Sony RX10. Pixel size and noise are holding me back from buying

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MoreGooderPhotos
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Sony RX10. Pixel size and noise are holding me back from buying
6 months ago

For nearly $1300, it's hard for me to simply purchase the RX10 without being 95% satisfied. I like most everything about the RX10 except for the noise in raw images. It's got horrendous noise without the in-camera noise reduction.

I've seen some amazing shots taken with the RX10, but it has more to do with the artistry and subject matter. As I said in a previous thread, the composition and subject are more important than how good neighboring pixels look, but the more I think about it the more I realize that Sony's attempt to out-pixel the Nikon 1 sensors was a mistake.

Cramming 20mpx into a small sensor is not ideal. The only advantage to such a high pixel density is the ability to crop smaller. However, when you do crop smaller the noise is going to be more visible, which defeats the purpose of the higher density. This means you then need to apply noise reduction to the cropped portion, so there goes the fine details and the reason for cropping to begin with.

Sony's in-camera noise reduction does do a good job, but what if I want to bring in more details lurking in the shadows by PP'ing raw? That means I'm either going to have to save all shots as JPG + Raw so that I have a choice between spending my valuable time PP's or living with the possibility of detail loss due to in-camera noise reduction.

I don't know.... Someone convince me. I just can't see spending that much money on something to produce web-size images or picture books over say a Fuji XT1. Yeah I know, 200mm, Zeiss, etc. But IQ needs to be there and I'm struggling with it for the price their asking. Sure, the lens alone is great, but had they put a lower density sensor in it they would have large photo sites collecting more light at a lower ISO with better overall image quality without the hocus-pocus noise reduction/detail killer.

So here I sit, wondering if I should hit my credit card for $1300 for something that could have been the bridge camera to beat them all, if it weren't for a sensor spec dictated by the marketing department.

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Ron AKA
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Re: Sony RX10. Pixel size and noise are holding me back from buying
In reply to MoreGooderPhotos, 6 months ago

I have the RX100, and don't really take issue with your concern about the price of the RX10 for what you get. The RX10 is not my cup of tea due to the size and price. However, I do take some issue with your conclusions about the sensor. Yes, if I was the designer of the RX100 sensor, I think I would cut back on the pixel density a bit to 16 MP or so. That is enough. But the argument from the other size is that going from 20 to 16 is not much of a difference.

That aside, keep in mind that all images from the camera start as RAW images. Post processing is done in the camera starting with the RAW image to produce the JPEG. There is no reason for the image produced in post processing from RAW to be worse than an in camera JPEG. When you increase the ISO setting the camera will adjust the in camera noise reduction circuitry (hardware), but to my knowledge, it will do it for both the RAW and JPEG. The hardware adjustment to the image occurs before the RAW is created.

So, I understand your concerns, and yes in low light I have seen noise in RX10 (and RX100) images, but I don't believe the JPEG's are immune from it. In brighter light, I do not see any significant noise in my RX100 images, and if taken in normal daylight, I usually do not even check for noise when doing the RAW development. But, I am from the camp that believes if you are going to spend this much on a camera you should be post processing and starting from RAW.

If you are assuming larger pixel size always means better IQ then check out some images from the R1. Bigger pixels and more noise than the RX100, even in brighter light.

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Corkcampbell
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Your second thread? Time to give up.
In reply to MoreGooderPhotos, 6 months ago

You second thread? "Sensor thead dictated by the marketing department"? Hardly.

Clearly you don't understand what this camera is all about; as some at Sony have even said, it's designed for people who have needs such as journalists, with decent stills and much better-than-average video coupled to a fast zoom lens. I just spend a day using mine (and a DP2M) at a zoo/farm and think that the video capabilities are excellent - and I have a GH3 with some nice lenses with whitch to compare. The RAW stills are fine, as mentioned in various reviews.  I've also used it at numerous indoor events with similar results; in fact, if it weren't for the 29 minute limit on recording, and a couple of my lenses, I'd sell my considerable stake in that format and be happy with the RX10, and DPX, to carry around.

