Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100

20.1MP 1"-type CMOS sensor | 28-100mm equiv. F1.8-4.9 lens | 1080/60p video

What we like:

  • Solid image and video quality
  • Compact, well-built
  • Fast lens at wide-angle
  • Good battery life

What we don't:

  • Interface not user-friendly
  • No touchscreen
  • Lacks Wi-Fi
  • Photos and videos split in playback mode

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 was the first enthusiast compact camera to use a 1"-type sensor, bringing higher quality to a segment that was in decline due to smartphone sales. It features a 20MP CMOS sensor paired with a 28-100mm equivalent F1.8-4.9 lens, which is great for lowlight work at its wide-end, and not-so-great at telephoto. Photos can be composed on a fixed 3" LCD that's not touch-enabled.

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The RX100 is small enough to fit into a jeans pocket, leaving little room for a grip. It includes two dials: a slightly fiddly one on the rear whose function is fixed, and one around the lens. The lens dial is clickless, making it better for manual focus and zooming in video than for controlling aperture or exposure comp. Other than a poorly-positioned REC button the layout is good, and there's a reasonable degree of customization. Overall, though, its user experience isn't as polished as the best of its peers.

The RX100's autofocus performance is very good for a compact camera when using single AF. Continuous AF is less impressive, with lots of 'wobble' from the camera's contrast-detect system. To move the focus point you first press the center button and then use the directional controller. A touchscreen would make this easier, but it has not been a feature on any of Sony's first four RX100 models. The camera can shoot continuously at 10 fps with focus/exposure lock on the first shot or at 2.5 fps with live view. A rating of 330 shots per charge puts battery life is near the top of its class.

While no longer state-of-the-art, as it was back in 2012, the Sony RX100 is still a capable camera that sells for a reasonable price.

The RX100's image quality isn't as good as its successors, but it's still more than competitive and considerably better than your typical compact. The lens is sharp at the center but a bit soft in the corners. A good deal of detail is captured, though some of that is lost in JPEGs due to noise reduction. While you can pull back some of that detail in Raw, there's not a huge benefit to using it in normal circumstances. The RX100 does overexpose a bit, which is easy enough to compensate for.

Video is one of the RX100's strong suits, with its ability to capture 1080/60p video using the AVCHD codec. You have a choice of standard or 'active' shake reduction, with the latter being 'extra strength' (though the field-of-view is cropped). You can capture video in manual modes and the camera also offers focus peaking and a wind filter, but no zebra pattern. For a 2012-era camera, 1080p video quality is excellent. One niggle is that the RX100 separates stills from videos in playback mode, so you can't quickly navigate through everything you've captured.

While no longer state-of-the-art, as it was back in 2012, the Sony RX100 is still a capable camera that sells for a reasonable price. Despite stumbles in terms of user interface, the RX100 produces very good photos and videos - and can slip into a pocket with ease.

If you're confused about which of the many RX100 models to purchase, you might find this article to be helpful.

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