The RX10 is a fairly dense and solid-feeling camera and, for that matter, it's a relatively large and heavy one. Even if we stop talking in terms of equivalents for a moment, that's still an 8.8-73.3mm F2.8 lens on the front and, given its relatively complex 14 element/11 group design, there's a lot of glass in there. The lens barrel and front and top plates are made of magnesium alloy, which helps push the weight of the camera to 813g (12.7oz), putting it well into DSLR territory.
The body is sealed against both moisture and dust, which should give photographers confidence when shooting in adverse conditions.
In your hand
The RX10 is a solid, well-constructed little camera and despite its 1" sensor it handles in much the same way as a typical high-end travel zoom.
With the camera held in your right hand, the key controls are easy to locate. The lens is zoomed either using a ring around the lens, or via a conventional rocker switch 'collar' around the shutter release and both the exposure mode dial and rear control dial are within easy reach of the thumb. To adjust the aperture or zoom/focus ring around the lens it's necessary to adopt a two-handed grip.
The RX10's sizable lens becomes even more so at the long end of the zoom. Thankfully, this doesn't greatly affect the overall balance of the camera.
Side by side
Below are a pair of cameras that some may compare to the DSC-RX10: the Panasonic FZ200 (which has a 25-600 F2.8 lens) and the
Nikon Coolpix P7800
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200
Olympus Stylus 1
As we saw on the first page, the RX10 offers a considerable step up in capability when compared with other, smaller sensor cameras that appear to have similar lenses.
The cost of that larger sensor is size - the RX10 is considerably bigger than the Nikon Coolpix P7800 (itself only pocketable in the loosest sense - and clothing).
The size difference between the Sony and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 isn't as pronounced but what the Sony gives up in zoom range (the Lumix stretches to 600mm equivalent), it should gain in image quality.
The RX10's Carl Zeiss lens covers a 24-200mm (equivalent) range while maintaining F2.8 max aperture.
The in-lens shutter works up to 1/3200th of a second below F8, but this drops to 1/2000th below F4 and 1/1600th at the wider apertures.
The minimum focus distance is 3cm at wide-angle and 30cm at telephoto.
A focus mode switch on the front of the camera makes it easy to switch between manual and autofocus.
Switching to DMF (direct manual focus) or conventional manual focus re-purposes the camera's lens ring to control focus, rather than zoom.
The RX10's top plate somewhat resembles Sony's mid-range DSLRs with a mode dial, exposure comp. dial and LCD panel.
On the right of the top plate you will find the exposure compensation dial which allows for ±3 EV of exposure control.
The detents on the aperture ring can be disabled to allow for continuous aperture control. This can be particularly useful during movie capture.
The RX10 offers a sizable LCD display on its top plate that provides important shooting information at a glance with out needing to activate the rear screen. Something not displayed that really should be is the ISO sensitivity.
There's a small button next to it for engaging the back-illumination lamp.
Here's the flash in its open state. The flash must be opened manually.
Tucked away next to the viewfinder are the movie REC button and a small control dial. Given the availability of both an exposure comp. dial and a dedicated aperture ring, this only has a function in M and S exposure modes, where it controls shutter speed, and in P mode, where it engages program shift.
And here's the 4-way controller, which also serves as the rear control dial.
By default only the upward direction has a function - switching between the available display modes (which can be selected from the menu, with different options for the EVF and rear LCD).
The left, right and downwards directions can be customized, though.
The RX10 features a Multi-Interface Shoe that supports standard external flashguns as well as dedicated Sony ones.
It can also be used to attach several optional accessories, including an XLR microphone adapter.
The SD card slot is located on the right-hand side of the camera providing easy access while mounted on a tripod.
As usual for Sony, it also supports the company's Memory Stick Pro Duo format.
The left-hand flank of the camera features two port doors (both of which are open in this image).
The upper door covers the mic and headphone sockets. The lower one covers the USB port (used for charging) and the micro HDMI socket.
The RX10's lithium-ion battery is good for 420 shots (CIPA) and can be accessed from the bottom of the camera in the hand-grip.
The camera comes with a USB power adapter, but no external charger.
There's a small removable tab in the bottom of the battery door for use with an AC power supply - which will come in useful when shooting movies.