My own little Rx10 Review

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My own little Rx10 Review
10 months ago

This is my first review

Yesterday my camera arrived!
I am reviewing this camera from the perspective of an outdoor landscape photographer, who also would enjoy some indoor family shots.

I have worked professionally in fashion and weddings.

The Nikon D800e is my 8 DSLR and I’m thinking about selling it because of this camera!

Initial Notes

This is a decision-tree review for me. This is not a wide-open review of general needs, only my own. But I suspect that some of you may have similar aspirations. My passion in photography is landscape, but my reality is also low-light indoors at my home with my family.

Instead of trying to be scientific and mathematically accurate in tests that measure things that suggest performance but don’t show it in action, I opted instead to be more pragmatic in my approach with my tests about how I plan to be using this camera. And while I did these tests, I included the camera it is replacing (A Panasonic Fz-100, which we hate), and my D800e, as well as a small point and shoot, and a typical smart phone camera (front and back).

The ISO tests quickly threw all but the Rx10 and the D800e into the recycling bin.

Next I moved onto where an ISO became useable with the camera’s/len’s stabilization. Both cameras became useful in a typical dimly lit indoor room at 1600 ISO. The D800e won this battle easily, but the Rx10 was in the same area by about 3+ stops. The biggest problem however was that the lighting was mixed indoor lighting and the Rx10 had no idea what to make of it; the Nikon meanwhile managed that complex light and although far too warm with its neutrally set result, the emotional impact and the soft, yet crisp quality of the shot were undeniably better on the D800e. In this regard, the Rx10 was merely in the same chapter of the book; but for me, that’s enough. I expected from the data-sheet that there would be compromises… I just never expected the camera to even really equal the data-sheet, who really does, it’s just marketing. Only this time it was true. That’s why I never balked at the price. I knew what I was looking at.

I performed 3 series of tests for skin tones. I found that the Rx10 performed very well outside and during reduced flash, but not so well with indoor mixed lighting without changing auto-whitebalance. I was very surprised by the performance outside as well. The clear image zoom is quite useful. The Digital zoom afterward is as bad as it always has been. But the clear image doubling of the optical is done very well, and it holds up and brings this camera to the 28-200(400) level, where it’s so good that it’s good enough to say it’s there.

I have waited for this camera to arrive for a decade. I’m highly impressed with the Rx10. It isn’t as responsive as a dSLR, it is fast enough. The shutter lag is pretty quick, and the zoom while slow is also very useful for video and 1-handed stills. The ISO noise this camera produces is very fine and cleanable. Detail can be rendered as it is, while open spaces can be cleaned for a polished appearance quickly.

The question is this: IS THIS CAMERA BETTER THAN ALL OF MY PREVIOUS DSLR CAMERAS?

__________________________________________________________________________

Key
* - Important enough to mention

** - Important in a typical way to most photographers

*** - Of medium importance
**** - Highly important
***** - Critically important

__________________________________________________________________________

Nikon D800e

PROs

**Warm, Rich Colors

***Auto-White Balance you can actually trust (nothing’s perfect, but this is pretty useful)

**Giant Dynamic Range (but also feels strained at that height) [haven't tested rx10 much yet but expect less for sure]

**Exposes well in Aperture Priority

**Instant Zoom Changing

****Low-Light ISO capable of very good highly printable milky-way shots

*****Resolution that maintains detail with minimal breakdown all the way to ISO 6400.

CONs

*****Heavy Backpack full of heavy lenses

**FF DOF sometimes too shallow, and while fun and artistic I'm willing to lose this brush

**Banding in Blue Sky

**Unusual color palate with slightly too much vibrancy in off-colors and pastels

****Expensive (I will want to buy the next Rx10, but I will want to buy the next D800 too)

*The fit for the hand is terrible. Worst ever. So I modified it, but now I have a modified camera….

Sony Rx10

PROs

*****1 Camera 1 Lens, No heavy Backpack

***Clear Image Zoom is not true optical, but it's rather good and helps bring the Sony closer to the D800e's massive resolution (anyway, a very good surprise).

***f/2.8 on this camera is perfect for portraits for me, while smaller apertures for outdoor Landscape have much longer depth of field which is perfect for that.

