Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 In-Depth Review
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 is an enthusiast compact camera based around a 20MP 1" CMOS sensor. It features a Zeiss-branded 28-100mm equivalent F1.8-4.9 stabilized lens featuring Zeiss T* coatings to minimize internal reflection. The rest of its specification is pretty impressive too - a 1.2 million dot 3.0" LCD (VGA resolution but using Sony's WhiteMagic technology to offer greater brightness or improved battery life), and 1080p60 video capture or 1080i with the ability to shoot a 17MP stills without interrupting movie recording. The camera can even boast a respectable 330 shots from a charge, according to CIPA tests.
Despite the availability of comparatively small, large-sensor mirrorless cameras (at increasingly low prices), the enthusiasts' compact boom has continued. Most of the big names in the industry now offer models to appeal to people comfortable with a a DSLR but wanting something easier to carry around. The RX100, Sony's first venture into this market since 2004 (with the DSC-V3) is something rather more serious.
- 1"-type Exmor CMOS sensor (13.2 x 8.8mm, 3:2 aspect ratio)
- 20.2 million effective pixels
- 28-100mm (equiv), f/1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens
- Steady-Shot image stabilization
- ISO 125-6400 (ISO 80 and 100 expansion, up to 25,600 using multi-frame noise-reduction)
- Face Recognition and Face Registration (up to 8 faces)
- Rear control dial and customizable front control ring
- 10fps continuous shooting in 'Speed Priority' mode
- 3" 1.2M-dot 'WhiteMagic' LCD screen
- 13 Picture Effects (27 with variations)
- Memory Recall feature can store up to three groups of custom settings
- 1080p60 video, (AVCHD) with MP4 option (50p in PAL regions)
- Built-in stereo microphones
- 330-shot battery life (CIPA)
A small camera with a big sensor
A 1"-type sensor is twice as large as the sensor in the Fujifilm X10 and 2.7 times larger than most of the rest of the class. The only comparable camera to offer a sensor larger is the Canon G1 X, which offers impressive image quality but with the payoff being bulkier styling and the larger dimensions demanded by its near-DSLR-sized sensor. Sony says the 'R' in the camera's name is intended to evoke its original high-grade fixed-lens camera, the DSC-R1, though the only similarities between the two are the ability to capture Raw image data and the ambition of their designs.
In general you can divide the enthusiasts' compact sector by body style, with the Canon S100 exemplifying the conventional compact style and the G12 representing the more bulky, dial-encrusted choices with tunnel-style optical viewfinder. Sony has chosen to go down the compact route and opted for a lens that slows considerably as you zoom in, rather than the bright zooms offered by the Olympus XZ-1, Panasonic LX7 and Fujifilm X10. This is the same balance Canon has chosen with its popular S100, but of course that doesn't have a sensor anywhere near as large as the RX100's.
Despite the large sensor, the RX100 is still pocketable. It's not the smallest compact camera on the market, but it'll fit in breast pocket of a jacket, making it a genuine carry-around second camera for DSLR owners. In principle, at least, the RX100 shouldn't present the same image-quality compromise that switching across to one of the existing compact cameras would.
Shooting for the enthusiasts
The RX100's user interface makes very clear that Sony has concentrated on making a camera that enthusiasts will be happy with. The difference between this and the beginner-focused interfaces on the Nikon 1 models (and the Sony NEX cameras when they were first launched) couldn't be more stark. The RX100 doesn't go overboard with manual controls but the now commonplace lens-encircling control dial is key to its usability. Add to this a customizable function menu - allowing you to specify which settings you want quick access to, and in which order - and you have a very controllable compact. The way Sony has done this is an extension of the options added to NEX cameras but is also reminiscent of the Ricoh control interface (still probably our favorite on a high-end compact).
And these differences from the entry-level mirrorless cameras are telling. Clearly Sony believes there is a photographically-savvy audience that wants a second camera without having to battle against a simplistic user interface or invest in a second lens system. It's pretty clear it also hopes that some existing compact owners will want something small and high quality, but will recognise themselves as part of the majority that buys interchangeable lens cameras but never takes the lens off. The RX100's $650/£550/€650 price tag may well work against this, though.
Isn't that a bit expensive?
To put this price in perspective, you have to really understand the sensor size and what it means for the camera's capabilities.
|The sensor in the RX100 is the same 1" format that Nikon uses in its 1-System. It is considerably smaller than those used in most interchangeable lens cameras but it significantly larger than those used in most enthusiast compacts.|
A large sensor is one of the most significant factors in terms of providing good image quality. The larger area simply means that, compared to a smaller sensor camera, it will be exposed to more light during any exposure with the same settings (ISO, shutter speed and F-number). And more light means a better signal-to-noise ratio.
