able to focus on objects only 1cm away from the lens and focusing was quick and accurate. There's nothing as fancy as a smile shutter in the CX1, but it does have face detection as one of its scene modes. Even if you don't use face detection, the camera doesn't have any problems focusing on multiple faces in a frame. The camera's manual focus function is effective, especially when you want to focus beyond a close object, such as a chain link fence or a cage's bars. It can basically make bars and lines disappear from the object you are trying to focus on.
The CX1 is also a very quick camera. It can be switched and ready to use in under 1.2 seconds and its shot-to-shot performance is deadly fast — you won't have to wait for it to write to its SD card (we used a Lexar Professional 133x). In burst mode, it will shoot up to 17 frames in quick succession before it will slow down to commit them to the memory card.
You'll definitely be able to use this camera to shoot sporting events or your dog running around in the park. Its zoom is quick and smooth when going from a wide to a telephoto angle, but it is not as smooth as we would like it to be in intermediate zoom levels. It jumps a little too much (or too little) with each stab of the zoom lever because there are only seven different focal lengths that you can use: 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 105mm, 135mm and 200mm.
The camera is 10cm long, 2.8cm thick and 6cm high. It is made of metal and has a simple array of buttons and a 5-way thumb control next to its 3in screen. It also has a leather thumb rest. It is perfectly positioned so that you can easily hold the camera without inadvertently pressing any buttons. The lens extends 3cm from the camera body when you switch on the camera. It's a camera that can easily go travelling with you, yet it also feels substantial when you hold it in your hand.
While shooting, screen information includes a histogram, a zoom position indicator, and a level indicator, in addition to all the regular information concerning the shooting mode, memory card status and battery level. Its menu interface is one of the easiest we've ever used, and we like the fact there are two custom modes on the mode dial. They can be used to quickly change to a preset mode with your customised settings.
There are also in-camera editing functions that you can use to fix up your photos without even downloading them to a PC or Mac. The Ricoh CX1 lets you trim, resize, adjust the histogram, change the white balance, and fix askew lines (this can be useful when taking photos of a screen, for example).
While Ricoh may not come to mind when contemplating a compact camera, the CX1 is definitely worthy of some attention. It produces superb images, feels good to use and has plenty of great features to play with.