Introduction

The Sony RX100 V is the company's newest addition to its lineup of premium compact cameras. As with the previous two versions, it has a 1"-type sensor, 24-70mm equivalent F1.8-2.8 lens but gains 24fps burst shooting in both JPEG and Raw with full autofocus and autoexposure(!), oversampled 4K video recording, and plenty more. In short, the RX100 V has an incredible amount of technology stuffed into an easily pocketable package - but despite major increases in performance, we find that some of its more peripheral qualities could still use some attention.

Key Specs

  • 20MP 1"-type stacked BSI-CMOS sensor
  • 24-70mm equiv. F1.8-2.8 zoom lens
  • 24fps burst shooting in JPEG + Raw, with full AF and AE
  • 315-point phase-detection autofocus system
  • Detailed 4K video capture with well-controlled rolling shutter
  • Good quality high frame rate video capture

Where to begin, besides the original? The first RX100 made quite the splash when it was released back in 2012, and rightly so - it was the first camera to take a reasonably large, 1"-type sensor and place it within a camera body you could easily put into a pocket. There were, of course, pocketable compact digital cameras before it, but the RX100's much larger sensor was the key here for really allowing it to stand above the crowd.

The RX100 V's large sensor allows it to capture far more dynamic range than your typical smartphone and smaller-sensor compact, especially useful in challenging lighting conditions. Processed to taste from Raw using a preliminary build of Adobe Camera Raw. 24mm equiv. ISO 125, 1/500 sec, ISO 125. Photo by Carey Rose

The original RX100 brought us one significant step closer to the diminutive, high-quality 35mm film compacts of the 1990s. The RX100 V is a fitting member of the RX100 line in this regard, offering very good image quality and impressive capability in a camera that you can easily forget is in your purse or daypack.

The 24-70mm equivalent lens reach of the RX100 V is something of a standard for professionals with large F2.8 zooms, and is plenty flexible for all kinds of shooting - but some users might be left wanting for even more reach. Straight-out-of-camera JPEG at 70mm equiv. ISO 125, 1/640 sec, F4. Photo by Carey Rose

The RX100 V becomes the world's first fixed-lens compact (at least, the first you can actually buy) to offer a 1" sensor with phase detection autofocus, and it does so across 65% of the frame with a total of 315 points. As far as video, the RX100 V shoots oversampled 4K clips, resulting in impressively detailed footage.

Sony's launch presentation for the RX100 V showed that this series of cameras is increasingly being chosen by existing mid-to-high-end DSLR shooters looking for a carry-everywhere compact. The RX100 V works exceedingly well as a capable point-and-shoot camera, but as with previous models, we've found ourselves frustrated when trying to take greater control over it for decisive-moment shooting.

"The RX100 V has the potential to be just about all the camera any enthusiast might ever need."

That is, frankly, a shame. For all that Sony has done to make this a worthy upgrade from the Mark IV, it's also the things they haven't done that bear mentioning as well. There are still just too few controls on this camera, there still isn't a touchscreen (to more easily take advantage of that snazzy new PDAF system), the user interface is still unfriendly and the sluggish speed at which the camera reacts (or doesn't react) to some inputs stands in stark contrast to how unbelievably fast it can pull images off the sensor.

Specifications compared

  Sony
DSC-RX100 V
Sony
DSC-RX100 IV
Canon G7X
Mark II
Panasonic
LX10
MSRP $999 $899 $699 $699
Lens range (equiv) 24-70mm 24-70mm 24-100mm 24-72mm
Aperture range F1.8-2.8 F1.8-2.8 F1.8-2.8 F1.4-2.8
Autofocus 315-point phase detection Contrast detection

Contrast detection

Contrast detection

Control dials Lens ring (stepless)
Four-way/dial
Lens ring (stepless)
Four-way/dial

Lens ring
(stepped/
stepless)
Exposure Comp
Four-way/dial

Aperture ring Command dial Lens ring (stepless)

Viewfinder 2.36M-dot 2.36M-dot No No
Rear screen Tilt up/down Tilt up/down Tilt up/down
Touchscreen
Tilt up touchscreen
Video capability 4K/30p
1080/120p
4K/30p
1080/120p
1080/60p 4K/30p
1080/120p
Built-in ND Filter Yes
(Auto for stills)
Yes
(Auto for stills)
Yes
(Auto for stills)
No
Burst Shooting 24 fps 16 fps 8 fps 10 fps
Battery life (CIPA) 220 280 265 260

Here, you can clearly see Sony's focus for this new model - speed and autofocus (regarding pricing, Sony has recently dropped the cost of the Mark IV to $899 from its original MSRP of $999, which the Mark V has launched at). However, you can see the extra processing has had a fairly detrimental effect on its rated battery life. More on that later.

Always at hand - the Mark V is the latest RX100 to feature impressive technology in a carry-everywhere package, but the price you ultimately pay (besides the steep MSRP) is in terms of ergonomics and controls. Processed from Raw using a preliminary build of Adobe Camera Raw at 30mm equiv. ISO 500, 1/500 sec, F2.5. Photo by Carey Rose

One of our earlier posts stated that the RX100 V has the potential to be just about all the camera any enthusiast might ever need. We still think that rings true, but as usual, there's some caveats to take into account. Let's take a closer look.