Serious study of the information available on this camera indicate that the engineering department had much, much to do with this, leaving the marketing department with trying to push a camera that many would not understand. Tweaking the sensor and engine so that it could output non-line-skipping video, as well as making the lens focusing silent, creating a lens for that sensor that would add reach that would be sufficient for journalist-types in a portable, weather-sealed body, equiping it with wireless flash, adding audio capabilities almost unmatched in its range, at a price that is very affordable to those who understand what they're getting, etc., is quite an engineering challenge.

I paid $1150 for mine and consider it incredibly cheap for what it offers, and represents a bold move by Sony. Looking at it as some sort of stills-only bridge camera means missing the whole point. Many people require more than that now.

-

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Re: Your second thread? Time to give up.
In reply to Corkcampbell, 6 months ago

Corkcampbell wrote:

You second thread? "Sensor thead dictated by the marketing department"? Hardly.

Clearly you don't understand what this camera is all about; as some at Sony have even said, it's designed for people who have needs such as journalists, with decent stills and much better-than-average video coupled to a fast zoom lens. I just spend a day using mine (and a DP2M) at a zoo/farm and think that the video capabilities are excellent - and I have a GH3 with some nice lenses with whitch to compare. The RAW stills are fine, as mentioned in various reviews. I've also used it at numerous indoor events with similar results; in fact, if it weren't for the 29 minute limit on recording, and a couple of my lenses, I'd sell my considerable stake in that format and be happy with the RX10, and DPX, to carry around.

Serious study of the information available on this camera indicate that the engineering department had much, much to do with this, leaving the marketing department with trying to push a camera that many would not understand. Tweaking the sensor and engine so that it could output non-line-skipping video, as well as making the lens focusing silent, creating a lens for that sensor that would add reach that would be sufficient for journalist-types in a portable, weather-sealed body, equiping it with wireless flash, adding audio capabilities almost unmatched in its range, at a price that is very affordable to those who understand what they're getting, etc., is quite an engineering challenge.

I paid $1150 for mine and consider it incredibly cheap for what it offers, and represents a bold move by Sony. Looking at it as some sort of stills-only bridge camera means missing the whole point. Many people require more than that now.

-

"Knowledge is good." Emil Faber

Good points.

Please don't think I'm trolling. I truly like the RX10, and have held it in my hands at a camera store and nearly bought it. My concern is that it could be so much better with larger, less dense pixels. I thought the pixel war had been replaced by the zoom war, but apparently not. I really do understand what Sony is trying to accomplish. I just wish they had abandoned the pixel war and made it even better.

I agree with the video capability. Videos I've seen online are stellar.

I'm sure the engineering department had their work cut out for them. The lens alone is a monumental achievement.  And that's the problem.  The sensor is holding the lens back.  Did they simply fit the sensor from the RX100ii just because it was available?  Or did they actually consider a different sensor?  We'll probably never know.  But just think of what it could have been.  It could have been less of a compromise than it already is if not for the silly megapixel war.

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elliottnewcomb
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Re: Sony RX10. Pixel size and noise are holding me back from buying
In reply to MoreGooderPhotos, 6 months ago

words, words, words!. get 30 day return, try it, keep or return it. done.

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Re: Sony RX10. Pixel size and noise are holding me back from buying
In reply to Ron AKA, 6 months ago

Ron AKA wrote:

I have the RX100, and don't really take issue with your concern about the price of the RX10 for what you get. The RX10 is not my cup of tea due to the size and price. However, I do take some issue with your conclusions about the sensor. Yes, if I was the designer of the RX100 sensor, I think I would cut back on the pixel density a bit to 16 MP or so. That is enough. But the argument from the other size is that going from 20 to 16 is not much of a difference.

That aside, keep in mind that all images from the camera start as RAW images. Post processing is done in the camera starting with the RAW image to produce the JPEG. There is no reason for the image produced in post processing from RAW to be worse than an in camera JPEG. When you increase the ISO setting the camera will adjust the in camera noise reduction circuitry (hardware), but to my knowledge, it will do it for both the RAW and JPEG. The hardware adjustment to the image occurs before the RAW is created.

