Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 Review
Sony has a long history of making interesting cameras and has, in recent years, produced some of the most innovative products and technologies. Not all of these developments have caught on but we've admired its pioneering spirit, even when we haven't always loved the products.
The Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 combines aspects of two of the company's most imagination-catching cameras - the current RX100 II zoom compact and the near-legendary R1 from 2005. It revives the large-sensor, long-zoom concept of the R1, but utilizing the RX100 II's 1"-type BSI CMOS sensor, meaning it can offer a balance of high image quality and long zoom in a sensibly sized package. In this case it means the RX10 is able to offer a 24-200mm equivalent F2.8 lens.
That relatively big sensor means the RX10 is not a small camera - it's about the height and width of a small DSLR. Its body is slimmer than a DSLR but its 8.3x lens adds a stout, weighty bulk to the proceedings.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 key features
- 20MP 1"-type BSI CMOS sensor (13.2 x 8.8mm)
- 24-200mm equivalent stabilized F2.8 lens
- Weather-sealed magnesium alloy body
- Manual zoom and aperture rings
- Tilting 1.23 million dot rear LCD
- 1.44M dot OLED viewfinder
- ISO 125 - 12800 (expandable down to ISO 80)
- Built-in 3EV Neutral Density filter
- Approx 10 fps continuous shooting in 'Speed Priority mode'
- 1080/60p video with full-sensor sampling, uncompressed HDMI output
- Wi-Fi with NFC
Of course, a lot of time has passed since the R1 was launched, so it's no surprise that the RX10 is a more capable camera. However Sony says it has added a lot over even the RX100 II launched earlier this year. For example by using the same Bionz X processor as the Alpha 7 and 7R, it gains more sophisticated image processing. Significantly it also gains a built-in 3EV neutral density filter, meaning you can make use of that F2.8 maximum aperture, even in bright light.
The RX10 also becomes the first Sony to feature a 'Direct Drive SSM' focus motor, which uses piezoelectric materials to position the focus element, rather than linear motors. The company says this allows the lens to be both moved and stopped more accurately - reducing focus times. The lens also has a pretty reasonable close-focus distance, that increases from 3cm at the wide-angle end to 30cm at the other extreme (giving magnification ratio of 0.45x and 0.38x respectively).
And Sony appears to have been thinking about more than just stills when it made this cameras - the RX10 offers one of the most extensive lists of features for videographers we've seen on any camera. The big news here is that the camera uses every pixel on the sensor to create video (instead of sub-sampling), which dramatically reduces moiré. Other video features include step-less aperture control, headphone and mic sockets, focus peaking, zebra exposure warning, and uncompressed video output.
The only problem is likely to be trying to convince anyone to spend so much on a compact camera. Because, while it was relatively easy to make the argument that the RX100 was worth nearly twice as much as a Canon PowerShot S110 (given it had a sensor three times larger) it's a little harder to explain to people why they should pay $1299 for a zoom compact - no matter how capable.
That's always a problem with camera trying to carve out its own niche: you don't have easy reference points to compare it to. So, while the RX10 is rather large and expensive compared to other compacts, it's also a camera that offers a unique combination of capabilities, for shooting both video and stills. The question is whether that combination of needs exists.
So what's the big deal?
Part of the problem with trying to explain why the RX10 costs so much (and we're still not sure why it costs quite so much), is that it requires you to understand not just the equivalent focal length range and aperture, but also the effect of sensor size.
This understanding isn't necessarily helped by the use of F-numbers to describe aperture. In terms of exposure (and by definition), F2.8 = F2.8 = F2.8. However, that doesn't tell the whole story. In terms of depth-of-field and total light projected onto the sensor (which is a major determinant of image quality), you also need to consider sensor size - otherwise the 24-200mm equivalent F2.8 lens on this camera doesn't sound any more impressive than a camera half the size and, more importantly, less than half the price.
|Equivalent focal length||Maximum aperture range||Sensor size||Equivalent aperture range|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200||25-600mm||F2.8||1/2.3"-type||F15.5|
|Canon PowerShot G1 X II||24-120mm||F2.0-3.9||1.5"-type||F3.8-7.5|
|Nikon Coolpix P7800||28-200mm||F2.0-4.0||1/1.7"-type||F9.5-19|
|Olympus Stylus 1||28-300mm||F2.8||1/1.7"-type||F13|
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10||24-200mm||F2.8||1"-type||F7.6|
So, while at first glance the Olympus Stylus 1 looks most impressive, the equivalent aperture figures tell a very different story. Equivalent apertures tell you how the lens compares to a full frame lens with similar characteristics - much as the more familiar 'equivalent focal length' does. However, rather than telling you which lens has a comparable field-of-view, it tells you which full frame lens would provide the same control over depth-of-field and the total light hitting the sensor.
So, while it might initially appear that the Olympus Stylus 1 offers a comparable lens in a much smaller body (and for much less money), the truth is quite different.
|This chart plots equivalent aperture over focal length (35mm equiv.) As you can see, the Canon PowerShot G1 X II bests the RX10 at their equivalent focal lengths.|
Two superzooms that advertise 'fast' lenses really aren't, when put into perspective. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 and Olympus Stylus 1 are never in the race - the RX10 is effectively 1.5 - 2.0 stops faster at all focal lengths. One compact camera that does compete very well is the Canon PowerShot G1 X II. It doesn't cover the same focal range (it's 24-120mm), but its large sensor allows for better low light performance (in theory) and more control over depth-of-field.
The one setup that consistently beats the DSC-RX10 is Sony's a6000 mirrorless camera mated with its 18-105mm F4 lens. It doesn't quite cover the same range as the RX10 (and we don't think the user experience is as good), but it costs less and is more expandable.
