56 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great pocketable camera, 26 July 2012
*** Update June 2013 ***
I've been using this camera well over a year now - and I use it a LOT. Its so small and pocketable I don't hesitate to take it with me in situations where a bigger camera would be left behind. And so as a result I'm taking a lot more photos than ever before.
Image quality is excellent - far exceeding the average compact camera. The flare issue has not been a big deal at all despite my initial concerns.
Its also very easy to use and has lots of genuinely useful features - especially the auto HDR.
Battery life is amazing - I charge the battery before I go on a weeks holiday and its still got 40% charge when I get home! And I've probably taken 300 photos during the week!
If I was a Sony designer the improvements I'd make are:
1. A screen ( or viewfinder ) that can be used in bright light. In really bright sunshine its really a matter of pointing blind and hoping you get everything in shot. The screen is just unusable if its really bright.
2. A tilting screen would be nice - I miss that feature off of my other cameras. Makes it easier to compose high or low shots.
3. Built in GPS would be nice to track where photos were taken
Those are main changes I'd like to see.
But overall I'd say if you are serious about photography go out and buy this camera! Its a genuine classic rather than a whole load of marketing hype.
*** Update 16 Aug 2012 ***
The flare issues I mentioned appear to be just my camera - I've spoken to other owners of the RX100 and none of them have such serious issues with flare - certainly not the long purple streaks I am getting. So looks like this is a faulty camera and not a general issue with the RX100.
Other than the flare issue the camera is great - very portable and easy to use. It may not be Nikon D800 quality images but the images are more than good enough for general use.
**** Old Review ****
I love my Nikon D800 DSLR and the image quality is amazing. But its big and its heavy. I tend to only carry it when I plan to take photos. Its not something I carry on the off chance I might see a good photo opportunity.
I bought a Sony NEX5n camera and that proved to be much lighter and less bulky. Image quality is not up with the D800 but still very good. I don't mind carrying it around - though its not a pocket camera.
But then I took up cycling and wanted something even lighter and even less bulky. As an aside when I bought the RX100 I also bought a Lowepro Santiago 20 Pouch for Camera - Black
case which the Sony RX100 fits in snugly - the case adds only minimal bulk and weight. I also bought a Topeak TriBag All Weather toptube bag
for my bike - which the Sony RX100 inside the Lowepro Santiago 20 case fits perfectly - its like they were made for each other!
A while back I bought a Sony TX20 - amazingly small and light. I take it regularly with me but image quality is poor - too poor for me. I fear getting that once in a lifetime shot but not being able to blow it up beyond 6 by 4 print due to the poor quality.
I needed something that was really light, not very bulky but had great image quality. Until the Sony RX100 there was nothing meeting those criteria. The Canon PowerShot G1 X has great image quality but its not that much smaller or lighter than the Sony NEX5n - I may as well use the 5n.
The Canon S100 is a perfect size - but has a small sensor and from the sample images I've seen image quality is good but not great.
When they announced the Sony DSC-RX100 I was very excited. Finally a large - for a compact camera - sensor but a small body size and weight.
Size is impressively small but yet it has a solid feel to it. Its not as small as my Sony TX20 - about twice as wide but same otherwise.
The camera has a lot of features - more even than my Sony NEX5n.
But its clearly been designed for photographers - it has RAW shooting, shutter and aperture priority modes. And all important settings are easily accessible - more so than my Sony NEX5n.
But what about image quality?
Sony TX20 vs Sony RX100 - no competition. The RX100 produces much, much better images. Much less noise and sharper - even at low ISOs. At high ISO the TX20 is terrible whereas the RX100 is acceptable.
Sony NEX5n vs Sony RX100. A much closer competition. At low ISOs in good light there is little between the two. Pixel peeping the differences were so small as to really not be important.
At high ISO or in poor light the NEX5n is the winner - but not by as much as you'd expect. The RX100 has a special multi image low light mode where it takes multiple shots and combines them in to one low noise shot. This works very well - its not just a gimmick. The RX100 in this mode is actually less noisy - though with slightly less details - than the NEX5n. The NEX5n doesn't have this low light mode which is a shame as it really does work.
So in conclusion the RX100 is very close to the image quality of the NEX5n even in low light.
There is however one major Achilles heal the RX100 has - flare! I took some shots early in the morning - the sun was bright and low in the sky. All shots in the direction of the sun - even if the sun was slightly out of shot - caused major flare. Also not nice flare but horrible purple streaks - essentially running a photo and also very difficult to correct in Photoshop.
This flare is a big enough issue for me to favour the NEX5n unless size/weight are paramount.
The other thing to watch out for is small apertures - diffraction causes the image to be softer - particularly noticeable at f8 and above. F4 seems to be the lenses sweet spot on wide angle. At the telephone end F5.6 is the sweetspot. F10 and F11 are distinctly soft.
In terms of ease of use its again quite close - the RX100 has more buttons and an easier menu structure to navigate - so again I think it wins over the NEX5n.
The downside with the RX100 is the inability to change lenses - limiting its versatility. If I go wildlife shooting I can put a long lens on the NEX5n. The RX100 is stuck with a 100mm telephoto - not good enough for shooting wildlife at a distance.
But the upside is the RX100 is much smaller and lighter than even the fairly light NEX5n.
The Sony TX20 ultra compact camera is no competition to the Sony RX100 - image quality and functions of the RX100 are way superior in all conditions. Other than the TX20 being a little smaller and its waterproofness there is no advantage over the RX100.