So, I understand your concerns, and yes in low light I have seen noise in RX10 (and RX100) images, but I don't believe the JPEG's are immune from it. In brighter light, I do not see any significant noise in my RX100 images, and if taken in normal daylight, I usually do not even check for noise when doing the RAW development. But, I am from the camp that believes if you are going to spend this much on a camera you should be post processing and starting from RAW.

If you are assuming larger pixel size always means better IQ then check out some images from the R1. Bigger pixels and more noise than the RX100, even in brighter light.

Thanks Ron, for the helpful reply.

Are you saying that the RAW files are already noise- reduced?

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Re: Sony RX10. Pixel size and noise are holding me back from buying
In reply to elliottnewcomb, 6 months ago

elliottnewcomb wrote:

words, words, words!. get 30 day return, try it, keep or return it. done.

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Elliott

Words are often helpful.  The particular words you selected, however, not so much.  Why bother replying if that's all you have?

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Ron AKA
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Re: Sony RX10. Pixel size and noise are holding me back from buying
In reply to MoreGooderPhotos, 6 months ago

MoreGooderPhotos wrote:

Ron AKA wrote:

I have the RX100, and don't really take issue with your concern about the price of the RX10 for what you get. The RX10 is not my cup of tea due to the size and price. However, I do take some issue with your conclusions about the sensor. Yes, if I was the designer of the RX100 sensor, I think I would cut back on the pixel density a bit to 16 MP or so. That is enough. But the argument from the other size is that going from 20 to 16 is not much of a difference.

That aside, keep in mind that all images from the camera start as RAW images. Post processing is done in the camera starting with the RAW image to produce the JPEG. There is no reason for the image produced in post processing from RAW to be worse than an in camera JPEG. When you increase the ISO setting the camera will adjust the in camera noise reduction circuitry (hardware), but to my knowledge, it will do it for both the RAW and JPEG. The hardware adjustment to the image occurs before the RAW is created.

So, I understand your concerns, and yes in low light I have seen noise in RX10 (and RX100) images, but I don't believe the JPEG's are immune from it. In brighter light, I do not see any significant noise in my RX100 images, and if taken in normal daylight, I usually do not even check for noise when doing the RAW development. But, I am from the camp that believes if you are going to spend this much on a camera you should be post processing and starting from RAW.

If you are assuming larger pixel size always means better IQ then check out some images from the R1. Bigger pixels and more noise than the RX100, even in brighter light.

Thanks Ron, for the helpful reply.

Are you saying that the RAW files are already noise- reduced?

The way I understand it there are two noise reduction processes applied. One is hardware based and is applied to all the RAW images. The specific process may be tweaked based on ISO setting, but still is applied to all RAW. The second process is software based and is applied to the JPEG only. That is the process that I maintain can be done at least as well, if not better in post processing.

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Ron AKA
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Re: Your second thread? Time to give up.
In reply to MoreGooderPhotos, 6 months ago

MoreGooderPhotos wrote:

I agree with the video capability. Videos I've seen online are stellar.

I'm sure the engineering department had their work cut out for them. The lens alone is a monumental achievement. And that's the problem. The sensor is holding the lens back. Did they simply fit the sensor from the RX100ii just because it was available? Or did they actually consider a different sensor? We'll probably never know. But just think of what it could have been. It could have been less of a compromise than it already is if not for the silly megapixel war.

The sensor is what made the lens possible. The lens was designed around the sensor. The size of the sensor is what allows the lens to be compact (in relative terms) for the speed and zoom range. They also moved some of the distortion correction from the lens to the software, further reducing the size of the lens.

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Corkcampbell
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Thanks for your reply; I understand your thinking better now.
In reply to MoreGooderPhotos, 6 months ago

In my initial reading of your post I thought that you had misunderstood the idea behind the camera, its target market, etc., as well as took issue with your comment about marketing influence. However, I know see your emphasis on sensor pixel size.

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Re: Your second thread? Time to give up.
In reply to Ron AKA, 6 months ago

Ron AKA wrote:

MoreGooderPhotos wrote:

I agree with the video capability. Videos I've seen online are stellar.

