Field Review for the Sony RX100 Compact Camera
Author’s Note: If you’ve read one of my reviews, you know how I approach the reviews. If you haven’t, I’ll go ahead and let you know that this is a practical field impression review. There are plenty of dependable resources online like Dpreview.com and the DxOMark.com that are much better equipped for full technical reviews. I do not have the equipment or the time to do full technical rundowns on each camera we receive, so I leave that sort of work to the professionals. However, I take these cameras out into the field, use them for my personal style of shooting and then relay those experiences here in these reviews. While it is great knowing all of the technical qualities of a camera and it’s capabilities, if I don’t like the way it responds in the field then it’s essentially worthless to me. I think this is how a lot of photographers feel too, so that is why I write these kinds of reviews for your perusal. Enjoy.
I am not a point and shoot camera user. I would rather break my back with a big SLR on a day out instead of sacrificing quality and control for a simple pocketable point and shoot. Not that they don’t have their place, that is just the way I shoot. I like my optical viewfinders and my manual focus with real mechanical feedback. That being said, I can actually see myself using the Sony RX100 compact camera often. I really liked the portability, and I did not have to sacrifice image quality for it. I have full manual capability the entire time with brilliant control schemes that are as intuitive as they are useful.
For this review, I had a great evening planned with a quick dinner at my favorite Mediterranean place here in town, Sarah’s Grill & Market. Sarah’s has the most wonderful family working there and they serve some of the best falafels and chicken shawerma you will ever have this side of the Atlantic.
Image shot with the Sony RX100 Compact Digital Camera at 10.4mm, f/1.8, 1/640 sec., ISO 400
This amazing dinner was followed by a fun little photography show that was put on by a small group of middle school students from the St. Johns neighborhood here in Austin. Their show was the end result of a summer class that is taught by a local photographer and volunteer named Lauren Bazan and they were so excited to see all their hard work come to fruition and be admired by the attendees! There are some budding photographers in the St John’s Photo Class who are learning basic composition and exposure principles with simple donated point and shoot cameras. The classes and show were hosted at the For the City Center right in the heart of the St. Johns neighborhood.
Image shot with the Sony RX100 Compact Digital Camera at 10.4mm, f/4.5, 1/50 sec., ISO 3200
With this setup for a great evening and moving around so much, I figured that this would be a great time to test out the new Sony RX100 compact camera that we had just gotten in stock here at Precision Camera & Video, so I loaned one out for the evening’s events. Driving straight over to Sarah’s Mediterranean Grill & Market from work, I purchased my wonderful dinner that I proceeded to let cool down while I was photographing it for a few minutes. I really love the close focus capabilities of the Sony RX100 compact camera at the wide end of it’s zoom range. There is a macro function that I did not use, but from what I hear around the store it is a nice addition to the camera’s slew of abilities. Shooting the food shot with the camera set to ISO 400 and f/1.8 in aperture-priority mode, the camera settled on a nice shutter speed of 1/640th for a flawless exposure and allowed me to capture the appetizing photo seen above with no fuss and really snappy auto focus.
Once I finished up my dinner at Sarah’s and headed over to the photography show, I was getting a little more used to the controls and the menu layout of the camera. While it is a relatively intuitive camera, there is always a need for a little acclimation before any good use of the camera comes about and by this point I had been using the camera all of 20 minutes. I arrived early to the show and had time to shoot a few images to get acclimated more and find out how it was going to perform in the low light of the exhibition area.
Image shot with the Sony RX100 Compact Digital Camera at 19.75mm, f/3.5, 1/13 sec., ISO 400
This camera is great for this sort of occasion. Compact and lightweight, I pocketed the Sony RX100 when I wanted to sip on some lemonade and I never felt intrusive when shooting candids of patrons at the show. The autofocus was really quick and I never had it hesitate, no matter what the lighting situation was. With the Sony RX100‘s excellent manual controls I was able to shoot however I wanted and I had the instant feedback on the rear screen for exactly how the exposure would look.
I shot the entire night in RAW, which is a wonderful addition to the tiny wonder. The only problem with the Sony RX100‘s RAW files at this point is that they are not able to be processed through any of Adobe’s software (Lightroom, Photoshop, CameraRAW, etc.). This should change shortly as Adobe updates their converter so it is not a permanent issue, but be aware of this if you purchase the camera before the updates become available and shoot in RAW+Fine JPGS if you want to process them through Adobe’s RAW converter later on. I did not do that and had to use Sony’s proprietary software to convert the Sony .ARW files to useable TIFs. Not impossible to work this way, but kind of a pain when you are used to the simplicity of Lightroom’s workflow and DNGs.
Image shot with the Sony RX100 Compact Digital Camera at 10.4mm, f/1.8, 1/125 sec., ISO 3200
In short, and to sum up the review, the
Come to the store and test it out, you’ll be begging your spouse to allow you to buy the camera in no time flat.
All product images are courtesy of Sony and Copyright © 2012 Sony Electronics Inc. and all example images are Copyright © 2012 Christian Rudman