This week on DPReview TV, Chris and Jordan prepare for the summer holiday season by putting several popular waterproof cameras to the test. If you're considering a rugged camera for the beach or pool this summer, or if you just want to see what a Chris and Jordan fishing show might look like, tune in.
Soulumination is a non-profit organization that provides life-affirming legacy photography to families facing serious medical conditions, completely free of charge. This video shares the work they are doing.
Fujifilm EU seems to have accidentally leaked an unreleased camera to the masses. The leaked page details a new "X-T100" camera that will share most of its specs with the X-A5, but includes an EVF, deeper buffer, and 3-way tilting touchscreen.
LA-based director and cinematographer Phil Holland of PHFX recently joined forces with Gotham Film Works to create something out-of-this-world. Using a special aerial camera array, Holland shot a flyover of New York City using not one, not two, but three 8K RED Weapon Monstro VistaVision cameras.
According to an interview with the Google Photos team on XDA, object removal simply had a lower priority in the development queue than other features. It might still show up some day... but maybe not.
In a bid to clear up online speculation, surprise entrant to the full frame cinema lens market Nisi has answered some questions about its relationship with brands marketing lenses very similar to its own F3 series.
Now that we've completed our review of Panasonic's Lumix DC-ZS200 (TZ200), we've updated its entry in our Best Cameras for Travel, Best Pocketable Enthusiast Cameras and Best Enthusiast Long Zoom Cameras buying guides.
This useful video guide by The Slanted Lens will get you up to date on the latest TSA rules on flying with lithium ion batteries. If you're getting ready to travel with a bunch of photography gear, this is one to watch.
This product photo was captured using two speedlights to light the bottle, a smartphone to light paint the background, and some Photoshop to pull it all together. Watch the video to see how product photographer Dustin Dolby did it.
The software development kit allows third-party developers to create mobile and desktop apps that can control the camera remotely via USB cable or Wi-Fi.
Fujifilm has been forced to roll back the much-anticipated firmware update v4.0 for the X-T2 released last week due to "malfunctions." Firmware updates for the GFX 50S, X-H1 and X-Pro2 planned for this month have also been delayed as a result.
The Laowa 9mm F2.8 Zero-D is an ultra-wide lens for APS-C mirrorless cameras designed with minimal distortion. We took an E-mount version of the lens out for a spin on the a6500 – take a look at the results.
"...excuse me if I don’t walk around in front of [my client] shooting bloody BTS because somebody on social media wants to see it because they can’t be arsed to attend a proper controlled seminar and learn properly, they’d rather be ‘cheap’ and just try to reverse engineer BTS stuff."
OnePlus has slightly boosted the camera specifics of its news flagship smartphone, the OnePlus 6. Compared to its predecessor, it boasts both a bigger sensor and optical image stabilization.
These newly leaked images and sketches show the upcoming DJI Phantom 5 drone, which will allegedly feature a 1-inch sensor camera with interchangeable lenses.
A piece of leaked code revealed a new feature—since confirmed by Instagram's CEO—that is coming to Instagram. It's called 'time spent,' and it will allow users to track how much time they spend on the photo sharing app so they can be more 'intentional' about it.
The new website and app—developed by Fujifilm USA but available to everyone—will host interviews with X and GFX professionals, run technique articles, and showcase collections of images shot with Fujifilm equipment.
The flagship smartphone by Huawei's sub-brand Honor offers the same Kirin 970 top-end chipset as Huawei's flagships P20 and P20 Pro, but at a significantly lower price point. It also includes some advanced AI scene and object recognition.
One man's feature is another man's bug. Photographer Robert Hall has discovered a quirk about how the live view and EVF on Sony's full-frame mirrorless cameras respond when you attach a flash. Fortunately, he's also found a way to work around it.
Microsoft's Surface Hub 2 is a massive collaborative touchscreen display that may or may not have any practical use for professional photographers... but it sure looks impressive nonetheless.
Google is replacing its existing Google Drive plans with newly packaged Google One plans that are 50% cheaper and come with live chat support. Two terabytes of cloud storage will now cost you just $10/month.
Photographer David Oastler got his hands on an early copy of the Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 Sony FE lens, and while he couldn't take pictures with it, he did get to test its focusing capabilities. The great news: this thing focuses just as fast a Sony native lens.
Canon Rumors is reporting with near-certainty that Canon will unveil two new 70-200mm L-lenses in early June. The site says it is 100% certain the 70-200mm F4L IS II is on the way, and 95% certain the 70-200mm F2.8L IS III will also be announced.
Photographer Henry Stuart has created a 24-hour panoramic timelapse of London that combines 6240 D850 files to form a picture that contains over 7 billion pixels. The 155° view presents the city in an incredible amount of detail, with Nikon claiming you can read signs up to 5 miles away.
In the ad, a woman pulls out her iPhone to take a selfie in a train station, and all sorts of studio lights, umbrellas and softboxes materialize out of nowhere around her.
If it feels like we've been writing a lot about Sony recently, you haven't been imagining things: we've been writing about its products and technologies quite a bit. Here's why.
Fujifilm has announced the Instax Square SQ6, an analog instant film camera that resembles the old Instagram logo. The SQ6 takes Fujifilm's Instax Square film which gives a 62 x 62mm (2.4 x 2.4") images on 86 x 72mm film. It will cost around $130.
In a leaked internal email, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun details the creation of a dedicated in-house camera department that will focus exclusively on developing better camera tech for the brand's smartphones.
hähnel has extended its range of radio-triggered Modus 600RT flash units with a model for Micro Four Thirds cameras. The unit can be used directly in the hotshoe as a standalone flash, or within a group of flashes as a TTL commander or a slave using radio or optical communication.