I'm sure the engineering department had their work cut out for them. The lens alone is a monumental achievement. And that's the problem. The sensor is holding the lens back. Did they simply fit the sensor from the RX100ii just because it was available? Or did they actually consider a different sensor? We'll probably never know. But just think of what it could have been. It could have been less of a compromise than it already is if not for the silly megapixel war.

The sensor is what made the lens possible. The lens was designed around the sensor. The size of the sensor is what allows the lens to be compact (in relative terms) for the speed and zoom range. They also moved some of the distortion correction from the lens to the software, further reducing the size of the lens.

Agreed. The same can be said for the 1/2.3" and 1/1.7" based super-zooms. They are all remarkable achievements, unavailable not too long ago.

Comparing noise from example cameras here: http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Sony_Cyber-shot_RX10/RAW_noise.shtml you can easily see the relation of sensor size and noise. I was negatively influenced by the cropped images there, and is the source for my rant about megapixels. I certainly wouldn't expect to crop as tight and hope for anything extraordinary. Perhaps my concern about noise in cropped areas in unfounded, since I based my opinion on this particular review.

Interestingly, there are rumors about a A7s that will have a full frame sensor but only 12mpx to create a low light monster.

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Those Sonys are supposed to be announced in about four hours.
In reply to MoreGooderPhotos, 6 months ago

I think that there will be some sort of live feed or blog on the sony rumors site.

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Re: Your second thread? Time to give up.
In reply to MoreGooderPhotos, 6 months ago

Truth is, $1300 is a lot to pay for any fixed lens camera and RX10 is a compromise and I believe a reasonable one. If you can't stomach paying so much for one- and I don't blame you, why not just wait another year and buy one gently used off eBay? I'm sure they'll be aroun $800 then. No one can convince you what to do with your own money and what Elliot said is reasonable I think. You can always return the camera if you don't like it.

Mike

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Re: Sony RX10. Pixel size and noise are holding me back from buying
In reply to Ron AKA, 6 months ago

Ron AKA wrote:

MoreGooderPhotos wrote:

Ron AKA wrote:

I have the RX100, and don't really take issue with your concern about the price of the RX10 for what you get. The RX10 is not my cup of tea due to the size and price. However, I do take some issue with your conclusions about the sensor. Yes, if I was the designer of the RX100 sensor, I think I would cut back on the pixel density a bit to 16 MP or so. That is enough. But the argument from the other size is that going from 20 to 16 is not much of a difference.

That aside, keep in mind that all images from the camera start as RAW images. Post processing is done in the camera starting with the RAW image to produce the JPEG. There is no reason for the image produced in post processing from RAW to be worse than an in camera JPEG. When you increase the ISO setting the camera will adjust the in camera noise reduction circuitry (hardware), but to my knowledge, it will do it for both the RAW and JPEG. The hardware adjustment to the image occurs before the RAW is created.

So, I understand your concerns, and yes in low light I have seen noise in RX10 (and RX100) images, but I don't believe the JPEG's are immune from it. In brighter light, I do not see any significant noise in my RX100 images, and if taken in normal daylight, I usually do not even check for noise when doing the RAW development. But, I am from the camp that believes if you are going to spend this much on a camera you should be post processing and starting from RAW.

If you are assuming larger pixel size always means better IQ then check out some images from the R1. Bigger pixels and more noise than the RX100, even in brighter light.

Thanks Ron, for the helpful reply.

Are you saying that the RAW files are already noise- reduced?

The way I understand it there are two noise reduction processes applied. One is hardware based and is applied to all the RAW images. The specific process may be tweaked based on ISO setting, but still is applied to all RAW. The second process is software based and is applied to the JPEG only. That is the process that I maintain can be done at least as well, if not better in post processing.

Fascinating! It makes one wonder how much further the hardware can improve in the future.

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elliottnewcomb
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Re: Sony RX10. Pixel size and noise are holding me back from buying
In reply to MoreGooderPhotos, 6 months ago

MoreGooderPhotos wrote:

elliottnewcomb wrote:

words, words, words!. get 30 day return, try it, keep or return it. done.

