Sony RX100 - User Experience - Part 5 - Conclusion


 
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CONCLUSION

This will only be an interim conclusion as I will be coming back to this when there is Adobe Camera Raw support for this camera.

STILLS

The RX100 is obviously a step beyond what we have come to expect from point and shoot small sensor compacts. The quality of the files is a significant improvement on what I have seen before from this class of camera. Its a slightly larger sensor which clearly helps and whether these results have been achieved by the quality of that sensor, in-camera processing or a combination of both it doesn't really matter. Sony have created an excellent very small, very light, photographic tool, which makes predictions about these kinds of cameras being swallowed up by the inexorable rise of the camera phone somewhat premature. And while saying that the RX100 is some way ahead of what the cameras on mobile phones can achieve is not saying much, it is worth repeating.

In terms of handling, the camera is pretty similar to the rest of the genre. There's no viewfinder and some of the controls are difficult to access. The screen is reasonably good in bright sunny conditions and while I dislike holding the camera out in front of me, it is workable. I like the relative simplicity of the layout and the zoom select rocker switch is something I've got used to and find relatively quick to use. Its also a well made camera and feels well put together.

However, its the image quality that is the headline feature here. High ISO performance is generally pretty good, though obviously unable to challenge APS-C, or even m4/3 at its best, but its at the low ISO settings where this camera really shines. Using the cameras software to optimise the dynamic range, quite remarkable results can be achieved which stand up to the closest scrutiny. The 20MP pixels are not compromised by what the camera produces and the claims that the files can be printed as A3 double-page spreads and are compatible with the results from many DSLR's are not statements that I would disagree with.

If you are looking for a carry anywhere, unobtrusive, quality camera, then you really don't have to look much further than the RX100. Despite my general antipathy to cameras of this type I have found myself enjoying using it and more importantly I have enjoyed looking at the pictures it produces. Many are already sitting on my stock photography websites and the fact that I am able to integrate images from this camera into my library stock and feel that I am making no quality compromises says everything to me. It is to be hoped that ACR will get more still out of the files, but even if used as a jpg. only camera the RX100 is still very impressive.

VIDEO

For me the jewel in the crown of this camera. Its so easy to get really good looking results. The stabilisation is brilliant and the small sensor actually works to its advantage here. All the examples I've posted are continuously re-focusing and altering exposure, but because of the sensor size and the way Sony have put this together its all seamless. Its absolutely the best video enabled stills camera I've used, because of its ability to let me concentrate on what I'm shooting knowing that the camera will make a great job of capturing it. I've been able to develop a very fluid style of shooting that lets me move the camera around and I just love the smooth zooms I can get with the rocker switch.

I shot the video below yesterday entirely hand-held and I'm just so impressed at how stable the whole thing looks with a constantly moving camera. While the camera is obviously capable of very high quality "professional" results thats not really the point. As a camera for capturing everyday life its superb at what it does and to my mind works better in most "normal" conditions than m4/3, APS-C or full-frame. It strikes me as a wonderful camera for reportage type, photo-journalism video and to have this available in such a small unobtrusive package is very impressive.



So the compact point and shoot is far from dead and the RX100 will surely re-invigorate this sector of the camera market, as other manufacturers now have a product to catch up to. Plus as a confirmed doubter as to the merits of this kind of camera, I've certainly found it a revelation. With the almost universal rave reviews its going to sell by the truckload and with its combination of quality, size and versatility, its success will be well deserved.

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