To do this, the table below shows it against its peers, showing the area of the sensor, the size of the camera and the effective aperture of the camera. This last figure gives an idea of how much control over depth-of-field the camera will offer, by relating the aperture ranges back to the 135 film standard.
|Price (MSRP)||Sensor area, mm2
|Focal length range||Focal length range (equiv.)||Aperture range||Aperture range (equiv.)*||Dimensions, mm(bounding box**)|
|Canon G1 X||$799||262
* Effective aperture, in 135 film terms - this gives an idea of the depth of field control offered by the lenses when the sensor size is taken into account.
** The sum of each camera's longest dimensions (the volume of the smallest box that could contain the camera, with the lens retracted)
*** Figure takes into account that the XZ-1 uses a crop from a 1/1.63" sensor.
Size and design compared...
Olympus XZ-1 and Canon PowerShot S100
Fujifilm X10 and Canon PowerShot G1 X
Aug 25, 2015
Nov 4, 2013
Sep 30, 2013
Jan 15, 2013
|Hot Air Balloons Over Bagan by User9320321874|
|Yellow Warbler by LeeS|
from A Big Year - birds
|Waiting for the Parade by tcoker1103|
from - La Vida Loca - (Black and White Street Photography+ A Border)
Peak Design's 'consider every detail' approach shines in the Everyday Backpack. While expensive, it's one of the best options out there for a photographer who needs to pack a lot of stuff in addition to gear.
If you're thinking of using Canon's sports glass on the Sony a9, think again. The ultra-fast camera slows way down when you attach off-brand glass.
The Polish town of Katowice is not known as an area of beauty, but as all photographers know, that doesn't mean that beauty can't be found if you know where to look. Mariusz Pietranek used a drone to look down on the colorful sedimentation tanks at an ironworks.
New York Times video journalist Ben Solomon spent a harrowing three weeks accompanying Iraqi Major Sajjad al-Hour as he and his men fought to retake Mosul from I.S. forces.
The 3D VR camera launched through a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 goes on sale beginning June 26.
Noctilucent clouds, a crescent moon and Venus were visible in the pre-dawn sky over Budapest yesterday. Photographer György Soponyai captured NASA's astronomy picture of the day.
Squirming pets won't sit still for photos? A Kickstarter campaign is looking to help.
Find out how Chris Burkard shifted from editorial photography to his true passions: landscapes, conservation and, of course, surfing.
The updated EyeEm app scans your camera roll and picks images that are composed particularly well, have the best quality, or highest chance of selling on EyeEm Market.
It's three years old but still a solid option for a Micro Four Thirds shooter looking for a high-quality, fast, wide-angle prime. Take a look at how we got along with it.
Tamron has announced the longest all-in-one zoom lens currently available, the 18-400mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD. Designed for Canon and Nikon crop-sensor cameras, the lens will be available in July.
When you're ready to step-up to full-frame from an entry-level or midrange camera, the choices can be overwhelming. Find out which models came out on top in our $1200-2000 enthusiast ILC roundup.
Just a guy wearing a VR headset, smashing invisible Goombas in Central Park.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this gorgeous aerial photo of the Martian landscape. And if you look really close, you can actually see the Mars Curiosity rover in the very middle.
The city of Laguna Beach, California has provided some clarification around the kinds of photography permits it offers.
Later this year, a VR180 camera will be Joining Yi's Halo and 360 VR cameras, which will offer stereo 3D capture, yet be as easy to use and compact as a 2D camera.
Caltech researchers have developed an 'optical phased array' chip that uses time delays instead of a lens to focus the incoming light.
Pricing and shipping have finally been revealed for two highly anticipated lenses from Sigma, announced in February.
These macro photos of clouds of paint billowing through clear water might look like high-quality CGI, but they're real photographs. And photographer Alberto Seveso told us how they were made.
Facebook is testing a feature that prevents people from saving, sharing, or even taking a screenshot of your profile picture.
We've reshot the Sony a9 in our studio. The short story: it's sharper! The long story... well you can read it all here.
The collection will be officially launched during the Europeana Transcribathon Campus Berlin 2017 crowdsourcing event which will be held on 22 and 23 June at the Berlin State Library.
Light gives us some insight into the preparations for the launch of the pre-order shipments of its much anticipated L16 multi-lens camera.
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has confirmed in a tweet that the second lens on the back of the OnePlus 5 uses a 1.6x optical zoom and that digital zoom is used to reach the claimed 2x zoom factor.
Fujifilm recently unveiled the second in its series of affordable cine lenses, the MK50-135mm T2.9. We got our hands on it for a couple days and took it for a spin.
Leica's first attempt at an M-series digital rangefinder was rough around the edges, but set a pattern for all of the cameras that came after it. In this week's Throwback Thursday article, Barney remembers the M8.
No stranger to extreme situations, legendary climber and filmmaker Jimmy Chin talks to Outside Magazine about his career, and the challenge of filming Alex Honnold's rope-free solo climb of El Capitain.
A company backed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin is attempting to make video conferencing less terrible.
Rangefinder magazine asked five professional portrait and wedding photographers about posting on Instagram; no surprise, they got five different answers.
This captivating stop motion film was created by stripping away one layer of wood at a time. It's hard to look away.