Sony RX100 Pros
Size - light and small - it really is a carry anywhere quality camera.
Build quality seems excellent - lightweight but feels solid in the hand. Also made in Japan rather than China - which I consider a bonus.
Its multi-image noise reduction mode actually works! I thought it'd be one of those sales gimmicks that promise much but deliver little. But I've compared carefully two images taken of the same low lit scene - one shot in normal auto ISO with the camera choosing ISO3200 and the other using the multi-image noise reduction setting with the camera choosing ISO6400.
And amazingly the multi image ISO6400 is not only less noisy but actually has clearer detail! Normally it's a trade off between the two with noise reduction in software. I shot a still scene so not sure yet how well it does with moving images.
As with the NEX5n the RX100 has a useful HDR mode that helps capture extremes of light and dark. It takes 3 shots - one normal exposure, one overexposed and one overexposed and then merges the three to make one shot which retains shadow detail and details in the bright areas. As with the NEX5n it has to be used carefully - I find it can ruin a photo but removing all signs of contrast which make things look a little dull and artificial. I notice the HDR mode in the RX100 seems to work better on moving things than the NEX5n. If find with the NEX5n even a slight movement by the subject causes blur using HDR. But this happens less on the RX100.
Buttons! For landscapes I get the best results generally with a HDR setting of level 2 with -0.3 exposure compensation and creative style of landscape. It gives photos a lift making often making it seem sunnier than it really was! Sometimes the increased contrast of the non-HDR shot is better though - but as the HDR mode gives you both the original non-HDR shot and a HDR shot you can't lose! I just compare and delete the one that looks worst.
Sony RX100 appears to have better autofocus than the NEX5n. I've not scientifically tested this but over the last few weeks of using the RX100 it seems to nail the focus more often than my NEX5n. This may simply be due to the RX100 having greater depth of field at the same aperture as the NEX5n. In 9 months of regular use of the NEX5n with the kit lens I have had the occasional shot where its slightly missed the focus. More likely to happen with moving objects. I've taken a few shots of my dog walking along ( she's too old for running! ) and the NEX5n has missed the focus. The RX100 gets it right it seems every time. As I say I've not scientifically tested this - its just my impression of using both cameras.
The RX100 has lots of useful buttons. The customisable function button is especially useful. I much prefer the buttons on this to the NEX5n. The menu structure on the RX100 is also more logical. And there's an option for silence - no button noise and no shutter noise. I can't find a way on the NEX5n to made the shutter silent.
Video performance is excellent - even in low light. Very little focus hunting or grain - even in dim conditions where this is often an issue. Sound recording quality is fine - though no external hotshoe means no external mic can be added. But that defeats the object of this camera which is a compact travel light camera.
Again as with the NEX5n there's the panoramic sweep mode - which I find really useful. I used it in Snowdonia to capture a wide stretch of mountains.
Shoots RAW. I use RAW a lot with the Nikon D800 - lets me tweak things back on the computer. Currently most software - such as Adobe Lightroom - doesn't support Sony RX100 RAW files - but I'm sure it will soon. Having said that often my tweaking of files is to maximise dynamic range - increasing the light in the shadows and preventing highlights being overexposed. I find though the HDR mode JPGs really do this for me so I'm not sure if I'll use RAW much.
Sony RX100 Cons
No hand grip. Nice smooth surface and no grips means a high risk of dropping. I always use the camera strap and put it round my wrist to prevent disasters!
No separate charger - though the included leaflet suggests one will be available in November. So far battery life has been pretty good - I've taken 30 photos on a trip and that makes no dent in the battery levels.
While the lens is generally very sharp there is some corner softness present - worse at the telephoto end. Not a major issue and generally you don't notice unless you are looking for it.
Dials go the wrong direction. Maybe this is just me but when changing a setting - for example choosing a different ISO - you turn the small wheel left or right to select the setting and this changes a larger wheel image on the screen to select the setting. But I find the direction counter intuitive - maybe its just me but it takes me a while to change a setting as I always go the wrong way at first!
USB. Firstly USB2 rather than the much faster USB3. Secondly they have used a non-standard USB connector - I really wish companies would use the bog standard size so I don't need 10 different cables for my various gadgets. Also I find it hard to insert the cable - much stiffer than the Sony NEX5n. And the USB cover looks dangerously weak.
Very bad lens flare when shooting towards the sun - even when the sun is just out of shot on the left or right hand side. One of my photos was shot with the sun just out of shot on the left - but this caused strange purple patches to appear on the right side of my photo and rather ruined it. I tried removing the odd purple in PhotoShop but wasn't expert enough to do it and make the changes look natural.
Panoramic sweep mode only operates in wide angle. On the NEX5n you can use it at any zoom range - though it does tend to work better at wider angles I have used it a moderate telephone and got a reasonable photo.
Limited expansion capability. You are limited to just one lens - unlike the changable lens of a DSLR or the Sony NEX5n. Also no hotshoe mount for accessories. To be honest I don't actually see this as a disadvantage of the RX100. The whole point is its a pocketable, lightweight and no fuss camera. Taking along extra lenses and hotshoe mount accessories rather defeats the go anywhere lightweight advantage of the RX100. If you want to carry a bagful of lenses and accessories then a DSLR or Sony NEX system camera is a much better camera for you. If you want a camera that slips in to a pocket and makes it easy to take quick and quiet high image quality photos than the RX100 is the better choice.