***Excellent Low-Light ISO for a 1" Sensor (3+ stops behind D800e)

****Less Expensive ($1700 to start compared to $7000 to start)

***Great feel to it.

*Really nice magnified low-sensitivity focus ring for Macros (perhaps not high-res enough to help with studio and landscape, and it needs more sensitivity- The D800 on the other-hand is so sensitive it’s easy to overshoot your focus, so it feels sloppy).

CONs

****Colors and Detail fall apart around 3200 ISO, and it's already degrading the image at 1600

**Tends to Over Expose in Aperture Priority, probably why that Exposure Compensation dial is so prominent

***Slow Zoom Changing

**Weird orange-green tint that impossible to describe off-color that may prove interesting to fix (only with mixed indoor light)

***No more auto-white balance all the time. I was so spoiled. (This is an extra step or two in the process to be sure; perhaps it will cause me to finally face it and learn how to “see” light-color better).

***Small Viewfinder (however if you look through it, sensors see your face come in and it turns off the LCD and turns on the EVF automatically).

***LCD flips into the tripod quick release plate because it opens downward and the tripod socket is very close to the back of the camera (presumably for focal plane use during panoramic shots- but it’s placed so far back and in the way that I can’t give it a PRO for this capability).

(if I can find a custom plate from Kirk Enterprises or someone, then maybe I can turn the importance of this down to a 1 star complaint).

**Batteries aren’t much.

Weighted Concerns

So it looks like what’s important to me is that I would love to have a camera capable of taking extreme low-light photographs, but I’m willing to wait for another camera in the future to be able to do that. I have mountains in my backyard so to speak, so I can get pretty remote and thin the air density as well. This can wait until a 1 lens camera in the future can give me the photos that I want to take. Those pictures are for me anyway. It’s a personal time. A quiet time. I’m okay to wait for another 10 years for it.

The resolving capability of the D800e is nearly unmatched.

The heavy backpack days can be gone again!! It would be just so nice to just start walking with a camera-fitted hardcase and a wallet of filters and that’s it!! I could take my multi-pod with me if I wanted, but I wouldn’t need a backpack ever again. I enjoy a hike, but I do not enjoy backpacking.

I would also shed the expense of professional-grade camera equipment. I’ve decided against purchasing a 24”+ Printer and will likely buy a mid-range 13x19” and then outsource everything else to save money and hassle here. Less money on camera gear is more money on higher quality vacations. That’s where this money is going!

No matter how much money you spend on anything, someone else will be doing it better; so I’m making this a personal journey rather than seeking technical perfection for technical quality’s sake. Besides, I still like many of my smaller, older camera pictures. I can live without a D800e.

It is mostly saddening that the crisp details just can’t keep up in even the mid-range ISOs. The color starts falling apart, the noise starts becoming blob-like with big 150px globs of it, and distortion along diagonal lines is unprintable. The result is everything becomes a muted-colored smeary mess. The nice thing though is that there’s a distinct shift in noise patterns with the RAW file, and it makes the highest ISOs more usable than they would otherwise be; so if I had the wherewithal to change to RAW at ISOs above 6400, then I would enjoy difference. Another what-if added to the human error algorithms usually means that’ll be a lesson I’ll learn after getting angry that I missed something interesting at night outside, and that’s kind of sad. But overall, the highest ISOs were pretty much unusable on the D800e too. In summary here, I would say that the low level ISOs are amazing, the middle suffers increasingly bad until the upper ISOs *IF* you remember to change your image quality to RAW. But most importantly, the camera is useable in most of the same ways that I use the D800e… and in low-light both begin to become useful at 1600 ISO, which is also sort of the edge limit for the Sony. But the point is that with some compromise, this Sony is quite a bit more useful than maybe even perhaps it should be!

VERDICT

I’m going to wait until I can take photographs of my favorite mountain subject from a road near my house before I decide something this big….

But I’m really leaning toward dropping the whole idea of interchangeable lens cameras because of this amazing camera.

I acknowledge that the D800e is superior. However, the goal for everyone is can this piece of metal and plastic make me a bunch of 1's and 0's that I can piece together well enough to make a print I can be proud of for the rest of my life even knowing that technology will eventually render photography as we know it obsolete?

Yeah. I think I really want to give the Sony Rx10 story a shot.

If you own a DSLR yourself, maybe you don't want to climb down from the fence just yet. That's okay. And I'm only presenting 1 man's view from 1 kind of photography.

I'll let you know what I choose.

-- hide signature --

There are 10 types of people in this world, those who understand binary and those who don't.

Nikon D800 Nikon D800E Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10
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