Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 Review with Sample Images and Video Note: This article was republished from http://www.squidoo.com/sony-rx100 We recommend viewing the article from there for better image resolution and formatting
Pros and cons The Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100 is aimed at serious photographers who have high standards in image quality, but do not want to constantly lug around a bulky camera system. Based on its specs and my first impressions, it looks like the RX100 could actually be the perfect solution for such photographers, if not for the extremely high price. Read the full review below to find out if this camera is worth the price.
Introduction Sony builds excellent image sensors for compact cameras and DSLRs and covers pretty much every digicam class with its exclusive highly sensitive sensors. But with one exception: the Japanese company has yet to make its mark in the category of sophisticated compact cameras with fixed lens. Hence, Sony released the Cyber-shot DSC-RX100, which has a 1-inch sensor - about the same size as the Nikon 1 series cameras. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 looks very sophisticated, and the specs are very competitive too. Aside from the huge sensor, it's got 20 megapixels resolution, 1.22 million pixel LCD, and 10 fps burst mode.
What's in a big image sensor? Relative sizes of image sensors of different cameras
Professional photographers know that putting a large image sensor and wide angle zoom lens in a tiny form factor is no easy engineering feat. One of the keys to producing great pictures is by making image sensors as large as possible to gather more light. That's why DSLRs are big and bulky and the image quality just don't compare with compact cameras. But for those who don't want to compromise portability over image quality, the fixed-lens class of cameras, such as the Nikon 1 J1, is a good option.
LCD Screen The RX100 has a relatively large, high-resolution LCD screen at 1.22 megapixels. In essence, the screen is only equivalent to a 640 by 480 VGA display, which corresponds to 307,200 pixels. But the pixels have four subpixels, as opposed to the conventional three primary colors, due to the extra white subpixel added. Thus the total number of pixels is 307,200 times four, which is 1.2288 million pixels. The extra white pixel was added to increase brightness which makes it easy to view even under direct sunlight. The display actually looks very good on a wide range of viewing angle, with images appearing bright and sharp, and colors looking vibrant. <a href="http://www.squidoo.com/sony-rx100">Sony RX100 review</a>
Design and Ergonomics
The Sony DSC-RX100's design is simple yet very classy. The casing is made completely of aluminum and is only slightly larger than the really tiny Canon PowerShot S100. Like its rival, the RX100 has a control ring around the lens, which photographers can use to assign one of the eight functions for easier operation. Features are easy to find and the interface is more reminiscent of the Sony Alpha SLT camera line than of the compact Cyber-shot models. This definitely makes sense if Sony targets professional photographers looking for a compact alternative to their full-blown SLR. The RX100 does not have a hot shoe for mounting a flash unit, but it does have a pop-up flash, which can be tilted backwards, just like the Sony NEX-7. This allows the photographer to "bounce" the light from the ceiling or a wall onto the subject to provide a much softer and more flattering indirect lighting than a direct flash.
Other features The premium features worth noting for this camera are: - stereo microphones - 3.6x optical zoom - allows full manual control - full HD (1920 x 1080) video recording at 60p - sensitivity range of ISO 125 to 6400
- decent battery life rated 330 shots - 28-100 mm lens at a wide aperture of f/1.8-4.9 - very fast and responsive with the help of the BIONZ image processor - fast autofocus at 0.13 seconds in bright light, down to 0.23 seconds in darker scenes - automatic drop protection that retracts the lens if it detects sudden fall - lots of Picture Effects, which are basically image filters similar to Instagram, for a more creative snaps - customizable Function button for quicker access to your favorite settings
Image quality 12 megapixels would have been enough for the RX100 but instead, Sony chose to bump it up to 20, probably as a marketing gimmick. Many photographers know that higher megapixel count doesn't necessarily lead to better pictures, and may in fact degrade the image. Even so, the images that it produced are in great detail while noise was kept very low, thanks to its large sensor. Low light performance is also outstanding, with images remaining blur-free in reasonably dim light, while shutter speed was still fast enough. It is also worth noting that the camera does have the option to shoot in RAW format, although you can't always use it in all shooting modes such as in Picture Effects. It also helps that the lens has a high quality multi-layer coating (called Vario-Sonnar T*), which minimizes flare and ghosting. Check out the gallery below for some sample images.
Sample Images - Click the picture to enlarge ISO 4000
Partial Color Mode
Click here for more sample images
Sony RX100 vs Canon S100 vs Fujifilm X10 vs Olympus XZ-1
The Verdict At the end of the day, the biggest question for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 is not whether it is a good camera, because it really is. Instead, potential buyers should ask if it is actually worth the price for what the camera has to offer, with its large image sensor and compact size as the major selling points. While features like a hot shoe and an optional electronic viewfinder would have been nice, these will definitely make the RX100 bigger so it may not look as pocketable and sleek as it is now. The bottom line is that the RX100 produces extremely high quality images, especially in low light conditions. It is one of the few good options if you are looking for a back-up to your DSLR when it is just too bulky and inconvenient for the occasion. Beginners or those looking to upgrade from a pointand-shoot will also find the full manual controls sufficient for their photography needs.
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