The Bionz X processor

The company's latest Bionz X processor is considerably more powerful than the previous generation, allowing what the company says will be more sophisticated processing.

Sony is being a little vague on specifics but is touting the new processor as offering 'Detail Reproduction Technology', which appears to be a more subtle and sophisticated sharpening system. The company promises less apparent emphasis on edges, giving a more convincing representation of fine detail.

Another function promised by the Bionz X processor is 'Diffraction Reduction', in which the camera's processing attempts to correct for the softness caused by diffraction as you stop a lens' aperture down. This processing is presumably aperture-dependent and sounds similar to an element of Fujifilm's Lens Modulation Optimization system (introduced on the X100S), suggesting it's something we should expect to see become more common across brands in the coming months.

Finally, Sony says the Bionz X chip offers a more advanced version of its context-sensitive, 'area-specific noise reduction', which attempts to identify whether each area of an image represents smooth tone, textured detail or subject edges and apply different amounts of noise reduction accordingly (which worked pretty well on the Sony Alpha 7 and 7R, albeit with odd side-effects at some ISO settings).

Interface

One of the things we're particularly heartened to see is that the RX10 continues use of the Alpha interface from Sony's SLT, DSLR and other RX cameras, rather than the menu system from its NEX models. We've been told that this interface will be used on all the company's models in future, and the slightly NEX-like 'icon menu' landing page that can be selected from the menus may well be the vestigial carry-over from it.

The RX10, in common with the other RX cameras so far, features the horizontal, tabbed menus that Sony has used across all its SLT and DSLR Alpha cameras.

This is no bad thing, since they're sensible organized and easy to navigate quickly.
A menu option allows you to use this 'Tile Menu' splash screen each time you enter the menus.

Given how many sub-menus there are now within each menu tab, this may prove to be the fastest way to work.

Ultimately, though, it's nice to have the option to turn it off it you want to get directly to the menus themselves.

Better still, rather than just embracing the better of its two camera interfaces, Sony also seem to have put some work in on improving the one it's settled on. The RX10 still offers a customizable Fn menu, but it's now been extended to include space for the 6 or 12 most-used options.

The camera's function menu has been extended to offer twelve user-selected functions, spread across two lines.

The camera allows you to choose from 27 functions, many of which can be useful, even if you just want to check their status, rather than changing them.
Options that can be applied to the Fn menu:
• Drive Mode
• Flash Mode
• Flash Comp.
• Focus Area
• ISO
• ND Filter
• Metering Mode
• White Balance
• DRO/Auto HDR
• Creative Style
• Shoot Mode
• Picture Effect
• Lock-on AF
• Smile/Face Detect
• [Stills] Soft Skin Effect
• [Stills] Auto Obj. Framing
• [Stills] Image Size
• [Stills] Aspect Ratio
• [Stills] Quality
• [Stills] SteadyShot
• [Movies] SteadyShot
• Audio Rec Level
• Zebra
• Grid Line
• Audio Level Display
• Peaking Level
• Peaking Color
• Not Set

Custom buttons

As befits a camera with as many options and functions as the RX10, there's also plenty of opportunity for control customization. The rear wheel of the camera (the one that doubles as the four-way controller) can be customized to control one of four functions, while six buttons are customizable, with between 36 and 41 functions that can be applied to them.

Options that can be applied to the Control Wheel:
• ISO
• White Balance
• Creative Style
• Picture Effect
• Not Set

The following 41 functions can be applied to the AEL, C and Center buttons on camera. This includes five functions that require the button to be held down in order to function - these can only be applied to these three buttons. The remaining 36 functions can also be applied to the left, right and down positions on the four-way controller.

Options that can be applied to the AEL, C and Center, left, right and down buttons:
• Drive Mode
• Flash Mode
• Flash Comp.
• Focus Area
• ISO
• ND Filter
• Metering Mode
• White Balance
• DRO/Auto HDR
• Creative Style
• Picture Effect
• Smile/Face Detect
• [Stills] Soft Skin Effect
• [Stills] Auto Obj. Framing
• [Stills] SteadyShot
• [Movies] SteadyShot
• Audio Rec Level
• [Stills] Image Size
• [Stills] Aspect Ratio
• [Stills] Quality
• In-Camera Guide
• Memory
• AEL Hold*
• AEL Toggle
• [Spot] AEL Hold*
• [Spot] AEL Toggle
• AF/MF Control Hold*
• AF/MF Control Toggle
• Lock-on AF*
• Eye AF*
• Smart Telecon.
• Focus Magnifier
• Deactivate Monitor
• Zebra
• Grid Line
• Audio Level Display
• Peaking Level
• Peaking Color
• Send to Smartphone
• Ctrl w/ Smartphone
• Monitor Brightness
• Not Set

*options not available for the left, right and down positions on the four-way controller.

Wi-Fi

Sony's been working on its Wi-Fi feature for a few years now, and what they've created works very well, especially if you have an NFC-equipped smartphone. Naturally, the camera can transfer photos to your smartphone, computer, or DLNA-compatible televisions via the PlayMemories Mobile app. If you're using a mobile device with NFC, you simply tap your phone against the right side of the camera, and the two are connected. Other devices require selecting the camera as the Wi-Fi host before proceeding.

A feature enthusiasts may be more drawn to is remote control from a mobile device. Unfortunately, this feature is quite limited: you can operate the zoom lens and take a photo. And that's it. No settings can be adjusted, and you cannot record movies, either. Sony tells us that they don't expect that to change, either, which is disappointing for a camera with a price so high.

The PlayMemories Mobile app can control the zoom and take a photo - and that's it.

Another thing that did not trickle down from Sony's mirrorless camera lineup is PlayMemories Camera Apps, which let you add extra features to your camera (sometimes free, sometimes not).