RX100: Owner impressions and 2 full size samples

Started Aug 4, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Dianoda
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RX100: Owner impressions and 2 full size samples
Aug 4, 2012

I've had my RX100 for several days now and figured it was about time I added my impressions to the pile. I bought the camera to supplement my DSLR, and the RX100 is one sweet little camera for that purpose. It certainly won't force my DSLR into early retirement, but it's amazingly good for a take anywhere camera that can literally fit in your pocket.

Operationally, it's packed to the gills with features/options/menus - overwhelming at a glance. But once you have the hang of it, you can really be quite efficient, especially if you take advantage of setting your most frequently accessed controls as custom functions. The memory recall option, "MR" on the control wheel, is invaluable, and great for programming presets for specific use settings, such as ideal tripod settings - ie, steadyshot off, 2 second self timer, ISO 125, aperture priority, MF w/ peaking - and can make for a great time saver.

The manual focus function is impressively implemented - the smooth control wheel is ideal for the task, and the red-outline (or white, or yellow, depending on your preference) focus peaking is something of a revelation - why can't my Canon 7D do this? Even in bright sunlight, the LCD remains quite usable when set to the Sunny Weather setting. I rarely find myself missing not having a proper viewfinder.

I will be ordering one of Richard's grips for the camera in the near future - I have a feeling that one handed operation could be much improved with the presence of a grip. The camera would definitely feel much more secure in hand; bare it can be a little slippery at times (use that hand strap!).

Some oversights: no auto ISO in manual mode - my 7D can do this, and it's something I miss. Another missing feature is the ability to set a minimum shutter speed in aperture priority mode. I don't consider either missing feature to be a dealbreaker, just some things Sony could have included to make the RX100 better. With any luck one or both of these features will be added via firmware update.

With a fast SD card, the camera is rather speedy in operation. I'm using a 16gb 95mb/s sandisk card, and it's noticeably faster in writing files compared to the class 4 card I used the first day before the new SD card arrived via post. The RX100 is not as snappy fast as my 7D (which does everything pretty much instantly) - but for a compact, it's impressive stuff. One shot AF is fast, and tracking AF works well as a focus-and-recompose type option (but not so great if your subject is moving quickly toward/away from you - this is a typical weakpoint of contrast-detect AF systems). Auto WB in this camera is darn good, more consistent than my 7D.

The Lens: sharp in the center, corners are rather soft wide open, everything gets better stopped down, but I would never call the corners great (at least not at wide-angle); f/1.8 - produces generally pleasing images when not pixel peeping, but bokeh can be a little nervous in areas of transition, there is some color fringing, and there is also (not unexpectedly) less contrast compared to the lens when stopped down.

Sony RAW Converter: Let's just say I'm eagerly awaiting Adobe support - Sony's raw converter is slow compared to Canon DPP and Adobe camera raw - adjustments take a long time to process compared to what I'm used to seeing.

Prior to buying my RX100 I was curious about the camera's low ISO IQ both wide open and stopped down, so for those of you still on the fence, here are a few base ISO JPEG samples, EXIF intact, converted from RAW using Sony's raw image converter (click "original" for the full size samples):

Canon EOS 7D Sony RX100
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