Sony RX100 - Raw file conversion in Photoshop

Yesterday Adobe released their latest camera raw beta which has support for the Sony RX100. I used it to process some raw files from the camera.

This worked well. Particularly when I was able to combine images to create a stitched panorama. Using ACR in Photoshop helps with the dynamic range, though even with all the possibilities that offers, some burnt-out highlights were difficult to remove. Sharpening was possible but after a certain point it wasn't really making the images look better.

There is no doubt that the RX100 is a wonderful camera. In the sense that it it performs way better than it should, and must be the best compact, point and shoot, small sensor camera ever. However, the raw files reveal that it isn't the answer to life, the universe and everything. There is a full review of it at Dpreview, and I agree with pretty much everything they say. These sentences sum it up nicely.

"There's a lot more camera in this tiny box than its rather understated exterior would suggest. That doesn't mean the RX100 is going to replace your DSLR or large sensor mirrorless camera - it just can't compete with the image quality or flexibility that their sensors and interchangeable lenses bring."

Very much my feelings. Its an exciting camera in that it really does open up all sorts of possibilities for this class of camera, and the excitement about it is very much that it is so surprisingly good. For myself, I like the results from this camera more than I do from the somewhat disappointing Nikon D3200 for example, which says a lot. Its fun to use and it does provide an opportunity to create top class images from a camera that will attract little attention. Plus of course its a very good video camera in its own right capable of superb results. 

But ultimately, I can get better results from my m4/3 and NEX cameras when processed via raw. Viewed at 100% the RX100 files just don't have the same detail and resolution that larger sensor cameras such as m4/3 or NEX are capable of producing and its performance at higher ISO's does struggle against the less densely populated sensors. It is to my mind "over pixeled". If Sony had stuck with 12 or 14MP then it could have been very good indeed, but then I suspect that for the market this is aimed at 20MP is a great selling point. 

Make no mistake, I'm VERY impressed with it, but for me to use it regularly in place of my other cameras, it would have to be better than it is and of course, have a viewfinder. I enjoyed using it very much on my Sussex trip, partly as an antidote to carrying my Nikon outfit around and partly because it was liberating using a camera so small, light and inconspicuous. I have no doubt that images shot with it will reproduce with no problems and it can be used as a stock photography camera with few problems, provided substantial cropping is avoided. I'm undecided currently as to whether I will keep it, but suspect that in the end I won't. This is not to say that I don't like using it, I do, and I like the images it produces. However I have cameras that I like using more that are equally small, light and unobtrusive and I prefer the results from those cameras.

But if you are looking for a camera that takes up no room, is capable of top class results for stills and video in good light and size and portability is important to you, then this is a no-brainer. Its just way better than anything I've ever seen in this class of camera and compared to the output from a mobile phone its just in a different (and much higher) league. Sony have come up with a really fine photographic tool here and I'm sure they will be rewarded with large sales and lots of awards and accolades. However, its not a DSLR or CSC / Mirrorless / E.V.I.L replacement for those of us who are looking for the best quality images we can get within a smaller lighter body. It has its limitations, and within those it succeeds brilliantly, but those limits are still there, and of course if its possible to get this kind of quality from this size of sensor then the advances made can only benefit larger format cameras.

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.
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