Studio Comparison

Our latest test scene is designed to simulate both daylight and low-light shooting. Pressing the 'lighting' buttons at the top of the widget allows you to switch between the two. The daylight scene is shot with manually set white balance, but the camera is left in its Auto setting for the low-light tests.

Note: this page features our new interactive studio scene. Click here for instructions on the widget.

There's not a whole lot going on at the base ISO of 125, though if you look closely you'll see that noise reduction is already smudging the detail in our hair sample. There is some noticeable corner blurriness as well, but while it's visible here in our test scene, it was not a major issue in the real world. Aside from those issues, things look quite good, with the next noticeable change at ISO 800. At this point, noise reduction makes fine detail fuzzy and low contrast areas, such as this face, appear over-processed. This trend continues at ISO 1600, and by the time you reach ISO 3200 there's very little detail left.

While the RX10 has no direct competitor, it's worth seeing how cheaper 'premium' super zooms like the Stylus 1 hold up. As you can see, the RX10 easily bests the Stylus 1 at ISO 3200, though larger sensor mirrorless cameras, such as Sony's own NEX-6, still still rule the day. However, this is only the case if you're using the NEX with a bright lens. The RX10's constant F2.8 zoom means that, even if you put a constant F4 lens on the NEX, then you could still use it one ISO setting lower than the NEX - substantially decreasing the difference. The gap narrows still further if you use a more modest lens on the NEX.

At this point we also noticed that the RX10 suffers from the same problem as the a7 full-frame mirrorless camera: its context-sensitive noise reduction system struggles at that point where edges meet areas of low contrast. There's little left to work with at ISO 6400 and, interestingly enough, the RX10 performs worse than the Sony's RX100M2, which uses the same sensor (but different image processor). While the scene looks pretty lousy at ISO 12800, it's still usable when reduced to 'web size'.

When you switch to Raw, you'll first notice just how sharpened the JPEGs are. Something else noticeable is moire, which is not unexpected on a camera without an anti-aliasing filter. There aren't any huge changes until chroma noise starts to appear at ISO 1600, but that doesn't affecting image quality until ISO 3200. As with JPEGs, the RX10 has more noise (color, in this case) than the RX100M2 at high sensitivities. When you hit the top ISO of 12800, you can see why there's so little left to work with in the JPEGs.

There's not a big difference when you change over to tungsten light, with no noticeable drop in image quality until ISO 1600. If you flip between tungsten and daylight at ISO 3200, you can see how things don't look quite as good at low light. As in good light, detail drops dramatically at ISO ISO 6400 and 12800 to the point where you'll probably want to stick to small output sizes. In Raw mode there's little in the way of luminance or color noise until ISO 3200, at which point detail starts to go south. At ISO 6400 and above there's some false color in the color checker, and plenty of noise to go around.