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Elliott

Words are often helpful. The particular words you selected, however, not so much. Why bother replying if that's all you have?

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Sometimes I feel like 2/3'rds Rice Krispies. Past "Snap" and "Crackle" but just shy of "Pop".

I have given you and a billion others thoughtful replies, I just put many specifics about RX10 in the other thread where you wondered about RX10 settings when hiking.

I assumed you knew that, and would 'get' my simplicity here, and I did not mean anything but to give you a solution to solve the dilemna and simply SEE for yourself in a way that is risk free, rather than READ or look at posted shots by persons whose PP methods and preferences you are not fully unaware of.

Assuming is always dangerous, me about you knowing my intentions, you about judging the camera based on words and other person's shots.

I don't shoot RAW, not qualified, which is why I said: GET IT. See for yourself, risk free.

Specifically, what you are mentioning here: I have kept my mouth shut, but, over the last year and a half, no matter what camera, on some RAW PP shots, when enlarged, I feel like I am looking thru a veil or layer of glass, which I suspect is PP NR; and I occasionally see halo outlines of everything, which I suspect is PP Sharpening.

I don't think that is the camera, whichever model, but that it is the photographers preference. You cannot know that by looking at shots posted, soooo.....I simply say: GET IT.

It's a nice time of year to be shooting/trying it.

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MoreGooderPhotos
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Re: Sony RX10. Pixel size and noise are holding me back from buying
In reply to elliottnewcomb, 6 months ago

elliottnewcomb wrote:

MoreGooderPhotos wrote:

elliottnewcomb wrote:

words, words, words!. get 30 day return, try it, keep or return it. done.

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Elliott

Words are often helpful. The particular words you selected, however, not so much. Why bother replying if that's all you have?

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Sometimes I feel like 2/3'rds Rice Krispies. Past "Snap" and "Crackle" but just shy of "Pop".

I have given you and a billion others thoughtful replies, I just put many specifics about RX10 in the other thread where you wondered about RX10 settings when hiking.

I assumed you knew that, and would 'get' my simplicity here, and I did not mean anything but to give you a solution to solve the dilemna and simply SEE for yourself in a way that is risk free, rather than READ or look at posted shots by persons whose PP methods and preferences you are not fully unaware of.

Assuming is always dangerous, me about you knowing my intentions, you about judging the camera based on words and other person's shots.

I don't shoot RAW, not qualified, which is why I said: GET IT. See for yourself, risk free.

Specifically, what you are mentioning here: I have kept my mouth shut, but, over the last year and a half, no matter what camera, on some RAW PP shots, when enlarged, I feel like I am looking thru a veil or layer of glass, which I suspect is PP NR; and I occasionally see halo outlines of everything, which I suspect is PP Sharpening.

I don't think that is the camera, whichever model, but that it is the photographers preference. You cannot know that by looking at shots posted, soooo.....I simply say: GET IT.

It's a nice time of year to be shooting/trying it.

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Elliott

Sorry, Elliot.  I appreciate feedback and comments.  That short reply just came across harsh.  I agree with what you say though.  Thanks for your time and patience.  Guess how much debate I go through when purchasing a car!  The more dollars, the more hesitation.

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elliottnewcomb
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Re: Sony RX10. Pixel size and noise are holding me back from buying
In reply to MoreGooderPhotos, 6 months ago

OOOOHHH Boy, if we could return a car within 30 days, no questions asked.

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ric63
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Re: Sony RX10. Pixel size and noise are holding me back from buying
In reply to MoreGooderPhotos, 6 months ago

Answer is simple.

If you really cant afford it, dont buy it, easy as that.

If you can afford $1300 without a drama, buy it and enjoy it, your wasting time pondering.

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Michael Fritzen
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Re: Sony RX10. Pixel size and noise are holding me back from buying
In reply to MoreGooderPhotos, 6 months ago

MoreGooderPhotos wrote:

For nearly $1300, it's hard for me to simply purchase the RX10 without being 95% satisfied. I like most everything about the RX10 except for the noise in raw images. It's got horrendous noise without the in-camera noise reduction.

