Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 Camera
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 boosts image quality and creative freedom in a truly compact package, with 1-inch sensor, f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens (hands-on video) A super little gem, that will capture your day with pleasure and ease.
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 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 altogether more serious.
A small camera with a big sensor
A 1″ sensor is twice as large as the sensor in the Fujifilm X10 and two-and-a-third 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 LX5 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.
The specification is pretty impressive – a 20MP 1″ sensor, a 1.2 million dot 3.0″ LCD (VGA resolution but using Sony’s WhiteMagic technology to offer greater brightness or improved battery life), 1080i60 video capture with the ability to shoot a 17MP stills without interrupting movie recording. There’s a Zeiss-branded 28-100mm equivalent F1.8-4.9 lens featuring Zeiss T* coatings to minimize internal reflection. The camera can even boast a respectable 330 shots from a charge, according to CIPA tests.
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 Nikon 1 models (and the Sony NEX cameras when they were first launched), with their beginner-focused interfaces, 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. It also has a customizable function menu – allowing you to specify which settings you want quick access to, and in which order. This is similar to the customization options added to NEX cameras but is also reminiscent of the Ricoh control interface (still probably our favorite on high-end compact).
And these differences from the entry-level mirrorless cameras are telling. Clearly Sony believes there is a photographically-savvy audience out there that wants a second camera with good image quality but without having to battle against a simplistic user interface or invest in what is probably a second lens system. It’s pretty clear it also hopes that some buyers wanting to move up from conventional compacts will prefer something small and will recognise themselves as part of a majority who wouldn’t buy other lenses even if they bought an interchangeable lens camera.
- 1″ Exmor CMOS sensor
- 20.9 million effective pixels
- 28-100mm (equiv), f/1.8-4.9 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens with ‘Advanced Aspherical’ element
- Steady-Shot image stabilization
- Contrast-detection AF with 25 points, including tracking and flexible spot options
- 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
- 3in, 1228.8K-dot ‘WhiteMagic’ LCD screen
- 13 Picture Effects with 27 variations
- Memory Recall feature can store up to three groups of custom settings
- 1080 60p video (AVCHD) with MP4 option
- Built-in stereo microphone
- 330-shot battery life (CIPA)
For more information on Sony Cameras and products please go to: www.sony.com