Don’t want to sound contrarian for the sake of it. Everyone’s praising it. The Sony RX10, a pumped up P&S on steroids, is a marvel of an all-rounder camera. Not too small, fronted by a beautifully bright, fast, fixed Zeiss zoom with a 35mm equivalent of 24-200mm, this RX10 can shine as a street, travel and family camera — and even in the studio. Don’t belittle its 1-inch sensor — it’s actually the much applauded RX100M II‘s. The RX10 is capable of more than most people will ever need delivering beautiful color and sharp, crisp detail. As with every camera, especially this RX10 is all about the lens with its constant F2.8 aperture. Yet in the end I wonder if the RX10 has been released slightly prematurely. With a few minor tweaks it could shine as the perfect all-in-one camera.
+++ All sample photos are straight out of camera, uncropped JPEGs. I could pep them up with filters, curves and whatever, but this is what you get. When testing gear, what’s the point of making something look better that potentially isn’t?
I would be easy to only praise this king of bridge cameras, a camera that fills the niche between SLR and P&S. Sony is once again pushing the boundaries. The RX10 yet another innovative, in a way pathbreaking camera other industry players for some reason are not able to come up with.
Take the prime metal feel, brightest possible zoom and the biggest possible sensor to make a still handy, ergonomic camera with lots of punch. That’s the RX10: a balanced compromise between size, speed and optics.
It’s the probably biggest camera known to mankind built around a 1-inch sensor. The RX10 is positioned to appeal to pros, enthusiasts and beginners alike. Yet I struggled with some of the most basic operations — and that’s where the camera’s P&S innards make themselves be felt:
How to have the LCD switched off when using EVF? No Sony, I don’t like to operate the menu through the viewfinder. And Sony’s digital Clear Image Zoom with 16.6x magnification and interpolated pixels is something to rave about — a clean 400mm reach! — , but the option in the menu was faded out…
And how to speed up that delayed fly-by-wire zooming just a tiny little bit? Manual mode isn’t exactly responsive. Sony told me the reason for this: slow zooming benefits video. True. But I’m a still photographer.
Most reviewers are praising the RX10 to the skies. For good reasons. There’s no going wrong with the Zeiss lens. You first and foremost buy the RX10 for the lens — and well there happens to be a camera with decent 20MP sensor attached.
You’ll appreciate the traditional aperture ring that can be set to have tactile and audible click stops. Or you want continuous and silent operation which is especially welcome for video mode — and the RX10’s video shines: built-in stereo mic, internal ND filter, manual control while shooting, full raster image processing, the mentioned aperture ring, you name it. All these feature turn the RX10 into a videographer’s preferred working tool that on top of it doubles as a still camera.
Some reviewers lament the camera’s AVCHD codec is not up to the task for fast action. Well for fast action I don’t buy a de facto P&S in the first place.
The RX10’s macro capability at all focal lengths is not less amazing. Wide you can go as close that the lens hood literally touches the subject/object. In fact, I got too close to that candle…
Would I buy the RX10? Yes and no. For $1.3k you get a mighty all-rounder of great build quality that can replace big bulky equipment with ease especially when traveling. The RX10 is capable of doing what most more expensive system cameras do — except for fast and accurate zooming and tracking. And that’s about the only negative. Sony make it snappier. If you can live with a contemplative zoom, well then the RX10 promises great performance and value.
The camera is not going to beat the ISO performance of larger sensors. But with absolutely clean ISO 1,600 (even 3,200 is fine), a battery that lasts for a thousand frames in EVF mode and on top of it a perfect little video camera, sounds a bit like a no-brainer if you’re not printing billboard sizes, doesn’t it.
Again, would I buy the camera? Rather yes. Despite some quirks, I sure like this king of bridge cameras. It’s all about the Zeiss optics and a really good sensor. One camera that lets you shoot everything. Portraits, macro, the street, landscape, far away stuff. One top-notch lens. With perfectly usable files straight out of the box. Shadows hold a good amount of detail and overall color and tone rendition is on par with more expensive gear. For $1.3k. Honestly, what more you need.
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