Well, I'm shooting mainly with an A99 and I bought in decembre the RX10 as new 2nd camera because of the very interesting overall package it offers. There are of course some compromises but for me noise in higher ISO may be there to some amount - but far from horrendous. Actually up to ISO3200, shooting RAW and taking care of getting well exposed images I consider the results pretty impressive and quite usable - especially for this sensor size

I've seen some amazing shots taken with the RX10, but it has more to do with the artistry and subject matter. As I said in a previous thread, the composition and subject are more important than how good neighboring pixels look, but the more I think about it the more I realize that Sony's attempt to out-pixel the Nikon 1 sensors was a mistake.

For my part I don't see any attempt of Sony to imitate another maker's model. Actually the RX10 entered into a niche, joining very good stills device, video and lens with an as large as possible sensor given all the constraints.

Cramming 20mpx into a small sensor is not ideal. The only advantage to such a high pixel density is the ability to crop smaller. However, when you do crop smaller the noise is going to be more visible, which defeats the purpose of the higher density. This means you then need to apply noise reduction to the cropped portion, so there goes the fine details and the reason for cropping to begin with.

Discussiong the pixel density is an almost moot point from my POV. A supposed substancial increase in pixel size / low light performance probably would have needed a pixel count guesstimated at around 6-8MP. Well here I prefer the 20MP and if necessary I can either downsize or crop. I don't understand why cropping would render noise bigger. It remais absolutely the same. Cropping cuts only not needed outer image parts. And downsizing a highISO image from 20MP to a smaller output pixelcount actually can improve the perceived noise. BTW by this downsampling and the most recent sensor tecnology in many cases it would be hard to detect the differences of an imaginary lower MP-better highISO sensor and an image downsampled from 20MP to the same low MP count.

Of course the RX10 isn't THE low light / high ISO daemon - and it was never planned or considered as such. As mentioned above though it's more of a jack-of-all-trades. Who's fine with that hardly feels the RX10 lacking badly in one of the departments.

Sony's in-camera noise reduction does do a good job, but what if I want to bring in more details lurking in the shadows by PP'ing raw? That means I'm either going to have to save all shots as JPG + Raw so that I have a choice between spending my valuable time PP's or living with the possibility of detail loss due to in-camera noise reduction.

No new JPG vs. RAW discussion. But who's working routinely with RAW for sure doesn't spend more time PPing than JPG. It's a myth that RAW processing takes much time. It's much more about knowing one's tools and knowing about the workflow. Of course the in-camera JPG engine does it faster

I don't know.... Someone convince me. I just can't see spending that much money on something to produce web-size images or picture books over say a Fuji XT1. Yeah I know, 200mm, Zeiss, etc. But IQ needs to be there and I'm struggling with it for the price their asking. Sure, the lens alone is great, but had they put a lower density sensor in it they would have large photo sites collecting more light at a lower ISO with better overall image quality without the hocus-pocus noise reduction/detail killer.

For websized images most smartphones may be all you need. It we speak about what? 1,800px on the long side? 2,500px? For all this mostly all specialized "photo cameras" MAY be considered overkill. However the cicumstances when such images are to be taken may already allow for telling them apart. There's a lot of room between simplest P&S and Nikon's or Canon's top DSLRs. YOU customer define what are your needs, how much money you want to spend.

For what the RX10 offers I wouldn't it consider cheap. But it's priced cleverly just at an upper limit for the package what it represents. Reasonable.

So here I sit, wondering if I should hit my credit card for $1300 for something that could have been the bridge camera to beat them all, if it weren't for a sensor spec dictated by the marketing department.

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Sometimes I feel like 2/3'rds Rice Krispies. Past "Snap" and "Crackle" but just shy of "Pop".

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Cheers,
Michael Fritzen

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MoreGooderPhotos
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Re: Sony RX10. Pixel size and noise are holding me back from buying
In reply to Michael Fritzen, 6 months ago

Thanks Michael.  Very reasonable and convincing.

I'm starting to regret this entire thread.  LOL.  Sorry for the huge waste of time.

/end thread

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Sometimes I feel like 2/3'rds Rice Krispies. Past "Snap" and "Crackle" but just shy of "Pop".

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