Why Should You Buy Sony RX100?

August 4, 2012

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 camera, 5 stars
In this post I want to spread some more information about the Sony RX100.  The Sony RX100 1-inch large-sensor compact is getting a lot of attention. According to the New York Times, and I quote: “The best pocket camera ever made.”. That quote also appears on Sony RX100′ product page. No doubt that the 1″ inch sensor, f2.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* and 1080p60 capabilities, makes the RX100 a very good alternative to both compact point-and-shoot, MILC and even entry-level DSLR cameras. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not comparing RX100 vs DSLR cameras, but I do think some people might prefer getting the RX100 over an entry-level DSLR.

If you feel a sympathy with what I wrote, so I guess this article for you. I personally think that Sony did an amazing job with the Cyber-shot RX100.  In fact, I always wanted to have a high-performing compact camera which is a hosts of advanced technologies, some of them can only be found in very expensive cameras / lenses. The RX100 is not the first large-sensor camera, but Sony certainly took it to a whole new level.


Sensor Size & Lens

The Sony RX100 use a 1-inch size sensor, same sensor size as the Nikon 1 CSC. Although this is not as large as Micro Four Thirds and much smaller than APS-C, this is a good compromise that Sony made in order you to enjoy many improvements and technology innovations which are saved for more expensive cameras and lenses.

Sony RX100

Sony RX100 (3D diagram)

The RX100 has a f/1.8 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens. With a range of 28-100mm (35mm equiv.) and aperture that starts from f1/.8 to f/4.9, this camera can answer the demands of many enthusiast photographers. Nikon have chosen that sensor size for its Nikon 1 CSC system. It seems that Nikon thought that its a good compromise to make in order to implement more advanced technologies in its system, which of course might be much more expensive if a large sensor has been used.

Carl Zeiss lens, RX100

Carl Zeiss lens, RX100

Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens is a professional high-precision lens that uses Carl Zeiss most advanced optical multi-layer coating to reduce reflections and to help produce very high-quality images. Carl Zeiss lenses that use this technology are very expensive. Take the Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. This lens uses the same Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* glass and it costs around $2000. This is a relatively “cheap” lens if you consider other Carl Zeiss lens prices. Of course its cheaper to make lenses for a camera with a smaller sensor. If the Sony RX100 had an APS-C sensor, Sony couldn’t create a camera in an affordable price. As the time of writing this article, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 costs around $650. Certainly a good price considering all its great features.

The sensor is a 13.2×8.8mm Exmor™ CMOS sensor, aspect ratio 3:2. So you get the same aspect ratio like with a DSLR camera, not 4:3 like point-and-shoot cameras. The sensor has 20.2MP (effective), which is a very high resolution. I personally prefer lower resolution and better high ISO performance. In fact, this is quite high for such a sensor.

The RX100 has a 2.7x focal length multiplier. The shallow depth of field effect that can be achieved with this camera is great. Here, take a look at an image posted on dpreview. The photo was take with 10.4mm (widest focal length) and f/1.8 (widest aperture). You can clearly see the out-of-focus blur effect (Bokeh). It’s smooth and creamy and looks great. Just remember that when shooting a wide angle shot, in order to get a shallow depth of field you should get pretty close to your subject. The three things that affect depth of field is: aperture, focal length and distance from subject.

F1.8 aperture is only available when the lens is in its widest angle. That means that the focal length is small (10.4mm, 28mm in 35mm terms). So in order to get a smaller DOF, the only thing you can do within the f/1.8 limit is to get closer to the subject. At page two at that link you can see a wide-angle shot of people. You can see that you cannot notice any blurring in the photo, because subject are far away from the lens. That means that you won’t get the same out-of-focus effect as with larger sensors and a fast prime lens for example, but for some subjects it can create very nice out-of-focus effect.

The beautiful out-of-focus effect is achievable also because of the 7 aperture blades.

