Olympus XZ-1 and Canon PowerShot S100
Fujifilm X10 and Canon PowerShot G1 X
The RX100 is built around the interface Sony has been using on its SLR and SLT cameras for some time. This is a good place to start because, while its isn't necessarily the very best on the market, it's not at all bad. And, more importantly, it has been developed with high levels of user interaction in mind. The RX100 features the iAuto and Superior Auto modes that appear in all its other cameras, meaning it's a very capable creature even in Auto mode, but it also offers a good amount of direct control.
The control dials on the back of the camera and around the lens are the primary control points, with four other core functions assigned to the cardinal points on the four-way controller. Pressing the 'DISP' button cycles through display options, including a live histogram and a very useful dual-axis electronic spirit level.
However, it's the RX100's Fn menu that stands out in this class. The camera allows you to select up to seven options from the table below, in any order you wish, which appear ranged across the bottom of the screen when you hit the Fn button. This allows quick access to exactly the settings you regularly find yourself changing.
Up to 7 functions can be assigned to the RX100's rear Fn button through the main menu system. Once assigned, these functions appear in a simple left-right sub-menu when Fn is pressed, and the active option can be adjusted using the camera's rear control dial.
|Functions can be assigned to the Fn button via the 'Function Button' option in the custom settings section of the RX100's menu. Once assigned, pressing the Fn button brings up a quick menu, in effect, consisting only of the assigned options (right). These can be scrolled through using the left/right controls on the rear 4-way controller and sub-options selected using the rear control dial.|
Functions that can be assigned to Fn button:
| • Exposure Compensation
• Focus Mode
• Autofocus Area
• Drive Mode
• Metering Mode
• Flash Mode
• Flash Compensation
• White Balance
| • DRO/Auto HDR
• Creative Style
• Picture Effect
• Soft Skin Effect
• Image Size
• Smile/Face Detection
• Aspect Ratio
• Not Set (no function assigned)
Like the Canon PowerShot S100 to which it bears a passing resemblance, the RX100 features a slim control ring around its lens barrel. One of eight functions can be assigned to this ring, if you over-ride the default setting but unusually, it rotates smoothly, with no detents.
This smooth rotation is perfect if you choose to assign it to being a lens zoom control, for example, but in our experience the absence of any tactile feedback as the ring is rotated can make changing more discrete options, like ISO and exposure compensation, a little disorienting. Interestingly, with the RX100 in manual focus mode, the control ring's function defaults to focus adjustment, overriding whatever option you might have assigned to it.
|The RX100 features a control ring around the lens barrel (highlighted here) which can be customized to serve one of eight functions, left at the default setting or disabled. The options include exposure compensation, lens zoom and ISO sensitivity selection. It rotates smoothly, with no 'click' detents.|
Functions that can be assigned to Control Ring
- Standard (the Sony-chosen setting, based on exposure mode)
- Exposure Compensation
- White Balance
- Creative Style
- Picture Effect
- Shutter Speed
- Not Set (no function assigned)
Like all recent Sony cameras, whether they be compacts, NEX mirrorless models or its SLR-like SLT series, the RX100 includes the company's Superior Auto mode (iAuto+). This not only makes use of the camera's many scene modes but will also use the multi-shot HDR and noise-reduction modes, if it thinks the scene requires it. So, despite the extensive level of user control, the RX100 can be used to point-and-shoot, too.
|If you'd prefer not to get too involved in fiddling about with the RX100's lengthy feature set, 'Superior Auto' mode is designed to recognise the shooting environment in which the camera is being used, and automatically set the appropriate shooting mode for you (beautiful Hawaiian sunset not guaranteed).|
The RX100 is the company's first camera to use its 'WhiteMagic' LCD technology (though Ricoh has already used it in its GR Digital IV). This uses four dots to make up every pixel on the display - adding a white dot to the existing Red, Green and Blue ones. As a result, the 1.2M dot display has the same 640x480 pixel resolution as the existing 920k dot designs, but with the ability to offer greater brightness. This can be used in two ways - it either offers the same screen brightness as one of the existing screens, but with around half the battery drain or it can be used to offer twice the brightness - which is especially useful outdoors on a camera without a tilting screen.
The RX100 can shoot Full HD (1920 x 1080) movies at 60i or 60p in its AVCHD mode. The 60p mode captures at a bitrate of 28Mbps, while the interlaced mode has the choice of 24 or 17Mbps. There's also a 1440x1080 (a variant that comes from cameras with non-square pixels and is displayed at 1920x1080 but requires less storage space), at 12Mbps in MP4 format. Sadly there's no 1080p24 option.
The RX100 allows P,A,S or M exposure modes to be used when video shooting. Autofocus remains available in movie shooting, regardless of the exposure mode used. Alternatively the camera's focus peaking can be used to aid manual focus (which can be assigned to the front dial). This, combined with the camera's active image stabilization during movie shooting, makes it a pretty capable and pocketable camera for grabbing footage.