DOES IT WORK ?
(Macro image from Ricoh CX1)
Prompted to post this, following several recent e-mails from readers of my (various!) blogs …. hope this answers some questions for you :
The LX3 is acknowledged as one of the very best compacts out there, and enjoys a huge fan base, which has perhaps grown further lately as some potential buyers – swayed by the announcement of the Olympus E-P1, Panasonic GF-1, Ricoh GRDIII (and CX2), and Leica X-1 – have more recently decided that this fixed-lens model, producing consistently great-quality images, has to be considered a relative bargain at around £350 …and have bought-up all available free stock. Pretty well globally.
But whilst the LX3 undoubtedly has a huge, die-hard fanbase, there have been a couple of other contenders for buyers’ cash …notably the Ricoh CX1 and Fujifilm’s F200EXR. Both have proven extremely popular.
For those interested in all of the (potentially boring) technical differences between these three ‘pocket rockets’ – you’ll need to look elsewhere. Life’s too short. But if it’s real-world usability and satisfaction rating you’re more interested in, you’re at the right place. No waffle, here’s how it goes :
1/ LX3 : Excellent in very many respects:
- Stunning lens (of course), starting at 24mm f2 …but ends at 60mm (equiv).
- White balance dramatically better than it once was – I feel there’s still a little room for improvement. Reds are still oversaturated, even when cooled-off. If you like Canon colour, you’ll like LX3.
- BW – in ‘Dynamic’ form …very film-like, fantastic high-contrast, highly-detailed results.
- Multi-film mode – three separate, consecutive images
- Multi-Aspect mode : very useful. 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 options
- Superb Mega O.I.S
- Slightly ‘hollow’ feel to chassis
- RAW files – very detailed, but need to use (time-consuming) SilkyPix software to extract quality
- Separate lens-cap
- Almost pocketable (!)
- User interface – a bit fiddly, but ok
2/ Ricoh CX1 : vastly underrated
- Some say it’s a far cry from ‘GRD output’ – I disagree (unless you want to pixel-peep… but why would you?)
- White balance – superb. Multi-awb is a useful extra. Great colour rendition, and fantastic ‘Outdoor’ setting
- Electronic level …excellent, should be standard on all cameras
- Very flexible 7x zoom focal range – 28-200mm(equiv), capturing images that the LX3 is simply incapable of
- Image stabilisation very effective – and this camera is capable of surprisingly good low-light images
- Rapid response …focus, image display, scrolling, changing options ….CMOS etc means very fast all ’round
- Reliable exposures, and wide dynamic range (without the inhibiting DR Double-Shot mode)
- As advertised, not prone to sky ‘whiteout’ …more useful and more impressive than I expected
- Multi-film (Colour, BW, sepia) works brilliantly – exactly same image processed three ways
- Multi-Aspect – but only one at a time : 4:3, 3:2, 1:1 (needs addition of 16:9!)
- Stunning 920k screen – looks like the image you download and view on pc screen
- Amazing 1cm macro capability
- User interface – as good as it gets – intuitive, fast, logical, reliable
- Great build quality exceeds all other compacts I’ve ever used
- Very recently superceded by the new CX2, with even greater 28-300mm(equiv) focal range
3/ Fujifilm F200EXR : useful award-winner
- EXR sensor promises much, delivers some (sometimes)
- Sensor option (three in total) has to be manually selected for best results
- Some strange metering/exposure reactions, so inconsistent results …even in fairly ‘normal’ shooting conditions
- Irritating real-world aspect : the high-contrast (but fairly lo-res) screen makes you wonder what you’ve captured … or not
- Images often – but not always – look far better on computer display, once downloaded (thank heavens !)
- Multi-Aspect modes : can select one at a time from 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9
- 5x zoom range : 28-140mm (equiv) …again, captures some images that LX3 just can’t
- Image stabilisation ok, but definitely not as effective as CX1’s
- Some blackout after image capture, as if processor working really hard
- Feels ‘lightweight’ and small in the hand, compared with bulletproof CX1 build and solid feel
- 12MP files (jpeg only) are very detailed …although images not quite as responsive to processing as CX1 jpegs, in my experience
- New F70EXR has wider focal range, and is less expensive – but its sensor is more highly pixel-packed
- Overall – great camera, hoped for more than it has delivered (so far, at least)
Hope this helps you draw your own conclusions on usability for your own needs – because that’s all that really matters.
Without doubt, all three are very high-quality cameras, and all are capable of great results much of the time, even under very difficult conditions.
Images in separate galleries from all three models at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com – enjoy !