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Published On: Mon, Jan 7th, 2013
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Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 – Good looks, pretty pictures

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 is a really fast camera having bright, fast lens with a relatively big sensor. I really liked the sleek and small body of the camera; it makes the device easy to hold in the hands. The manufacturer has made a lot of changes in the feature and design trade-off on this camera to reach here. As compared to rivals, this camera is a bit expensive but the price seems right considering the features inside.

Design

There are some possible exceptions but apart from that, the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-RX100 is a well-designed and sleek camera. It is attractive and compact and the aluminium body is well built.

One big problem on this camera is that the grip isn’t good enough. This, along with metal slippery body gave me a fear that I would drop it accidently. Due to this, I often gripped it tightly and this is tiring especially if you are shooting one handed. Companies are giving up on the grip in order to make the camera shinier or smaller but I don’t like it.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 Video

There is movie button located on back and this makes it hard for pressing because it is recessed to keep it from accidental presses. Apart from this, the other controls have enough of travel time and hence operating this camera is easy.

Image quality

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 has good noise reduction and JPEG processing. Also, it does a really good job at balancing the trade-offs between softness and colour noise. The areas that are out of focus, suffer a bit from mushiness at ISO 400 levels but this problem isn’t unexpected in cameras having smaller sensors. The in-focus spots were pretty good till ISO 800. The JPEGs of the camera were solid looking till ISO 400 and they were acceptable till ISO 1600 depending on the scene content. From artifact and noise perspective, the uncorrected 13×19 prints of ISO 1600 were pretty good.

However, I feel that it is nice that you aren’t forced on higher ISO sensitivities too often. The lens aperture gets really narrow at telephoto end of focal range. However, it is still wide for nice chunk of way.

Users should remember that aperture determines field depth that is there at focal length. This means that competing the aperture specs are just moderately useful for comparing the cameras. Larger sensors give shallower DOF at any aperture and focal length as compared to smaller sensor and this gives RX100 some flexibility advantage to the other cheaper rivals. However, typically speaking, if you aren’t really looking to shoot at close up or wide angle, you won’t get plenty of background focus. The lens allows more light and this gives you some practical advantage.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 Pictures

The low ISO sensitivity shots on Sony Cyber Shot DSC-RX100 are very nice and I loved the tonality. There is no neutral Creative Style and hence the photos have the typical Sony Standard look – there is high contrast along with saturation that looks pushed. One problem that I saw was that the bright highlights on the yellows look totally blown out. They are not recoverable from the raws in the Sony Image Data Converter application. Also, some of the clipped areas in saturated and bright reds of JPEG pictures were moderately recoverable in this software.

Sharpness

Sony Cyber Shot DSC-RX100 review says that its lens had good sharpness at the centre through f5.6 having some falloff at the f8 and at f11, there was some noticeable softness. I also saw some aberration in f1.8 but this isn’t unexpected. On the left side at the widest, I saw some barrel distortion and it seems that Sony is having distortion correction in the camera and this makes the wide angle pics look a bit linearized.

Videos

The videos were looking saturated, bright, and good with reasonable sharpness. There weren’t any notable artifacts in the bright light and I didn’t see much noise in dim lit environments either.

Autofocus worked quite well when I was shooting video and lens was quiet enough while zooming. The audio was clear and loud and the sound quality wasn’t too tinny or compressed.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 Camera

Camera speed

Sony Cyber Shot DSC-RX100 is a bit faster as compared to competition except for continuous shooting. It took about 2.1 seconds for this camera to power up, focus and start shooting. This isn’t blazing fast but it is still better than other models in the market. Shooting and focussing under the dark conditions took about 0.3 sec in low light conditions and autofocus expanded automatically to entire scene. 2 sequential shots with first prefocussed took about 0.2 sec for JPEG or raw. This goes up to 2.3 seconds if you switch the flash on. This speed is good for this class of camera. Shooting JPEG+raw along with fast SD memory card (I used 95MBPS San Disk Extreme Pro) was fluid and fast and I didn’t see any interface lag.

If you use fast card, the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-RX100 gives JPEGs at about 2.5 fps for unlimited shots without any slowdown. You get to shoot RAW continuously at same rate for about 17 shots and after this; the speed goes down to about 2.2 fps. This is faster than a lot of other rivals in the market but this speed isn’t really impressive. Continuous shooting with RX100 and other such viewfinder less cameras is just a process of point and pray. For the RX100, tracking autofocus lagged behind the slower moving subjects and this is another common problem.

LCD screen of this camera is a bit washed out when you see in direct sunlight but it is still visible.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100

Control ring

Sony Cyber Shot DSC-RX100 has a good control ring. You can use it for program for operating with 1 default setting (like shutter speed or zoom). You can also use it in conjunction with FN key which can in turn be programmed with 7 more settings. But control ring can’t be used while this camera is on tripod because the ring extends far below bottom of this camera and hence there isn’t much room for rotating.

Camera customization

You can customize this camera. Apart from FN button, you get to reprogram operation to right and left navigation buttons on back dial and on centre button. There is also option for Memory Recall on mode dial and you get to select from 3 custom slots of settings.

Top mode dial has standard automatic, semimanual, and manual modes along with dedicated movie mode (there is full set of semimanual and manual exposure controls) with Sweep Panorama.

Some would say that this camera has a lot of automatic mode options – there is scene program mode, superior auto, and intelligent auto. Automatic mode itself relieves you from having a lot of options but here the whole purpose is defeated.

For getting rid of the screen cluttering or useless information like flash or Soft Skin compensation setting – the former should not appear if you turn off the flash. For instance, you need to switch ot graphic display and this is a bit hard to parse fast.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 Camera

Lacklustre feature set

Feature set on the Sony Cyber Shot DSC-RX100 is good enough but it isn’t expansive. This camera doesn’t have any hot shoe, articulated LCD, or viewfinder. I was disappointed to see that there is no wireless connectivity or geotagging capabilities. There are features on board like Auto Portrait Framing and Soft Skin Effect but these are out of place for advanced users. The manufacturer should have given the ability for involving the macro mode manually. Apart from face detection, this device recognizes up to eight faces and this can be used for autofocus tracking or Smile Shutter.

Price

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-Rx100 price is $649 and the camera is a bit expensive considering the features that it has to offer. However, if you look at the quality of the snaps, the price tag is justified.

Conclusion

This camera is expensive and yet imperfect but still pretty good. There may be other cameras in this price range which are better in terms of speed or design but they won’t be able to match the photo quality of the RX100. In spite of its drawbacks, I would say that this is one of the best cameras I have tested for this price range of sub $700. However, if you are willing to pay more for better quality, there are better models in the market.

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