Another great thing about the RX100 is that it can shoot in Raw format. This is great, because now you can shoot in Raw and edit them in Lightroom, while maintaining all the data that the sensor caught, without any modifications.  This will allow you to take great advantage of Lightroom tools and features, allowing you to tweak the image as you want, without letting the camera do that for you. Great for enthusiasts and those who want to have full control over the final output, whether its for print, stock photography and so on. You also have full range of manual controls, including Program, Aperture priority, Shutter priority and Manual (also referred to as P/A/S/M).

The RX100 allows you to shoot in ISO125 up to ISO6400 (up to ISO 25,600 using multi-frame noise-reduction). A wide range of ISO sensitivity that fits the sensor size performance and should fit the photographer’s creative needs for fast-action and low light photography.


Steady-Shot Image Stabilization

The RX100 uses SteadyShot image stabilization with Active Mode (for videos). This helps minimize camera shake blurriness and can help you get sharper images and videos. I just can tell you how great it is to have this feature.  Although the RX100 doesn’t use a telephoto zoom lens, still, it will allow you to take better images in low-light, by allowing you to shoot sharp photo in low shutter speeds (although it won’t stop fast moving subjects).

RX100 Active Stabilization Not active


RX100 Active Stabilization Active

Can you see the difference?, less shaky.


Gorgeous LCD

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 features an amazing LCD. A 3-inch 1229K-dot ‘WhiteMagic’ LCD screen, This screen will just WOW you. I don’t recall any DSLR camera with such a high resolution display. This adds tons to the viewing experience. After all the RX100 doesn’t have an EVF (electronic viewfinder). Everything you set in the camera and image composition will be done via the LCD display. So the LCD is one of the most important parts of compact cameras, and luckily for us, Sony used one of the best, if not The best LCD panels available. A great joy to use with easy to use navigation and camera operation.

Pocketable – Oh, as you can see from the above movie, you can easily put it in your pants’ pocket!


Amazing Video Image Quality

The Sony RX100 can shoot mind blowing videos (image quality wise).  The video low light performance is amazing.

1080 night sample (shot by imagineresource)

Blow me down, what an amazing quality. Don’t forget to play it in 1080p full HD to enjoy the its glory. This is freaking amazing, a compact camera that can deliver a DSLR-like video quality.
Now for some day footage.

I will let the video speak for itself, any word will just ruin it.

One of the great things about the Rx100 is that it can shoot 1080p60 (progressive) and also 1080i60. 60p will give you much better quality, but in expense of larger video file.


Image Quality

Without spending too much of your time, image quality is AMAZING!. Here are some sample images from Flickr..

雨中雞蛋花 Frangipani
Dog of The Day 120803


DSC00210 - Busy corner

Home 1 RX100

Should You Buy the RX100 – Oh Yes!

As you can see, I am so excited about the Sony RX100.  The Rx100 got amazing feedback from many reviews’ sites,including 5 stars from PhotographyBlog, 4.5 stars from PC Magazine (“Superb image quality, even at high ISOs“), 8.7 score from CENT,  People reporting that the AF is super fast, image quality is top-notch, video quality is second to none and all in all, the RX100 is a rare large-sensor camera.  The price isn’t cheap but its worth every penny. Not always you pay a price and really get what you paid for. The RX100 is by all means an alternative to Compact System Cameras and even for DSLR cameras, if you don’t see yourself needing the lens flexibility, full access to settings, optional accessories and other advantages that you get by owning a DSLR camera.

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 is all about quality and lots of it. I am a Nikon DSLR owner and I rarely use special lenses. I agree that you won’t get the same range as a 300 mm lens, or it won’t give you an ultra wide-angle shot, but many people won’t use it anyway, even if they had a DSLR.  The camera is relatively compact and very easy to handle. The design is slick and modern. This is a compact camera that can take breath-taking images, even in low light, and with very little amount of noise in high ISO. You get full manual control if you want to or shoot in auto mode if that’s what you want.

You just can’t go wrong with the RX100. If I wouldn’t have bought my Nikon D3100 DSLR, I would have gotten the RX100 without thinking twice. Highly Recommended!


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